Tuesday Poem – Kahlil Gibran’s ‘Friendship’

AND a youth said, Speak to us of Friendship.
And he answered, saying:
Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.

When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor do you with hold the “aye.”
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unclaimed.
when you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.

And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

 The above is a prose poem extracted from The Prophet, Gibran’s most famous work.

Did you know that Kahlil Gibran is the third best selling poet of all time? Have you ever wondered why he has been and still is so popular?  Interested to see what others thought I did some research.  The best articles I came up with were from the BBC and that was a surprise too. I always had the impression that he was spurned by the literati. Another fact that interests me is that (according to Wikipedia) his third placing follows Shakespeare and Laozi.  Shakespeare certainly has a fine understanding of human behaviour. And it seems Laozi had the same gift. Gibran certainly has it.

Kahlil Gibran

Kahlil Gibran

If you have often pondered his popularity yourself, I recommend the BBC article entitled Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet: Why is it so loved? Read it  here

If you want to learn about The Man Behind The Prophet, another article from the BBC, go here. If you scroll down you can also watch a video on the museum built in his honour in Lebanon. Both these articles are easy to read.  And there are images of his artwork. Well worth a visit.

And now you can pop over to Tuesday Poem where, Claire Beynon is this week’s editor with an unusual poem called News from the Island by Tracey Sullivan.  



Tuesday Poem – Virgin Annunciate, Bernardo Cavallino by Catherine Bateson

(for Matt Ottley)

In the rooms devoted to god ‒
icons, a reliquary casket, Pietàs ‒
the dense energy of the wooden robes
subdued by downcast piety ‒
we saw her. Virgin Annunciate, Seventeenth Century.

She kneels into the absent angel’s light
hands winged across her heart.
Her anxious young face
is not entirely humble
And why should she be?

I’ve seen her a thousand times in libraries,
classrooms, cafes and bars.
In a minute she’ll turn to us
with a shrug having said yes
to whatever it was that was offered.
Resolute. Still yearning.

We had been talking about death ‒
but even though we knew the end of the story ‒
she was all life ‒ vivid, troubled,
beautiful. Saying
yes, after all.



Author’s Comment: ‘Matt Ottley, a colleague and collaborator, and I were walking through an exhibition of religious art at the National Gallery of Victoria. We were becoming increasingly blasé about each new crucifixion scene when we turned into yet another room and there was Cavallino’s Annunciation. The Virgin was so real, so contemporary. It’s a haunting painting, edged with anxiety rather than ecstasy, but so alive. Just beautiful.’

Thanks Catherine for permission to publish this poem. ‘Virgin Annunciate’ was first published in The Canberra Times, 15/3/14

Catherine Bateson

Catherine Bateson photographed on a visit to Yorkshire

Helen says: I am fascinated by the connection between art as in painting sculpture etc. and poetry. Poets and artists are both observers of their surroundings  and those who inhabit them. Both constantly looking for new ways to show what they see. And in this case the poet is observing the results of the artists observations. Getting a bit complex? Yes indeed. Where did the artists observations come from?  Probably years of gathered perceptions about the Virgin Mary amongst other things. But and this is where it gets interesting. In the above poem, Cavallino’s work has joined the outer world. Catherine has become the observer and interpreter. ‘I’ve seen her a thousand times in libraries, classrooms, cafes and bars’. She has used  words connect us to the painting , to Mary, the Virgin Annunciate. And its the words that bring Mary to our own human level and/or connect her to the divine in us.

Author’s Bio in Brief:  Catherine Bateson is an award-winning poet and writer for children and young adults. Her last poetry collection, Marriage for Beginners, was published by John Leonard Press.  One reviewer had this to say ‘Love poem’ manages to find a balance between the rhapsody and comfort of an enduring partnership. Perhaps the success of these poems, and so many others in the collection, can be attributed to the personal nature of the narrative and thus the emotion captured, both raw and pulsing. . . Marriage for beginners is a gift. If I read ‘Sailing on the grey’ after breakfast, lunch and dinner, it wouldn’t be enough. More here.

Catherine is also a member of the Tuesday Poem Blog where she is found most weeks. You can visit her own blog at Catty reads, Catty Writes   For more about her writing for children and young adults go to her website here.

And here below is a photo of the mysterious painting, The Virgin Annunciate by Bernardo Cavallino, (1616 -1656).


The Virigin Anunciate by Bernardo Cavallino

The Virgin Annunciate by Bernardo Cavallino

And now let’s return to the Tuesday Poem Hub page where Kathleen Jones is this week’s editor with another ephrastic poem, this time by Riemke Ensing



Tuesday Poem – My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun – William Shakespeare

   My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun,
   Coral is far more red, than her lips red,
   If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun:
   If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head:
   I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
   But no such roses see I in her cheeks,
   And in some perfumes is there more delight,
   Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
   I love to hear her speak, yet well I know,
   That music hath a far more pleasing sound:
   I grant I never saw a goddess go,
   My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
     And yet by heaven I think my love as rare,
     As any she belied with false compare

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

I received many detentions in my misspent youth, for not wearing my hat to school…it was an unflattering beret which made my ears stick out more than usual! My punishment was to write out Shakespearean sonnets. Consequently I have stayed away from them partly because I don’t want to be reminded of those wasted hours and partly believing them to be rather spurious and sentimental. The thought occurred to me recently that maybe there were one or more sonnets that might prove this thought wrong.

An internet search did just that in five minutes.  The sonnet above which is apparently one of his most famous, is according to my research, an example of his not as was the fashion, comparing his love to the beauties of nature, i.e the snowy breast,the damask rose cheeks but rather doing the opposite. When I first read the above and before reading any commentaries I thought it was a very realistic love poem and while not ‘romantic’ as such, more genuine in its truth.  I have since found some more, equally interesting examples of his sonnets. Critics have come up with a number of reasons for this turn of events, such as Shakespeare having a bit of a laugh at the traditional Petrarchan style of sonnet deliverance.  He was certainly a realist with a down to earth understanding of human behaviour. Perhaps he had too much sense of humour and originality to keep up with the pretenses of his fellows.

There are  a number of well written sites and commentaries on the sonnets online. The most detailed I have found and one that includes commentary as well as historical detail belongs to Oxquarry Books Ltd.  Go here to reach their homepage or for an excellent page on the above poem go to the discussion on Sonnet 130 here.

PLease go on over to our Tuesday Poem Hub, where Elizabeth Welsh is today’s editor with a very different kind of love poem.

Cracked by Johanna Emeney

Shakespeare would have approved.  And do check out the smorgasbord of other Tuesday Poems in the left hand sidebar.

Tuesday Poem Hub, my turn as editor – with special guest Siobhan Harvey

I am delighted to be editing the Tuesday Hub this week with Siobhan Harvey as my guest. Siobhan’s choice of poem is Cloudmother, the key poem from her latest book, Cloudboy, (Otago University Press April 2014).

Siobhan says, ‘Cloudmother’ is one of the key poems in Cloudboy. Its first line – When a child starts school, so too the parents – was the phrase which began the entire journey towards drafting, redrafting and completing the collection, and indeed its companion creative non-fiction essay, ‘A Boy Called Cloud.’ ( Helen says, This essay is a wonderfully moving description of Cloudmother (Siobhan) and Cloudboy’s journey into living with their own unique set of challenges.) Read A Boy called Cloud here.

Of the book Cloudboy, Mary McCallum, our Tuesday Poem co-editor began her review with these words…The way a cloud forms, so the poems of Cloudboy – quiet, controlled, in various shapes and sizes – build inexorably to something larger than themselves, something unexpected and absorbing. A collection of poetry aims to do that, of course, but some collections are narratives, one poem leaning on the others until the story’s out, and Cloudboy, which won the 2013 Kathleen Grattan Award for Poetry, is one of those. Read more here.

I personally recommend both Cloudboy and its accompanying essay A Boy Called Cloud, as excellent educational resources for those wanting to understand more about autism.  While Cloudboy is not a textbook it is a beautifully written and sensitive collection of poems written by someone who has struggled with the challenges facing her and come out flying!

Cloudboy - the book cover

Cloudboy – the book cover


 Please visit the Tuesday Poem Hub now and read the wonderful poem Cloudmother and Siobhan’s commentary.









Tuesday Poem – Scythe by Deidre Thorsen-Lavery

1. this morning

he knocked -

not the Grim Reaper

except for his

unsuspecting beast

the home kill man

sought a farmer called Peter


hailed from Napier


there was no dishevelment

tidiness disguised intent

blood  knives  bullet

he could’ve commanded

a naval cruiser instead

politely requested my phone


2. the surface of the

horse’s water trough

is sheet glass


a variegated moth

floats suspended

on sky’s reflection


exquisite in fragility


to lift

into safety

I destroy




there is no solution


I am a

scythe slicing

through that which

is abundantly florescent


I dislike

what I select


consider the home kill man

more skilfully



Author’s Comment: Deidre says ‘The poem ‘Scythe,’ which was second in the 2013 Takahe Poetry Competition, is the direct result of a recent incident. The home kill man knocked on my door looking for a local farmer, his tidy appearance contrasting with the nature of his work. In my valley there is much beauty, yet always death. These dualities and ambiguities, the light and dark of things inspire my writing.’

Helen says: I think the poet’s conundrum  in the above is one which many of us face on a regular basis, when frail insects/species cross our pathway.   I love the way in which Deidre contrasts the feelings at having been accidentally involved in the death of something so exquisite,‘I am a scythe slicing through that which is abundantly floresecent.’  with the home kill man and his respectful behaviour and cleancut methods. An almost envy at the fact that what he does is permissible for those reasons and certainly more ordered. Did you notice her use of  florescent?  A very appropriate and effective use of an uncommon word.

This poem was published with permission.Thank you Deidre, it’s been a pleasure.


Deidre Thorsen-Lavery

Deidre Thorsen-Lavery

Deidre conversing with her horses

Deidre conversing with her horses

Deidre above with her horses Kruz and Morse and Tinkerbelle, a tamed wild cat. The stables in the picture are historic and were built in the 1880s as part of an early colonial run, Maraekakaho  Station, owned by Sir Donald Mclean.

Biography: Deirdre Thorsen-Lavery lives in rural Hawkes Bay where she paints, writes and looks after horses and donkeys. Horses, art and poetry have always been part of her life. Her grandfather bred horses and her father rode in the cavalry at the beginning of WWII. He recited John Masefield ballads and famous vaudeville poems filling her early life with words.
A painter and art teacher for many years, Deidre first performed her poetry at the Listener Women’s Book Festival in Wanganui in 1991. She has regularly participated in Hasting Live Poets’ meetings since their inception in 1992.  Her poems have been published in Poetry NZ, Landfall and Takahe.


If you enjoyed this poem as much as I did please feel welcome to leave a comment. It’s always helpful for guest poets to know they are appreciated.

And do head over to the Tuesday Poem hub where Michelle Elvy is this week’s editor. She shares a poem apiece from Mary McCallum and Frankie McMillan. These two were the judges of this year’s Flash Fiction Competition and both write marvellous poetry.

Tuesday Poem – Touch by Michelle Elvy

I’m just another artifact you’ve fingered,
pulled from layers of fragile dust
plucked from piles of patina bones
rustling on a dark sea floor,
china breaking at first touch

Put your hands round this filigreed
thing, scrimshaw scratches
one hundred years old
ships scrolled on teeth cutting time
polished bone meaning something

This is me, this is me

Press your breast next to mine, taste brine,
smell iron blood, suck salt skin
my rimu ribs murmuring more than
logbooks carved in time
and lost in wet night

Feel here, my treasure

What’s this, you say, so brittle,
shards breaking, dust sifting
past knuckles clumsy and stiff
your eyes carve grooves
I slide away, heave a little, push
into secret sand
into soft wet

Whisper me back
—gently, gently—
and I will open again, a mollusc
with her pearl

Trace this crack and you’ll find
the path to my soul
touch it here, and here
—but not here

For those who love the sea and all its mystery, this is a must poem to read.  Some of the best and most loved poems in history have been written by those who have a deep empathy with oceans and you won’t be surprised to discover that Michelle is an experienced ocean sailor. Like the sea, her poem has mysterious depths … many layered, it appeals to all the senses.  It also stands alone.  And yet it was written as part of a duet.

Author’s Comment:

This poem was written for JMWW’s Exquisite Duet series, for which editor Meg Tuite introduces an opening line and two poets write from there. The series includes two poems prompted

by the same opening line, and each time we see two dramatically different poems. You can see this on the page where my poem from the Spring 2014 issues of JMWW appears: Dena Rash Guzman goes to hard ironies and external encounters, with beautifully difficult juxtapositions, as in
There is a war out every window on earth.
Everyone you know will die.
Cats in the yard make love anyway.
– while my poem traces lines to a quieter internal place.
Other examples of the pairing of poets with surprising outcomes can be seen in the case of Joani Reese and April Michelle Bratten, who began their two poems with the line
There is a place that slams doors before you speak and then Dennis Mahagin and Teisha Dawn Twomey, two poets beginning with the line
I’ve been fitting back together for years…

Exquisite Duet is a marvelous series. Thank you so much for going back to ‘Touch’ today, Helen!

Michelle and family in Quarry Gallery Whangarei

Michelle and family in Quarry Gallery Whangarei

Helen says: ‘it certainly is a great series. And thank you Michelle for sharing your poem. It’s a pleasure to have you, a fellow Tuesday poet, on my blog.’

Do have a look at, ‘Of Revolution by Dena Rash Guzman,’ the other poem in this duet, here.

