Gardens

Under a pinus radiata
where the rhododendrons
grow

our love flourished
sickened expired.
In the scented eucalypt

grove we exchanged vows
I wove you foolish daisy chains
we kissed and giggled

in the loud aviary
our love more gorgeous
and bewitching than the

bright macaws. You grew sick
your sunlight waned
I stroll alone

throw a gold coin
in the ornamental fountain
wish so much for you.

Enchantment

I know I have
one immutable friend.

The driving rain
chastises me

the grating shingle
scours my soles

the gulls squabble
like malodorous children

but my boundless ocean
is gently melancholic

a compassionate spirit
who reprimands

the night-ghasts
foams reassuringly

over my valiant
time-bitten feet

as they wade out
into history.

Daughter

In front of a grubby caravan
a stringy youthful girl performs
perfect cartwheels.

I think how her hands
might be abraded
on the rough shingles

but clearly she doesn’t
give a fig. Her father
a brutal hulking man

ensconced in his deck chair
by the caravan door
is barely alive.

If I had a daughter
like you
I’d be whooping

and clapping
at your impeccable turns
until you curtsied

and gave your doting
father
a great sloppy kiss.

Nostalgia

My nostalgic heart is
enamoured of abandoned
villages

reached along hump-ridge
tracks. Spectacular sea-views
the rusting remnants

of logging machinery
a locomotive stranded
on a narrow-gauge line

leading absolutely nowhere
a crumbling centennial hall
overwhelmed by creepers

an anomalous tramper’s hut.
The bush is inclined to erase
all trace of the sturdy folk

who grafted here. Only
a tiny misshapen love-heart
cut into the bole of a rata tree

is testament to the robust
lives and passions
that perished here.

Infinite

At the cusp of the world
before the ice sheets
lock in all life

there are shingle beaches.
They let the incoming tide
scrunch and murmur

its big maudlin chorales.
They are fit only
for grave thinkers

and misanthropes
who dwell on why
the horizon line

is welded
to a smoking infinity
why a seal’s carcass

is preserved up the beach
like a cured slip of mortality
no artist could have carved.

Sea-spray

An atrocious November
squall chewed up the bridge
and seasonal flooding
submerged its tarmac skin
until gluey silt encroached
into the foundations

meaning the road was erased.
Now the tide comes up
and kisses the blue cliffs
the way is gummy river-mud
prone to unpredictable slides.
But I’m madly enamoured

of the sea-spray
only it’s inaccessibly far
and I daren’t risk a dunking.
I shall hire a river taxi
and crawl by the whitebaiters
who are mildly amused

by my intrusion
a crazy foreigner eaten
by sandflies clicking
his camera declining
their bounteous gift of smelt
sea-spray in his eyes.

Bull

Bewhiskered prizefighter
lumbering up the sands
you’ll excavate a wallow
lay out prostate
brushing sandflies
with your flipper.

I can come so close
without your nostrils
shuddering
a bull roar farting
from the dribbly cavern
of your mouth.

It is best to observe extreme
caution when you confront
such a brawny tonne of fat
and be sure to keep
a clear pathway
to the waves

otherwise
this alpha-male sea monster
disturbed from slumber
may charge
making mincemeat of your
servile flesh and bones.

Tides

A mighty hewer of driftwood
and the jawlines of whales
a shepherdess to ocean kelp
a sculptress of beach stones

a surfboard for sea-lions
to ride. In a blow
all foam and spray
or placidly filling shoeprints

cracking percussive oaths
doodling indecipherable
handwriting across
mustard-yellow sands.

Absolute

The high country station
acres of manicured paddocks
freckled with cropping sheep

ring-fenced by red hills
the far mountains
ice cold brides

beyond contemplation.
Absolute solitude reflects
on the standing pools

a fractured sheep’s skull
nailed to a gate post
is like broken extinction.