in which cicadas grew hoarse

all day louder than the traffic

the rising guttural roar of this city’s

wild pummeling to be heard.

among trees of shade they persisted

underfoot until the quiet of the patch

sent them home to cogitate until

dawn. ticking off the summer markers

which remain, now that the wrens

have fled the suburbs and the bush turkey

digs alone


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Midnight’s day

A midnight stream draws birds to drink,

a moon-sun which rises to bathe their wings

and quench their thirst from the heat of  day.

Lamps light cicada turf, faint signs of a chorale

to last all summer as night forgets to nap.

My chorister flutes away, a voice echoing

into the shining coves of sleeping eaves.


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in which sun bakes

on a garden walk

as if heat had fallen


in a sultry heap

on the ground below


only to rise like dough

among slow diurnal amblers.


talk softens in the sun

birds respond lazily


to the twitcher’s tease…

too late


for jackmanni clematis,

just white seed puffs


instead of sky blue

clinging to a blushing


iceberg, trying to act cool.

maybe next year


if the heat continues…

even the cicadas


are sunbathing

in silence




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Currawong, Cicadas and Scrabble

Once another piano played on a rainy day

Well before currawongs and cicadas

Shook the silence of a Sydney burb.


It was ’61, gloves, admiralty engagements

Beaut barbeques at the beach

Summer cliches as foreign as the sounds.


Inside was sanctuary. A mother knew

The piano. We knew scrabble, and sort of

Each other in a familial kind of way


Though the ocean voyage had rocked

More than stomachs. Spelling was the easy bit.

Australia, pronounced straya. Not strelitzia


That grew across the sea in arid beauty.

Sydney, pronounced siney. Not sunny

For that year was the rainiest on record


Sinives streets turned to mud

I wore wellies to school. What was called

A swimming pool was brown with sand.


We packed our bags again a year later.

Hauled the piano back across the sea

A prelude to the afternoon of a faun called


Springbok. Apartheid had not yet made it

Into the OED but changed our lives

Again. The board was coloured


Not black and white. We spelt

Not spelled, we had takkies, slipslops

Not thongs, but still the music played on


And on. Before currawongs and cicadas

Brought a kind of beauty to the heat

We knew pavane, estampes and nocturne


Though foreign words did not count

Nor names. Disoriented, yes and a mother

Still at sea playing the waves and Debussy.


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