Michelle’s Bio in Brief: Michelle Elvy lives and works as a writer, editor, and manuscript assessor based in New Zealand. She edits at Blue Five Notebook and Flash Frontier: An Adventure in Short Fiction and she’s the chair of this month’s National Flash Fiction Day. Her poetry, prose, and reviews can be found in journals and anthologies such as Poets & Artists, Room, Takahē, PANK, 2014: A Year in Stories, and Eastbourne: An Anthology. More at michelleelvy.com. You can also find her at her blog Glow Worm and sailing on Momo.

When I asked Michelle to be my guest on Tuesday Poem she asked right back. The poem I had available was also about touch. Serendipity perhaps. To read it you can go to Michelle’s blog here.

For a stimulating selection of poetry and poetry news return to the Tuesday Poem hub here,  where Helen Lowe is this week’ s editor with a new poem by Joanna Preston.

Tuesday Poem – The Desert Road – Lynn Davidson

Mount Ruapehu breaches clouds –
a whale arrested in a dive
fluke still planted in the earth.

Driving back through tussock
barnacles of shining white
and the high ice-creaking calls locate us.

Wet banks move, striated, through slow day-lights
shunt time, whole eras, ahead and behind
carry small architecture on great backs.

We cut across this old wake, our father,
the suspension shakes and shakes
we can’t make the corners fast.

It gets dark and the languages come out
in constellations and even though we don’t know how
we follow them to familiar places.


Author’s Comment: The Desert Road will be part of a new collection of poetry with the corny working title of ‘The Old Shining Road’. I love the Central Plateau in the North Island and have written about it quite a bit, including in my new novella called The Desert Road published by Rosa Mira Books earlier this year!  The landscape, the history and the mythology of the Central Plateau grabbed my heart and my imagination many years ago and has never let go. For some reason it transforms into a whale in this poem – perhaps it is that sense of the land being vast and graceful and somehow on the move. The Desert Road was published in the UK in PN Review a year or so back and just last week I read it at an end of semester poetry reading with my students at Melbourne University. So there you are, The Desert Road is on the move.’


poet Lynn Davidson

poet Lynn Davidson

Bio: Lynn Davidson has written four collections of poetry, the latest, Common Land, published in 2012 by Victoria University Press combines poetry and essays. A novella, The Desert Road was published this year by Rosa Mira Books.  In September 2013 Lynn was writing fellow at Hawthornden Castle in Scotland.


For more on Lynn and her books go to Rosa Mira books here.

Visit Lynn’s website here.

Lynn says she agrees with Eudora Welty that ‘Whatever our theme in writing, it is old and tired. Whatever our place, it has been visited by the stranger, it will never be new again. It is only the vision that can be new; but that is enough.’


Hawthornden Castle captured my imagination, so I asked Lynn for a description and photo. What an amazing place and what a lovely description she gives.

 ‘Let the poets and writers drool!’

Hawthornden Castle

Hawthornden Castle


Lynn’s Description of Hawthornden Castle. 

In 2013 I was resident (for a short, heady time a fellow) at Hawthornden Castle just outside Edinburgh along with five other writers from England, Poland and the USA.  During my month there I wrote poems and walked and talked with the other writers and drank sherry – lots of sherry – which I’d never done before and haven’t done since! It’s a proper castle with a beautiful forest around it with deer and badgers and all sorts of storybook creatures. One day we were taken to explore the Pictish caves which we got to via a hobbity door at the foot of the castle. The heavy wooden door was opened with a large old key and we all bowed down a little to enter caves that are like large burrows, rounded at their edges. At one point one of the rooms opens onto the side of a very deep well. In another room carved into its walls was what looked like an extensive wine rack, but was a dove cote! I’m still processing all the riches of living in a castle with long quiet days of writing and walking and lively sherry-fueled evenings with writers from all around the world. 

 For readers from other countries, if you want to learn more about New Zealand’s Desert Road, and its ability to inspire see here.

 The Desert Road is published with permission. And now please return to Tuesday Poem.  Check out the sidebar for new and stimulating posts from  Tuesday Poem bloggers around the globe. And do read the hub page where Andrew Bell, this week’s editor, shares a poem by Emma Neale.














Duck’s Ditty – Kenneth Grahame plus the mysteries of rustling in the rushes

 Below is a conversation between Mole and Ratty, a must read comment on poets and what we do. And below again, is the poem Duck’s Ditty.

The conversation and the poem come from The Wind in the Willows, written by Kenneth Grahame, first published in 1908 and much-loved ever since.

“I don’t know that I think so very much of that little song, Rat,” observed the Mole cautiously. He was no poet himself and didn’t care who knew it; and he had a candid nature.

“Nor don’t the ducks neither,” replied the Rat cheerfully. “They say, ‘Why can’t fellows be allowed to do what they like when they like and as they like, instead of other fellows sitting on banks and watching them all the time and making remarks and poetry and things about them? What nonsense it all is!’ That’s what the ducks say.”

“So it is, so it is,” said the Mole, with great heartiness.

“No, it isn’t!” cried the Rat indignantly.



All along the backwater,

Through the rushes tall,

Ducks are a-dabbling,

Up tails all!



Ducks’ tails, drakes’ tails,

Yellow feet a-quiver,

Yellow bills all out of sight

Busy in the river!


Slushy green undergrowth

Where the roach swim—

Here we keep our larder,

Cool and full and dim.


Everyone for what he likes!

We like to be

Heads down, tails up,

Dabbling free!


High in the blue above

Swifts whirl and call—

We are down a-dabbling

Up tails all!






This past summer I have spent a lot of time by a lake which would make an ideal substitute for the river in The Wind in the Willows.  No moles or

ratties, no roach but plenty of rushes and ducks a dabbling. A wonderful exercise in whittling ones’s world down to the smaller but no less important

things of life.  Great stuff for a writer. I have discovered that pukekoes swim, that dabchicks (the New Zealand grebe), look like miniature swans and

that cygnets come in shades of brown. I have observed mallards, paradise ducks, herons, shags and have chattered with the tuis.

And then their are the thrushes, the welcome swallows, the wax eyes, the dragon flies, the ladybirds and so much else and overall the hawks hovering.





Mother Duck and her thirteen ducklings. copyright H McKinlay

Mother Duck and her thirteen ducklings. copyright H McKinlay

a little black shag on the lake

a little black shag on the lake

I have listened to the rustling in the rushes, the dulcet sounds of ducks dabbling and the gentle night time quacking, as duck mothers call in their babies.

what lies hidden among the rushes?

what lies hidden among the rushes?

Of course the dialogue with ducks was a large part of the whole exercise.  I can see that ducks have much to deal with, looking after a clutch of ducklings and keeping them safe from predators such as eels, hawks, dogs and humans. There’s a conflict here isn’t there…so many people get so much pleasure from feeding ducks, small boys love chasing them, adults gaze at them, soothed by their apparently peaceful life and duck shooters shoot them. And of course the regulars who come to feed them and be fussed over in turn regard them as their own. But whats not to love; the view of a duck’s arse as it takes off looking rather too reminiscent of something ready for the freezer, the way they skitter from the sky and skid across the water, their  greetings as if to an old friend… and the ducklings; watching them grow, the big webbed feet of the teenagers,  the sprouting of wings, the games….

Here’s to the joy we all get from ducks and here’s to Kenneth Grahame and his wonderful children’s book Wind in the Willows from which Duck’s Ditty comes.
Please return to Tuesday Poem here where Keith Westwater is editor with  Quail Flat by Kerry Popplewell.





Bernard and Cerinthe – Linda France – National Poetry Competition UK winner

If a flower is always a velvet curtain
onto some peepshow he never opens,


it’s a shock to find himself, sheltering
from the storm in a greenhouse,


seduced by a leaf blushing blue
at the tips, begging to be stroked.


He’s caught in the unfamiliar ruffle
of knickerbockers or petticoat, a scent


of terror, vanilla musk. If he were
not himself, he’d let his trembling lips


articulate the malleability of wax;
the bruise of bracts, petals, purple


shrimps; seeds plump as buttocks,
tucked out of harm’s way, cocos-de-mer


washed up off Curieuse or Silhouette.
But being Bernard, he’s dumbstruck,


a buffoon in front of a saloon honey
high-kicking the can-can. Can’t-can’t.


He attempts to cool himself, thinking
about seahorses, Hippocampus erectus,


listening to the rain refusing to stop,
soft against the steamed-up glass.

(c) Linda France


Linda France

Linda France

The plant Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’ is the inspiration for this poem. Linda first came across it in a friend’s garden. It astonished her. She describes it as ‘very sexy’ with a ‘flirtatiousness about it that’s very seductive.”  If this seems an unusual description of a plant you must realise that this plant’s major purpose in life is to attract pollinating insects in order to keep the species going. Cerinthe does this so well that its common name is honeywort! Butterflies and bees alike are said to absolutely love her.  In this poem Linda has the courage to go with her perceptions and though she says she ‘doesn’t know how Bernard came into the picture’ it is his startling reaction which showcases her original sense of the plant. Linda writes with an innate humour and delicacy, the end result being a poem which though wildly imaginative and erotic remains authentic.  (Helen McKinlay’s note)

Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’
Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’

Bernard and Cerinthe won first place in the UK’s National Poetry Competition this year. It is posted here with Linda France’s permission.  The judge, Jane Yeh, commented “This strange narrative of a man being seduced by a plant charmed the judges with its vivid imagery and linguistic wit. “ To read more, go here.

The flowers of Cerinthe

The bracts (blue) and flowers of Cerinthe NB Cerinthe is so loved by bees that its other name is Honeywort

Bernard and Cerinthe is from a collection on the brink of completion. Its current title is Heliconia.   A year-long Residency at Moorbank, Newcastle University’s Botanic Garden, prompted Linda to further explore ‘exotic’ plants under glass in their natural habitats. This botanical project began with a visit to Padua Botanic Garden in Autumn 2012 and has taken her to Oxford, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Kew, Benmore, Dawyck, Sheffield, Linn and Durham Botanic Gardens.  She has just come back from Pisa, her final visit.  Linda says ‘one of the things I’m drawn to about plants,’ is that ‘they express this tremendous “Otherness”, but they just stay there and let you respond to them, unlike a bird or animal that disappears..’ To read more about her botanical interests and see her photos visit Linda’s blog here. You can see and hear Linda herself reading Bernard and Cerinthe in the film poem below.


Alastair Cook is a film maker of some twenty years standing and is well known for the quality and beauty of his work. He was commissioned to make the film Bernard and Cerinthe by Filmpoem and Felix Poetry Festival in association with the UK Poetry Society. It is important to note that the film footage is actual real film. The link above is posted with Alastair’s permission.


Selected Biography and Books:  LINDA FRANCE was born in Newcastle upon Tyne. After some time living away, she moved back to the North East in 1981. She is currently based close to Hadrian’s Wall, near Hexham, in Northumberland.  Linda has published nine collections of poetry and four pamphlets. She is also the editor of three anthologies.  More here.

And now please return to the Tuesday Poem Hub where today’s editor is Saradha Koirala with a wonderfully alive and original poem by Kirsti Whalen. Before you leave there, check out the sidebar of delights from the other Tuesday Poets.



Tuesday Poem – A Contemplation upon Flowers – Henry King

BRAVE flowers–that I could gallant it like you,
And be as little vain!
You come abroad, and make a harmless show,
And to your beds of earth again.
You are not proud: you know your birth:
For your embroider’d garments are from earth.

You do obey your months and times, but I
Would have it ever Spring:
My fate would know no Winter, never die,
Nor think of such a thing.
O that I could my bed of earth but view
And smile, and look as cheerfully as you!

O teach me to see Death and not to fear,
But rather to take truce!
How often have I seen you at a bier,
And there look fresh and spruce!
You fragrant flowers! then teach me, that my breath
Like yours may sweeten and perfume my death.

 Henry King (1592 –  1669) was an English poet and bishop.

Henry King (1592 – 1669) was an English poet and bishop.

Henry King was the son of a Bishop of London and himself became Bishop of Chichester. To read more about him go here.  This is a charming poem in which the poet expresses his  envy for the cheerful regard the flowers bear for the earth but watch this space next Tuesday for a surprising modern day flower poem from the opposite end of the UK. And before you leave, please return to the Tuesday Poem Hub, where T.Clear has a beautiful post and commentary. The poet is Sean Lysaght from Ireland.

free flower photo
And if the lack of flowers and winter’s approach is casting a shadow click here and let your soul dance.

The Poem that took the Place of a Mountain – Wallace Stevens

There it was, word for word,
The poem that took the place of a mountain.

He breathed its oxygen,
Even when the book lay turned in the dust of his table.

It reminded him how he had needed
A place to go to in his own direction,

How he had recomposed the pines,
Shifted the rocks and picked his way among clouds,

For the outlook that would be right,
Where he would be complete in an unexplained completion:

The exact rock where his inexactness
Would discover, at last, the view toward which they had edged,

Where he could lie and, gazing down at the sea,
Recognize his unique and solitary home.

Wallace Stevens
Wallace Stevens

Wallace Stevens

I love this piece of work.  How imaginative to use a mountain as an analogy for a poem. And how true it is. If you wish, there are several sites online where you can read about what Stevens may have meant.  You must take that journey on your own however. I am content to read it as it is.
As for Stevens himself, he led (to my way of thinking) a surprising life for a poet. He worked as the vice-president of the New York office of the Equitable Surety Company.
And if not for his poetry, for which he won many top accolades, he could have been  known as the man who broke his hand, apparently from hitting Hemingway’s jaw.  To fill some of the gaps inbetween and learn more about this amazing writer, go here
To return to Tuesday Poem hub where today’s editor is  Kathleen Jones with  a wonderful poem by Jean Sprackland, go here.

