Early Poems




After an evening of distant lightning

a soft rain began to fall.


Our people have moved far from the earth.

I lie on the cool grass.

Above me are the mysterious lights of a far-off plane.


When I became a Christian the initial insight

came to me on the bed of my parents –

that I came from them, and they from their parents,

and so back to God.


Tonight I realised something else –

I was conceived in love

so love is my beginning.





Beyond the blanket of rain

I dived in the ocean, warm and still,

with fishing boats asleep on its surface

and high on the bay, the white empty houses

facing the distant sea.



I am


I am here, as ocean swells

and air rests

and there, as sky is suspended

and pure

and holding, as night in

expanse shelters and warms

and cherishing, as heartbeat

and bodies united

and freedom, as gazelles

and wind’s fury

and love, as the womb

and I am beyond, as the sea.



Grey Seas


The tears of heaven falling on the roof

of our family home as my wife

of slender darkness looked out beyond the

ghost trees, her gaze caught just

above the northern horizon, where the fishing boats

return in the grey still seas of morning.

I loved her, but the curtain rain upon

the window and the silence brought sleep,

our entwining legs formed a cross,

the swell of gentle sails upon my back,

the turning of the night.

Around our bodies the pure air of the room

and the unheard ringing of eternity.



Watchman, what of the night?


Passing squalls of dog barks

ruffle the distant evening.

Further to the heads the low roar

of traffic on the highway to the sea.

Within our cabin of yellow light

we rock to the rhythm of eternity.

“A six foot swell tonight.

It will get stronger as we pass the heads.”

But we will be asleep by then.

Perhaps in nightmares the sea

shall torment our sleep

or sweep us towards the rock faced

ocean of dark magnificence.

We sit together in the globe lit room.

A radio plays softly in the background.

A blue sentinel buoy passes near

rocking in the swell and our wake.

We retire to bed, the waves of night

by our window.

The distant sounds of the city, the new

moon behind the clouds.





High the new born crescent moon

Isaac walks through evening fields

his spirit stretches to the winds.


As the infinite beholds

a camel train nears its goal

and travellers sight a lonely man.


“Who is this, walking to meet us?”

“My master” replies the servant

Rebekah veiled her eyes.


The stars shone bright as Isaac learnt

the source of new found splendour.

A river of birth was halted

Rebekah unveiled his eyes.


Her womb was barren

The seed enclosed

The bark was thick as snow.


Yahweh held the place of beginning

Her husband asked the infinite

to open the spring of birth.


So the two entwined in love

conceived the one who brought the

delta’d water to the sea.





Love expanding as a breath fills breeze

that touches face and limbs.

Love descending as a seed

to ants and little stones.

Love as iron drips in fire,

congealing as pearls.

Love ascending as oil

soaks ground in black,

as summer fire, wind blown in terror,

abandons trees in wild night.

Love as dawn breaking, dew falling,

leaf greening,

and tranquil, a pool in the east.





Gentle pure sky

soft blue sheet

night winds blow

your blanket deep

Sleep my child

as waters sing

and drifting clouds

pass by my feet





A strong wind blows on the day of rest.

Across the spaces the morning birds

Call with more urgency, the air their bleak perch.

The lake lies marred by grey clouds and trees,

Beneath its surface fish swim rapidly,

Their breath enlivened by the troubled waves.


Within man’s homes curtains bustle, a door slams,

But stillness pervades.

Thoughts of Sunday dinners, children watching TV,

Old men sitting backs far from the window.


I shall go outside this holyday

Across at the park the black children play

Hair blown, clothes torn, barefoot.





Spirit wind

Spirit fire

Spirit ocean

of desire


Spirit shield

Spirit tower

Spirit spring

of living power


Freely shake

the ancient trees

Freely break

the devil’s keys


Freely fill

the sails of man

Freely will

the hurricane


Spirit mirror

of the vine

Spirit giver

of the wine





Candle of still light

Cool flame of longing

Summer’s leaf


Drips of yellow

Fall from your blade

To your feet


Planted in dew

Water holds fire

In its surface


Darkness encloses

The flame seed






The dark standing trees

shimmering in the wind

sentinels in tunnels of cloud

and radiant light



Hebrew characters


The Hebrew characters, inscribed in gold on the bookbinding,

shone in the afternoon light.

The soft light of the leaves and pale clouds through the window

was reflected on their surface. Gentle bird calls and breeze in the leaves.

Their law was imbedded in the green buds and breeze.



