words

Ribbonwood Designs combines words and images.¬† When words reach their limits, images can take over, allowing us to move to a new (often deeper) place. There’s a stripped down simplicity to this. Many children’s picture books have perfected the blend between text and image – often with great humour!

I hope to produce more resources that play with that powerful combination.

Here are the poems that appear in the 2010 Ribbonwood Calendar, and in previous calendars. A selection of other published writing follows.

In and Out

On the out breath
birds
follow their
sky-tracks home
settle in branches
unravel the chatter of the day.

On the in breath
houses
draw curtains
regain families
gather warmth for the
coming night.

On the out breath
stories
spill into the air
colour the talk
flavour the meal.

On the in breath
activity slows
bed beckons
eyes close
to the day’s work.

On the breath
that circles sleep
in and out
out and in
dreams
rise
soaked in darkness
and a dalliance of stars.

Questions

what is grounded within you
and rejoices
in strong roots?

what is protected within you
and relaxes in safety?

what stirs within you
but is not yet ready
to be born?

Flow

I do not
have to be
the river.
I do not
need to lead
the charge
of white foam
know the route
the eddies
the gorges
or plains
up ahead.
I am not
the river.
I am only
a drop
in the flow.

Holding Patterns

the universe
curves around
all things

like a
(
and a
)

like a crooked arm
or the crook of an arm

like an eyelid

blink

Try it for size

Slip the day
around yourself
like a silk shirt.

Wriggle your skin
against its
cool
soothing
edges
and button it up
one
two
three
four

collar of sky
tuck of hills
shake of sun
and you.

What does the moon say?

What does the moon say to the bird?
What does the bird say to the plant?
What does the plant say to the seed?
And what does the seed say to the ground, before it drops?

The moon says sing.
The bird says open.
The plant says goodbye.
The seed says, hide me.

Compassion and the cat

Compassion
comes
with knowing

like a cat
with its slow
steady lick

knowing its own fur.

The changing tree

In summer
the tree is
a gaggle of green
hands waving to the sun
a brim for the earth
a cathedral cicadas.

In autumn
the tree is
a new range of colours
trinkets and sparkles
a quick passionate kiss
the sharp edge of risk.

In winter
the tree is
air between branches
a hand cupped and waiting
a place for the moon to rise.

In spring
the tree is
a family reunion
parcels unwrapping to leaves
a regatta of green
on a wild waving sea.

The following poems/pieces have appeared in other publications…

published in the School Journal, Part 1, Number 3, 2009

Sailing by Starlight

I am in our waka
counting stars.

There is no land,
only the slap slap
of water against paddles.

We are on our way to a new land.
What will it be like?
I don’t know.

All I know is that at night
I love to watch the stars -

as clear and sharp
as my whaea’s eyes.

The following poems were published in Oh Light edited by Anna Gilkison, Dec 2008. The anthology was produced by the Disability, Spirituality and Faith Network Aotearoa/New Zealand. Ribbonwood images also appeared in the collection.

Hospital

The chaplains are generous
with their offerings of
the Body of Christ
in this building full of bodies
in this building full of Christs.

Sideways tears: sideways prayers

the cross
like a twig
or a small
sprout of growth
or a flag
not setting itself
up as ‘the ultimate’
but as
something that grows out of
a bedrock
of other things -
a shifting bed
of pain and traumas

The knitter

You looked after me. You held onto the fragments so that I would not disintegrate. You knitted furiously with any old scraps of wool that you could find to stop the rapid unravelling at the other end. You said, ‘You will not be destroyed.’ You said, ‘I am with you always, until the end of time.’ You said, ‘I am not a magician, only God. There is no spell I can cast, but I can knit. I can hobble together these scraps and I can knit. Once I find the right knitting needles, I can begin to catch and loop, twist and drop. It may only be a tatty old thing that we can create, not the brightest wool or the most even tension. But I promised you would not be totally undone. I promised there would be enough of you left to become whole.’

The carrier and the carried

I don’t notice your disability anymore….it’s just
something you carry with you, she said…

I carry it with me
like a handbag
swinging loosely by my side
pick it up
put it down.
A handbag
I never lose
and never replace.

I carry it on me
like a cotton shirt
on a summer’s day.
Wind easing its finger
between skin and fabric
billowing it out
pulling it too
playing at separation
but the buttons hold tight.

I carry it in me
channels
carved deep
by a river
always in flood.

I carry it through me
like the weight
of a name
for a child never born.
A presence
and an absence.

I carry it with me
on me
in me
and through me.

I am the carrier

and I am also
the carried.

A blue tear
filled with gold.

Lost and found

Quick!
Call a priest.
Are you missing
a choir?
A congregation?
Or pockets
of light
splintering
the dust?

Don’t worry
all is not lost.
This morning
I discovered
a cathedral
in my belly.

I don’t know
how it got there
or how it fits.
But I can
hear the harmony
singing out
through
my veins.

This  longer memoir piece (6,000 wds) was published in Sport Magazine 36 (New New Zealand Writing) 2008

The Waiting Place

There are really three journeys -
the journey you expect to go on
the journey you actually go on
and the journey that makes the story.
(Lloyd Jones on travel writing)

I can remember a few days after the operation, a package arriving. It was an A4 white envelope. It was bulky and had no postage stamp on it.

During the morning process of washing and toileting I eyed it up on my bedside locker. Gifts were important in hospital. Once the doctors’ rounds and meal-ordering had finished I managed to reach it. It was heavy. I ripped it open. It contained another wrapping. I ripped that open. Oh – it was my hip. My old titanium hip, and its plastic cup. Out of the two items it was the cup that looked the worse wear – or rather the worse for its recent extraction. They cement the cup into the pelvis and this separated one still held chips of cement. The hip itself was sleek and cool to touch.

I hadn’t been expecting my hip. I’d forgotten that I’d asked for it. Now, here it was. Enough.

(to read the full version, go to Sport Magazine 36, 2008)

Communications writing, for the Human Rights Commission’s newsletter, Manuhau: Resilience and Celebration (Dec 2008, March 2009 and June 2009)