Tuesday Poem – Three Legged With Possibilities

My green velvet chair is
small, elegant and
though rather shabby
has her own spirit.
Finds her friends where she can.
In storage shares her cosy lap
with tribes of silverfish.

Reprieved from a trip to the tip
breaks a leg on arrival home.
Stays quiet but firmly resolved.
Learns to balance three legged
on Germaine Greer’s ‘Female Eunuch’
and the New Testament in English and Greek.

Wants to move freely.
Rolling up her skirts
shows a dainty bit of leg.
Is caught trying to skitter across the room
by an ex policeman with
with a shed
full of possibilities.

He has her measure.
But for now his business is with Aegir
god of turbulent waters
whose blessing
he will
this afternoon invoke
upon his whisky distillation.
Later he will bring for me
a taste
and for my green velvet lady
a new limb.

I will raise a toast and watch
as she dances her pas de deux.

© Helen McKinlay


 About a year ago I took my green velvet chair out of storage. On the way out I grabbed two books which were floating at random…yes they were the above titles. I was already losing enthusiasm for the chair as she was dusty and had been attacked by silverfish but she has a certain spirit and so was reprieved. Unfortunately, she broke a leg in the removal process. However, the randomly grabbed books were just the thing to keep her upright  and she proved quite popular as a sitting place, even though a little lopsided at times. But as you all know a three legged pas de deux is challenging. A telephone call to the ex-policeman changed her life. Funny thing is she seems to have given up dancing now that she has four legs again.

And now I recommend you visit the Tuesday Poem hub, where editor Sarah Jane Barnett has posted an ekphrastic poem, The Noise 

in which two startling images are compared. Don’t miss it.

And do please visit the other Tuesday Poets and read the wonderful variety of their poems this week.

Tuesday Poem – On My First Son – Ben Jonson – chosen for ‘Poems that make Grown Men Cry’

Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;
My sin was too much hope of thee, loved boy;
Seven years thou wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
Oh! could I lose all father, now! for why,
Will man lament the state he should envy?
To have so soon ’scaped world’s, and flesh’s rage,
And, if no other misery, yet age!
Rest in soft peace, and, asked, say here doth lie
Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry;
For whose sake, henceforth, all his vows be such,
As what he loves may never like too much.
wake of his dispute with Jones.

Poems that make Grown Men Cry

“This poem was chosen for inclusion in the above anthology Poems that make Grown Men Cry - an anthology of some of the most emotive lines in literature chosen by 100 famous and admired men, ranging from Daniel Radcliffe to Nick Cave, to Johnathon Franzen. Published in April 2014 and edited by the journalist and biographer Anthony Holden and his film-producer son, Ben, the book is winning praise for introducing male readers to unfamiliar works – and emotions…Speaking  on BBC Radio 4′s Midweek programme, Professor John Carey revealed he found his own choice, Ben Jonson’s farewell poem to his dead child, On My First Sonne, “impossible to read without breaking down at the early moment where the poet appears to turn to speak to his son with the words, “My sin was too much hope of thee, lov’d boy.”

Read more about the anthology in this article from The Guardian.

And if you are interested in how and why the anthology came about, read this excellent extract from the book’s preface.

And/or visit the publishers website at Simon and Schuster UK.

Born in 1572, Jonson began his working life as a bricklayer and then a soldier, and it is perhaps experiences in these fields –that shaped his no-nonsense, confrontational personality. Read about Ben Jonson here.

Ben Jonson 1572 - 1637

Ben Jonson
1572 – 1637




Here lies, to each her parents’ ruth,
Mary, the daughter of their youth;
Yet, all heaven’s gifts, being heaven’s due,
It makes the father less to rue.
At six months’ end, she parted hence,
With safety of her innocence;
Whose soul heaven’s queen, whose name she bears,
In comfort of her mother’s tears,
Hath placed amongst her virgin-train;
Where, while that severed doth remain,
This grave partakes the fleshly birth;
Which cover lightly, gentle earth!


When I looked for the poem On My First Son, I found the above poem also by Ben Jonson.

Janis Freegard is the editor of Tuesday Poem’s hub this week with Untitled by Ema Saikō, a beautifully insightful poem about enjoying the moment…something which should be easy to do. Aah yes the should word…but how easy it is to lose focus.





Late Tuesday Poem – Chagall in Vitebsk – Cliff Fell

He believed in the dust that was beaten
from rugs, how it became
the stars of the Milky Way,
and he would share the last hours of animals
with his uncle the butcher
who played to them on the violin.

And he knew the tyranny of perspective
will kill us all
and that even the chairs get bored
in Vitebsk,
from sitting alone
in the courtyard all day.

So, stay here with your herrings, he said—
my concern is with movement,
with the paradise lost of childhood
and absolution of Art and Love—
though when Bella died
the world went dark before my eyes.

But we all need to copy what we already possess
and so he remade on the canvas
the lack of alcohol,
the reality that lies beyond
the shadows at play on the wall,
the images and forms that we like to say

are simply those who are passing us by.
So where are you going,
Mr. Oxcart Man, with your creaking wheels
on the old dirt road?
Will you make it through
to the seasons of another year?—

And play out its days on your violin
as you fly
to the farm where a goat and horse still graze
and the poet reclines
beneath a lilac sky
waiting for the evening stars to appear.


This poem was published in Shenandoah, volume 62, number 2  in the section on New Zealand poetry and was  listed in Best New Zealand Poems 2013, It is here with Cliff’s permission. Thank you Cliff.


CLiff Fell

Cliff Fell

Cliff’s Comment:‘The poem “Chagall in Vitebsk” is partly based on notes scrawled during a cinema viewing of Chagall, the 1963 short documentary directed by Lauro Venturi. The final stanza refers to Chagall’s early painting, “The Poet Reclining”, from the sequence known as “Scenes from Vitebsk”. The painting, images of which can be found on the internet, entranced me when I first came across it in the Tate Modern, in 1970, aged 15, and—probably for the enigmatic insouciance of the subject-matter—set me firm in my youthful resolve that poetry was the only career worth pursuing.’ (Helen McK says – see here for an image of ‘The Poet Reclining.‘  And, you can understand how Chagall might inspire a poet, here.)

Cliff teaches creative writing at the Nelson Malborough Institute of Technology where he has developed an innovative programme- the Diploma in Writing for Creative Industries. Click here for more information on Cliff and his poetic activities. His own writing CV includes a prize-winning poetry collection, (The Adulterers Bible,Victoria University Press,2003 ), fiction writing, nonfiction and reviewing. His second collection was Beauty of the Badlands (Victoria University Press, 2008). His work has been widely published in New Zealand and in journals and anthologies in Australia, the UK and the USA and profiled in the TVNZ programme Bookmarks. Two of his poems recently appeared in The Griffith Review

His latest publication is The Good Husbandwoman’s Alphabet [An illustrated long poem], Last Leaf Press, 2014.


For more amazing poetry please go to the Tuesday Poem Hub where this week’s editor is co-curator of Tuesday Poem Mary McCallum, with a striking poem by Helen Rickerby from her new book, Cinema, published by Mākaro Press. 

Tuesday Poem – Blue Mountain

a mountain stands
in front of me
a mountain cold
and blue
I dare not hope to pass beyond

but then I further place my self
and sight the sea
out back
and a strange light
which beckons

no need to climb
this peak
but take instead
the long way round
observe the roots
from which its might has sprung
and leave a place
for wild imaginings

(c) Helen McKinlay

I wrote this a dozen years ago.  It was inspired by a picture but I like the message it sends me now. There are many mountains in life and some are best left to themselves.

Go well. Have a great week.  And do touch base with The Tuesday Poem Hub .  Today is Tuesday Poem’s fourth birthday and we celebrate with a unique collaboration of lines.  It’s rampant with the poetic senses. What’s not to love about it. :-)


a Wednesday/Tuesday poem – Busquake


it’s the spaces inbetween

the subconscious waiting

Jesus, exclaims someone

as the bus shudders

 another one

but its not


and later

is it my body that pulses and shakes so

that lurch

am I really that unbalanced?




bizarre that one begins

to enjoy

the excitement

of the dance

forward back back forward

side forward back

the shared discussion in the aftermath


the way

a wall moves this way sometimes

that way another


(c) Helen McKinlay


This fragment was written not long after the 2010 Christchurch quake. Like many others I have an earthquake collection. This one popped out at me, for which I am grateful, as it has been one of those weeks. A reminder that control is illusory…both the week and the poem…

Enjoy your week and do pop over to the Tuesday Poem Hub and read Nola Borrell’s delightful poem Tuatara, posted by this week’s editor, Janis Freegard. Nola and Janis are both writers in residence at New Pacific Studio in the Wairarapa. May you both be filled with ideas and the energy to record them.

Tuesday Poem – Mending Wall by Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbours? Isn’t it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

I was going to look for something startling and modern for this week’s post but came across these lines where I had saved them. And so exchanged modern for timeless.

And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.

And that was that …I exchanged modern for timeless. I just love

‘Mending Wall’.  The two lines above could be construed as people shutting off from one another but to me it seems respectful and loving. I can go a hundred steps further and get carried away on the topic of healthy boundaries too. We all need those…and I love the way that Robert Frost respects those of his neighbour even though he himself questions the reasons and would like to talk about it.

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself.’ 

It seems to me he enjoys the whole process of the wall and is actually building a relationship with his neighbour at the same time. but enough of analysis it’s a beautiful poem. Frost was famous for his depiction of rural life. It  seems to me that his rare and clear perception and acceptance of the interaction between ourselves and our environment  borders on the metaphysical.  To learn more about Frost, 1874-1963, b. San Francisco, d. Boston, a four-time Pulitzer Prize winner in poetry, go here. And take time to watch the short but illuminating biographical video, there within.

Robert Frost

Robert Frost

If you are feeling like being startled stimulated puzzled and uncertain of the meaning of poetry visit Tuesday Poem where this week’s editor Zireaux may be able to help. And do visit the other members of Tuesday Poem in the left hand side bar and soak up the variety.

Tuesday Poem – Found in Translation –


exploded as stardust

from a dark black hole.


the cosmos.


in the  genomes

of every race and creed.

Supplies the nanno energy

in every cell that lives.

Will never be detained

for it slips between the  words

to pass through steel doors.

(c) Helen McKinlay

I got into several discussions yesterday on the nature of poetry and I realised that of all the arts poetry is perhaps the most liberated. It can never be silenced.  In fact it becomes stronger in the wake of such action. Hence publications such as Jail Verse from Enoh Meyomesse. The above fragment is my spontaneous expression of this realisation. I dedicate it to Enoh and the many other poets behind bars.
An English PEN challenge: translating one of Enoh Meyomesse’s poem into Maori – can you do it?
Please take time to read the short extracts below referencing Maori translation and the latest from Huia on the value of the Maori language.
Pen Matters

LITERARY CAMPAIGNING WITH ENGLISH PEN‘ In a  previous edition of the NZSA e-newsletter, we featured a link to ‘Jail Verse’, a  crowd-sourced translation of poetry by Enoh Meyomesse, a political prisoner in  Cameroon .  Robert Sharp, Head of Campaigns at English PEN, who published the  collection, sent us this message:”Enoh was  surprised and delighted to hear that his poetry has been read and discussed  halfway around the world in New Zealand .  Sharing literature is a positive and  creative way to show solidarity with a fellow writer in trouble for exercising  his right to free speech.

Has there has ever been a  Cameroonian contribution to New Zealand literary culture before?  I wonder if  anyone would like to translate one or more of Enoh’s poems into Maori?   Translation as an ‘Act of Literature’ would be a great help: If the government  of Cameroon sees that diverse communities in other countries are talking about  the injustice done to Enoh Meyomesse, they may hasten his release from  prison.”

This English PEN challenge of translating  a poem into Maori would be ideally suited to someone wishing to begin or extend  their translation portfolio.  There’s no payment, but the charity will publish  the results on their website, and of course facilitate sending a copy of the  translation to Enoh Meyomesse himself. (This notice was published in the New Zealand Society of Authors e-zine, Friday 28th February. 2014)

If you can help please contact Robert Sharp of English Pen here

Enoh Meyomesse, Jail VerseNatasha Lehrer said this. ‘I am a supporter of the extremely valuable work that English PEN does to support writers at risk and keep them in the public eye. It’s both an inspiring and an important organisation and I was truly thrilled to have the opportunity to get involved in a small way with their work when they asked for translators of Enoh Meyomesse’s work. I didn’t know anything of his poetry but was moved by its extreme rawness, his words a savage cry into the void, tempered by a profound spiritual hope.’ 

Natasha Lehrer, translator, Jail Verse: Poems from Kondengui Prison

The below extraction is also from the NZSA e-zine February 28th 2014.
The Value of the Māori Language – Te Hua o te Reo Māori

The Value of the Māori Language 

As I was putting together this weeks e-news, (says the Editor,)  in particular the preceeding story about wanting someone to put their hand up to translate Jail Verse by Enoh Meyomesse into Maori, I received the Huia newsletter and saw Volume 2 of The Value of the Māori Language – Te Hua o te Reo Māori will be released in March.

The Value of the Māori Language is a compilation of important  ideas and philosophies from key commentators in the field of Māori  language revitalisation in response to the question ‘What is the value  of the Māori language?’.
This collection of essays in Māori and  English explores the actions taken to restore the status of the Māori  language, challenges ideas about how the language can be revitalised and  looks at approaches to ensure the future of the language. To read more or advance order the book go here

Stefanie Lash is the guest poet on this week’s Tuesday Poem, edited by Helen Rickerby.  A new and particularly unique writer. Please take a look and be sure to check out the side bar of Tuesday poets and lose your self in it’s variety.