The rounded rocks


The rounded rocks once whales

and ships which carried me

over grass seas

and headlands from which I jumped

to my nana’s arms;

still they point southwards to their polar home

travelling nobly through glacial time.



Darkening skies


Trees unfolding time

light of the west in their sides

the wind, fierce, surrounds them.

Dawn stalks the day

behind darkening skies.



Morning branches


Morning branches holding light

and arcs of bird calls poised

between the leaves and ground.

The blades of life clear as

the cold air sharpened dew

on the silver roof.



The cleansing


Over running water the blood flows

which cleanses lepers wounds

and sends his sickness far downstream


In open fields the living bird

dipped in his partner’s life

carries our freedom in the air



Hot afternoon


A hot afternoon light yellow air,

a single cricket and bird call in terraces,

separated by silence and human living.

In the grass were bees and small butterflies

hopping from clover to clover, and above

the other world of the sky, linked to this earth,

its soft clouds floating in endless streams.

Green, yellow, blue – these colours were all

our poor vision of the rainbow.

My little boy stood framed in a window,

a dog chased the bees,

from the join of the worlds the wind blew,

fortelling change.



The authority of heaven


The authority of heaven doesn’t rest

in the rod but in the flower.

Like an almond tree it blossoms

early after winter’s ice and fruits

in tear shaped nuts with brittle shells.

In the spring its pink blossoms

flutter in the sky and dew drips

mirror lightening shafts of sunlight.





Across the sea to a barren land,

ten years an exile.

When we visited her home I saw

that part of me was there.

The Poles, the Irish, a deserted wife,

all familiar with rejection, were

among her forbears.

When I returned to my country

I hated it. But one year on

I could stand and watch the rocks and trees

and love its first people.

“If I went home things might be no different.”

“In the same way men ought to love their wives,

as they love their own bodies. In loving

his wife a man loves himself.”

“Where you go, I shall go, and where you

stay, I shall stay. Your people will be

my people, and your God my God. Where

you die, I shall die, and there be buried.”



Grey blue


Grey blue to violet and sea

brown lights in the trees

grass richening

the sky leaves us



The face


The face moved through seasons

as she sat there by the glass

and summer light diffused

in her room.

The entrance of her womb

now open the seed within

the vista of the years

now stretching as the fields

beyond her window.

As night came

the evening draw across her face

and life expanded





A baby playing on the concrete

whose eyes are like the autumn sky


A bird sweep past

the western sky is dark with cloud



When we first met


When we first met she had left

her land of faith.

When we married I had found it

and she soon followed.

I found through her and she through me.

But she still has not come home.


We can look into the past

in Scotland, Ireland, Poland, New Zealand

or ahead to Jerusalem.


But faith and love are tender things

which are damaged by being grasped.


We hold out our hands to the butterfly

from our homeland.



A sheet of sea


A sheet of sea,

glimmering fire on its surface

turning to ashes in its blue depths,

the hills overlook, rounded against the sky,

sloping its heart into the burning waves.





love comes

like gentle rain


life is drinking



Summer night


Through the fields of wheat

the light of three shooting stars

left their trails like water.

The insects buzzed as evening

grew towards morning.

The sheaves grew full,

the clouds sparkled.



Late morning – Summer


Wilting light and the shadow of a bird.

The trees rest on their upward journey.

At their peaks are crowns of leaves and cloud.

The sky is a blue kilm, fired by the sun.

Like a crystal arc it takes the light

and changes it to water.



A streak of cloud


A streak of cloud passed over the trees

the eye looked on solitude

and darkness





I call on your name

be with me through the night

Still the liquid form of terror

in your name. Hold my

frail frame and belly

and break the roots of darkness

rising in my soul like

a haunted ancestral house

O break the roots that

pour the sap of fear

within my bones

and free me from

the hand of night which lifts me

as a floating cloud

Join my flesh and bones

and soul and spirit

to the vine

Tie me with your mighty

chords to the rock

Come quickly





A field of fallen sleeping snow

and snowflakes, tiny ice jewels,

spiralling, touching the ground

with child’s feet,

suspended on twigs,

catching light in their eyes,

so I wait the season of dying.



First rain


First rain

grass stalks with droplets

cool breeze

branches of a fig tree patterned with wet

moving ants


bird calls in trees

dog steps in the shed

traffic further off

at times wind

my breath


a darkening feeling



Like many afternoons


Like many afternoons the garden lay beneath grey clouds,

its surface gently slopping towards one side and in the higher corner

a tree, bent from birth, outstretched branches bowing towards the north.

