Our autumn Poems in the Waiting Room cards were distributed just days before the world became unwell. I imagine they have all been destroyed as waiting rooms, hospitals, hospices and rest homes stepped up their cleaning processes.
I was going to offer to post out cards in response to requests but they’re not considered an essential service so I believe NZ Post wouldn’t deliver them. What I can do, is reprint the poems here, so you can still enjoy an autumn poetry picnic.
Here’s to everything undone today:
laundry left damp in the machine,
the relatives unrung, the kitchen
drawer not sorted; here’s to jeans
unpatched and buttons missing,
the dirty dishes, the novel
not yet started. To Christmas
cards unsent in March, to emails
marked unread. To friends unmet
and deadlines unaddressed;
to every item not crossed off the list;
to everything still left, ignored, put off:
it is enough.
I am waiting, Cicadas,
for you to come cutting
and stitching the warm air
like eager street tailors
treadling old Singers
along the hot pavements
of throbbing Calcutta
I am waiting, Cicadas,
till the high twisty willow
resounds with your stitchsong,
till its leaves weave and flicker
with cellophane wings
So hurry, Cicadas!
Emerge from the dry earth
Long years you have waited
to set up your bandstand
to signal the season
of indolent summer
while air holds its breath
Instead of an apple or turkey on rye,
I’d rather eat crickets or swallow a fly.
A fly is nutritious. It makes me feel great.
I love eating flies when I’m out on a date.
I don’t like spaghetti. I don’t care for fish.
Just serve me a handful of flies on a dish.
I’ll eat them in weather that’s muggy or foggy—
it’s great to be me – I’m a fly loving froggy!
One of our Pocket Poetry cards – little give away poems to pocket. These will continue to be available once the world is well.
Click your heels
high heeled shoes are problematic
there’s no reason they should make you happy
but sometimes, wearing them at home,
for no particular reason
raises the likelihood that something glamorous
may be just about to happen
the dying rumble and
of wave after wave
sometimes you hear
the silence of the sea.
A huge hush
that flickers on and off
as if we were faultily
wired to eternity.
Maybe night is about to come
calling, but right now
the sun is still high in the sky.
It’s half-past October, the woods
are on fire, blue skies stretch
all the way to heaven. Of course,
we know that winter is coming, its thin
winding sheets and its hard narrow bed.
But right now, the season’s fermented
to fullness, so slip into something
light, like your skeleton; while these old
bones are still working, my darling,
Whatever way love’s camel takes
let it take me too
stowed up on the saddle, swaying.
Let that be home.
The past nor future is our own
only this trapeze moment.
Catch it now as it swings.
Who cares where we are headed
it is enough to be with
this light filled present;
feel the sway, the night air on your face
stars bright in your hair.
the sun falls
I can hear them now
The day trippers who thronged
To the shore with picnic baskets
And enough food for an expedition.
They came in search
Of peace and quiet with radios,
Cars and other city trimmings.
They sat and soaked up the sun,
Easing away the cares of the week behind
Making plans for the week ahead,
Knowing nothing would change
But still they planned.
And when the mist began to fall
They packed their cars
And headed home
Each with their own piece of countryside.
Today their laughter still echoes
Through the mist, calling
Future generations to sit by the shore.
What’s the point of eyebrows?
They lie there, lazy piles of fluff
that, frankly, do not do enough
to warrant taking up that space
on (almost) every human face.
Your eyeballs see, the forehead frowns,
earlobes happily hang around,
nostrils smell and molars chew,
but what, I ask, do eyebrows do?
A tutu fine and delicately hued
as Himalayan salt,
gleam of satin slippers,
your large, rough hand, security-
Just the two of us.
The first ballet lesson-
Madame Borriot looms over me,
presses my cross-legged knees to polished floor,
Tu le fais comme ça!
then its balancing crowns,
pirouetting on toes-
I’m a willowy princess, at last
a real ballerina, luminous with grace.
I run to you when it’s over, too thrilled to
do anything but grin.
You draw me in, guffaw, and ask,
How was that my galumphing little elephant?
(To tew: obolete word meaning ‘to work (leather) by beating or kneading’, or ‘to prepare for some purpose’)
© Copyright title & compilation Autumn 2020
Copyright of recent poems retained by authors
PitWR (NZ) supplies 8400 free poetry cards to medical waiting rooms, hospices, prisons, and rest homes throughout NZ every season. Braille booklets of this card are available from the Blind Foundation.
Heartfelt thanks to our Sponsor