Tuesday Poem – I have forgot you oh without – Enoh Meyomesse

I have forgot you
               oh without

I have forgot my morning prowl
               down Mfoundi canal

I have forgot my daily trawl
               along Ongola’s stinking sidewalks

I have forgot my interminable treks
               past the oh-so-ugly hovels of Essos Nkoldongo

I have forgot the deaf-making clamour of your markets
               louder than the Lobé falls

I have forgot the polyphonic horn blasts of your cars
in the muddy boroughs 

I have forgot your steaming stewing cassava
               each morning beside the road

I have forgot the mouth-watering crackle of your doughnuts
               beneath the teeth of a starving beggar

I have forgot the lap of your flour thresher’s hands
               beside the nerve-gnawing sawdust fire

I have forgot the din of your packed-in bars
               grimly intoxicating my people

I have forgot the reek of your spirits in the carry-outs
nd shacks of Matango

I have forgot the violent brawling of your men
               when their heads bob with liquor

I have forgot the faces of your roadside gawpers
               eyeing out gossip to hawk hawk hawk

I have forgot the shrugging strut of your water boys
               your guava and mango boys, hopeless

I have forgot the desperate eyes of your street-dwellers with
               stumps for hands who beg, endless

I have forgot the radiant faces of your young women
               so charming when they smile

I have forgot the sweet music of your bistros birthing
               burning love affairs

I have forgot the sellers of your flowers
               to whom
                         will I give them



Translated by Katy Thompsett

Last week I wrote about Enoh Meyomesse the imprisoned Cameroon poet and writer. See here  Pen England has asked if there are any Maori translators who would like to voluntarily translate one or more of Enoh’s poems into Maori. If this is you and you would like to, please add a comment below and I will put you in touch.

Enoh Meyomesse

Enoh Meyomesse

“Enoh Meyomesse, 57, is a writer, blogger, historian and political activist who has published more than 15 books of poetry, prose, essays, and works on political and cultural themes and is a founding member and president of the Cameroon Writers Association. His first book was a collection of poems. In 2010, he published Le massacre de Messa en 1955 (The Massacre of Messa in 1955) and the tract Discours sur le tribalisme (A Discussion on Tribalism), in which he discusses the destructive effects of tribalism in Africa politics. View an interactive timeline about Enoh Meyomesse’s case. Meyomesse is a recipient of the 2012 Oxfam Novib/PEN Award in recognition of his continued work in the face of persecution.”

If you have come here from the Tuesday Poem Hub please return and enjoy the wonderful array of poems in the left hand side bar.  They come from thirty poets who keep this blog going week after week. TP editor this week is Catherine Bateson with a wonderful poem from The Abbotsford Mysteries by Patricia Sykes.

Tuesday Poem – Jail Verse – Enoh Meyomesse


you visited me that day

and the black night, without stars

without moonbeams

without fireflies without future

without anything

you could cut it with a machete

like the night when my feet

lost their way behind

the village hut

oh God in heaven



beat down on me

and you oh earth

        yes you oh earth

               you had stopped


by Enoh Meomesse -translated by Grace Hetherington.




 Why do you treat me like this

simply because I don’t

             see things your way


have you not freed words

have you not freed spirits

have you not freed souls

have you not freed tongues


oh leaders of this regime

custodians of my people’s destiny

why do you treat me like this

simply because I don’t

             see things your way


by Enoh Meyomesse -translated by Dick Jones.


Last week in the New Zealand Society of Authors, I saw this entry.

PEN – Jail Verse: Poems from Kondengui Prison

Pen Matters! 

English PEN launches a print-on-demand version of Enoh Meyomesse’s poetry collection, Jail Verse: Poems from Kondengui Prison, to help raise much-needed funds for the imprisoned activist and poet.

I downloaded a copy. Reading this collection, I was reminded of how lucky we are in New Zealand and hopefully many other countries, to still have the right of free speech. Long may it last! I felt humbled and grateful in turn as I read Enoh’s poems. Poems of unimaginable despair which still contain threads of hope. Poems of the love he has for his country….I am not qualified to describe the feelings behind them. In his Introduction, to Enoh’s verses, Ollie Brock describes them as passionate and visceral, poems which often do not make for comfortable reading.

Free Enoh a banner from 'Pen'

Free Enoh a banner from ‘Pen’

The download is free but all donations help. You can find out how to do both below.

‘ Cameroonian  activist and poet Enoh Meyomesse’s most recent appeal hearing, scheduled for 16  January, was postponed. This is the seventh time that this has happened since  his case was first referred to a civil court for appeal in April 2013. The next  hearing has now been rescheduled for 20 February.
Arrested in  November 2011, Enoh Meyomesse was detained for over a year before being  sentenced to seven years in prison for supposed complicity in the theft and  illegal sale of gold. These ongoing delays mean that Meyomesse has now been  behind bars for more than two years on what are widely believed to be trumped-up  charges. As a result of the numerous postponements and additional months in  prison, funds to cover Meyomesse’s legal fees and daily needs – including food,  medicine, family visits, and writing materials – are now  dwindling.
In late 2013,  English PEN launched a crowd-sourced translation of the volume of poetry  Meyomesse has written in prison, in order to raise funds for him and his family,  and greater awareness of his case. We’re pleased to announce that the full  collection Jail Verse: Poems from Kondengui Prison is now available to  print-on-demand. As with the ebook version, all proceeds will be used to support  Enoh Meyomesse and our ongoing work on behalf of writers at risk around the  world. Click here to order your copy.’ (NZSA E-ZINE Friday March 14th)


For more information about Pen International and Pen New Zealand,  go here

To read a review of Jail Verse from The Huffington Post,  go here

If you want to read about how it is in prison for Enoh now, or /and if you woud like to write a letter supporting his release, please go here

See also my next blog which features Enoh’s  poem ‘ I have forgot you oh without’

And now I recommend you go to Tuesday Poem and read Michelle Elvy’s sparkling editorial before you delve into the riches in the sidebar … from those  who are free to enjoy sharing their poems in safety.

Tuesday Poem – A Ballad of John Silver – John Masefield

Coming across John Masefield recently, I was reminded of  what were some of my favourite poems as a  secondary school pupil, namely Cargoes and Sea Fever.  And then I discovered his poem A Ballad of John Silver, a rather bloodthirsty piece, that reminded me of a time around my seventh and eighth years when I read every pirate story I could lay my hands on.  I wasn’t particularly blood thirsty though so what was the attraction?  I think the colour, of their clothes and language, their daring, their adventures…their parrots! And the excitement of the sea and the ships!  Hopefully not the brains splattered on the decks! Read and listen to this poem by John Masefield and see what you think.  And after that, scroll down and read his short but wonderfully imageric poem Cargoes. (Imageric may not be in the dictionary by the way but it should be.)


Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.
Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds, Emeralds, amethysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.
Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal, Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

John Masefield

Cargoes is a poem to be read aloud.  The word pictures, the sounds,  the contrast between the glamour of precious stones and the Tyne coal.  And that first line…the poem would be lost without it in my opinion. What is a Quinquireme by the way?  Go here to behold some pictorially! John Masefield, an English poet born 1878 –  d.1967, had an interesting start. After an unhappy education at the King’s School in Warwick (now known as Warwick School), where he was a boarder between 1888 and 1891, he left to board the HMS Conway, both to train for a life at sea, and to break his addiction to reading, of which his aunt thought little. He spent several years aboard this ship and found that he could spend much of his time reading and writing. It was aboard the Conway that Masefield’s love for story-telling grew. While on the ship, he listened to the stories told about sea lore. He continued to read, and felt that he was to become a writer and story teller himself.  He was named Poet Laureate of England in 1930 and kept that title until his death 37 years later. To read more about John Masefield from Wikipedia, go here. And now if you haven’t been there already please return to Tuesday Poem’s hub page and check out its cargo of poetic riches!  Have a great week and watch out for pirates :-)

Tuesday Poem – I Could Have Roused You


you were asleep

your face

a pink flush

on the pillow


I could have roused you


I took the boat

and rowed

out into the harbour

into the sunrise


I can’t tell you

how splendid it was

to be there


in a molten world

I wrote this poem a number of years ago.  I have actually filched it off my website.  (Am nursing a broken rib at present so taking a few shortcuts).  If you want to see the great ‘flash’ image made by my friend Chin to go with this poem go here     And if you haven’t already been there visit Tuesday Poem and read a poem to touch your heartstrings, Bogong Moth by Joe Dolce, chosen by this week’s editor Jennifer Compton.

Under The Huang Jiao Tree on Radio NZ National, Monday 20th January 2014

Happy New Year everyone. Hope you’ve enjoyed the last few weeks journey through Christmas and into the brand new year of 2014.  Such a short few days with so much excitement factored in.   Hope your transition was a peaceful one. Catching up with my family was the focus for me. It was very special. And then there was the excitement of seeing ‘Grandma’ in Smith and Caugheys Christmas windows! See here.

For my first blog of the year I am very happy to tell you that Jane Carswell’s book Under the Huang Jiao Tree: Two Journeys in China, (Transit Lounge Publishing Melbourne, 2009) is to be rebroadcast on Radio NZ National. The first five chapters will be read this week, starting on Monday 20th January at 2.30pm I am so looking forward to listening. Not only is Jane an excellent friend but I am also a fan of her work.  I find it quite fascinating that this book not only won the Whitcoull’s Travel Book of the year 2010, but also was placed third in the Ashton Wylie Award, for a book in the mind, body, spirit (‘new age’) genre. Two quite different genres one might think.  Actually to quote from Jane’s website… three! Memoir, travel and spritiuality.  

Book cover, Under The Huang Jiao Tree by Jane Carswell

Book cover, Under The Huang Jiao Tree by Jane Carswell

Here’s how the publishers described the book.

‘In mid-life Jane Carswell leaves her seemingly tranquil New Zealand home, her family and friends, to teach English in Chongqing, China. Her journey into the unknown epitomises the ache so many of us feel in our own lives for new challenges and personal understandings. Under the Huang Jiao Tree is a reflective, amusing and absorbing book about living and working in China, and the profound impact the experience has on the author’s search for connection and community. Carswell writes beautifully and entertainingly of China, of its people and her surprises and setbacks, but where her memoir stands alone is in its description of her own search for a spiritual life and practice. On return to her New Zealand life she becomes drawn to the teachings of St Benedict, and all at once the reader realises where the purity of her writing springs from: a deep well of calm, silence and belief.’

Transit Lounge Publishing, Melbourne

Jane’s writing is beautiful.  Add to that, her openness and considered approach to her topic plus her humour and attention to detail and you have a rare book.  For some excellent reviews including one each from the Melbourne Age and the Dominion Post NZ see Jane’s website here

Here’s what Mary McAllum our Tuesday Poems Editor had to say about it. Under the Huang Jiao Tree,  begins with a quote: ‘There is a meaning in every journey that is unknown to the traveller’  by Deitrich Bonhoeffer,  and it is this mystery in the book – Jane’s not knowing entirely what the journey’s about – along with the meshed journeys into both China and Jane herself, and the subtle, evocative way she writes, that makes this book so powerful.  Nay, more than that – unforgettable.’     For details about how to buy the book go to Jane’s website here, or ask at any good bookshop.

Bye for now. I’ll be back with more poetry in a week or two.

Tuesday Poem-Hand in Hand

this morning I awoke

and found

one hand

in my other                                                                                         

such tenderness there was

as if I

were meeting me

for the first time


a sad sweet moment

in a faraway place

passing by

and pausing

to touch

and hold

unknown fingers


(c) Helen McKinlay

Hands of God and Adam Sistine Chapel, fresco Michelangelo

Hands of God and Adam
Sistine Chapel, fresco Michelangelo

Hello this is a small poem by me to be going on with.  I wrote this a number of years ago when I did actually wake up holding my own hand. It was a nice feeling…a kind of acceptance of myself and it was tender. I guess if we can’t be kind to ourselves we aren’t going to manage it too well with others.

Well it’s getting closer to Christmas and I have a Christmas story to share with you all soon.  It’s got something to do with the book Grandma’s Kiwi Christmas which you can see if you scroll down my left hand column.  If you click on the cover you can have a peep inside…that’s if the link is working. It seems lately that links come and go!

Have a relaxing week. and before you leave if you haven’t already visit Tuesday Poem’s main page and read this week’s featured poem.  It is totally worth it.

Tuesday Poem-Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas

 Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.


Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.


Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


One can tell that the author of this poem reads aloud. One doesn’t have to understand the words to enjoy the rhythm. There are a number of recordings of this poem on you tube some of which say they are Dylan reading his own poetry but the voice sounds to old and too English for a Welshman who dies at 49.  What do you think? View it here. I think it a beautiful reading of what many describe as a sad poem but somehow I think it shows spirit and encourages a live life while you have it attitude!

If you want to learn more about Dylan Thomas you can listen to

BBC Radio 4 – Great Lives, Series 27, Dylan Thomas

and even hear Richard Burton reading from Dylan’s work ‘Under Milk Wood.’  I highly recommend this programme…had to listen to it all.

Or go to Wikipedia here.

Thanks to Project Gutenberg Australia for the words of the poem.

Meanwhile have a great week and if you haven’t been there already visit the Tuesday Poem Hub Page where Robert Sullivan introduces us to a talented new Pacific Poet.

PS Dylan Thomas had elocution lessons when young and his voice was indeed ‘plummy.’ Still not convinced it’s him reading on you tube though …sounds too old.