Death had many monuments in this garden – the brown sticks strewn among the green,

pale curled leaves in flocks, blood let trunks, and trees, hard and vacant.

Beyond the border of grey fence, a line of bushes, their leaves

scarcely green, preparing for the dry of summer.

Through the garden the wind blew, for the most unhindered

by these pillars of mortality. In some corners the cloud was broken

by a pale blue mirror like spring ice.



The waters


A tree sunk and lost in

a well, its roots descending

in the back waters





a stone,

a blowing leaf,

a pierced heart,

a shining spear,

a dark one,

a joy unrestrained

by the earth



The new moon


The new moon wakes in

evening sky

It shines upon the clover

Children climb on the fence

Pale black trees stand by

The stars watch from their home

The cool night breathes

We leave to take shelter





Fever pitched, his ears stood high as he ran

past grasses, concrete and smells of the night.

The lead was taught as I followed, breathless.


The ancient, foreign sounds of his species –

the trail of scent and quickly learned familiarity,

a narrow passage to safety.


Near the house he stopped, suddenly distracted.

His eyes were lit by the call of his wildness.



The beacon


Sheets of cloud in majesty passed the moon,

the black sky a sea of space unknown and vast,

the moon a torch head, cold, filtering the sweeping

veils of cloud in blue-green light.

Airborne hosts moving towards their distant

war, the high clouds still, beyond the wind,

the marble earth cold with fallen rain.



Advancing trees


Advancing trees frozen on the hillside

Drizzle as far as my window

Night’s overhanging burden

Soil wet with life



For a long time


For a long time I have been uncomfortable with creating.

Since becoming a Christian I have feared God’s law.

It has been easier to read or think than to make.

I’ve been like the Jews who had for thousands of years

kept within the circle of their knowledge.


God created the world and it was good.

We are each conceived in an act of love.

The boy Jesus listened and asked questions

and saw the world freshly.


The afternoon grows tired.

Sunlight revives things in the morning.



The breeze


The breeze touched the trees

the flowers and my flesh

reminding us of evening.


Like petals the light fell

and was blown away

past grass and road and wall.


In the park the shroud took its

place among the silent trees.

Insects swarmed in clouds.





That night I watched my son sleeping.

The hall light lit the room.

Near his head the window was

blanketed by a blue curtain.

The sky lay distant outside.

I thought of my childhood room

and of my fathers.

I am the Lord, the God of Abraham,

your father, and the God of Isaac,

the land on which you lie I will

give to you and to your descendants.



I walk on the earth


I walk on the earth

through the spring grass

and the red soil of summer,

the breeze on my back,

high above the marble sun,

throwing its light on the grasslands,

forests and hills.



Forty leaves


Forty leaves fell from a tree

as Jesus fought for victory

Forty ships left their coast

as Israel perished in the waste

Forty tears upon a wall

that saved a city from its fall.


Forty suns passed silently

as Noah sheltered in the sea

Forty steps in solitude

before the exile heard his Lord

Forty, less one, were the stripes

that chastened evil from my life


Forty clouds foretelling rain

before the wind from heaven came

Four hundred stones in Egypt’s land

show where sin in power stands

Four warm nights in Israel’s home

before the Lamb removed the stone.



The plain grey road


The plain grey road was lit by the sun,

a mirror, shading in parts by trees.

The morning was still and bright,

on its climb to heat.

A bird swooped over the grass, fluttering

young needles in the hovering air.

The cat wandered towards the fence

and out of view.



She took the wind’s wings


She took the wind’s wings

to a silent land.

The night bells rang

and the lilies let loose

their tendrils from the lake’s floor.

Like a gull she flew,

the dark sea below her.



Drifting across the sky


Drifting across the sky

the stars in their courses

of circling

and forward motion

like a great armada,

each long seperate

from its sister,

and our earth a circle

of water, moving too in

this stream

into darkness

and infinity.



A swirling girl


A swirling girl in a blue dress

each step new

the flutes and harps are airy as the breeze

when I look into her eyes they are ocean blue



The chair


The chair in yellow light,

bending for ease,

yet still as the land,

worn, but gleaming

in the evening.



Palm of light


A palm of light on the hill,

the tree spires turned honey,

sand softer than air

spilled on the grass.



The stars


The stars, clouds, rain,

a dark mirror.



Birds in a dead tree


Birds in a dead tree –

Two, eight there at the same time yesterday.

