About Dad (poem)

My father studied clouds
but for months at a time
there were none.

At sundown he hung up his hat
and took off his boots.
He washed his face and hands.

Mum moved the hose and chopped the vegetables.
I fed the chooks and closed the gate
behind the last stupid bum.

Night rose from the east,
easing its purple cloth over the sky, in increments.
Later I lay on the lawn with my father.

He studied stars too—not their meanings or placement,
rather that they were there at all
like so many glittering grains of dust.

Rain came eventually
and the grass grew taller than men.
The cattle were sent to market and the bills paid.

All the children grew up, left home
and there were no more worries.
Perhaps that’s why

he didn’t wait long after that to die.
He’d finished his studies.
He’d paid his dues.


where he isn’t

There’s a space
where he isn’t.
It’s enormous and keeps
following me around
now here, now here.

The space used to be
full of laughter
and fun, compassion
and encouragement.

With him I could
be my self.
When I lost him
I lost a true friend

Ervin Janek Mother and Son

The photo is by my husband Ervin Janek. It is called ‘Mother and Son’. I find it very touching, especially in the context of this poem. It was done a long time before our son died, but it seems perfect.

The poem reminds me of some of the old Chinese poets, Li Po etc. What do you think?

If you want to see more of Ervin’s images here is his shop and here is his amazing changing facebook collection.

What the Dreamed Man Gave

The dreamed man opens your hand;
into it he sprinkles something,
closes your fist and says, “This is Mundi.”
Here, in your hand is Mundi
and Mundi is the earth, the cosmos, everything.
You have a little pinch of everything in your hand.
Separate yourself if you can.

Now I ask you
where is your tiny self with all its fears and irritations?
Where is your desire for the next pair of shoes,
the next piece of art, the next love, the next lust?
Where are your concerns
of war and peace, of living and dying,
joy, your friend’s joy,
pain, your friend’s pain,
politicians and their hollow words?
I ask you, what are these things,
what are all these separate things,
when here
in your hand
is Mundi?

Here in your hand are your ancestors, your neighbour,
your daughter, your daughter’s daughter,
all the ages of man, Venus of Willendorf, crones and bones.
You hold in your hand the nervous magpie bearing worm.
You hold in your hand the rain and next year’s rain,
the dust blowing over the deserts,
the very earth spewing rock and that rock
flowing like blood down mountainsides of its own creation.
You hold the spark of life,
the myriad beings, the seed, the tree,
the fragile microcosm of the cell,
photosynthesis, the sun, the sun, the great sun.

For Mundi is the heavens also,
is the earth rolling through blankness carrying you and your handful.
It is silent space out to the edges of nowhere,
contained in all time from the beginning-without-end
and the end birthing beginnings – forever, forever.
God-dust it is, right here, in your hand.
Come now, would you baulk?
Would you baulk when
this little bit of Mundi in your hand is
is all you have ever loved?
You have to take the large with the small;
just because you are afraid is no reason to deny it.

What will you name it?
The first spark of light,
the first-ever nudge of movement.
It is the almost-silent reverberating first word.
It is the beginning. It is the end.
It is that there is no beginning and no end.
And I ask you, how do you put it down?
For it is Mundi
and there is a sprinkle of it
in your hand.

making friends with the weather

The earth is exposed and vulnerable,
open to the sky.
Clouds gather, soft and productive.
Already the soil is filtering water to the roots of trees.
Many branches have fallen.
Kindness and recognition make me cry as if
I was lonely or neglected,
as if I were a droughted tree sapping with moisture
that I cannot hold.
My branches fall away.
Soon I’ll be an old gnarled thing
on a ridge top against the sky.
People will say, ‘How beautiful’,
and snap me with their cameras.
They will file me away in memories and albums.
I’ll stand there, decaying to the earth.
Particles of my slow death will fulfil something—
continue something: bugs perhaps, or birds.
May birds nest in me.
May I make friends with the weather.


Along the shore, kids tousle, dogs leap.
Seagulls gather and scatter.
Waves course shoreward slapping themselves
and then stretching out, long and slow on the sand
and then another, and then another.

The tide of the sea is inching shoreward,
claiming footprints, washing sand.
Each movement of water, each flick of wave,
each deposit of sand is a different moment.
But your grief is a constant like the sound of the sea.

There will be sunshine and beautiful days.
There will be seagulls and sand castles.
You will carry the stone of your grief
tumbling it in the pulse of your heart
and with time it will get less sharp.

But now is the time to carry it like treasure,
hard and crystalline and precious and pure.
Now is the time for storms.


I wrote this poem (or an early draft of it ) some years ago when friends lost a baby at birth. It reminds me of a favourite poem by Michael Leunig. He did it with an exquisite cartoon. It is number 193 of 198 (six from the bottom) here :

When the heart  
(by Michael Leunig)

When the heart
Is cut or cracked or broken,
Do not clutch it;
Let the wound lie open.
Let the wind
From the good old sea blow in
To bathe the wound with salt,
And let it sting.
Let a stray dog lick it,
Let a bird lean in the hole and sing
A simple song like a tiny bell,
And let it ring.

Letter to Mik

File0026Remember that night when you were ten and we walked
for miles through the neighbours’ clipped fields,
the moonlight so strong we never missed a footing

over fences, the hip of Lorenzetti’s ridge, the road, the creek,
past the dam and up the wide blue moonscape of the far hill.
Hana was a little girl and I had to carry her home.

We walked up the driveway to our place,
out of smooth moonlight into electric light.
Hana fell into bed and you hugged me goodnight,

burying your face into my breasts as you did in those days
because I was half step-mother and half desirable,
and you were just the right height.

You grew, all legs and arms, and comforting you
became more difficult, your head waving up in the air
when it should have been on my shoulder.

And once you were grown, I couldn’t have had a better friend.
Thank you for being my stepson, for teaching me about boys,
for allowing me to mother you with my mother’s heart.



knickers like mum

Belinda-Broughton__knickers-like-mumHaving a bit of Mum in me

My mother is taking over my face.
It began with my body
my attitude, my stance.

Photographs betray her:
head thrown back in laughter,
or standing by a tree
watching her youngest
scoop tadpoles from a puddle.
I know it isn’t me
because I’m in the puddle.

‘Got a bit of Mum in you’
said my brother last time.
I really can’t ignore it now
with one eye on the mirror
and the other on the clock.


notebook (NaHaiWriMo)

Belinda Broughton haiga
Belinda Broughton haiga

As many of you know I’m a tad obsessive about notebooks. I have 4,500 odd pins on my Pinterest board, artist, sketch and note books. Not to mention all my own pages on here. So when this prompt appeared on NaHaiWriMo, I had to do more than one.

Belinda Broughton haiga
Belinda Broughton haiga
Belinda Broughton haiga
Belinda Broughton haiga

They will show up larger if you click on them, useful for that first one; it has the beginnings of a couple of haiku (if you can read my scrawl).

(NaHaiWriMo is National (more like International) Haiku Writing Month: February, shortest month for the shortest poem. Click on ‘Posts to Page’ to read the many poems that folk put there.)

baked blackberries, anyone?

IMG_5647IMG_5677IMG_5615IMG_5665 IMG_5690Beginnings of regrowth —
things with tubers: bracken, blackberries, reeds,
pink and rusty new leaves sprout on the smaller blue gums,
some small fleshy seedlings poke through.

Kookaburras on and on about something. Us?
Blue wrens — small, dainty, fragile.
Where did they go when that firestorm raged?