lizard skin bag


everything i own

is contained

in a lizard skin bag


i have a weakness for skin


in early autumn

the flesh began to fall away

as if a deciduous tree

slowly revealing

its underlying structure

the mound

winterly furred


as if seeking bone

pits attracting shafts of light


between soul and darkness

skin kept company with bones

body sinking


Poems from Illusion's Hump





you came too late

a mound of anger had grown

over heart’s divided chamber



i waited for you

bound in the skin shroud

of life – death



i called your name

when I was laid

on a backstreet abortionist’s table



i called your name

when they tore out my ovary



i called your name

when I fell through a glasshouse



i called your name

when I slashed my wrists



i called your name

when my blood

shot into the sky

in a black fountain



you came too late

a mound of anger had grown

over heart’s divided chamber



glass mountain

(for my mother & father)


when i was 33 

i met a man

he said

the lines on your hand are a map

there is a


surrounding your birth

the man who you think is your father

is not your father


i crept away


the boat slid between

huge sleeping hills

seagulls screamed

their eyes cruel


i came to my mothers house

i said to her

who is my father

she said nothing

for a long time


then she said

your father is

a jewish painter


i sent him a photograph of myself

i was afraid he would not want me

i wore a white feather in my hair

i told him about

my broken marriages

my abortions

my lovers

my children

my self imprisonment

i said

life is a glass mountain


i keep climbing up


falling down

i live in a dream

i turn everything i love

into a fetish


my father wrote to me

he wanted me

he had no children

only me

he asked me to come and stay with him

in london


i was afraid of the world

i did not wear clothes

i did not eat meat

i lived high up in a hidden valley

within a circle of hills

a great river rushed down the valley

met another river

the land was full of stones and foxgloves


i did not show my paintings to anyone

from the age of 26

i hid them in cupboards instead of food


i stood at the airport

my plaits

dying silkworms

my father

bound in the still egg of a dream

hovered in his long gabardine coat

curls straggling on his collar

smooth olive face

blurry & secretive

mouth opulent

gentle eyes



he was frightened when he saw me


cleaving to the wall

as if wanting to escape

he had run from me all these years

we drove away in a black limousine


the tall dark house was full of his paintings

i showed him my paintings

in a head on collision

we recognized each others

queerly mapped territory

wanting each other


rejecting each other


each one aghast

at the others likeness

each one turning away

from love offered  


you park your car

outside my bedroom window

you shut my bedroom window

you nail paint rags across the glass


my bedroom is

plunged in darkness

outside you rattle your spray gun

the smell of turpentine pierces memory

i grope in darkness


i remember how i first saw you

your tail of gold hair

your coat of corduroy

i was on heat

with a proclivity for crushes

you led me on

hastening away

at crucial point


a friend, startled by my obsession with you

informed my mother


my mother said to me

you always get crushes on men

you live in a dream world

this time you shall face reality









this man you so mercilessly offer

is not my father

at an early age

i tested

the unpalatable qualities

of his suit


forced by a striking repulsion

to withdraw

i hid on a narrow windowsill

nibbling dry biscuits

plucking at the dead cloth

of an insidious curtain



this man you so mercilessly offer

is not my father

at an early age

i grasped the naked pole

of a revolving clothesline

ran round and round

dizzy with disbelief




imitation giraffe


during my slow death

i became

part of the broken

part of the cracks

part of the holes

part of the eternal gasp




than a lover

the broken

the vanquished

the hungry




than a lover

nailed to

the flaming arc

of life


i became

an imitation giraffe

set in concrete

staring in glass eyes

whilst the real giraffe

huddled in a shed




than a lover





(for miro)


when i was 9 months pregnant

i got stuck in the lavatory

with a red & black thesaurus


after 5 hours of enforced study

i was let out


not long after this

you were born


at an early age

your vocabulary was extensive

mine was strangely applied

in dark places


my fear of being locked away





broken souls


when will you be ready

to go to the market

you ask

in a tight black coat


not yet I say

ive got to



up the long stick

of my vacuum cleaner


ive never owned a

vacuum cleaner



ive always used

a straw broom

to chase the dust


broken souls



ghosts of lovers - pukerua bay 2008

flung far from Kapiti Island
my heart an ancient canoe
filled with ghosts of lovers.....children

their voices echo over the bay

in the summer of my twenty second year
you appeared outside my broken door
long naked feet
groping dry yellow grass
hot face on mine
laughter exploding

your shadow and mine
out to sea

in your house
at the end of the bay
we lay in your sighing bed
bodies coffined
hands and feet crossed
throats ballooning
with the rush of unborn words




veiled in steam


blinded by the sun

she  traverses rooms

leaning on her black stick

her twisted feet hover above the floor

her great fallen head

her eagles nose

her flaring nostrils

still seek the unattainable


reaching the bathroom

she crouches

veiled in steam

on her precarious throne


posing as her daughter

i shower her

with sudden ejaculations of hot & cold water

rolling a slippery cake of rose soap

over her nakedness

into the open graves of her armpits 

over the gentle egg of her belly

 she holds out her hands 

cupping the water

I slide the soap over her burial mound

directing a warm stream

towards that sacred place

where I sheltered 68 years ago


how can I tell her I revere her

I am lost in the open grave

of her arm pit

the soap slithers out of my hands