The catbeing

A sleeping catbeing,
black white ochre body curled,
furred cheek turned
     (Her free ear flicks
     as I shift on the wooden stool,
     as my sock scuffs the floor)
The catbeing, catmind, lithe catbody
has made her toilette
     (as Eliot said)
and now takes her repose

Pets are banned
But she is not my pet
Responsibility is claimed
by Unit 33
Kipper, their collar calls her
     (A motorbike dopplers past:
     her head lifts, then subsides)
She is the gentlest
of the three local catbeings,
the one most partial to humans
     (or, at least, to me)
She has come to my room for refuge,
for a pause in her difficult war
with the powerful catbeing from
beyond the fence
whom I stroked at lunchtime
but did not admit

The weary catbeing has come to rest
on the faded quilt I use
as a meditation seat
I unfold it to cat dimensions,
smooth its green 70s geometries
flat on the scarred sofa
     (catbeings enjoy a soft bed)
She kneads and stretches and washes,
clips her claws with her teeth,
clamping and yanking,
then works through a sequence of postures
until, eventually, she settles.
     (I unplug the phone)

Her spine is an opening parenthesis,
a yang matched by the yin of her tail
All along her rounded back
her filaments stand proud, separate,
like iron filings inscribing
the north and south of a magnetic field.
The purring catbeing, earthed, live,
is locus, nexus, nucleus —
a cluster of cells making waves
of Thursday afternoon peace.

From A coat of ashes.
First published in Uneven Floor


Return is how the Way moves.
— Laozi


not enough windows — electric light at noon

electric light at noon — not enough windows


a wood stove just like
my mother’s — rusting away

rusting away — my mother’s
like just a wood stove


a garden screen, weathered planks
hung on firm posts — my yoga wall

my yoga wall — hung on firm posts,
weathered planks screen a garden


a chime made
     of tuned aluminium tubes
     suspended by little strings
in what seems to be silence

silence in what seems to be
     suspended by little strings
     of tuned aluminium tubes
made a chime


From A coat of ashes.
First published in Axon 8(1), May 2018

Returning to the root

Tao is the way
trees curve
their branches, twigs,
and hang, with
gravity and
     against it, with
     the wind and

     resisting it, bodying
     its blow and
     the pull of earth,
the strength of xylem
and pith,
making their green love

Tao is the way
trees turn,
     away from gravity,
     the sun, their star,
     its photons:
     the bosons its bits

as their holds on each other

Tao is the way trees, deep in dirt and light,
compose a form too fine for the I to see.

From A coat of ashes
First published in The Canberra Times, 30 June 2018