Tuesday Poem-The Way Out

Once I dressed up in your age.

It smelled of mothballs

and was tight

and heavy.


This is how things are I thought

and tried to heave it off

but found myself entangled

in its skirts. 


‘There has to be a way out’ I said.

‘There is’ the devil whispered.


‘Nonsense’ I replied,

 having found at last  the zipper.


And as I flung myself

from this costume

my hands

caught in the air

and found there

trills and sharps

and tintinnabulous vibrations.


So I strung them together

and wound them round

my pale body.

And now I live life as a song

pausing only to take breath

for the high notes.

(c) Helen McKinlay

When my ‘Grandma’ books were first published and I was asked to go and read them I would dress up as Grandma. I would even arrive as Grandma. it was tremendous fun. Once, I was asked to perform at a Senior Citizen’s Christmas do. As per usual, I donned my boiler suit, grey wig etc. However, my minder for the event greeted me as a dear and very old lady, not the spirited and adventurous one I meant to portray.  I felt very deflated and had to work hard to get my character back.

This particular scenario never happened again but it was a good experience and inspired the above poem, which  I was delighted  to have selected for one of The Guardian’s poetry workshops.

Time for you to return to the Tuesday Poem Hub Page. Browse through the sidebar for a great variety of talented offerings from my fellow Tuesday Poets.

Tuesday Poem-Loss by Keith Westwater


Some say

it is a hole        that never fills

 an ache that underlies

never fades

Mäori say       when one tree falls

the whole forest cries

When my mother died           I was a child  

and wailed       with the forest

At twenty       my best friend fell

I kept my tears           inside

Today           at others’ funerals

their salt             works its way


You always worry away            at the holes

Some say

(c) Keith Westwater

Author’s Note:
This poem is a response to the Canterbury earthquakes and to loss. I hope the ‘holes’ in the poem  engender the sense of disconnection which occurs when we lose someone close.
Keith, right front with fellow Tuesday Poets; Janis Freegard, Mary Mcallum, Tim Jones and Helen Rickerby at Janis' recent booklaunch.

Keith, right front with fellow Tuesday Poets; Janis Freegard, Mary Mcallum, Tim Jones and Helen Rickerby at Janis’ recent booklaunch.

Thank you Keith for sharing this unpublished poem with us.  It can be difficult to write with clarity about loss and its depths but you’ve done it beautifully.
Keith’s first book, Tongues of Ash, was published by IP Press Australia and was chosen as  the IP Picks Best First Book, 2011.
He began writing poetry in 2003 while attending the International Institute of Modern Letters’ Writing the Landscape course at Victoria University of Wellington. Since then his work has appeared in a number of literary publications and has received or been short-listed for awards in New Zealand, Australia, and Ireland.
Keith’s blog, ‘Some Place Else’ is currently disappeared in outer blogger-space. He hopes to have it back online very soon. Meanwhile here is another link to Keith’s poetry…Resilience, recently chosen for TP’s Hub Page. View here
NB Keith’s blog has now reappeared here
And now please return to the Tuesday Poem Hub  where Helen Rickerby is today’s editor and read her important choice of a must read poem by Airini Beautrais. ‘No time like the ’80s/No Future’

Tuesday Poem-Late Departing Pioneers

They are walking again on the hills today

dressed in black and bowler hatted.

Are they lost? They seem purposeful.


headed for a future full of sheep.

‘Past now.’



They turn

drop furled umbrellas

pull at fob chains

strung across their chests.  

‘Could it be we missed it all?’



they show the teeth not seen

in usual pioneer portraits

salute Queen Victoria

remove their carefully waxed moustaches

and throw them to the wind


where feathered by the foam

from off the waves

they fly and circle.

And at Tairoa Heads

are photographed


by anxious Americans, who

not cognisant

of the moustache birds

of late departing souls

hail them as cormorants

and sometimes albatross.

(c) Helen Mckinlay

Taiaroa Heads, Dunedin New Zealand

Taiaroa Heads, Dunedin New Zealand

This poem came out of  four months studying in Dunedin, where on days off I became a tourist. The Toitu Otago Settlers Museum  was a great place to visit…one of my favourite parts being the portrait gallery lined with paintings and photos of early settlers (pioneers). Have you noticed that early settlers usually have their mouths closed in photographs. My friend Joyce reckoned it was because they had awful teeth on account of no dentists!  Makes sense to me.  My favourite place was the Otago Peninsula, where amongst other delights the Taiaroa Heads Royal Albatross Colony is situated.  On days when the albatross don’t show and one needs a good photo there’s nothing like a moustache bird! Hence the anxious Americans in the poem.

This poem was published in Typewriter iv edited by Elizabeth Welsh.  I have made some changes since.

Please return to the Tuesday Poem Hub for an excellent choice by this week’s editor T.CLear.

Tuesday Poem-Hope by Emily Dickinson


Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I ‘ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson’s poems are in the public domain. ‘Hope’ is much known and loved but I like the idea of helping to spread hope on the internet.

‘Hope’ is poem number six in the second series of Emily’s poetry,  edited in 1891 by two of her friends, MABEL LOOMIS TODD and T.W. HIGGINSON. To read the preface, which gives a great insight into Emily’s writing go here.

Enjoy your week and if you haven’t already done so please visit the Tuesday Poem Blog and read the selections of other Tuesday Poets. Rethabile is our Hub Page editor today with an interesting choice which is much more than it seems.

Tuesday Poem – The Catipoce by James Reeves

‘Oh Harry, Harry! hold me close —

I fear some animile.

It is the horny Catipoce

With her outrageous smile!’

Thus spoke the maiden in alarm;

She had good cause to fear:

The Catipoce can do great harm,

If any come too near.

Despite her looks, do not presume

The creature’s ways are mild;

For many have gone mad on whom

The Catipoce has smiled.

She lurks in woods at close of day

Among the toadstools soft,

Or sprawls on musty sacks and hay

In cellar, barn, or loft.

Behind neglected rubbish-dumps

At dusk your blood will freeze

Only to glimpse her horny humps

And hear her fatal sneeze.

Run, run! adventurous boy or girl—

Run home, and do not pause

To feel her breath around you curl,

And tempt her carrion claws.

Avoid her face: for underneath

That gentle, fond grimace

Lie four-and-forty crooked teeth—

My dears, avoid her face!

‘Oh Harry, Harry! hold me close,

And hold me close awhile;

It is the odious Catipoce

With her devouring smile!’

The Catipoce illustration Edward Ardizzone ‘The Catipoce’ illustration by Edward Ardizzone

The poem and illustration as above, are taken from Complete Poems For Children, by James Reeves and illustrated by Edward Ardizzone. (Classic Mammoth, First Published in Great Britain, 1994.) Reissued 2001 by Egmont Books Ltd, London.

Many thanks to Laura Cecil for the following permissions.

The Catipoce  © James Reeves from the Complete Poems for Children, 1957
‘Permission granted by the Artist’s Estate.

Complete Poems for Children (c) Edward Ardizzone 1957,’Permission granted by the Artist’s Estate. 

I can remember being utterly enthralled with The Catipoce as a young person. I don’t own a copy so when I decided to search this poem out a year ago, I blessed the internet. As a child, I loved reading poems aloud and James Reeve’s poems, as Brian Alderson puts it, were ‘intended, as often as not, to be spoken or even chanted as well as merely read. (He was a great proponent of spoken poetry and his ear for “the ring of words” is evident throughout....The article by Brian Alderson is well worth a read and is the best review of James’s work I have found on the internet. Go here to read it.

Prefabulous Anamiles by James Reeves, was the name of the book which I first read,  (published 1957- William Heinemann, London).  It was followed by More Prefabulous Animiles.

Aside from The Catipoce, James’s animiles included The Snyke

‘The Snyke! it is the Snyke!’ they wail.

To hear that slithery scratchy tail…’

and the ‘The Chickamungus, who lives amid the dragon fungus, , and when he sometimes

stamps and roars

Along the Ump’s resounding shores!

The drowsy cattle faint from fright

the birds fall flat, the fish turn white

Not surprisingly, James was one of the best loved children’s poets of the twentieth century.  He was also lucky enough to be illustrated by the great artist, Edward Ardizzone a much loved children’s writer in his own right.


James Reeves was English, (1909-1978), and educated at Cambridge.  As well as children’s stories and poems he wrote adult poetry.  He was also a great scholar whose reputation was such that he was commissioned as General Editor of two dozen or more volumes of Heinemann’s ‘Poetry Bookshelf.’  He compiled at least nine of the selections himself. And In 1958 he published his much reprinted manual ‘Teaching Poetry.’ Although his body of work is easy to locate on the net, there is not a lot about James the person. I have searched for a photo with no result.  As for family, I have found but one mention of a wife called Mary but none  of any children.

There have been many reprints and editions of James’s work, mainly from Faber and Faber and or Heinemann London.  The latest edition of his poems appears to be his Complete Poems for Children and was published by Faber and Faber in 2009. The animiles are included within but sadly many of the illos from Edward Ardizzone have been cut out of recent reprints

 Stories From England, has been continuously in print since 1954 and was reprinted by Oxford University Press in 2009.

For more information about Edward Ardizzone the wonderful artist and friend of James Reeves go hereWikipedia also has some great information available.

For the favourite poems of other Tuesday Poets, go here.

Tuesday Poem-Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy’d
Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when
Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour’d of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!
As tho’ to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
         This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,—
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro’ soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
         There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me—
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
alfred-tennyson-1st-baron-tennyson(1).jpg!BlogAlfred, Lord Tennyson
painted by George Frederick Watts
I heard Peter Fry read this poem on National Radio NZ recently.  It’s a great poem for reading aloud. And Peter read it beautifully. If you want an analysis of this poem and some history about Tennyson and Ulysses go here.
Ulysses meets the Sirens. Painting by Waterhouse.

Ulysses meets the Sirens. Painting by Waterhouse.

My mother was a scholar of Latin and Greek in the days when the epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey still meant a lot.  Ulysses was a major character in both these works. It follows that one of Mum’s  favourite bedtime storybooks was called The Adventures of Ulysses. I was enthralled with his various confrontations with monsters over the ten years it took him to get home from the Trojan war. See the Sirens above, who tried to entice him in to be shipwrecked on the rocks (note how he is tied to the mast to prevent him from succumbing to the temptation).  I think Scylla, the six-headed monster who snatched six men, one for each of her heads, whenever a ship sailed by was for me the most memorable.  And the charming Cyclops who ate six of them, hopefully not all at once! To read more about these monsters go here

Before you leave do visit Tuesday Poem and  check out the other Tuesday Poets in the sidebar. There’s some excellent work there this week.

Tuesday Poem-Two Poems from Peter Walker newly inaugurated ‘Poet of the Church in Wales’

The bardic tradition is many centuries old in Wales, so maybe the Welsh were not surprised to hear that the Anglican Archbishop of Wales, had appointed a ‘Poet of the Church.’ Or that he was inaugurated as such straight after the debate which agreed to women bishops in the Church of Wales. Or that the gently controversial poem below,  was Peter’s first as Church Poet and read by him shortly after that decision.


had she not said ‘yes’

she would not have borne

the weight of the world in her womb

she would not have joined her cries

to the lows & bleats of the oppressed & burdened

she would not have shed tears

at the loss of her beloved boy

in the noisy supermarket of the city

she would not have cradled

the head of her dead son

& almost, almost, almost (but not quite)

wished that he had not been born


& do we say no to her?


It was totally by chance that I came across the Reverend Peter Walker and the inspiring initiative which led to his  formal adoption as Poet for the ‘Church in Wales’ (the Welsh branch of the Anglican Church) at its Governing Body meeting on Thursday 12th September, 2013. I am delighted that he agreed to be my guest on Tuesday Poem. Thank you Peter for your time and patience and the two poems you have shared with us.

Peter said, ‘At Governing Body, was written while the debate about whether there should be women bishops in the Church in Wales was continuingHappily,’ he added, ‘the answer was Yes!’

I asked if the poem was aboutMary’  in a modern day context.

Peter answered,It is about Mary, as you say … Mary as the traditional model for womanhood, whose example of acceptance, purity (‘virginity’) and humility have been used over the centuries (and you don’t just have to be a feminist to recognise this!) to dominate and control the place of women in the church (and, of course, in politics, home life, business etc etc) … the poem tries to turn those images on their head…Mary is not, as she has often been treated by a patriarchal society,  a model of ‘submissiveness’.


Before being nominated as Poet of the Church…Peter had already published three collections of short verse with Welsh Publishers, Y LolfaPenmon Point, Old Men in Jeans and Listening to Zappa, from which the following poem, is taken.


we brought her home one day in late August

& laid her beneath the apple tree

with its fruit stretched taut as drum skins

as plump & red as pomegranates


we carried her in her blanket

footfall soft & gentle

lest the slightest sense of urgency

or jolt

might wake her from her sleep

& carefully, slowly

we gave her back

to the embrace of the warm earth

& my grandfather

with his grimy workman’s hands

lovingly wrapped her in her loamy bed

& smoothed the turf as if it were my eiderdown


& then

autumn by autumn

as the rose-red apples snapped & dropped

the indentation in the grass

marked where she lay

& occasionally

just occasionally

as the sun dipped low

you would catch its glint

on the tear-damp cheeks of those who knew

that this spot was as sacred

as the neat rows of dappled stones

eroded by the fading years

I asked Peter who was in the grave. Was the name influenced by Zappa? (Zappa was buried in an unmarked grave.)

