Poem a Day 2015 #30 – Not for You


Poem number 30 for April 2015. The final one. I’ll miss NaPoWriMo, because it makes me write every day.

Like many people, I’m very uncomfortable with the exploitation of patriotism by politicians, and the selective commemoration of some wars but not others. On Anzac day in Canberra, an aboriginal man was prevented from marching. He had a banner saying “Lest we Forget – The Frontier Wars” (referring to the people killed in undeclared wars between settlers and the aboriginal population). He is an ex-serviceman and wanted to march in commemoration of his dead colleagues, but also in commemoration of aboriginal people killed in the frontier wars. A policeman told him “this day is not for you”.

The Australian War Memorial website says that Anzac Day “.. is the day on which we remember Australians who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations.”

Poem now submitted for publication



Read more at  New Matilda


Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

Poem a Day 2015 #29 – Cards

Poem number 29 for April 2015. I’ve been messing around with this for a while, and today came up with the card theme, hacked it to within an inch of its life and ended up with this. I think it will re-emerge in a totally different form some time.


the laughter
the lovemaking
the closeness
the rose-strewn days

the workplace bully
the unpaid overtime
the incompetence
the conveyor belt


the joy of birth
a girl in a communion dress
the party games
the picnic rug

the egg-shell tension
the aloneness
the distance
the silences


Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

Poem a Day 2015 #28 – Farewell


Poem number 38 for April 2015. There was a dead possum on the pavement in front of my house this morning (above). I was reminded of a Gary Young prose poem.


after Gary Young

A possum did not survive the night. It is stretched on the pavement, wide-eyed. Whatever fatal injuries it sustained are not visible. No red stain, no ripple of intestines. The musk lorikeets in the high branches of the lemon scented gum are excited, chorusing with the eastern rosellas and mynas lower down.  The elderly man across the road does his morning Parkinsonian walk around the front garden, glances towards the corpse, trembles back indoors. The postman on his Honda rumbles along the pavement, dispenses bills, circulars, welcome and unwelcome news, zigs around the possum, wafts exhaust fumes over the body. It’s autumn. The weather is cool. It will be days before the body ripens, stiffens, bloats. Bin collection is 4 days away. The Anzac day commemorations are gone. The Prime Minister farewelled three hundred troops bound for Iraq. A Basra reed warbler was sighted by a serviceman in the Mesopotamian Marshes.


Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

Poem a Day 2015 #27 – Inherent Vice

Poem number 27 for April 2015. Over the weekend I watched a very strange and very (to me) amusing film called “Inherent Vice”. It’s based on a Thomas Pynchon novel and features Joaquin Phoenix (great actor) as a spaced out, hippy private detective operating (I think) out of a dentist’s surgery, or maybe it’s a gynaecologist’s, I’m not 100% sure. Anyway, I marvelled at some of the dialogue, which is presumably Pynchon’s. I’ve taken several quotes from the film, and messed around with them to come up with some loose sort of arrangement of words.

Inherent vice

He was insulated
by secret loyalties
and codes of silence
until she arrived
like a bad luck planet
in his horoscope

she lay on him
a heavy combination
of face ingredients
he couldn’t read

her appetites ranged
from epic to everyday
he became
a hippy-hating mad dog
of Flintstone proportions
a little shit-twinkle
in his eye

gazing on her like
a precious cargo
that couldn’t be insured
but she was working
with a dark crew

by winter
she had removed
every trace of soul
he once had

His last words:
“It’s groovy being insane man”



Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

Poem a Day 2015 #26 – The Point of the Mask

Poem number 26 for April 2015. Can’t remember who it was by, but a line from a poem I heard recently was something like “the point of the mask is not the mask”.

The Point of the mask …

… is the face behind it

the point of the wine is the sobriety deserted


the point of a kiss is the lover in mind

the point of a journey is the place left behind


the point of the speech is the word unsaid

the point of faith is the doubt acknowledged


the point of the dressing is the wound

the point of sleep is to awaken


the point of a meal is the hunger

the point of a dress is what is covered


the point of music is the silence

the point of a welcome is the person unwelcomed


the point of the crown is the heir

the point of a garden is the earth


the point of a poem is between the lines




Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

Book Review – “2666” by Roberto Bolano

26662666 by Roberto Bolaño
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve heard this book mentioned in hushed tones in recent years; the way the people refer to “Ulysses” (James Joyce’s that is) i.e. an epic, a revolutionary book.

I sort of agree, but have some nagging doubts. Bolano was Chilean, and wrote in Spanish. So bearing in mind that this is a translation, the first thing that strikes you is the extraordinary beauty and complexity of the language. There are passages that take your breath away. There are passages (like “Ulysses”) which extend a sentence over several pages with little or no punctuation.

It is a very long book (neary 900 pages), and you often wonder where it is going. On the other hand, it is somehow very readable. Split into 5 sections (which may have originally been intended as 5 separate books), it ranges back and forth between continents and periods, with a large cast of characters, making it, at times, difficult to follow.

It primarily traces the life of a fictional obscure novelist, Archimboldi, and the efforts of three academics experts to find him. A large part of the book is set in Mexico in a city with an epidemic of feminicide (based on the real Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez).

I’m glad I read it, and can honestly say I enjoyed it. But I have a nagging doubt that maybe, just maybe, it is highly pretentious.

View all my reviews

Poem a Day 2015 #24 – Waiting

Poem number 24 for April 2015. Self explanatory.


ragged nails

blue bruised veins

bony fingers

she flicks them to her mouth

twitches her hair

squints at the clock


she’s been sitting here

an hour

nursing a cold coffee

glancing at the door

like a patient

in a doctor’s waiting room


“We close in fifteen minutes love”

says the waitress


she looks at the clock


at the door



“He’s not coming is he?”

says the waitress




“the bloke you’re waiting for”


“I’m not waiting for him”

she says

“He’s waiting for me”



Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

Poem a Day 2015 #23 – Park Bench

Poem number 23 for April 2015. Written on a park bench near my house.

Park Bench

in the morning

a fitness group meets

dump their drink bottles

compete for best body image


in the afternoon

a woman sits

talks to her dead husband

weeps for absent children


in the evening

a couple connect

share each other’s warmth

make promises they won’t keep


at night

a man sleeps

hides his blankets

under the trailing hibiscus


Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

Poem a Day 2015 #22 – Abecedarian

Poem number 22 for April 2015. Feels like a bit of a token effort, but it’s been a long day and I just want to sit down and watch Game of Thrones.


ample is her beauty

beautiful is her carnality

carnal is her demeanour

demeaned is her elevation

elevated is her flippancy

flippant is her gynaecology

gynaecological is her hirsuteness

hirsuit is her individuality

individual is her joviality

jovial is her kind-heartedness

kind-hearted is her lust

lustful is her magnetism

magnetic is her narcissism

narcissistic is her obsequiousness

obsequious is her parochialness

parochial is her quaintness

quaint is her racism

racist is her savageness

savage is her tendency

tenderness is her undoing

undone is her veil

veiled is her weakness

weak is her xenophobia

xenophobic is her youthfulness

youthful is her zealotry

zealous is her amplitude


Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015