Mousetrap

Bedtime, the kitchen tidied. As I drowse
A venturesome mouse scuttles and skips for cover.
With routine hands I bait and set the trap;
Hair-trigger poised, cheese redolent, gently placed,
Unwelcome chore; then sleep.
With morning light I find the trap upturned,
A wooden shroud hiding a thin curled tail,
Fine delicate form, trim nose, fixed sightless eyes.
One click: a creature passed from world to world.
With joyless spade I dig the tiny grave
Asking, who made me lord of life or death?

Richard’s choice

  • Australia to her Children

    I am so old, oh very old, my children,
       Ye that are so young,

  • Music and the Heart

    Music and the Heart run hand in hand
    Naked over the shining sand,

  • Chemistry

    In the summit song of youth
    A quiet quick catch of the breath.

  • Colours

    Before I loved or knew you were
       I spoke as I had eyes,

  • After

    Out of this questioning, eventual truth;
    Out of this doubt, faith rooted in the rock;

  • Acknowledgements…

    Not vile, body, nor foe, flesh,
    Your joys deluding, triumphs trash,
    Fit to be foiled your every wish.

  • Alone

    Alone to walk the dripping woods of spring
       While daisies spy you?

  • Mutability

    ‘All things are flux: there’s nothing fast,’
    Said Heraclitus, ages past,

  • Detachment

    …the thunder growling,
    And winds mounting, and the sky falling,
    And night, and you not here.

  • The Tunnel

    This is where the water hurries under the archway,
    This is where we enter the long tunnel,

  • Australia 1914

    Gone away, away,
    Suddenly at a word departed,

  • Come Death Suddenly

    Come death suddenly from the sea or cloud,
    With the blast of thunder and the blinding shroud,

  • The Tactician

    Spring held her fire
    So long, the long pursuit, the watchers wondered
    Would there be ever an end

  • Coming into the Clyde

    Part of me for ever is the January morning
    Coming into the Clyde in the frosty moonlight

  • The Jervis Bay

    ..The fifth day of November, Fifty North and Forty West,
    Was edging to its departure, like an undecided guest,

  • A Vision of Degree Day

    The drowsy air, the throngs that gaze,
    The ceremonial stir,
    Mixed with the drone of Latin phrase..

  • Flying to New Zealand

    Hauled headlong starward by the quadruple conviction
    Of lion-lunged engines in their pride of power

  • My nine-hours son

    My nine-hours son, so wrinkle-faced
    Wry concentration of distaste
    To find your Person so displaced,

  • Autumn Song

    The sun like a centaur leaping the ranges
    Shoots to the heart my garden, shatters
    The dew in a volley of wild carillons

  • The Gull

    Riding the wind, in planetary sweep,
    The gull wheels on the radius of a wing.

  • Creation

    Straggling off the highway in search of firewood
    Past the tins and bottles, through the rusty wire,

  • The Last Enemy

    Could we locate the enemy of mankind
    (I mean the GHQ, the Centre itself,

  • Genesis

    You spoke, after long years, about the morning
    That followed the night your first-born son was born:

  • Rain after Drought

    Waking to a diapason in the downpipe
    I peer through curtained panes to a curtained sky

  • A Talk to the Willow

    When you were caught red-rooted in the drain
    You wept of course, but did the same again

  • The Honey Man

    Like liquid silk in golden eddies
    the honey laps into my tin.

  • Pause

    You are late coming home
    To the house we share
    An audible silence
    Chills the air

  • Splitting the Red Box

    The tree-trunk rounds, a fallen Doric column,
    are tumbled on the grass beside my gate.

  • Sea Waif

    No dolphin it was, but a six-month suckling whale
    gashed and shark-mauled, tribeless, motherless,

  • Farewell to Skye

    Little death of a little dog
    In a death-wish world of news by body-count

  • Ballad of Old Sox

    They’re burning Old Sox’s shack
    Just two weeks since he died.

  • Airport Departure

    My love, I watch you thread your way, and turn
    with a small timeless smile, and trail your trolley
    unhurried through the gate of no return.

  • Yin Barun Road

    Crossing the highway, furtive as a snake,
    it slips through bush towards indeterminate hills.