Peter replied,
Dog grave‘ is, I’m afraid, predictably literal, but since thinking of it still moves me, I started to muse about what we mean by ‘sacred places’ and ‘holy sites’, and realising that, in ‘Church’ terms, they are connected to people, but for most of us there is a wider sense of ‘sacredness’, and that we don’t just encounter God in the predictable ways, but in many unexpected places and situations.

Biography: Peter is a team vicar based in Llandudno Junction. Originally from the West Midlands, he taught modern languages before training for ministry. He says, ‘As the Church’s adopted poet, I hope to offer a perspective on some of the issues facing the church – for instance, how we engage with the largely post-Christian, secular world, and also how we might tap into the broad spirituality that we often encounter around us.’ (courtesy Church in Wales)

Hmm-launch-Ali-Anwar-Archbishop-Peter-Walker-712x400Rev Peter Walker, right, Dr Barry Morgan, centre, and Ali Anwar from the Adopt a poet scheme, left, at Peter’s inauguration as ‘Poet of the Church.’

The following is an extract from an excellent review @gwales.com for Listening to Zappa, Peter’s third and most recent book.

‘Listening to Zappa’, takes us into literal holy terrain as we enter the strangely oxymoronic ‘sob-silent chapel’. It’s a fascinating book and Walker utilises many of his verses to attempt to tease out the point at which science and religion coincide. The first instance of this thematic concern is ‘The God Particle’, which explores the Christian view of the search for the Higgs Boson. Walker’s quietly unnerving poem is an emotional response to the Pandora’s box of contemporary human enterprise. His meditation on the ‘subatomic wreckage/of our prayers’ is discomforting and links perfectly to the poem’s cousin, ‘The Down’s Mouse’. The latter is a more explicitly aggressive piece inspired by morally bankrupt experiments being carried out in science laboratories. The poem is bold, controversial and poignant:
‘the other mice would turn away embarrassed
-there but for the grace of God…
Or commiserate with the tearful, mousy parents
Or blame –
-God, demons, fate or seed
- the time of the month or the phases of the moon
They gave her to the rutting bull
& salivated over the mouse pornography
To see if planted pollen would form
Another broken life’   read more here

Listening to Zappa by Peter Walker

Peter has also recently collected poems from across his diocese (St Asaph) to go with their ‘Year of Pilgrimage’ and that’s been published under the title ‘Travelling with the Saints.’ It seems to me he has made a great start as official Poet to the Church in Wales.

Peter’s books are all available for sale at his publishers YLolfa and on Amazon

And now please return to the Tuesday Poets’ Hub. Kathleen Jones is editor for the week with a poem called If We Could Speak Like Wolves, by Kim Moore.

A Boat on the Sea by Ethel Turner

A boat on the sea, my boat,
Eager and frail!
Sweet skies, smile as you look
On that fairy sail.

Waves, great waves, many years
You have worked your will.
Just while she passes through,
Kind waves, be still.

Winds—and I may not ask
That you never blow,
But spare her the moaning note
That the old boats know.

Ethel Turner twoEthel Turner


I found this little poem  in The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse, edited by Walter Murdoch, (1918 edition online courtesy of Bartleby.com) None of the other poems I looked at in this book grabbed at me..but there was something about this one. I noticed it was also extant on other sites and wondered why.  And then something clicked and I looked up the author. Ethel Turner was/is known mainly for her children’s work and most especially for

Seven Little Australians 

180px-SevenLittleAustralians16thEdnCvrCover of the 16th edition: 1912 Publisher Ward Lock & Co Illustrations by J. Macfarlane

Born in England in 1870, Ethel Turner came to Australia with her mother and sisters when she was 10 years old. She showed a great love of literature while at school and in her late teens launched a literary and social magazine in Sydney with her sister Lilian.  In January 1893 she recorded in her diary, (which she wrote for 62 years!) “Night started a new story that I shall call Seven Little Australians.”

Since its first printing in 1894, the book has sold over 2 million copies in the English language and has been reprinted over 50 times. It has been translated into at least 11 languages, performed as a stage play, and been made into a film, a BBC television series in 1953, and a 10-episode television series for the ABC in 1973. Ethel Turner went on to write over 40 books in her lifetime, including children’s stories, short stories and poems, many of which appeared in the Town and Country journal and in the Sun Herald newspaper. Seven Little Australians has been read and loved by children all over the world, and it has been continuously in print for over 100 years.

Thanks to Penguin Australia for the bulk of this paragraph of biographical information.

Before you leave take a look at the beautiful post by Editor: Mary McCallum, which features Patrick White, on The Tuesday Poem Hub.

Tuesday Poem – ‘Out the Back Door’ 9/11 2001

out the back door this morning
it’s pure enzed
a trail of cows back from the shed
out the back door

out the back door this morning
the fence wire
the neighbour starts his truck
out the back door

out the back door this morning
the twin towers of the dairy factory
the cat spies on pukeko
out the back door

out the back door this morning
a small plane buzzes close
and the sun
explodes in splinters
against the bright metal

out the back door
this morning

(c) Helen McKinlay 2001

NB enzed is an NZeders way of spelling New Zealand…sometimes :-)

I wasn’t going to post this week but was reminded it was 9/11 today.  The small poem above I wrote shortly after that event. It was a beautiful sunny day. My daughter was home from school and she called me to the television.

Violence is always shocking…no matter who or where.  This was immense and unbelievable!  I went back outside and gazed at the peaceful green fields, groups of houses, bushy hills and mountains, Pukeko  strutting in the garden. And as I watched a small plane did fly above the dairy factory’s twin towers ….Such an immense contrast…I’ll never forget it.

PLease return to the Tuesday Hub Page where Rethabile is this week’s editor with

A Poem for the Innocents by Geoffrey Philp

Tuesday Poem-My turn as editor of Tuesday Blog plus Sia Figiel reading ‘The Daffodils from a Native’s Perspective’

This week it’s my turn to edit the Tuesday Poem Hub. I chose Sia Figiel because I was inspired by her standout poetry, her joyfulness and  the fact that she is not afraid to address the truth. She is also a wonderful performance poet. Take a look at the video below.  Sia told me the poem was quite old… about fifteen years, but to me it is fresh and full of life. It was chosen in 2012 as part of the London Southbank Centre’s ‘poetry parnassus’, part of the Olympic celebrations, and has since been included in The World Record a book collection of the  poems included. Here is Sia reading her poem.

The Daffodils from a Native’s Perspective

Who else would have had the nerve and the humour to challenge Wordsworth and the British literary tradition? Go Sia!

I first encountered Sia a few weeks back when I found an obscure link to ‘Songs of the fat brown woman’ a poem which was judged one of the best NZ poems of 2003. I love this poem too, not just for its humour but its honesty and perception. There are many truths hidden therein.  However Sia writes with such exuberance and courage, it lifts the soul.   To read it go here

And be sure to read the author’s notes (below the poem).

It is Sia’s exuberance and strength which stand out when one reads her inspiring story, a decade later. So please click the Tuesday Poem page which showcases Sia Figiel  now and read the wonderful poem written for Matangi Tai and Sia’s own inspiring story. 


Enjoy the first week of Spring.  Brrr

Tuesday Poem-Hinged by Saradha Koirala

Before I found the matchbox
filled with exes and ohs
which fluttered to the floor
like blown love when open
to be caught one by one
or picked from the fluff deliberate
as your intent and accurate
as your aim, I was kept awake by palpitations
the expectant glow of porch light
tricky as the squeak
of a wind-pushed gate.

Saradha at her book launch

Saradha at her book launch

‘Hinged’ is published with permission. I first met Saradha about twenty years ago when she stayed with our family in Golden Bay.  She was a talented and interesting young person then and now she is the author of  two collections of poetry.  A young poet who deserves to be noticed… of her first collection Wit of the staircase (Steele Roberts 2009), Hamesh Wyatt (Otago Daily Times) said “…highly articulate…Her focus is razor sharp.”  Doris Malech, University of Iowa, said “The quiet lyricism of Koirala’s poems adapts to a range of materials…eschewing verbal fireworks, melodrama and unnecessary commentary.”

front “A baby grows from a poppy seed, a lizard is chased into dust. Remembering grandparents,dreaming of houses,contemplating nature and the nature of contemplation…This is the stuff of Tear water tea,( Steele Roberts 2013)

Saradha Koirala lives, writes and works in Wellington and is of Nepali and Pakeha descent. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters and her poetry has been published in The Listener, broadsheet NZ, Hue & Cry, Turbine, Sport and Lumiere Reader. She has taught English at secondary schools since 2005, but still can’t believe her luck in having a job where she can speak in and about metaphors all day.

After a very successful Wellington launch last week,Tear Water Tears will, this week, be launched in Nelson. Saradha and publisher Steele Roberts issue a warm invitation to any who would like to be there.

Place: Nelson Provincial Museum, cnr Trafalgar and Hardy Streets, Nelson.

Time: Between 5.30 and 7.30pm, this Friday 30th August.

To read an excellent interview with Saradha by Tim Jones please go here

And now please return to Tuesday Poem where this week’s editor is Kathleen Jones, with a poem by Ali Alizadeh.

Tuesday Poem – The Curtains in the House of the Metaphysician by Wallace Stevens

It comes about that the drifting of these curtains
Is full of long motions, as the ponderous
Deflations of distance; or as clouds
Inseparable from their afternoons;
Or the changing of light, the dropping
Of the silence, wide sleep and solitude
Of night, in which all motion
Is beyond us, as the firmament,
Up-rising and down-falling, bares
The last largeness, bold to see.

I fell for this poem at first reading. From one small thing…curtains billowing, comes so much, right up to the ‘last largeness’.  I love the careful choice of words, the attention to detail. This poem is on the public domain. To hear it read allowed on Librivox, go here

Wallace Stevens (October 2, 1879 – August 2, 1955) was an American Modernist poet. He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, educated at Harvard and then New York Law School, and he spent most of his life working as an executive for an insurance company in Hartford, Connecticut. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his Collected Poems in 1955. (Wikipedia)

For more information go to the Academy of American Poets here

Please return to Tuesday Poem where Sarah Jane Barnett  is our editor this week. Sarah is also a finalist for the NZ Book Awards.

Wallace Stevens

Wallace Stevens was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, on October 2, 1879. He attended Harvard University as an undergraduate from 1897 to 1900. He planned to travel to Paris as a writer, but after a working briefly as a reporter for the New York Herald Times, he decided to study law.

- See more at: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/124#sthash.8HbfVtxz.dpuf

Wallace Stevens

Wallace Stevens was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, on October 2, 1879. He attended Harvard University as an undergraduate from 1897 to 1900. He planned to travel to Paris as a writer, but after a working briefly as a reporter for the New York Herald Times, he decided to study law.

- See more at: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/124#sthash.8HbfVtxz.dpuf

Wallace Stevens

Wallace Stevens was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, on October 2, 1879. He attended Harvard University as an undergraduate from 1897 to 1900. He planned to travel to Paris as a writer, but after a working briefly as a reporter for the New York Herald Times, he decided to study law.

- See more at: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/124#sthash.8HbfVtxz.dpuf

Tuesday Poem – Staunch

My grandmother
wore a cotton dress
winter through summer
didn’t feel  the cold
never stopped
in her life on a back country farm.
Took her sick child to hospital
returned to do the chores.
Never saw her darling again
except as a photograph
which gazed out
across future living rooms
from its corner altar.

A golden girl
her arms around a pet lamb
her eyes calm.
No wonder when Gran lay dying 
and the doctor said
‘How are you today Mrs Hunt?’
I heard her reply
‘Very well thank you Doctor.’

(c) Helen McKinlay

I wrote this small poem a decade ago.  When I was twelve my mum and I went from Wellington to Auckland on the overnight express.  We were to spend a week with my gran. We didn’t see her very often, so it was special. My uncle met us at the station and told us she was dying. All I remember of that morning is being glued to the crack in the door, thinking that if I said enough prayers she would be all right.  I also remember the doctor, asking her the exact question ‘How are you today Mrs Hunt?’ and her reply …the last line of my poem.  She died an hour or two later. The golden girl in question was my aunt who died of meningitis aged nine. Grandma Hunt was an amazing person…a real pioneering spirit who sold eggs to help put my mum through university.

If the first lines looks familiar it’s because I have been playing around with several poems and this is one of them.  Letting Go was another. See here

Do return to Tuesday Poem where this week’s editor is Catherine Bateson.

Tuesday Poems – Michael Leunig

Some of you may not know the poetry of the great Australian poet and cartoonist, Michael Leunig. I am a great fan and am taking this week to send you some links so that you can enjoy him too.  He is funny, clever, quirky, whimsical and so so perceptive of the human condition.

Some of his work now appears as animations on you tube.  One of my MANY favourites is ‘Get A Life‘ It just tickles my heart strings every time! apologies the links are  not working at present but all you need to do is google Get a Life, Leunig  you tube. Michael Leunig’s website has a number of poems including one which I particularly love, called When the Heart. It starts as below and is the second poem on his poetry page.

‘When the heart
Is cut or cracked or broken,
Do not clutch it;
Let the wound lie open.
Let the wind
From the good old sea…’

Read the rest of this poem on the poems section of Michael Leunig’s website here.

I recommend that you also visit the animated cartoons of Leunig on you tube. They’re just marvellous. I don’t know which is my favourite but do please search for

‘Get a Life’ – Michael Leunig – you tube    or try clicking  here

It’s so poignant but also hilarious. Wonderful Aussie humour. You will find other Leuniganimations there too. Thank you Michael for the gifts you have given us all.!