Mostly still, but adjusting their tail feathers to the breeze.

Swivelling their heads sometimes.

A grey sky, with blue and dirty white.




Rain flecks


Tiny rain flecks.

A plain of sun on the ground.

Faint rainbow colours in clouds.





The grey wind blows change in the trees,

quickening time, fading light,

banking cloud and cold.

As the limbs shake the grass turns pale,

the sun now lost,

the day trapped in white.



The morning was made dark by rain


The morning was made dark by rain,

waterfalls of ice and blackness,

pounding the concrete shelters and shrouding trees.


The afternoon light was pale, washed and tired,

the buildings were stained with brown,

the birds restless for light.


On the wall was a picture of China,

a dark blue lake walled by mountains, snow capped,

foreground, houses among the pines and rocks.


Distant arcs of space and time.





Dust, iron, sky,

the serpent biting,

red limbs whitening to bone.


We set our eyes

on a pole of bronze

turning poison to honey.



Golden light


Golden light on a balcony,

thick trunk and leaves

silhouetted before it,

a boundary of darkness.





In the wilderness you gave your love.

In land not sown you followed me.

Now I search for you.


Your face is pale but beauty rests

as mist upon a field.

Your heart a pearl encased in gold.

Your hair a sunlit shield.


My hair a stream of flowing tears.

My heart a wounded side.

My face a swan that bends in sleep

to seek his distant bride.


Wider than the sea,

deeper than your eyes,

my promised love for you

is broader than the skies.



Below the sky


A gum tree with hanging bark,

feathery leaf cushions

and blue sky, becoming lighter towards its base.


A grass field moving towards it,

pale green and yellow.

Shadows against the fence.


The blinding sun above distant trees –

colourless, flat, already black

in its glare.


Twi-owwut twut twow



Two objects – an oval pebble,

patterned by grass shadows and sunlight –

a down feather, swivelling like

a compass.



Red bars


Two red bars across the sky

enclosed within trees,

turning grey,

leaving glowing yellows by their trunks.





Patrick’s mother is in hospital.

I’d spent some time showing how to play something on the KB.

He showed me some rap ‘walking’ – jerky but graceful.

‘Let’s see you do that walk again!’ he said later after my

not so successful attempt at it.

‘Do you want a fight?’ – standing in front of me, arms folded,

with an expression somewhere between straight and smiling.





Fish swam under the pier

where the boys hung their lines.

A cool morning with sunshine.

(for my father)





Who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?

It was neither, but for the glory of God.


Hanging from the tree are green spiked seed pods.

Further away, clusters of gum nuts.

There is a gentle swaying.

Shadows move in patterns on the ground.

Blades of uncut grass flutter.


A warmth in my blood presses against my skin.



The stars departed


The stars departed like flocks

as the morning birds sang.

By the shore the sand warmed.

Far out the dark sea.



On Sunday morning


I woke up to see on Sunday morning

a day made bright and pure.

I held my daughter in my arms

and softly walked up the hill.


We saw a poor patch of bush

which sunlight and shade had drawn.

We listened to the birds which called

in songs of joy and sorrow.


As silver clouds out sung the sun

and brought darkness to the earth.

We stood there silently to wait

the yellow warmth’s return.


A dog barked and my child

barked back

and time woke up again.

The sun shone clear blue in the sky

and a little bird cleaned his wings.







balance tree




An afternoon – early Summer


Birds called as the rain began to fall.

A glowing cloud floated towards the trees

until the rising wind pierced its light

and curtains of rain silenced the magpie’s call.

After a time the sun returned and saw

a landscape lit from within, the grey clouds

covering their jewel of light and summer trees

holding dense flowers in orchards of red.

The bird sang again too, released from water.

Dry calls now, foreshadowing the coming days

of heat, the thick shadows dividing the ground,

the wind lifting the heavy veil of the earth

and showering the sky with reflections of solid glory,

the inheritance of rain, the conquerer of airborne kingdoms.



Grass blades


Shawn grass blades between concrete slabs

Pear shaped leaves

A wandering ant

A turquoise sky



Falling bird


falling bird


old planks by a tree



The vine


The vine fruits in summer air

and languid days of heat.

The starry nights dip its leaf

in pools of eternity.


White light strikes the rocky path

leading to the press.

And stinging heels release the dye

that stains the sky and earth.





Through a crack in the window

the morning sun on the leaves

reminded me of joy.



