Category Archives: poetry

Safe Home Visiting Questionnaire

Is the street in the Melways?
Can I find it on Google Maps?
Do I have to travel through a wardrobe to get to it?
Just how steep is the driveway?
Will I need snow tyres?
Will I need a pickaxe and grappling hooks?
Do they have a dog?
Does the dog bite?
Does the dog foam at the mouth with blazing red eyes and speak fluent Portuguese?
Does the patient bite?
Do they have their own teeth?
How strong is the denture glue?
Should I wear gumboots?
Should I wear steel-caps?
Should I wear a kevlar vest and 7 inch stiletto pumps?
Do all the lights work?
Do any of the lights work?
Are the premises supplied with electricity?
Is there adequate ventilation?
Are there any firearms on the premises?
How likely am I to encounter animal faeces?
How likely am I to encounter human faeces?
Am I likely to encounter anyone who considers faeces to be appropriate visiting attire?
Are there geese?
Have the geese been locked up for extended periods?
Are the geese… silent?
When was the fridge last opened?
How many decades of newspapers are stacked behind the front door?
Do they have a copy of the Age from April 23rd 1997? (there’s an article I’ve been looking for…)
How long are the patient’s fingernails?
When did the patient last fondle a stranger’s breast?
Are there charges pending?
Is the water potable?
When was the Legionnaires’ disease last isolated from the water barrels?
Will the phrase ‘Is that anthrax?’ produce a strange giggling response?
Is there anywhere to sit?
Is there anywhere to stand?
How many cats?
Come on, serious now, how many cats?
When did the patient last eat?
Is there an echidna boiling on the stove?
Are there dead cats in the bath?
Are the dead cats in the hall cupboard?
Are the dead cats stuffed into beanbags?
Where are the damn cats?
Has the patient been contacted by phone?
When was the patient last seen alive?

Has anyone seen the geriatrician?


Something from my day job. About 80% of what you read above has happened to either myself or a member of our team. I think that it’s easy to forget that sometimes health care workers come across the unpleasant, the tragic and the utterly bizarre in our travels. And, at times, it can be dangerous. Is it any wonder that black humour is so rife?

My thanks to Steve Smart for his help with this poem, and his friendship.

Leaving the mountain

I cannot smell the smoke
but above me the sky is tangerine
or perhaps blood orange
Why do we so often seek edible metaphors?
Unlike the fruit
this sky contains no moisture

In refracted light
we load life’s cargo
mine is quiet
womb-wriggling stilled
by adrenaline
my son’s red-slicked face
too fearful to contemplate
we calmly pack the car

I leave you now
your misguided hero’s carapace
impervious to my pleas

I toss the woollen blanket inside
a stupid, careless gesture
its ember pocked fibres
your shield from glass-melt heat
there will be times I wish
I had taken it with me

The car noses out of the driveway
it could drive this road itself
on this surfeit of molten tarmac
we travel alone,
our descent slowed by a water truck
its load splashing, a liquid hypnotist
each pearled drop a promise
fluid counterpoint to peripheral flame

I glance to the right, for look I must
this fiery thunderhead inhales
sucking my lullabies from the air
it would inhale the car
but for the firmness of my grip
we reach the town but do not stop

smoke flanks that bitumen ribbon
I have threaded fire’s needle

in the space left
by children gone
I ponder infant apricots

Fist (revised)

I watch its angry arc
through treacle time
its fury almost graceful,
with a hint of haste

this clenched missive
each knuckle scripted
its disgust
aimed at my nose

I do not flinch
though I cry ‘I’m sorry’
is it this
or the force of my gaze?

that arrests your fist
no imprint left
your message
written on me still

I have revised this somewhat. After spirited discussion on Facebook I have elected to retain ‘treacle’, albeit at the risk of my readers’ minds drifting to thoughts of gingerbread. I have extended the ‘missive’ metaphor in the second stanza and referred back to it in the fourth. I hope it’s a stronger poem for these changes. Thanks to all my poetic friends for their input.


I watch its angry arc
through treacle time
its fury almost graceful,
with a hint of haste

this clenched missive
each knuckle sketched
its disgusted patina
aimed at my nose

I do not flinch
though I cry ‘I’m sorry’
is it this?
or the force of my gaze?

your arrested fist
brushes rather than crushes
and I cry
‘I’m sorry’

Today there was a poetry competition at the Dan O’Connell. The challenge was to use the line ‘graceful, with a hint of haste’. The above was my entry. It probably needs some more work. It does, however, truthfully describe one moment of my life. Congratulations to Timothy Train, Eric Beach and Mary Stone for your winning efforts.

Seven poems of the moon and sex


blushed moon
sun’s set


moon rise
clothes fall
tumescent contour


silvered glass
licked moon shadows
do not speak


breast moons
antennae nipples
indicate stars


moonlit zenith
toes curl


I kiss at


moon’s rays
morning’s frost


ten icy digits
our endless conversation
shared anxieties and cigarettes


you admonish my meagre socks
curl your toes around mine
without complaint
a cocoon of feet


chaste lovers
in darkness we lie
alternating monologues
the death cold hours


morning twilight
hypnotic murmurings
toes thawed
sleep drifts in on your voice