Always Cockroaches

That someday I will
give my body to the earth
to the myriad creatures,
that my particles will become
earth and sap and air.
It seems apt.
I can delight in solitude,
knowing I am not alone.
I can delight in the knowledge
of the teeming biome in my gut
or even that there are, apparently,
tiny creatures that live in my skin.
They come out at night
and feed on my face.

Well, I am a biosphere.
I am an ecosystem.
I am diversity and interconnectedness,
a habitat.
I am a homo sapien,
a small upright animal standing
on an earth in crisis,
a tiny creature feeding on its face.

What will the earth do
with this weird domineering creature
that seems hell-bent on destruction?
She will allow it of course,
knowing it will purge itself.
And will humans destroy every last thing?
Hardly. There’s always cockroaches
and whatever it is
that lives on their faces.


I’m working towards an exhibition next year, here in Lobethal at our new and vibrant arts and heritage hub, FabriK. The Exhibition is the third iteration of a travelling show called Solastalgia. Wikipedia describes Solistalgia as ‘a neologism that describes a form of mental or existential distress caused by environmental change.’ I was invited in my capacity of poet and I nearly declined because I am worried about the psyches of people (including myself) when there is so much emphasis on doom and such a feeling of hopelessness.

Anyhow the woman whose brainchild this is, Jo Wilmot, and Evette Sunset who is assisting and participating, have named this iteration, Solistalgia – an antidote – Tall Trees and Under Stories, and assure me that it is about hope. So I have been working away, including preparing a manuscript of poems and illustrating it. (I’ll share more of that later) but here am I in this poem being hopeful! Hmmm…

Probably it won’t make the cut.

The words in the image are from a poem by Charles Simic.


This was a few years ago now. He’s probably forgotten what ‘me-me’ is by now. I wonder if there is a deep longing, the source of which he’s forgotten.

I’ve got one of those unexplained longings. It’s strongest after sun down. I doubt it has anything to do with my mother, but who knows? What I want, what we all want, is a deep abiding connection. To each other. To the world. Maybe the last time we felt a connection like that was at our mother’s breast.

Barbie and the male gaze

Some of the words:

wow you’re beautiful; hi Sexy Legs; nice breasts; hey, wriggle that arse; where’d you get those shoes; pretty beautiful, stacked; great arse, blond bombshell, wanna root?; eyeliner, eyeshadow, nail polish, lipstick, foundation; wow! wow! wow! …; cock sucking lips; pretty, pretty, pretty, … ; such a sexy smile; you’re much better looking than your sister; beautiful boobs

Poor Barbie. And through it all, smiling like a maniac.

how poems magic themselves onto the paper

I was asked about how I go about writing a poem. I gave some glib answer about bum-on-chair. But it is an interesting question. I think one stalks a poem, feels the first stirrings as interest in a subject, seeks related content, researches, sits with it. All done with no real eye on the prize. I often don’t even know that I am stalking a poem.

Then one day, one sits down and the pen almost goes off on its own. Some of the things one researched come onto the paper with other, seemingly unrelated things and create juxtapositions and take on some strange logic. Odd words appear that one doesn’t realise one knows. (I often get Latin phrases, despite never having learned Latin.) The result is usually a big mess but the raw materials of the poem are there on the paper, and what remains is to give them form, discard dross, pull more from the ether where needed, shift a word here, a phrase there, leave it some time, come back, do more fine surgery, repeat until finished.

Definition of finished: doesn’t make you squirm.