A bright summer afternoon
cycling beside old man Manawatu.
A gentle cooling breeze blowing
upstream and a raft of ducks
showing me their backsides
as they forage off the river bottom.

And now seated on a bench seat
in the shade of a macrocarpa tree
I realise that it is the very same
tree that my nephew and I
climbed and claimed for our own
more than thirty years ago.
And I am grateful.


From a distance
they looked like seagulls
but somehow their manner
was not quite right.

There were five of them
looking somewhat bemused
and pecking at the sand
purely out of habit.

They also seemed to be
discussing something,
nodding to each other
as if in agreement

that the travel agent who sold
them this holiday destination
as a dove’s delight had somehow
known they were gullible.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

I have heard the saying many times
but today, for the first time,
the adage came with an image.

In my mind’s eye a cat dropped
from the branch of a tree
onto a roof…stalking a bird no doubt.

Its carnivorous smile vanished
as it delivered a frenetic, and not at all stylish,
catwalk across the hot tin roof

and leapt for the ignominy of the long grass
desperate to ignore the smirks and sniggers
from its avian audience.

Happy Birthday to Me

I’m not sure whether it is a
tradition of mine to write a poem
on my birthday or not.
But if it isn’t, it should be.

This particular birthday finds me
sitting on a garden bench seat,
once owned by my grandparents,
enjoying the chatter of birds and  
nursing a head-cold.

As is my want, I am musing on the
ideal metaphor for the aging process.
Currently I am favouring standing
atop a shiny board that is gradually

being lifted from one end.
Each inch that it is raised makes
the process of remaining upright
that much more difficult and hastens the slide.

Then there is the fine wine that becomes
more succulent as the years pass
until it turns and begins to take
on a vinegary quality.

For now, I think I’ll go and pour a
cup of tea. It’s been brewing
for fifty-three years…
it should be just about right.

The Fall

The Fence:
It serves him right.
Fancy trying to leap a fence of my height.

The Footpath:
It’s not often I get
up close and personal like this…
A trip, a fall and a concrete kiss.

The Bystander:
He was jogging with ease
and leapt the fence with finesse.
Alas, he caught his back foot
and made a bloody mess.

The Victim:
How could I have been so stupid?
How could I not see,
that one shouldn’t leap fences
at fifty-bloody three.

The Bad Old Days

Reading about the ‘Bad Old Days’ is okay
when things are rosy,
tucked up by the fire
all nice and cosy.
But having History
dished up for breakfast, lunch and tea
just isn’t me.

The Black Plague, World War One and the Holocaust
all catastrophic and morbidly fascinating.
The rise of Donald Trump, Nationalism and Covid 19
all terrifying and incapacitating.

I don’t want to ‘feel’ History
with all its barbed wire and hooks.
I don’t want to ‘live’ through History
I want to read about it in books.


This morning, during my walk,
I found myself humming that old classic
‘Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer’.
Imagine my delight when the morning chorus
was usurped by a Christmas song.

Where do these screensaver songs come from?
Do they leap down from tall trees
onto unsuspecting passers-by?
Or are they lurking within us,
waiting in long queues,
jostling each other for the opportunity
to raise our spirits in song?

I look forward to tomorrow
when I am rescued from
that annoying moment
of quietude by…
Jingle Bells or the Birdie Dance.

Morning Walk

My walk this morning
could in no way be labelled exercise.
I meandered, rather than strode;
trickled, rather than flowed.

It was one of those mornings
when everything seemed more vivid.
Bird call broke through with ease;
Autumn leaves flaming in the trees.

I couldn’t help but notice
everything, all at once.
The feel of the pavement through shoes;
light caressing the morning dew.

A solitary bellbird chime
stopped me in my tracks.
One plaintiff call climbed above the rest;
As though it’d seen me from its nest.

“Well done for noticing”, it said.
In bellbird lingo, of course…

Old Man Manawatu

Manawatu river

Today Old Man Manawatu
is fair racing to the coast.
The bridge has got its socks up
to play the perfect host.

Amidst churning water lies the treasure
of trees long since drowned.
The mighty Manawatu today,
the king, is crowned.

Despite the howling winds
and good chance of rain,
I made my way down here
to get my fill again.

To cast my eyes upon the river
and all that nature abounds,
to shed my autumn leaves
and put my feet on the ground.

No Poem Today

I’m feeling more hypothetical
than poetical today.
Feeling more doggone it
than sonnet.
Suffering more from neurosis
than verbosis.
More ho-hum than poem.
More hearse than verse.
More agitated than alliterated.
This man’s a
never going to write a stanza.