  • Willow Tree: Two Years After    

    Spring, at a bound. Once more the colourful chorus,
    Daffodils first declare their lyric yellow,

  • Canberra Autumn

    Land of the singing light
    Light that first I saw
    Eighty years and more

  • For HMST – 1996

    Now for your birthday the single prunus bough,
    by neighbour ’s kindness spared on a sentenced tree

  • Tsunami

    … obliterating in instant mini-time
    a universe of suns and planets
    with or without their myriad forms of life,

  • For HMST – 1997

    Always a step ahead, you’re eighty-three,
    My life-support, contending other me,

  • Just Coming

    Down arches of the years I hear your voice
    explaining serials of our late departures,

  • HMST – 1999

    Six years since your last birthday in our midst
    seems yesterday, in this same so-loved house,

  • Encounter Recalled

    Wrapped in my gown of self-regard sublime
    I heard your voice arrive from outer space.

  • Going up to the Rocks

    Knowing the time was short
    Yours was the instant thought
    ‘Let’s go up to the Rocks!’

  • Mousetrap

    With joyless spade I dig the tiny grave
    Asking, who made me lord of life or death?

  • Away Day – Ten Years After

    Ten years since that incalculable day
    When from all worlds we know you slipped away

Poems of Nature

  • Lines written in meditation upon the recent moth plague

    Moths! Moths! Moths!
    In trouser-leg, singlet and shirt..

  • Timber

    “Up here the schooners used to come
      For timber, years ago,

  • Forestry

    My love and I in all agree
       As one, save this thing only:

  • Acknowledgements…

    Not vile, body, nor foe, flesh,
    Your joys deluding, triumphs trash,
    Fit to be foiled your every wish.

  • Sleeping out in the Mountains

    The host of hills encamped around,
    The sleepless army of the stars,

  • Easter Hymn

    Out of the cloud my Lord the Sun,
    Out of the earth my Lady Spring,

  • The Tactician

    Spring held her fire
    So long, the long pursuit, the watchers wondered
    Would there be ever an end

  • Barometric Man

    Twelve foot’s the rise and fall
    Of barometric Man

  • On Cathedral Mountain

    This mountain means discovery, since the day
    I climbed it first in boyhood and alone,

  • Flying to New Zealand

    Hauled headlong starward by the quadruple conviction
    Of lion-lunged engines in their pride of power

  • Point Lonsdale

    Dark sea dark land lie close beneath
    The muffling guilt of night,

  • Watershed

    From this rock spine, not three feet wide,
    Rivers of a continent divide

  • Autumn Song

    The sun like a centaur leaping the ranges
    Shoots to the heart my garden, shatters
    The dew in a volley of wild carillons

  • The Gull

    Riding the wind, in planetary sweep,
    The gull wheels on the radius of a wing.

  • Creation

    Straggling off the highway in search of firewood
    Past the tins and bottles, through the rusty wire,

  • Address to Mount Bogong

    Stentorian mountain, resonant as your name,
    I greet you with joy, I greet you, I give you thanks

  • Shoreham Morning

    The rousing sun’s sea-dance and dazzle
    Burnishes grassy cape and cliff,

  • Rain after Drought

    Waking to a diapason in the downpipe
    I peer through curtained panes to a curtained sky

  • Christmas Tree

    You hold the timeless in your brief green boughs
    The cardboard angels, home-made crib, the straw,
    The new-born baby older than Abraham

  • A Talk to the Willow

    When you were caught red-rooted in the drain
    You wept of course, but did the same again

  • Sea Change

    Down the cliff path, in morning sun
    Sliding, we stopped. The beach had gone,

  • Last Stand

    These trees reached up for light
    when Jesus walked on earth,

  • Metamorphosis

    The young magpie, as large as either parent,
    Piteously pleads the pathos of his need.

  • Splitting the Red Box

    The tree-trunk rounds, a fallen Doric column,
    are tumbled on the grass beside my gate.

  • Sea Waif

    No dolphin it was, but a six-month suckling whale
    gashed and shark-mauled, tribeless, motherless,

  • Farewell to Skye

    Little death of a little dog
    In a death-wish world of news by body-count

  • Uluru

    At first it seemed a trek of migrant ants
    climbing the skyline of this great red rock

  • A Lambeth Garland

    A garden gracious, serene and spacious at Lambeth –
    This is the dream, the vision that shall be its crown

  • Cultural Interface

    ..Three kangaroos, grey eminences, rose
    staring, paws crossed, with worried faces fixed,

  • The Sun Ringing

    I heard a man of science tell:
    The sun is ringing like a bell,

  • Equal Rights for Emus

    Come down from that Crest! It’s Australia Day, Emu –
    We just want to say, mate, how much we esteem you.

  • Tsunami

    … obliterating in instant mini-time
    a universe of suns and planets
    with or without their myriad forms of life,

  • Mousetrap

    With joyless spade I dig the tiny grave
    Asking, who made me lord of life or death?

  • Stumpy-tail Spring

    He lies unblinking, back and corpulent,
    first lizard from his hibernation sleep