A Poet’s Road






Old Kitchen


A grey metal roof, supported by three wooden pillars,

covering the little porch.

Two window holes, small as eyes, set in the wall.

A gauze door nearby, creaking in the wind.

Whiteness – of house and sky



Third Born


Small curve of an egg

Hands awake

Voice of streamlets

Gaze of mid-morning



Ki-orr              pi-eer

wok wokwokwok               putaputaputaputa


grey clouds and hum of generators

A distant flock on a high voltage pylon

A soft window of blue




Inside: the clock’s tick

Outside: the cricket – faster, but intermittent

My son woke crying. We took him to the

bathroom thinking he might be sick, took off

his pants – too hot. He went to sleep in our bed.

Dog barks in layers – to beyond our hearing.



A wind across the tundra

The edge of the forest, then grey wastes

A sky almost infinitely high

– my garden – grass and concrete –

on an autumn afternoon



Night maps – of white stars

in rising, forking lines


“What are you looking at?” asked my son.

“The stars.”

“Where is the golden star and the red star?”

I didn’t know but I showed him the

southern cross and the stars like a saucepan.

“There are other shapes you could see if you kept looking.”


He lay on me on the grass. Above our heads

were patches of starlight among a dead tree’s branches.

He saw a triangle, a building and a tank.


I came out later. The saucepan was

now just above the western trees.




Oo why doweartoa-nu


Oo Waaaa nnnerrrr

waaar             tche

yellow lit room

cobwebs – one strand floating

voice: “when nu going to bed?”

Memories of the day sinking

into rock pools or swept by the sea.

Deardweetdear   dweetdear

a baby’s cough




A table left after a meal

empty plates, saucepans, bowls,

cans with spoons in them

oil, sauce shining

on their surfaces in the light

from another room

A red can-opener, an untouched bowl

of potatoes, silent chairs



A small plot of garden between concrete, path and wall

with a tangle of mint plants gone to seed.

Small flies are on its violet flowers. Near the ground

the stems are turning brown. A patch of mint lies in the sun.

I sit nearby, my daughter draws on the concrete with

chalk, letting each piece roll down the slope.



Two girls and a boy playing in the park

in the short moments before night.

They slide down the slippery-dip two at a time

and fight and push at the top, sometimes

the boy falls off, grabbing the sides and swinging.

One girl sits on the swing and talks though

I can’t quite make out what she’s saying.

The smallest girl holds my hand as we walk home,

the boy stays. In darkness the girl runs across

the park – along the fence to her home.

He returns with me now.





Small eyes behind glasses

wet with tears

after speaking to God and her grandson





Sitting on a table dangling her legs

in a room with new faces

here to talk about music




flowing trees




falling bird




muted gums


crow call


red bottle brush






Life is drinking




A Winter Tree



The stars departed like flocks

while the birds sang.



Near Rachel’s town of sadness

sheets of evening cold

drew across the land.


The flocks murmured, pulled close

like a sack for warmth, their watcher’s

bones full of the sinking day.


High above the silent

tower of space, its walls

set with stars.


An owl called over an empty

road, crickets chirped from their

homes in the ground.


Before them stood an angel,

light touched their limbs, fleeces

whitened like snow.


He spoke of one who would walk

the hills, the grassland echoed,

softening in the breeze.


Within the town wall harvest

was past, winnowed grain stored,

a child lay in the straw.


Greater than winter storms at night

the sky filled with sounds

and lights unwitnessed since its birth


and then peace. The shepherds’

eyes now lamps, lit by

the distant day, their flocks


moving as flowing cloth

towards dye filled vats

of morning.



Our days are bordered by blue

like the garments of Israel,

a remembrance of love.


Hidden within us are

veins of scarlet ore

in an unbroken circle of life.


Like purple clouds at evening

sorrow clothes us

with robes of royalty.



In the black night

I see the stars.

Through black faith

I see into heaven.

The kernel of light

that breaks at sunset

in the black night

buds and flowers.


In the black night

my vision is clear.

Earth is extinguished,

heaven is near.

All I have lost

to see its dark face

in the black night

turns to gold.


In the black night

The light crucified

sparkles like ice

in infinite sky.

Silent, the night

is a temple of God.

In its expanse

there is peace.



Jonah, who ran away

into darkness and water

and the secret turning of conception.



Life has burst

in flame,

embers fall


Like a tree

in autumn

with red leaves

as a crown.


Beauty is

our end,

hidden meaning


Like a tree

in autumn

with red leaves

as a crown.



The night is like a winter tree

where life has sheltered deep within,

the stars like branches bare and white

are waiting for the spring to bloom.


My soul is like a winter tree,

Christ has sheltered deep within,

with branches bare my heart is full,

at its core is endless joy.







When we visited her home I saw

that even part of me was there.

When I returned to my country

I hated it.



The Oat Field


The hill’s wet cheeks

were shaven and sown

with oats. Rivulets

and green stubble

streaked their flesh.

The rain was too late,

sheep had already

trodden the soil, its

pores drunk in the drizzle.



As I sit on the church step in the afternoon

I think about the sounds of ordinary life,

the kids home from school, men in their yards,

those few passing by.

In the trees in front two birds of the same

species call, not quite in time and at a different pitch,

making a strange harmony. From all directions

are bird sounds, all so varied in timbre.