And  lastly check out his royal baby cartoon here

To quote Wikipedia, ‘Michael Leunig (born 2 June 1945), typically referred to as Leunig, is an Australian poet, cartoonist and cultural commentator. His best known works include The Adventures of Vasco Pyjama and the Curly Flats series. He was declared an Australian Living Treasure by the National Trust of Australia in 1999.’

Have a great week.  You can return to Tuesday Poem here. Renee Laing is editor of the hub page this week with a poem from Paula Morris…and you will find much to please you among the Tuesday Poems from other Tuesday Poets in the sidebar.

NB   Recent update, April 21st 2014.

An additional treat for you. Michael was interviewed on Radio NZ National, a few days back and you can listen to it on their website here.

And if you would like to view a live interview with Michael here is a goodie.

Tuesday Poem – Letting Go

walking home on Sundays

past the bodgies

slouched by the wall

winklepicker shoes pointed

ready to flick

quick snap


we focus on their ankles

garbed in socks

of shocking pink and lime

the colours of the words


on the love hearts

we buy from the milk bar


and then there are the spearmints

chocolate centred

saved for later

stretched out on the bed

reading Girls Crystal


at thirteen I let go of church

I cannot keep the faith

when forced 

to poise a hat

on top of straight hair


and sticky out ears


I don’t let go of love hearts


Girls Crystal - a comic for schoolgirls produced in the UK and exported to the colonies

Hmm this edition’s a bit before my time…but the same comic,  which incidentally later became School Friend…now that was something to drool spearmint dribbles over….

If some lines seem familiar you may have read my experimental exercise on mixing poems here Letting Go was first published in the 2010 NZ Poetry Society Anthology ‘Across the Fingerboards.’

You can return to Tuesday Poem’s hub page here and view T.Clear’s great choice of a poem by Seattle poet and marine biologist Pete Munro. And, the wonderful bonus is his lively description of life at sea straight from the Gulf of Alaska. Remember to check out the side bar which is a real treasure trove of poems written or chosen by other Tuesday Poets.  Have a happy week!

Tuesday Poem – Waiting Up by Maryann Corbett

Not home. Not home yet. Four A.m. Unknot me,
God whom I less than half believe my help.
Damp down the pounding underneath my scalp.
Unhook the gut-tight line of fear that’s caught me
listening for cars, oh me of little faith.
They’ve seized their own lives, laughing, “Go to bed!”
And God, I hate her—hate the hag in my head
who mutters, praying through her gritted teeth,
make them come home, come home. God, shut her up.
Let me believe the thousand times they’ve come
home safe will make the door click one more time
and lock behind them. Free me from the trap
of thinking your ideas of safe and home
might not (My God!) be anything like mine.

(c) Maryann Corbett

I asked Maryann if she would like to comment on this poem and she said this…
“I didn’t begin writing poetry in earnest until my younger child left for college. That meant that thirty years of brain-rattling memories were there to be called on for material. For me, the experience of worry and anxiety is a true brain-rattler, and I’ve found that those are the experiences that call up the most deeply felt poems.”

As a mum who has done her share of waiting up, I understand too well the conflict it causes in the maternal brain and so  I totally relate to this poem. I especially like the fact that Maryann has managed to write so freely within the sonnet form.

Maryann poet
Maryann Corbett lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and works for the Minnesota Legislature. She is the author of two books of poems, Breath Control (David Robert Books, 2012) and Credo for the Checkout Line in Winter (Able Muse, forthcoming in September 2013). Her poems, translations, essays, and reviews have appeared in many journals in print and online, including River Styx, Atlanta Review, and Literary Imagination, as well as in a number of anthologies. New work appears in PN Review, 32 Poems, Modern Poetry in Translation and Alabama Literary Review, and is forthcoming in Barrow Street, Light, and Southwest Review.

Waiting Up comes from her first book Breath Control. Many thanks Maryann for permission to publish this poem.

To hear Maryann reading Credo for the Checkout Line in Winter from her about to be published 2nd book of the same name, click here and scroll down to the above title.

For more information and/or to order this book go to Maryann’s website here

To return to Tuesday Poem and read this week’s hub page where Harvey Molloy presents a beautiful poem by Saradha Koirala click here.

Tuesday Poem – At the Sea-Side by Robert Louis Stevenson


When I was down beside the sea
A wooden spade they gave to me
To dig the sandy shore.
My holes were empty like a cup.
In every hole the sea came up,
Till it could come no more.

It’s school holidays and my wish for children is that they all get to  to the beach at least once.   And dig some holes.  And of course these can be dug with shells or sticks.

child with wooden sand bucket

child with wooden sand bucket

Note the difference in bucket and spade…not colouful like our present day plastic ones,see below, but they did the job!


The British seaside tradition which Robert Louis Stevenson knew, began  when  the development of the railway made it more affordable for a much larger section of the population,  to get to the sea. In 1841 Thomas Cook launched the idea of  day excursions by train. Thousands of people could now take a day trip to something such as ‘The Great Exhibition.’ This meant no worries about accommodation and yet enough time to have a good look around. A number of seaside resorts, often referred to as watering places, developed. My first view of one of these remains strong in my mind. I was on  my great OE (slang for the big overseas experience here in NZ). Most young people travel by plane these days but lucky me when I was young, it was still affordable to go by ship. My particular ship went from Australia to Italy and we had train/ferry tickets to Calais and on to England. There was no chunnel.. My first close up sight of England on a cold grey day was an equally grey beach populated with a large number of bathers, complete with their tiny tents for changing in.  Nearby was the pier a wharf dotted with inside entertainments

I was horrified at the time, the idea of sunbathing on a cold grey day was not in my (kiwi) experience. As for entertainment there was always an ice cream shop somewhere near. And we took our own playthings, surfboards, beach balls etc. Nowadays of course we are much more sophisticated:-) and most of our city beaches have cafes nearby but no, we have nothing like the British ‘watering places.’ Here is a webpage with some great  information about British seaside traditions. Scroll down their page to see photos of Brighton Pavilion showing its marvellous architecture.

If you are wondering what a watering place is it can of course be a water hole in the Australian desert but in this case and particularly when the word fashionable is used it is

1. a seaside or lakeside vacation resort.

2. a health resort near mineral springs, a lake, or the sea, featuring therapeutic baths, water cures, or the like; spa.

And now a laugh from ‘Mr Punch at The Seaside’. Punch (magazine), a former British weekly magazine of humour and satire in the mid nineteenth century.


Mrs. Dorset (of “Dorset’s Sugar and Butter Stores”,
Mile End Road).
“Why on earth can’t we go to a more
dressy place than this, ‘Enery?
I’m sick of this dreary ‘ole, year after year.
It’s nothing but sand and water, sand and water!”

Mr. Dorset. “If it wasn’t for sand and water,
you wouldn’t get no ‘olerday.”

A Fashionable Watering Place from Punch Magazine

A Fashionable Watering Place from Punch Magazine

Have a happy week.  You can start it by  returning to Tuesday Poem. Jennifer Compton is this week’s editor with ‘A Garage’ by Robert Gray…a fascinating poem. Don’t forget to check out the side bar of Tuesday Poets and enjoy their great variety.

Tuesday Poem-Lessons learned from my father by Panni Palasti – (inspiration for a new New Zealand symphony)

Maybe what you did not tell me

you didn’t dare to tell yourself.


Why tell a child

about ditches pre-dug,

about sliding over bodies

in squelching mud of clay and blood

and up-up above

a lethal line of smoking guns

reloaded again and again

by cursing men?


You did try to make sense

out of the tangles of trampled grass

and later, to melt the ice

by soundlessly breathing

on frozen windows

in abandoned rooms.


Anything to stay alive,

you taught me how to hide,

to smile,

to lie,

and above all,

to bide my time

until all tyrants fall.

(c) Panni Palasti


Symphony No.5 by New Zealand composer Ross Harris has its world premiere at the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestras’s Voices of Youth concert in Auckland.  The above poem and two others by Panni Palasti,   were its inspiration. 

Lessons learned from my father says Panni, shows him hiding from the Gestapo in empty rooms and later, in the final days of war, in a light shaft below our bathroom window.’

Panni in Budapest 2010

Panni in Budapest

Panni Palasti was born in Budapest and educated there. She entered the United States as a refugee in 1956 after the Hungarian revolution and continued her studies in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. She worked as a teacher and feature writer in California before sailing with her husband and son to New Zealand. She lived in Russell for 28 years where she started the Russell Writers Workshop and edited the Russell Review for two decades before moving to Nelson in 2002.
She has been writing poems since first grade. Her poems have been published in Hungary, the United States and in New Zealand.

The two paragraphs below are extracts from a recent article in the Auckland Philharmonia News by Sylvia Giles. The eyes of a 10-year-old frame Symphony No.5 by Ross Harris, which has its world premiere at the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra’s Voices of Youth concert in August. It’s who poet Panni Palásti refers to as “my child,” the central character in a trio of poems that overlay Harris’s latest piece. But despite any third-person pronouns she uses in the course of explaining her work, “my child” is in fact her, and the poems built from memories gathered off the floors of bomb shelters during World War II, when she was aged 10.It might be said the collaboration is the work of two veterans; Harris, one of the concert halls, and Palásti, of life.

But central Eastern Europe has been a
huge influence on Palásti’s work, and she talks of her literary ancestors as being literary foot soldiers, conditioned by the course of time. “Central Eastern Europe is a place, whether
it’s Poland, Czechoslovakia as it was then, Hungary, Romania or Yugoslavia, where our poetry has always been warrior poetry. Poets became, through the necessity of history, the messengers of suffering and the collective moral conscience of the country. The best poets always raise moral questions. [They] always ask: ‘What are we doing?’

To listen to Kathryn Ryan’s interview with Panni recorded on Radio NZ National on Friday July 12th go here

To listen to an interview with Ross Harris in which he talks about his first meeting with Panni and how it all began, click here


Lessons learned from my father’ comes from Panni’s book ‘Taxi Taxi’ (Matai River Press 2008), which is undergoing its 2nd printing and available at numerous places online. Panni has also produced  Born in Budapest a CD of her poems, accompanied by moving music. from Gabor Tolnay, another Hungarian born New Zealander. This delightful collection of 26 poems about love and loss, memories and the delights of every day is available at good bookshops and through pageandblackmore.co.nz .

The video below is a recording from the CD.  Have a listen to Panni reading to Gabor’s accompaniment…wonderful sounds both.

Panni, is at present working on a memoir of Budapest. Thank you Panni for permission to post this poem and Congratulations on your achievments. :-)

Please return to Tuesday Poem where this week’s editor is Saradha Koirala.

Tuesday Poem – Roly Poly

do you remember


over and over

down a green hill?


do you remember

the freedom

and the touch of the earth

as it massaged your bones?


and what about

running back up

and rolling down again

and again

do you remember that?

(c) Helen McKinlay

In spite of heavy frosts and the like I can smell spring in the air. Grass growing, buds shooting and lots of birdies which all got me thinking about one of my favourite childhood games… playing roly poly down the hill. I wrote the above a few years ago in a moment of whimsy.  It seems to me that children don’t do it so often now. Maybe it’s up to us adults to show them how… or vice versa! So here’s a challenge for all of you…first find your hill. Here’s mine below. I chose it this morning!

A roly poly sort of hill

A roly poly sort of hill

When you have finished mentally rolling down the above you can roll on over to Tuesday Poem and check out the Hub Page where Keith Westwater is this week’s editor,  and remember to check the sidebar in which up to thirty poets from round the world can be found.

Tuesday Poem – The Geriatric Garden by Mona E. Randall

come wander with me in my garden

which gives me great comfort each day

this pathway leads past the Nostalgia

to beds of Dementia gay


I’ll pick you some scarlet Alzheimers

with maybe Forgetfulness blue

as well as a few little Asthmas

to add an alternative hue


and now to complete your own posy

I’ll add some Sciatica sprigs

with trimmings of climbing Fibrosis

and fragrant Incontinence twigs


my favourite bloom is Arthritis

which grows in profusion just here

while this Hypertension’s so pungent

it keeps all your sinuses clear


and don’t you just love that Angina

beside the Glaucoma so bright!

the Flatulence perfume’s exquisite

and often much stronger at night


there’s nothing to equal a garden

for bringing one pleasure and peace

where one can grow pretty Offensive

while slowly one’s marbles decrease

(c) Mona E. Randall

Mona Randall in her own beautiful garden.

Mona Randall in her own beautiful garden

The above poem comes from The Geriatric Garden and other poems (Boulder Press, Nelson 2010).

Mona reckons that when she published her first book  at 86 years of age she must be one of the oldest authors in the country to do so. Mona has recently had a heart attack and is still in hospital. But she is looking forward to celebrating her 89th birthday on the 4th of  July (with fireworks of course) as she enters her ninetieth year! She is especially looking forward to checking out her garden and doing some more planting, though with a grin, husband Clem declares this as tiger country for Mona at present.

I am lucky to count Mona as a wonderful friend and inspiration. She has a terrific sense of humour and always makes me laugh. Mona is a wordlover, prolific family history and newsletter writer, moving more recently into short stories and poetry. She is also a multiple winner in Bay Lit, the annual Golden Bay writing competition and has been a regular performer at The Mussel Inn’s Live Poets. and let’s not forget she is also a theatre buff, actor, producer, musical director, pianist, chorister, gardener and story-telling granny, great granny and great-great granny. And most of this is since her retirement!

To read a great article about how Mona and Clem developed their beautiful garden from the gorse, go  here Scroll down to Mudcakes and Roses Issue August to September 2010 and enjoy.

