This began as a game some bloggers played in 2008, to write about people who'd made an impact, in the same number of words as one's age, every day for a year. I did them less often and went on longer, adding one word each birthday, then stopped in 2016 and incorporated them into my main poetry blog. In 2019 I resumed the project and gave it its own blog again, with a new name, where it may unfold at its own pace. I've called these verse portraits, but they're more like sketches – impressions, in fact. Don't expect the whole stories of these people (friends and lovers, enemies, family members, strangers, even some other-worldly beings) but I hope you enjoy the varied glimpses.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

My Late Adopted Brother

Bulky, deep-voiced, bushy-bearded,
smoker (both kinds) 
acquainted with drink.
How could he be an angel? 

           ’deep down 
a gentle, gentle soul’
(words of a mourner
on facebook); ‘the kindest, 
sensitive, most creative … 
deepest feelings’ (another);
his musical gift; and the way
he always had my back.

I like to think of him
pleasantly surprised
finding himself there;
can well imagine he’d choose
to stay now, not come back
for another turn on the wheel.

Adios, Bro!

[Poem #106]

I'm sharing this one at the latest Tuesday Platform at 'imaginary garden with real toads', and at Poets United's Poetry Pantry #485.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

My Dad

Grew roses,
ferns and bamboo.

Made wooden dolls
from round-topped clothes-pegs,
drawing faces on.

Sketched for me
water-colour flowers; I remember
pink heath’s delicate bells.

When I had nightmares
sat with me into dawn,
telling stories.

At parties, played
mouth organ;

declaimed with gestures
‘Abdul the Bulbul Emir’
or some Rabbie Burns.

On every family birthday
made an acrostic poem,
the person’s name down the side.


[Poem #105]

Cross-posted from my poetry blog, The Passionate Crone, from whence it is linked to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #309

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

David at 20

My son David —
slim and golden, beautiful —
looks good in all his clothes now,
and is more adventurous with them.

The red T-shirt lightens him up.
He smiles and talks to me
more than he used to.

He seems very happy lately,
confident and free;
even laughs at my jokes.

He has been growing muscle
working as a builder's labourer
(holiday job) for his dad
in Tasmania, at the caravan park.

[Poem #104]

Found poem from old journal entry 14/1/87

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Client

I did psychic readings at Sunday markets approx. 1995 to late 2013.

A good, round face,
a smile,
brown hair cropped close
(just beginning to recede),
bright, round eyes,
direct gaze,
ready understanding,
tears and laughter when
he speaks of his dead Mum.…

Good things,
but none explains —
nor even all together —
why I like him so much
and trust the liking.
Is it that indefinable, his energy?
Perhaps it’s the warmth,
or his insight,
or the way this kind, brave man
believes himself ordinary.

[Poem #103]

A double posting. This appeared at my Stones for the River blog yesterday. I realised that, with only a little expansion, it could become one of my Verse Portraits (with the same number of words as years of my age: 74 at present). As they are collected here, this has to be here too.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Writers' group: Nan

Nan is the wicked one
who surprises newcomers 
whenever she reads.

It's not that she uses 
naughty words, or blasphemes;
it's her thoughts that are naughty,
her soul that's irreverent.

(More truly reverent 
than many a churchgoer,
she likes the Lord — she's just
not in awe. Her humorous tales
are in fact moral fables.)

And she's the effortless 
in competitions always 
commended at least.

Underneath it all,
she appreciates

[Poem #102]

Writers' group: Anne

I once told her
I thought she'd write something
important one day,
or at least that she could.

Did that make her fearful,
give her too much
to begin to live up to? 

For months after that 
she found no words to write.
We missed her acerbic wit.

But she kept coming,
listened as others read,
offered feedback.

Then sudden fantastic beings 
poured across her page, strangers
revealing themselves
to her fascinated scribe.

[Poem #101]

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Writers' group: Helen

Her smile is always
the first thing I see
as she enters the room.

She exudes a cosy kindness that belies 
the cool, precise, administrative intellect.

Now she is all about family.
When she can't come, it's because
she is baby-sitting grandchildren
(not the only one to do that, but
the one who does it most often).

And she writes about family,
exploring generations past
whose lives enthral like an epic novel.

[Poem #100]