The Billy Collins Cookbook

The Billy Collins Cookbook.

Billy Collins taught me

how to write


the same way Alison Roman

taught her disciples

to cook :

don’t be fussy.

have fun in the kitchen:

a small room doesn’t mean

small ideas;


with different flavours, textures,

be funny, entertain.

I thought I could do that

Above all,

Billy Collins taught me:

be light.

You don’t have to stomp

to be heard.

  • pic courtesy of pinterest

Who’s Doing it ?

Who’s Doing It?

Jeff looks around.

I do too.

We both want to know

who’s doing it.

Standing up. Speaking in tongues.

We both want to do it too.

But we’re not ready.

We both wonder why,

if we’ll ever be ready.

Pastor Bill speaks to us

in an avuncular way:

It will come spontaneously, he says.

Like a poem? I say.

Yes, like a poem.

but it won’t be in English.

You won’t know what you’re saying.

Huh? I say, huh?

And the people around you won’t know what you’re saying either.

It will be in tongues.

Ahh, I say, like that poem

I wrote yesterday,


I suppose so, he says.

I get it, I say, I get it.

No one understood it.

I didn’t understand it either.

But I stood up

like a tree.

I posted it.

Good on you, he says, good on you.

*pic courtesy of pinterest

Crack/ Unfiltered

I pull aside the curtain

the hallucinogenic dawn rushes in

a sporidium of colours splatter

against the Winnipeg Fog wall

a bacchanal, a squall

like the hormonal hysterics

of ‘The Notebook’.

  • pic courtesy of pinterest

On Golden Staph

Golden Staph, Such a sweet, mellifluous name.

Its Latin counterpart, staphylococcus aureus,

just as euphonious, a name fit for a new species

of wildflower, an exotic dessert, or a freshly discovered

galaxy, glowing golden. at the edge of the universe;

even the bacilli under the eyes of an electron microscope

look like jolly mauve mushrooms clustered in a field

not the toxic toadstools they are.

*photo courtesy of CDC

every now & then on a dark & stormy night ….

Why would you even do that? she asks as I demonstrate the pose in the spacious confines of her consulting room.

It’s known as the king of the Asanas, I say.

But it’s a headstand! she scoffs.

No, I say, calm breathing and meditation is involved too. It stimulates the mind and body.

And how long do you hold it for?

Up to eight minutes, I say.

She looks alarmed.

We’ll see what the cardiologist says,she replies.

A few days later I’m in his office.

Can you show me? he says.

So I do. The polished floorboards are a little hard on the hands and head so I do a shortened version.

Well, what do you think? I ask.

It just looks wrong, he says. No, you can’t do it after the operation. We can do a modified version.

He instructs me to lie on the floor, put my legs up in the air, stiff and hold.

I show my daughter.

She calls the pose, ‘The Dying Cockroach.’

I’m not happy with it but I bite the bullet.

However, every now and then on a dark and stormy night when no one is watching, a little devil gets inside me and i flip onto my head and swing into the Shirshasana.

Eight minutes of bliss.

  • pic courtesy of Jennifer Pentland

The Roofs of Queenstown

The Roofs of Queenstown.

I can look all day at the metal roofs of Queenstown

like Jacob, wearing coats of many colors:

this one matte black like my Cruize that beat

the  Monaro at the lights ; that one on the corner rust red,

the colour you see striated on the tin roofs of settler cottages,

the one just built, Tomahawk with its brash of burnt umber

and my favourites, Blue Balm, and Winnipeg Fog,

the two beside the park that calm and soothe;

I raise my hat to the metal roofs of Queenstown,

stylish and stately hats worn on the heads of houses.

Short Shorts


I watch the shirts

On the line

Breathe in and out


They line up along

The footpath mouths open

Hungry for mail.


That black bug

Stretching wings, legs

Doing tai chi on the page.


That rustling in the hedge

A short story

Stirring into life


Bald and black

As an emu’s egg, the helmet’s hatched

A biker’s head.

The Place where Poems Begin

At the Place where Poems Begin.

I should be grateful

she comes

at all.

It’s hardly a place

for visiting Royalty;

she doesn’t have ‘airs’, my Muse:

she’s like Diana,

‘the people’s princess’;

she pays no heed to the currawong


in the covert

of the honeysuckle bush

where the yellow-shouldered honey-eaters play

& the wattle-birds cluck;

she doesn’t mind sharing  my instant coffee

in my ramshackle carport café;

it’s where I think,

tease out my thoughts,

it’s the place where poems begin.

feet on one plastic chair,

bum on the other

cushioned by my retired blue hoodie.

The Girl Who Loved Rain

The Girl Who Loved Rain.

I remember the girl in year nine

who used to stare through the window

at the rain

when the class was doing silent reading.

They would all be reading their books

but she would be reading the rain,

 its steady rhythms

stroking her as if

she were a cat.

*pic courtesy of Unsplash

Chicken Run

Chicken Run.

It was like that classic car duel

in ‘Rebel Without a Cause’

where two cars race towards a cliff

and the driver who jumps out first

is the chicken.

I was in my Holden Cruize,

he in his yellow Monaro

and he wasn’t going to let me in his lane.

This went on for half a mile.

So when we were at the intersection,

I looked across, gave him

the ‘You’re on, buddy’ sign

and soon as the lights turned.

I gunned the engine,

shot across as if flung by a catapult

my batman black against his banana yellow

burning rubber, billowing smoke,

cars horns beeping, a voice yelling,


which was kinda funny considering my age

but I made the turn I wanted

got my sausage sizzle and this poem.

I don’t know what got onto me.

It was my James Dean moment.