Dirge for our Age: Cypresses VI

There is a regulation for everything

It seems, the poems tell us so too

We’re writing the dirges of our age

Though we westerners are full

Of privilege, or some of us,

At least, at most…

The Standard for Pruning of Amenity trees

Prevents lopping. I am grateful

Paradoxically I am happy the cypresses

Will not have their tops lopped

But I will lose them, all

Thirty or so…They’re

Only trees, Only trees

They should outlast us all

We bear, but only witness

Somewhere now

The keening and wailing

Grows louder than the chainsaws.


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Myrtle and Rose

There’s a fashion

For the verge, we’re

Breaking free

At ground life –

Myrtle and rose

Among lavender and succulents

Abandoning neatness,

Spilling over to country.

But which one?

A heritage rose

Amid the green

Of myrtle street?

The terraces

Hark back

To some other world

Bush encroaches

Wattle flowers bloom.

Just a mixed up

Bunch. We wait.


Will write another path.

A Building Grows A Tree

Sometimes a tree grows a house

A simple heart for children

To play that other world

Far from the everyday.


Sometimes a house wraps around

A tree, doors and windows plaited

With leaves and berries as inside

Sings the music of the seasons.


Tonight, a building grows a tree

Its base the sinews of a trunk

Coloured bugs loping upwards

Insects, birds fluttering moth-like


As beams of light trick

Our senses with spectacle

An illusion of transformation

Memorable, entrancing, momentary…


Long ago an idea flowered

An architect’s vase took shape

Along a city block of concrete



Not a green speck around…

This time we mill with the wonder,

A light show of blossoms and birds

In the city night, as leaves flicker


Like the pages of a picture book.

The idea grows a tree.

Salvia Meadow

So dense alongside the old stone wall

Now thick enough for wrens to return

To furrow in peace.


I count small birds today

And find a few, reminded

Of the sparrows, speckled


Brown,and tame as we fed

Them unwisely on the steps

Outside. All gone.


Salvia meadow echoes from within

A thicket ruffling with feathers

Colour flicked on tips

Gardening at midnight

The violet leaves sat

Poignantly in a box

The midnight light,

An artificial reading

One, too harsh

For nature’s senses.


The clock struck twelve.

I turned into their prince

And fitted their slender

Stems lightly into soil.

How they came to life

Little velvet violets


Slipping out of time.

I marked my page

And turned off the lights.

We closed our eyes

Content to sleep

“Perchance to dream.”


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Cypresses V

You are still here.

The council have stayed

The execution

For now.

Poor roots

Have shot

Too far, into

The sewage pipes

Of your owners’



The news

Is bleak too

In Belgium

And Nigeria

America as usual

It starts again

Ukraine, Sydney…

I think of my trees

Outliving all that



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Preparing Soil

Until dusk I laboured

Turning, Watering, Forking

Alternate layers of new

Rich soil. Twenty years

Or more untouched

Except for my plantings

Which had not thrived

In such a spot. Now

I am ready. First

To move the unflowering:

Dietes, multiplying year

After year, a gardenia,

Leggy and forlorn,

Baby sycamores, ever

Prolific yet struggling

For breath. Turning,

Forking, Aerating

I clambered onto the soil

To reach the outer

Limits. I heard

The butcher, maggies

Noisy miners say


The crickets warm awakening

Joining them.

Still I worked, I could

Not rush despite

My waiting rose.

So with more to do,

The darkening hiding form,

Shape, carefully

Feeling my way, I bade


To the fertile day,

For awhile, a while…


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