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

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

Poem a Day 2015 #21 – The Strongest Woman in Ireland

Poem number 21 for April 2015. Last night I was showing my son a book about the area in Co. Mayo, Ireland, where my father’s family were from. It’s called Corthoon, and the nearest town is called Charlestown. The specific townland where my father was born is called Sonnagh. The book is a sort of social history, centred on the local national school. The introduction says “this book is a social  history of a part of rural Ireland where people lived for some or all of their lives –  many emigrating to Ireland or America never to return and others bringing back life experiences to enrich the folk history of the area”.  Well not many came back (other than for a holiday); certainly none of my father’s 13 brothers and sisters ever went back to live there. They all stayed in England or America. The book contains photographs of my father and some of his sisters, brothers and friends. There are interviews and stories, amongst them a story by an aunt of mine, about fairies. There are other tales in the book, about strong men and strong women and ghosts and more fairies.  I’ve taken some one of those tales and mixed and embroidered them – that’s what a story is for.

The Strongest Woman in Ireland

… was so strong that she could lift a 25 stone sack of oats onto an ass’s back.

She was so strong she lifted a cow out of McGowan’s bog where 10 men could not.

When she was 18 years old she weighed 18 stone. Only the parish priest weighed more.

She could find no dress to fit her and so she wore a tunic made from tent canvas.

Her fame was such that two men came from Dublin to ask her to join their travelling circus.

She was the best dancer in County Mayo and could dance both the man’s and the lady’s part.

She had such an appetite her parents could not keep her fed, so she hunted wild deer and pigs in Coillte Forest and killed them with her bare hands.

Some people say they saw her carrying a sheep under each arm, and that they weren’t her sheep.

One day there was such heavy rain that the river flooded and would have drowned the schoolhouse. She lay down in the path of the river and diverted it around the school.

She was such a fast runner that when her father had a thirst, she could run into the town and bring him back a pint of porter before he even knew he was thirsty.

She did not feel the cold, and would swim in the Sonnagh River in the middle of winter and catch trout with her bare hands.

Her eyes were so keen, she could spot a hare in a field and catch it without any need of a dog.

Her ears were so good that she could hear the priest’s sermon without getting out of bed.

Her hair was so thick that one day when her mother tried to cut it, she blunted the scythe.

She was so strong she did not need a man, which was just as well because all the men were scared of her except for one man. One night this one man who was not scared of her crept into her bed without a stitch of clothes, but she laughed at him. He never came near her again.

When she was 20 she sailed to America to seek her fortune, but the ship sank within sight of New York. When she saw it was sinking, she dived overboard with a rope between her teeth and swam ashore, dragging the ship with her.

When she was 25 she died after slapping a fly on her forehead, she hit herself so hard. Some say it wasn’t a fly it was a fairy.

If she was alive today she would be dead 61 years.



Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015