Faceless Women

Waves crash on nearby rocks, I’m about ten,
sitting in a small room full of paintings,
patterned fabrics on sofas from a long time ago,
a room filled with untouchable pieces,
be careful where you step, rickety tables,
dad’s deep voice, mum crying in the bathroom.

Oil paint in a wooden frame, he always liked wood,
no wind, the sky blue, yellow sun in the corner.
Three women stand on a beach,
face the water, backs laced with thin bikinis.

There is no fear in the world of these three women
captured unknowing in his glance.
The world he pictured,
not the stifled world
we lived in.

Painted like a memory,
a beach I’ve seen in Greece,
a small cove sheltered from waves,
not the beach we lived near.
I might be mistaken, haven’t seen the painting
for more than five years now.

Thunder crashes, cold rain falls,
only the sound of hard drops
thudding, and his voice, like thunder,
the light gone from the world
as the world closes down.

The hand that made it
is not the man I knew. He had time to paint
three women,
a world we did not know.
No time for us; no time
now he is gone.

First Published Ishaan Literary Review Issue 6 2015


She sweeps the bed sheets smooth,
presses wrinkles with a sigh
but leaves shadows behind;
careless words hurled hard;
shuts the wooden window
from gusts and wet sea salt.

Behind glass
the ocean crushes down
echoes on the widowed shore
his boat smashed on moonless rocks
one year ago.

She picks two eggs to crack,
beats with a tic and twitch,
thrashes at her thoughts,
crushes a broken shell.

As words waste to the dead
butter burns in the iron pan,
black smoke veils her face.

She leaves the kitchen cold
retreats to the bedroom pane
and from behind the glass
watches the muted ocean
cast with lingering words
he refused to heed.

He chose to fish,
enticed by the sea
that pulled them here.

The wind lashes
with desperate knocks,
howls through flotsam
thrust with the tide,
remnants buried
she leaves the storm,
pulls the curtains close.

First Published Ishaan Literary Review Issue 6 2015

Notes at a Park


Old man stops to rest,
burnt bat wings above
spread over two wires.


Tree trunk leans
its shadow on the lawn;
a brush turkey sprints;
no birds.


Woman sits
alone at a table,
with salt,
car on concrete
fallen leaves.


Magpies shriek,
swoop at a goanna
noiseless in the grass,
a young fern bent
in the wind.


Grey wood path crosses
the creek
frogs hid in the reeds
when there was water.


Four white ibis walk along the fence.


Dry twig dangles in the wind
black cockatoo upside down.


Old man
on a bicycle
in birdless heat,
dried seeds on the ground.

First Published in Bitterzoet Vol 2.1 2014

Still Life

weathered and grey,
dried through years,
old hairs fixed.

Cluttered paintings
of beaches and women
beside oil paints
hardened in dust.

You used to paint
the world considered,
your strokes lit oils,
painted the new.

Now idle
by unfinished works,
you gather dust,
stare at walls.

First Published Message in a Bottle Issue 21 2014


A small rock
rises from the sea
a tough refuge
for battered birds.

Perched vigil,
they salvage a piece
of austere sanctuary,
tread their tired feet.

The sea sweeps
in haste surges hard
white foam thrashes
and squawking birds,
their port flooded,
flap into the air
abandon trust.

The birds shriek,
weave in the wind
then outstretched glide
into sky.

Splash empties
back to the cold sea,
where the rock,
rising again,

First Published Message in a Bottle Issue 21 2014