The Bag of Grapes

Eventually I read the small print 
on the bag of grapes and saw
that they came from America 
and suddenly my desire for grapes 

It wasn’t politics, it was trade 
that soured the grapes. 

How, this year of years, 
with California burning again
while I my nails are black 
from weeding the burnt soil 
of my Australian home,
can grapes wing their way at altitude 
from the other side of the world? 

How is it not illegal, while the earth burns?
Do you think you’ll escape the effects of global warming?
Do you think it is simple?
Do you think will be solved by air-conditioning?
Do you think that COVID is not a product
of the works of man?

Workers and old folk and babies die from a disease 
that is a direct result of clearing forest for farming. 
Wild animals are stressed and they shed viruses.
Is this not simple enough for you?
Do you need to blame politicians?

Forget plandemics, People. We bought 
this disease in the supermarket 
with food we couldn’t live without: 
fruit in winter, frozen cheapness. 

Here on the burnt lands
the wild herbs of spring are especially fruitful. 
I call them weeds 
but bring some home for the soup.


This picture has very little to do with the poem. It just shows part of our place. The soil of the vegetable garden didn’t burn. It had a lush layer of Warrigal Greens, (a native edible fleshy ground cover) that probable saved the soil. In the autumn, because we couldn’t live there, I planted a few flowers (the everlastings) and greens and apart from some limited weeding let them fend for themselves. Most of what you see here, (calendula, parsley and geraniums are either self sown, or growing from unburned roots.


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.

The difference between a crazy artist and a crazy person

Why am I so much more excited by making non representational abstracts than (most) realism? It’s something about the thing arriving, coming into being and some delicate or decisive finishing while trying not to destroy the edge of chaos with the almost unquenchable desire for order.
Am I crapping on? Probably, but still It’s pretty much where I am.
Also, can these images be termed ‘drawings’? Or do you need a defined physical subject matter for it term them ‘drawing’? (My opinion? #1: yes #2: no)


Traces (towards drawing)

Thoughts from last night. Hope you can read it.

When the group that I’m working with on #30daysofdrawing first met, I said I didn’t know what I want to do in my thirty days. But I now realise that I knew then (though I hadn’t defined it) that I want to use the opportunity to work out where to from here (in my art). I have been hanging around a crossroad for a very long time.

paint, country, poems


grasses shushing the voices of ancestors

spinifex dot painting country

intricate memory of blood splatter lichen

* * * * *

how can one walk the earth of Australia and not think
of the people who have gone before

the crags sing of them
the water wells salty with tears
the earth is red as the blood that was shed upon it

* * * * *

  • Country: In Aboriginal English, a person’s land, sea, sky, rivers, sites, seasons, plants and animals; place of heritage, belonging and spirituality; is called ‘Country’. (Source: Glossary of Indigenous Australian Terms, Australian Museum, Link.

More of my writing on aboriginal issues here. More of my haiku on this blog under categories here and on my old blog here. Feel free to have a browse.

‘spinifex dot painting country’ was first published in Journeys, an anthology published by Haiku Bindii, a local Adelaide Japanese poetry group. I don’t think they have any more copies but I have a few. If you are interested contact me here, and I can get one into the mail for you.

paintings and nature inspiration

A series of photos juxtaposing one of my abstract field painting, with shots of nature that inspired me. The photos are taken at Shell Hill near Walkers Flat, South Australia. We loved to camp there, but people used to dump rubbish and hoon around in their cross country vehicles and bikes, tearing up the fragile earth. So when the local conservation group put fences up preventing access, we lost our favourite camp site, but the earth gained a lot of peace. Looking forward to going back soon to check out the land’s recovery.

The painting is from a series dealing with texture and mark.

Here are some photos of my studio around that time.

I don’t even know where a lot of these paintings are. Probably covered with different paintings. I lost heart with the series. I can’t believe how much time in my life I have wasted (still waste) doubting myself and my art. I only exhibited maybe five of this series. I still have the maroon one and a few others. But the others did make beautiful grounds for other work.

Impressive fish tank too.

More of my art here and here

Regularity, that’s me!

A Plan of Action. I decided I should have one. I tend to get all enthusiastic with blogging, go at it with gusto, and then life intervenes and next thing I haven’t posted for ages.

So, in view of the new blog, I came up with a new idea. I am going to get regular. Don’t laugh, you who know me. Just because I have been described as, ‘As disorganised as stork shit in mid air.’

I used to have an almost religious fervour against…

More guess where? Here

Doing Something About It

See this self-portrait of mine?
It needs wrinkles.
It needs to cut its hair and go grey.
It needs to get a bit of a stoop
and become more ordinary.

It needs to stop counting its troubles
on fingers and toes.
It’d be better if it counted blessings
or ordinary acts of kindness
— sunrises even.

There have been plenty of sunrises
so many of them unconscious.
It needs to remember it has only one life
and to make more art
more love and more desserts.

It needs to react less
to all the trivial troubles at home
to all the hideousness of the world
or it needs to do something about it.
Goodness knows what. Make more Art?



the menagerie grows


The paper for the mice was snitched from my granddaughter’s growing pile of discarded artwork. She makes heaps every day. It is all about process for her. She has very little regard for it after she has finished. That’s the way we all should be. Art should be free, and artists should be free. Artists should be paid a stipend. Or not. Anything to stop art being a commodity, and galleries from their nonsense of valuing one more than another because someone says it’s better or because more people like it on their walls or because it suits their marketing aims. All that leads to, is hungry artists who are desperate enough to sell their souls, and they do, on a regular basis, and then have to spend years at a therapists, or under the influence of some drug or other, until they find out that it’s all bullshit and they can go back to the process of process, like they did as a child. And that is if they are lucky.

IMG_5562Origami is process, at least for me at this stage. I like that it can go in the fire when it collects dust, or when there are too many rabbits or mice. I like that it is made of something flimsy, available, cheap, disposable, and recyclable, and that it has no real value. I know the masters’ work has real value, but mine won’t, because I will lose interest before I do enough to turn it from a craft into an art.

By the way, we keep some of my granddaughter’s stuff if we like it, and pin it on our walls. Sometimes we even make the mistake of telling her we like a particular piece.


Credits: The rabbit on the left was designed by Jun Maekawa. The blue one (obviously a very curious rabbit) I learnt at Tavin’s Origami Instructions. The Duckling was designed by Hoang Tien Quyet. I don’t know who designed the elephant. My daughter has been making it since she was a child. She taught me. The Mouse was designed by Tetsuya Gotani.