The Geriatric Garden and other poems can be ordered from Page and Blackmore here

Remember to return to the Tuesday Poem Blog and  enjoy this week’s edit from Tim Jones and the great selection of poetry from other Tuesday Poets in the sidebar. Have a great week :-)

A visit to Scheveningen – Van Gogh

  I came across this letter from Van Gogh to his brother, a few days back.  The process he goes through as a painter is very similar to mine (and probably many others) as a poet. I loved the detail in is observations.


A day or two ago I paid another visit to Scheveningen, and in the evening had the pleasure of seeing a fishing smack enter the harbour. Near the monument there is a wooden hut on which stood a man who was waiting. As soon as the smack sailed into view, this man appeared with a large blue flag, and was followed by a number of little children who did not reach to his knees. Apparently it was a great joy for them to stand near the man with the flag. They seemed to think that their presence contributed largely to the successful entry of the fishing smack. A few minutes after the man had waved his flag, another man came along on an old horse, who was to heave in the cable. Men and women, and mothers with their children, now joined the little group, in order to welcome the vessel.

As soon as the boat had drawn sufficiently near, the man on horseback entered the water and soon returned with the anchor.

Then the boatmen were carried ashore on the shoulders of men wearing jack-boots, and happy cries of welcome greeted each new arrival.

When they were all assembled on land, the whole party walked to their homes like a flock of sheep or a caravan, led by the man on the camel—I mean on the horse—who soared above the little crowd like a huge shadow.

I naturally made the most frantic efforts to sketch the various incidents. I also painted a little, especially the small group, of which I give you a thumb-nail sketch herewith…. From the accompanying drawing you will be able to tell what I am endeavouring to do—that is, to represent groups of people pursuing this or that occupation. But how hard it is to make things look busy and alive, and to make the figures take their place and yet stand out from one another! It is a difficult thing to render the swaying of the crowd and a group of figures of which some are head and shoulders above the rest, though they all form a whole when seen from above. Whereas the legs of the nearest figures stand out distinctly in the foreground, the coats and trousers behind and above form a most bewildering muddle, in which, however, there is plenty of drawing. And then right and left, according to the point of vision, there is the further expansion or foreshortening of the sides. Every kind of scene and figure suggests a good composition to me—a market, the arrival of a boat, a group of men outside a soup-kitchen, the crowds wandering and gossiping in the streets—on the same principle as a flock of sheep—and it is all a matter of light and shade and perspective.

I like the last comment  and it is all a matter of light and shade and perspective. These words apply to poetry too don’t you think?

Have a great week and do pop over to Tuesday Poem, delve into the sidebar full of poetry from a variety of Tuesday Poets and check out the hub where this week’s editor is Mary McCallum with a poem called Palmy by Jennifer Compton.

SPAIN: FLAMENCO By Dolores de Leon


MARIO: Guitarist

Pineapple on a window sill
In the early a. m. of Spain.
(Sun by Matisse).

I hear the shimmer of trills,
High grass, and river flowing with shawl fringe.

Water rippling through guitar strings,
Giving promises that God is a Lady
With a rose in her hair and perfume
At her breasts.

CHENIN: Singer

The coarse edge to his big voice.
The whole land, like moldy earth,
Held in his closed hands.

(I taste Spain under my tongue)

His sound shapes itself around the words
And they fall away from inside, leaving
Empty, crying, spaces.


Beyond her heels, the click of details:
Head, hands, eye, skirt, fan, shawl, shoulders,
Ripple from her center, touch on each other,
Never overlap.

Or she pauses, holding stillness in her body.
Then bends low,
In a long curve, shawl outstretched behind her,
A great bird’s wing slowly turns.

(c) Dolores de Leon

Dolores de Leon flamenco dancer

Dolores de Leon
flamenco dancer

Many thanks to Dolores for permission to publish this beautiful poem.

Dolores says

‘I had been a flamenco dancer performing in San Francisco for five years when I met a pure-blooded Spanish Gypsy, himself a flamenco guitarist. He convinced me to go to Spain and study with his family in Seville. It has been the joy of my life to know this clan, study their art of flamenco, and perform with them. It was after returning from Spain that I began to write poetry, short stories, and my book, Gypsy Flamenco, based on my time studying and performing with this clan of Gypsies.’

For more information and to read some of her stories and poems please go to Dolores’ website here

The world of flamenco poetry is a new  one for me.  A few weeks back I was inspired to research it when I  came upon a BBC article and video on you tube.  To quote the article ‘Flamenco flash mobs – seemingly spontaneous dance and song performances – have been taking place in banks not just in Seville, but all over Andalusia, causing short, if amusing disruptions to the working day.’ To read the article and watch the stunning video of modern day flamenco in everyday Andalusian life click   here.   NB the accompanying words are embedded in the video. Enjoy and have a happy week.

And now please return to Tuesday Poets and read the variety of poetry from this enthusiastic and dedicated group of poet bloggers.

Tuesday Poem – Ozymandias By Horace Smith

IN Egypt’s sandy silence, all alone,
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desert knows:—
“I am great OZYMANDIAS,” saith the stone,
“The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
“The wonders of my hand.”— The City’s gone,—
Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
The site of this forgotten Babylon.

We wonder,—and some Hunter may express

Wonder like ours, when thro’ the wilderness
Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chase,
He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.
The four colossi, statues of Ramses II (aka Ozymandias) 1290-1224 BC are more than 20 meters high and about 4 meters from ear to ear.

The four colossi, statues of Ramses II (aka Ozymandias) 1290-1224 BC
are more than 20 meters high and about 4 meters from ear to ear.

Thanks to Mary Ann Sullivan for this photo of the Temple of Ramesses

If, expecting another poem, you are doubting your memory…fear not. This poem by Horace Smith was called Ozymandias in the beginning and later had a name change to “On A Stupendous Leg of Granite, Discovered Standing by Itself in the Deserts of Egypt, with the Inscription Inserted Below”   I discovered this on wonderful Wikipedia.   Countless people, myself included, have been inspired by the poem Ozymandias, and I am talking about the one written by Shelley.  Why? For me it’s the rhythm of the lines.  But it’s also the arrangement of the words.

‘My name is Ozymandias King of Kings’ ….

It’s quite a statement that…mostly nouns too, which make it more powerful. And that name…Ozymandias. If it was Bill that line would have a lot less impact. But note the corresponding line (below) in the  poem by Horace Smith.

‘”I am great OZYMANDIAS,” saith the stone,
“The King of Kings;

It doesn’t have the same dramatic impact does it?  Have a look at Shelley’s poem below and see what you think.  Is it a better poem or just more memorable?

OZYMANDIAS  by Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Shelley and Smith were friends and wrote the above sonnets in competition. Their inspiration was the forthcoming arrival to the British museum of the head of Ramsses 11 from Egypt.  The name Ozymandias comes from a Greek transliteration of the throne name of Ramesses 11.

If you want to know more about Rameses 11 and the amazing events which inspired the above,  I recommend this excellent link from the BBC.

Please return to the Tuesday Poem Hub here and enjoy this week’s offerings.  The topic of my next post will be Flamenco poetry. Until then I’m off to Auckland.  Have a great week!

Tuesday Poem – And then we speak by Cliff Fell

And then we speak
of Buenos Aires
and the publisher there
who makes his books

with a slowly-fading-to-invisible ink
though not as a comment
(as many might think)
on the emptiness of the e-book at sleep

with its singular unlit e-reader page
that looms like a dark age
seen through a cavern

but simply so Blind Boy Jorge Luis Borges
can read a few stories
in heaven

(c) Cliff Fell

Cliff Fell

Cliff Fell

‘And then we speak’, comments Cliff, is one of those poems that arrived fully-formed one morning when I turned on the computer, as you do, and went trawling through Facebook posts. I was taken by Ashleigh Young’s response to

this blog post:

(Helen’s note: Do check out the blog post link above given by Cliff. It’s quite fascinating!)

– or  maybe it was some other post, but definitely about the same story – and her query as to why a publisher would put stuff out in ink that will soon fade to nothing.  I thought it obvious. To me, Buenos Aires means only one thing, and that is Jorge Luis Borges, who went blind in later life. Obviously the stories were being published for his eyes, and so the poem pretty much popped into being. I didn’t post it up as a Facebook comment or reply, because, well, I didn’t . . . so here it is. Oh, in fact, Buenos Aires means two things to me – Tango’s in there, too. And I really must get a gaucho hat.’

Cliff Fell is the author of two collections of poems, The Adulterer’s Bible (Victoria University Press, 2003), which was awarded the Jessie Mackay Prize for Best First Book of Poetry, and Beauty of the Badlands (Victoria University Press, 2008).  His work has appeared in the online anthology Best New Zealand Poems and he can be heard regularly talking about poetry on Radio New Zealand National’s Nights programme. He lives near Motueka and teaches in the writing programme at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology.

Thank you Cliff for permission to post this unpublished poem :-)

If you have enjoyed this poem, and/or are intrigued by it I recommend you click on the links included above and when you’ve finished do return to Tuesday Poem’s hub page where Elizabeth Welsh, a freelance academic editor and poet from New Zealand, is this week’s editor.

Tuesday Poem – Fly Amanita – and the importance of fungi in literature

It always delights me to come across a fresh toadstool, as below, stunning in its bright red and white. Unfortunately they never last long here…too much wild life, so  I snapped it quickly and here it is, a poem in itself.

toadstool Amanita muscaria, commonly known as the fly agaric or fly amanita,

Amanita muscaria, commonly known as the fly agaric or fly amanita,

And then, being fungally inspired I got thinking about the place of toadstools in literature and was excited to find all sorts of information on the topic, including whole books, treatises and  poems.

One writer here, says of the toadstool genus above, that “it was one which would become the immediately recognisable symbol for fairyland: the unmistakable red-and-white fly agaric (Amanita muscaria), which remains the classic ‘fairy fungus to this day in modern survivals of the Victorian fairy cult such as garden gnomes. The fly agaric is the most spectacular of the generally spectacular agaric family….”

Academic and expert on fungi. Frank M Dugan traces their history in folklore and fairy tales back to the middle ages and further in a fascinating treatise called Fungi, Folkways and Fairytales: Mushroom & Mildews in Stories,Remedies & Rituals, from Oberon to the Internet. This is well worth a read and is available here.

I think the poem below provides some of the reason why toadstools have always been a centre of literary attraction. Toadstools are magical…they appear and disappear.  This poem was written by Madison Cawein who was known as the Keats of Kentucky and is believed to have influenced T.S. Eliot.

The Toadstool


Once when it had rained all night
And all day, the next day, why,
In our yard, a lot of white,
Dumpy toadstools grew close by
Our old peach tree: some were high,
Peak’d, like half-shut parasols;
Others round and low, like balls,
Little hollow balls; and I
Called my father to the tree:
And he said, “I tell you what:
Fairies have been here, you see.
This is just the kind of spot
Fairies love to live in. Those
Are their houses, I suppose.


“Yes, those surely are their huts!
Built of moon and mist and rain,
Such dim stuff as Elfland puts
In her buildings. Come again,
And, like castles built in Spain,
They are nowhere. But to-night,
Sliding down the moon’s slim light,
Or snail-straddled, in a train
You may see the elves, perhaps,
Clad in gossamer garments, come;
Some in morning-glory caps,
And in tulip bonnets some.
If you watch, I have no doubt,
You will see them all come out.


“Long of leg as grasshoppers,
Or as katydids, oh, ho!
Here they’ll sit; the bachelors
By the spinsters, row on row,
Kissing when the moon is low:
You may hear their kisses sound
Faint as raindrops on the ground,
Dropped by flow’rs that overflow,
Flow’rs whose heads the rain weighs down.
Or, perhaps, to twinkling tunes,
Tiny as their tiny town,
See them dance wild rigadoons
Creaked by crickets; singing, too,
Serenades as thin as dew.


“Or hobgoblins here may rise,
Snail-faced, spider-legged, you see;
Eyed with glowworm-glowing eyes,
Lidless slits of flame. . Maybe,
Gnarled of back and knobbed of knee,
Tadpole-paunched, you’ll see the gnomes
Waddle from their toadstool homes;
While the frogs industriously
Twang their big bass-violins,
And the screech-owl’s bagpipes shriek:
While their eyes, like points of pins,
Glitter, great-nosed beak to beak,
Here you’ll see them squat and blink
Till it’d freeze your blood, I think.” …. .


Won’t have any goblins here!
With their eyes like upright slits,
Parrot-nosed and flopped of ear,
And a grin that cracks and splits
Wide their faces, never quits,
Faces all one wart or wen!
So I got a stick and then
Knocked those toadstools into bits.
And my father said, “Well! well!
Now you’ve spoiled your only chance
It will never do to tell!
To behold the fairies dance,
And those grinning goblins, too.
Wonder what got into you!”

And here’s one for the children by Oliver Herford (1863–1935). Oliver was an American writer, humourist and illustrator who has been called “The American Oscar Wilde, ( quote from Wikipedia).


Under a toad stool
Crept a wee Elf,
Out of the rain
To shelter himself.

Under the toad stool
Sound asleep,
Sat a big Dormouse
All in a heap.

Trembled the wee Elf
Frightened, and yet
Fearing to fly away
Lest he get wet.

To the next shelter–
Maybe a mile!
Sudden the wee Elf
Smiled a wee smile;

Tugged till the toad stool
Toppled in two;
Holding it over him,
Gayly he flew.

Soon he was safe home,
Dry as could be.
Soon woke the Dormouse–
“Good gracious me!

“Where is my toad stool?”
Loud he lamented.
And that’s how umbrellas
First were invented.

Please return to Tuesday Poem and check out the offerings of other Tuesday Poets. This week’s Tuesday Poem editor is Belinda Hollyer, a New Zealand writer and anthologist living in London.