Ordinary Wednesday: Nature’s Hat-stand

Today would have been the 100th birthday of one of the most important people in my life: my maternal grandfather James Savage, known to his friends as Jim and to me and my cousins as Pep. Born in 1921 to an Irish Australian father and Scottish Australian mother, he grew up in working-class Sydney duringContinue reading “Ordinary Wednesday: Nature’s Hat-stand”


Once the new year camein a traffic jam, at Borneo’s mouth,when the crowds who’d fled early to escape the rushnow bid each other a happy onebetween their cars across the street.Another time it came while Iand a friend were lost in the midst of things,driving from one house to another wherethe champagne was chilledand theContinue reading “Valedictions”


Learning the names of days, my sonasks each morning for the signs that distinguishone from the next: is thisthe day the rubbish truck comes?Does Dad go to work?Is it music class today?And this day, one withoutany special markers, leaves mebereft of news to give him, onlythe name – Wednesday – and the thoughtthat days likeContinue reading “Wednesday”

Letter to my children – a quarantine preview

I’m looking forward to sharing a number of videos of poems from my upcoming book Les Feuilles Mortes in the coming weeks, including several from my friends and readers across the world. Here is the first, a letter written in quarantine to my young children.

Avalon Sunrise

In memory of Kathleen Mary Savage, 1929-2020Beside thistled paddocks I make my way,sun nestled in grey,faint light peeking through.These paddocks containthe means of my flight,and when I arrive where the fruit trees growI shall see what’s lost of home.When final breath is breathed in the nightand what faces we knewwe scarce recognise,when all that we’veContinue reading “Avalon Sunrise”

Advent 21: Neither slumber nor sleep

In a creaking house for family feasting, I satas summer light streamed through leadlight doors andcracks in curtains,fairy lights twinkling on pine tree whileI rocked my youngest, disrupted bythe change of place, his olderbrother’s noise and the stubborn light,and tried to make a darkness conduciveto an eight-month child’s much-needed sleep,and fancied the Fatherkeeping vigil byContinue reading “Advent 21: Neither slumber nor sleep”

The dishes you will always have with you

and the laundry, piled upin crevices and corridors as though to say,“You can hide me, but you cannot do without me.”Toys underfoot and books scattered wideamongst other toddler treasures:a measuring cup, a rooster,a brochure considered la mode beforesome other fancy flitted through the growing mind.Some things are permanent, likedishes, some new –an Amen! after grace.UnsettledContinue reading “The dishes you will always have with you”

Learning Father (II): For Eli

…it was I who taught Ephraim to walk… (Hosea 11:3) In truth, I teach this child very little. So much is sheer instinct, determination, what HR would call “get up and go”. But there’s little of HR, more of the deep-sea diver or the alchemist at his art, to how this small enthusiast takes toContinue reading “Learning Father (II): For Eli”

Poetry for new dads

Grand plans will have to wait. Time works differently here: sometimes it hums, sometimes skips, sometimes vanishes. You will think, “There’s a thought; I’ll write about that-” Only – catch the thought, before nappies and necessity make it dissipate in baths at 8 and all that joy – the total joy that nonetheless necessitates thatContinue reading “Poetry for new dads”