Ever present is the noise of cars, a blank rumble

or a thick roar as they pass up the road.

I imagine the sounds of life a hundred years ago, before this

deadening sediment had fallen.

I walk along the fence. Faint drips of rain fall.

The sky clears in places to a pale blue.

I grow impatient for the arrival of friends.



It was one of the first autumn days.

A wind had sprung up around noon

and smoke was in the air from bushfires.

In the late afternoon the sky had

a clear, distant look – with shades

of pink in the east.

The trees were cold and delicate

against the horizon.



To still our baby while my wife spoke with an old friend on the phone

I took her outside. The streets were quiet apart from an occasional car.

We walked in a patchwork of shadows and moonlight.

The lives of the many households we passed was on my mind.

I spoke quietly to the baby. Sometimes the streetlights

unsettled her. I noticed the Southern Cross among the stars.



The Farmhouse


Around it the hills rose like waves,

swelling and subsiding.

Time had settled them,

now only the sky was in motion,

a dull weaving of cloud and rain.

From the window we looked out,

golden grasses, pockets of gums,

sown fields of mud and green.

The wind filled our hair as we crossed

them, stones littered the earth, piles

of uprooted trees gathered for burning,

the farmhouse below, a silent watcher.

Gumboots were left at the door,

a washbasin was there, inside

a fire, and a toddler playing, not yet

allowed outside.



A tree encircled with sound,

an aural torch in the falling evening,

attracts my attention as I walk home.

In my garden the green has faded,

I still hear it.



One girl amongst a sea of faces,

slightly taller.

“I’m sorry,” she calls out when she has been misbehaving.

Another time she asked me why I smiled at the

others but not her.

“I felt so slack when I saw your little baby,”

she said after she saw me out of school at a BBQ.

“Why are you always smiling?” was one of

the first things she said to me.



I am outside

sitting among ferns.

To my left is

a corner of bay.


Ants walk on rocks.

The wind disguises the sounds

of cicadas and birds.


This is where I

spent my childhood.

I hear a dog bark

on the hill behind.





The sea to her heels,

watching the children swim,

like the sandstone across the harbour.





A strong wind blows,

the birds call with more urgency,

at home curtains rustle, a door slams,

thoughts of Sunday dinner,

children watching TV.

I shall go outside this holy day

to the black children across at the park,

hair blown, clothes torn, barefoot.




By a River



I travel for miles along a road

called Henry Lawson Drive,

by it flows a river.

I think, “a poet’s road,”

and wonder what this newfound stream

beside my life may mean.



Early morning, and beyond our shelter of darkness

the birds sing.

We hear first one, and then,

as stars appear in the young night sky,

more are distinguished.

The first bird, a pigeon, soon stops its call.

Perhaps it has flown away.


The bright sea of morning is full of their lights,

shimmering like the sun on its waves.

There it is again, the pigeon.

Now it sings from a new tree,

surrounded by outstretching haloes.


Our hands cannot hold their songs,

they run through our fingers like water.

We lie washed in their coolness,

floating in voices towards sleep.


These stars are the greater than those of night,

their colours more varied and tender,

for they are living.





The yellow sun was on the grass stalks

in a window between cloud and hill

at the time you were born in the afternoon.


The light moved like a swell at sea

as the grass responded to the breeze

at the time you were born in the afternoon.


The mountains now blue for evening is near

and earth’s light will soon be replaced by the stars.



A sun is shining in the world within

A sun is shining in the world within

The lonely starlight fades before its day


The warm sun floats in a cloudless sky

The warm sun floats in a cloudless sky

Its sister sun in the outer world

will set before its endless day



In a mountain lake

I see the sky.

In a mountain lake

I see the sky.

In the face of Christ

I see the face of God.

Alle – alle – alle – allelujah

Alle – alle – alle – allelujah


When the waters freeze

the sky is gone.

When the waters freeze

the sky is gone.

When my heart is cold

arise and shine on me.

Alle – alle – alle – allelujah

Alle – alle – alle – allelujah



I spent four days by an inland lake

in my early twenties.

My friend who travelled with me returned

to the city for his weekend job.

The lake was an oasis in the flat country

with sandy shores and pale blue water.

Each day I drove from my camp by the river and

as I crossed over a rise it came into view.

Alone there I often saw pelicans out in the centre or

flying above until they disappeared from sight.

In the still afternoons I sometimes walked away

from the lake into the low scrub country.

On some mornings I was out early enough for the dawn

bird song. The most moving was before my friend left

when we went out on a thin stretch of land and were

surrounded by the birds.

Now as I remember waiting at a country station

for his train to return, I am grateful and

picture my time there as a beautiful oval jewel.



Trees with the light of the west in their sides,

a fierce wind surrounds them.


Distant trees with the blinding sun above them,

colourless, flat, black in the glare.


Trees on a plain of sunshine,

a faint rainbow in the clouds.



I was walking on a road

On a road without beginning

On a road without an ending

I was walking all alone.


As the day came to an end

As the golden sun was setting

As my shadow was lengthening

On the road I met a man


I have suffered on this road

I have borne the wounds that heal you

I have seen the gates of heaven

I have reached the journey’s end


As the first stars lit the sky

As we felt the cool of evening

We walked together on the journey

On the road without an end





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