The sea


The harbour looked out

into the dark sea. The lights

of distant ships were speckled

across the ocean, single lonely

fires of human life. The bay

was filled with the roar

of unheard blackness. Nearby, the

lapping of water against the pier.





We lay our head on the ground

above us the night sky

the air was light and warm.





Trees of sickness

in the night

Let me see

your silhouette


From your branches

let me take

leaves of healing


Black bird flee

your wretched nest


bird of dawn



A brother


Like the spring clover his life came,

one among many, a brother.

The sun and new moon and dancing

bees all glimmered on his flowering.


Some days the rain fell, awakening

the grass in rich green, and feeding

the hidden tentacles of weeds.


And when in the heat the clover turned brown

he shared in their suffering, and daily

as more of the field darkened,

his tears lay fresh on the ground.



Cold autumn day


It was one of the first cold 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.



A cold summer wind


A cold summer wind on the fields before night.

On the farm track the puddles were speckled with rain.

Mist rose and floated over the hills.



A ladder


Jacob saw a ladder

rising to the sky

At its base was dust

at its peak were stars


Upon the man of sorrows

sprung a tree of grace

Stars would be his home

but dust his resting place



At the junction


They fought at the junction

of rivers flowing from exile

Brother against sister


To sense the voice of the wind

and trace the borer’s path

in the leaves


The sun sent her leprous

the spit of her father


Alone, the sand dried

her wounds and blew

in the well of her weeping



Dark walls


Dark walls carved in the heart,

binding the light outside, love’s compass

pointing towards north, avoiding shipwreck,

figures of history laid on the walls.

The garden stretching westwards from the hilltops,

the lake reflecting the sky.



God is my friend


In shifting light

of a windy day

I write this


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 were I

spent my childhood

I can hear a dog’s bark

on the hill behind


When I touched

a sunlit fern leaf

it was blown from me


When I close my eyes

I see disturbed sand

sinking to the bottom


The low clouds

move quickly

I find sleep,

awakened by birds and ants



From the branches


From the branches the bark hung in strips,

still in the faint breeze.

The trunk was brown as far as the first branches,

above them, the light new bark.

The leaves gently moved against the background

of clouds and pale sky.



Twelve tears


Twelve tears from the sky

whose face was shrouded by

cloud and night

and the tenuous web of joy

drunk in its sorrow

the leaf and earth greened

in invisible night

the towering womb

loosened the day spring





A tree sunk and lost in a well,

its roots descending in the black waters.

The ocean is thicker than water or blood,

darker as starlight and night.

The tree drinks eternity,

fine leaves envelop its trunk,

shooting life to its outstretched branches.



The tree


An hour or two before the evening

the sun’s rays touched the tree,

dead, its last leaves pale on some branches,

a handful now, some little emblems

of light against the sky.


When I returned the orange light

was gone, clottered blood was

on its side, and sticks like

fingers pointing and

bark, like cast off clothes.



mountain scenes



muted gum


blue line



Night sky


Blank night sky. No stars because of thin cloud cover.

Ahead the clouds are streaked. Pinky grey and black.

Behind the sky is more uniformly dark with a misty quality.

A gum tree looks delicate.

Another is a black silhouette, contained, but as if full of wind.





Walking across a field surrounded

by breeze.

A sunny path between houses.

Across the road a line of trees,

each glittering with sunshine.

The long straight path to my church,

grey light, the noises of afternoon.



The western light


Twelve fingers pointing southwards from the gum,

the western light on their leaves as they shake,

the gums brown certainty partly veiled in shade,

a wandering cloud caught in its high branches,

it waits, a compass point, steady

through day and night, seasons, and winds,

till its time of withering, worked from within.



The Border of Edom


A red, hairy man, his forefather’s brother,

had lived in these mountains.

It’s granite hills claimed him

now before the land of gold.

His cast off clothes were passed to his third

son, over the gulf of fire.

He rested his head in the earth

and shoots of iron sprang like nettles.



The Summer


The summer is hateful

and cruel to us

who left grey shores

in ancestral memory.


Leeching our cool blood

and making us burn

within, the bards

of sunlight strike


our backs, chastening

invaders, driving

us beyond the sea

cliffs, or branding


our foreheads with death.



In the park among the bird calls


In the park among the bird calls

and sunlight and silent trees

a body lay in the grass.

One morning on the way to school

some children found him.

The dew was on his clothes

and his rivers still.

In the night he’d chosen

a road of oblivion.

Present troubles had risen like a tide.

His outstretched hands

were unanswered.