NaPoWriMo – the north face of poetry

napofeature1Yes, it is the world’s clumsiest attempt at an acronym, but for those of you who are new to NaPoWriMo it stands for National Poetry Writing Month.  The idea is to write a poem per day for the entire month of April. A poem per day. When you say it quickly it really doesn’t sound that bad. But it is. Adelaidean poet and all-round-wonder-woman Tracey Korsten calls it the North Face of Poetry.  And I think she’s on to something.

I have a couple of friends who do this each year and my excuse in the past has been that I don’t have a blog/website thing on which to post my poems.  Clearly, this no longer cuts it as an excuse. So I’m having a go – but as the astute among you may already have observed – I’ve failed before I even started.  It is the 2nd of April and I neglected to post yesterday.  Fortunately, I can blame poetry for this since last night when I should’ve been home, dutifully writing my poem I was out at the Dark Horsey Bookshop listening to the brilliant Alison Flett at the Lee Marvin readings, then out drinking with poets afterwards and yada yada you get the gist – this story ends without a poem being written yesterday.  As you can probably tell, I’m a snuggled up at Base Camp sleeping off a hangover rather than a clinging to the North Face kind of poet.

So to compensate I’ll post two today… a freshie, then a serious edit on a poem written a few weeks ago after my parents’ house burned down.  Yep.  That’s a little tempter so that you don’t give up on me after reading the first poem…  So now is probably the best time to slide in the disclaimer that the poems published here during April will primarily be first drafts or violent edits on relatively fresh poems.  Most will probably not survive.  So I can not in all honesty state that no poems will be harmed in the making of this blog. If they are lucky, they will be culled quickly and painlessly.  If they are not, they will be tortured by a lengthy process of ripping, shredding, amputation and unnatural grafting. Poetry is not for the faint-hearted.

So here we go… please backdate this poem to April the 1st.


Dodging Mary Oliver’s questions

Who filled the world with so many questions

then implied ignorance to be a weakness, or heavier still, a choice?

Mary Oliver asks Who made the grasshopper?

but that’s the first step on a staircase that twists out of sight.

And I’m happy here on the ground, just watching,

letting the questions float away, seeds pods at the wind’s mercy

carrying their DNA spirals across the sea of grass

to colonize a new world with the endless variables of the next generation

with their hand-me-down genes and recycled bones.


My grandfather told me the most intelligent thing

you can ever say is I don’t know

as long as you don’t turn your face away from the quest.

But I only know how to pay attention,

how to lie in the grass, scaling my questions down

to fit within the secret cities of ants

or balance them on the quivering leaves of the birch.

I don’t know if this is enough or if I’ll ever be able to form an answer

without another question clinging to its tail.


So when Mary Oliver asks me to tell her

what I plan to do with my one wild and precious life

my answer is I don’t know

but I’ll think about it while I lie here on the grass,

bearing witness to my world

while clouds curdle and dissolve,

the cycad raises its new frond like a defiant fist

and the chinked backbone of the hound

curls like a warm cog against my leg.

Autumn glory vine

Autumn glory vine

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