Suburban boughs raise skywards
slender branches, softened by bronze haze
of new leaves, while blue tits
on crusted twigs scuffle in spring frenzy.
Early sun warms creamy bud clusters
kindling an exultation of white stars.
Sugarplum petals release their hold,
drop soundlessly to shrouded ground.


SEA PICTURES by Joan Emmett

Who will be the first to see the sea?
"It's there, It's there". A distant sparkle of sun on water
As the car winds down the hill to the beach.
An explosion of bodies, buckets, bags and baskets.
Shrieks of delight as little legs race down
To the shining smiling sea.
Howls of anguish as sea urchins stick swords into tiny feet
Amongst the seaweed dreadlocked rocks..

"Where"s the sea? It"s gone It"s gone
Veiled in a cold damp chilling mist
Only the salty smell of seaweed
Booming foghorns of ghostly ships
Quarrelsome cries of seagulls
And the crunch of feet on pebbles.

From the cliffs the sea is green and blue taffeta
A white border brushing the rocks
Decorated with seabirds
Enjoying the gentle motion of the waves.
Far out the wind makes patterns on the sea
Then changes like a silk sheet drawn across a bed.

There goes the ferry like an overweight bride
Trailing her lacy white train behind
On the magnificent moody sea.
Waves destroy themselves in a fury of white smoke
Against the rocks
Hurling many coloured pebbles
Onto the promenade..

When darkness throws its mantle over the earth
The sea disappears again
Until a full moon casts a silver pathway
On the water
Revealing the lights of ships under a starlit sky
As waves gently lap on the sand,

Tomorrow the sea may smile again
Disclosing secret gardens in rocky pools
Alive with sea urchins and baby crabs.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring?



Slowly roll the ruby globe between
thumb and second finger. Wary of marring
its tender shine. Perfectly plump,
the glossy skinful is ripe and prime.

Hold by the stalk and raise to the glass,
twirl and cherish reflections
of rime on trees, palest petals,
the labour of bees,
portending the swelling, reddening
to carmine, small fruit, all mine.

Tongue-taken whole, roughly rolled
with rush of drool, lip licking
Sweetheart your flesh is pierced,
sheared unto stone. Lips stained cherry
your juices flow as honeyed wine.



He missed the sun, rising in a starry sky,
timid rays curving through the dark trees,
sparkling off rooftops wet with dew and
glistening on soaked grass.
Dawn closing the cosmic veil
blocking his view of heaven.

He missed the feathered chorus, silent now,
feeding on ploughed ridges, waiting in tall trees.
Scattered cattle sleeping on the hoof;
endless empty fields and unlit
villages quietly waiting to begin.

He missed the orange fingers
of early light breaking the dark night
and yielding to glorious colour,
and the tea trolley gliding
down the aisle unannounced.

He missed his station, his curtain call,
too full of sleep; drugged with rhythm
and a window of self hurting his eyes.
Rocked and cocooned
like a small child in his mother’s arms.



That moment
passing under the rock arch into Cathedral Cove,
I was offered delight beyond dreaming.
Had I gone down the rabbit hole or through the wardrobe?
But the absence of hatters and lampposts swayed me.
Perfectly blue sea lapped the brilliant sand
as far as the horizon, studded with myriad isles,
weightless as marshmallows, floating
between water and air.

Trees overflowed the fevered cliff,
pohutakawa trees with crimson Christmas flowers.
Sun releasing coconut essence from the gorse
and everywhere birdsong, strange island birds
with Maori names. I caught the blue flash of a tui
and then it was gone.

The spreading fronds of ponga trees like giant parasols filtered
lime-green light to tinge and soothe my reddened skin,
unused to this seasonal aberration.
And at night, the Southern Cross in a swathe of stars so clear
it bathed the sky in light.
I gazed until intoxicated, made dizzy
by this sensory upside-down Eden.



Here trees rush at you from the shadows,
their gnarled trunks shudder upwards
to a far-off sky.
Overhead, branches wrestle for light.
A shipwreck of forest lies below.
Faces watch from the foliage,
and sinewy fingers
grasp at tree roots.

Where is this place?

Here shadows huddle in spaces,
plotting in hollows and scowles*.
Fear hides in corners;
the air shivers
and a bat flaps from an underground cave.
A wild animal shrieks into the startled silence.
Wings beat upwards,
bruising the air.

Solemn boulders, stoic as judges
keep watch over every walkway.
Beneath the trees,
fungi bulge from a knot of roots
and ferns erupt in giant feathered fronds.
Wooden bridges totter across gulleys,
their knock-kneed legs
trembling in the chill air.

Where is this place?

Moss creeps over the stones,
slimy as Gollum.
In the swamp,
a pair of luminous eyes meets yours,
before submerging.
The faces in the branches are watching you
and the wood holds its breath,
waiting for your next move.

Amongst the limestone traces,
a pulse beats, deep in the earth.
Here in this land of hobbits,
of wizards and elves,
of mazes and Merlin and magic,
where goblins and dragons pursue heroes and rings,
the riddle echoes through the forest.
It demands an answer.

Where is this place?



The red light is blinking
The flash of fear feels like a knife
I steel myself to press the button
Your voice comes to life

Words on a tape
My whole life is taking shape
By what you command of me

And now you have gone
I am deaf to your words
But you still have power in silence


THE DONKEY'S STORY by Hermoine Ford

I’m a little, lowly donkey
Haven’t even got a name
I work all day from dawn to dusk
Without any thought of fame.

One day Joseph said to me
‘Donk’ we must get ready.
We have to go to Bethlehem
Mary’s baby’s due, so just go steady.

The road was hard, the load was heavy,
Dust and stones flew all around
I tried to walk with every care
The long, long road to Bethlehem.

Mary often patted my head,
Sometimes she sang a little song,
This helped Joseph as he led
Thank goodness he was so strong.

At long, long last we arrived there,
And so did everyone who was able
There wasn’t an empty room to spare
We were put up in a tiny stable.

I must confess to a vast relief
Could rest my weary bones at last
Hoping to get something to eat
And sleep until the night had passed

But this was certainly not to be
Soon Mary called out in agony
Announcing that her child would be born
Very soon on this Christmas morn

Rest was forgotten as everything happened
The stable filled with shepherds and kings
Already crowded with sheep and cows
Now there was also flapping of angels’ wings

It was quite beyond me to wonder why
There was such a fuss in a little stable
But I knew something special was going on
And I stayed as quiet as I was able.

Unless you were there you wouldn’t believe
The excitement that went on that night
Mary had little time to rest
But joy in her son filled her breast.

At last the sun appeared in the sky
It was no brighter than the night had been
Tiredness and hunger had vanished away
And I felt like dancing with wonders seen.

I’m only a lowly donkey
Haven’t even got a name
But I carried Jesus to Bethlehem
And because of this found fame

How many animals have a story to tell
Like this once in a lifetime one
How many ‘donks’ have a song still sung
In celebration of what he has done.