Poems

I gravitated from stories to poems during the parenting years when family duties meant making do with mere snippets of writing time.

I could also work on a poem while stirring a risotto or cheering on my children from the sides of courts and pitches.

NOT WHAT HITLER HAD IN MIND

When the snow season ended 
in the Austrian alps,
my younger son flexed 
his Jewish curiosity 
and visited Auschwitz. 

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AUSCHWITZ KEEPSAKE

Tying a lace in the Birkenau meadow, 
I chanced on a birch twig lying there. 
Beyond the gas chambers and crematoria,
there was a pond in the grass cordoned 
off by a white rope. 

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I KEPT YOU ALIVE, DIDN’T I?

You ushered me in and we took up positions.
You penned copious notes on a teenager  
who lost his Dad,
who left his home country

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AARON’S NIGHTMARE AFTER BOOKING FOR POLAND

                     Caress of steamy bath water on soft soapy skin,  
plump cherry in the mouth, newspaper cast wide. 
O, yawn, O, monotony…

                    The door splinters off its hinges – crack and spit 
of air, boot stamp, gun clank, five faces snarling 
in the shadows of helmets.

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AARON WRITES TO RAYMOND CARVER

Dear Ray, I got to work all jagged. Needing to feel better,
I played the message from Josh in Berlin. It cheered me up.
In class, my students hammed it up – swapped critical thinking
for drama. Give us conflict, I said, yearning also.

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DAD’S CHECKING OUT HEAVEN

On Sundays we used to perch on his armchair
and watch him play chess against his friend.
The men pored over the positions 
as blue smoke from their pipes
curled above the pieces.

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CLIMBING CLIFFS WITH THE REAPERS

                        If Aaron falls from the low crux 
he breaks a leg, but any higher will have
           the reapers exulting.  
      He passes the crux with poise
  glides up the rock, commits to the steep arête.

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ANNA

Hello, welcome! My step-daughter clomps into the living room,
a red cast on her left leg, a blue one on the right,
		stretching out the tendons, 8-years-old.
	Red, blue, red, blue, where are you going, Anna?

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HEELS OF THEIR SHOES

Watch him now 
he’s lost his wife,
how he shuffles where before 
he strode, how he slumps 
after perky chin 
and proud chest. 

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ON WAKING IN TURKEY

Dawn aboard this gulet bobbing
on the blade-smooth Mediterranean
beside a Turkish fishing village. 
A sluggish sun ignites the cliffs one-by-one.

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UNDER RENOVATION

Peek through the hoarding,
      see the trappings – 
      baseboards, mitre joints, 
                       girders rising.

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AARON’S FAVOURITE AVENUE IN THE BLUE MOUNTAINS

Aaron and Zoey ride their push bikes beyond 
       the apple trees on the ridge where llamas pose in pairs,
                         heads cocked, as if waiting for an event of magnitude.

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HAVE COFFIN, NEED PALLBEARERS

I’m celebrating my 48th – no birthday paraphernalia
        in the house so I’ll blow out 
                       a mourner’s candle stuck in a muffin.

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CAPERS

Aaron carries the silver tray brimming
               with sandwich quarters and Saran-wrapped over.
                               But a small gap emerges.

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FLEET OF FOOT

Quiet at the pool today, lake-like in its repose
no children ripping the air with howls and whoops.
A centurion on twig legs steps into the showers.

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FLIGHT

Aaron crouches under the mirrors of the rising lift.
     Inside, lock dead-bolted, he slides open
          the balcony door, reels towards   
                      the edge, thrills to the yawning drop.

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DRIFTER

Don’t I know you, dear? Grandma Rosie’s 
puzzled eyes betray a brain amiss, slaving to place 
all the dears. She’s in her chair, praying mantis 
claw hands forming unseen shapes in the air.

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DAY OF ATONEMENT

Aaron is shy of the synagogue,
at Bondi, scanning for fellow
deserters. Nuclear families
are flaunting their wholeness
between the flags. 

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WOMAN IN THE GRAND BAZAAR

She half sat, half lay under dark shrouds,
dead centre of foot traffic on a cobblestone street of the Grand bazaar.
Toes were missing from her protruding foot, a stumpy end to a dusty leg.

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Note: All the poems herein have been published. The name of each publication appears when you click on 'continue reading'. 'Publications' on the main menu board provides journal details and links to the editions housing my poems.