Monday, June 26, 2017

Winter Love
Sophie Wilde

If I never see your summer face
I’ll want for nothing.
For I have found a winter love
and I am smitten.

I revel in your wild and westly winds
that push and pull me, playing rough.
And the cold kiss of you,
raining on my face and
tearing at my eyes,
I welcome.

In June your moon
is bright at five
when night, though adolescent,
is man enough to take her out.

And I go walking in that
early evening-afternoon
where everything is etched in
silence after rain.
In that stillness I can hear
your misty whispers in the hair of
nearby hills
And catch the creak of water seeping
I see you sliding drop
by silver drop
amidst the folding grasses
and linger limpid on leaf and limb

How do you do that?
breezing from the rolling sea
that’s somehow warmer than the cold I walk in,
to gently brush my face
and lift my hair in
passing (as though God were passing)
to let me know you’re there.

What summer light could hint
at how you glint
in winter, when the sea is beaten
silver by a wind that’s torn the sky to
shreds, and left the clouds all
piled in clumps so weirdly
shaped, and coloured every hue
from black to white, peach grey and golden blue?
Dear Sweet you do amaze me!

Ah truly do I love
your winter wooing;
I’m not waiting for a summer song to win
my heart.

Coromandel, June 1996

Thursday, June 22, 2017

John Riminton

Although it is almost a cliche to describe life as a road to be travelled, the old man was delighted by his discovery of Roger McGough’s charming poem “The Journey of a Lifetime” with each verse preceded by the children’s cry:
Are we nearly there yet?
Are we nearly there?
to be told in the first verse that there is still a long, long way to go, and in the final verse:
Yes, old friends, you’re nearly there
Taken the road as far as it goes.
Now the journey of a lifetime
Is drawing to its close.”

Thinking back over his own lifetime, the old man could only think of it as lucky: always a roof over head; always a meal in prospect, though maybe not always one of choice; loving family; companionship. What more could be hoped for?
His mind drifted over the world scene, bringing up an image of another life. A pregnant woman with a small child in tow, struggling out of Syria in order to face a terrifying journey in an open boat that, with great good fortune, might take her to the shore of an unknown country whose language she did not speak, whose customs and religion were unknown to her as she landed with no saleable skills, two mouths to feed now and another one coming. How could that life possibly be compared with his? Another image: of an illiterate nine year old Dinka boy, Deng*, captured from his tribe in South Sudan, marched endlessly across a barren landscape to a vicious camp where he would be trained to use a gun before being forced into a front line to fight people he did not know for reasons that even his leaders did not understand. Surely both would wish that the journey of their lives would soon draw to a close.
It was hard to avoid the conclusion that these differences were merely due to accidents of birth and that their trials were nothing more than chance. Suddenly he asked himself why the word “trials” had come into his mind. It was commonplace to talk about the “trials of life” but these two victims had had absolutely no influence on the factors that led to their miseries so substitute that word “miseries” for “trials”.
Why did so many millions around the world have such appalling roads to travel? Obviously it was a question that had occupied the minds of men at least since the birth of Hinduism, the earliest recorded religion. In a closed village society it would be easy to think that a bad person’s karma would mean that s/he would be reincarnated in a lower life form. Later the Greeks had dreamt up whimsical interventions by the idiosyncratic individuals who were said to live on Mt. Olympus. But those were small societies. On a global scale, with populations in billions and an infinity of situations, those concepts just wouldn’t wash. Instead, were all roads random, dependent on chance and that accident of birth? How the individual travelled their own particular road was, of course, another matter - but was that the result of inherited accident?
The old man sighed and reached for his glass of wine. “Why?”

* Deng Thiak Adut, thanks to humanitarian chance he was taken to Australia, age 15 unable to speak English. He studied, qualified in law and was declared “NSW Australian of the Year in 2016”

His book “Songs of a War Boy” is in the Christchurch. City Libraries.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

         Choices - a Fable


John Riminton

Far away, in a different part of the galaxy, is a planet that some of its inhabitants think of as Here. Those inhabitants, whom we shall call the Fillibits, are a numerically small race of herbivores. They cannot speak, indeed their anatomy has no mechanism that would enable them to do so, but they have evolved a means of telepathic communication that allows them to share some quite complex ideas.

At a different level of existence, Here is also the home to a group of fractious, ego-centric beings that ancient Greeks on Earth would have thought of as gods. Struggling between themselves to control the elements of Here, most of these beings ignored the Fillibits as unimportant, but two of them had conceived the idea of worship. This was highly attractive to their egocentric mentalities and they had started to interfere in the affairs of the Fillibits who thought of these two as Fear and Awe.

Fear's approach was to plant the idea that it could dominate the Fillibits by creating fires and droughts that would destroy their food supply, or by earthquakes that would bury them in landslides and that these disasters would continued to be inflicted on the Fillibits unless they worshipped it. Fear also craved sacrifice as a balm for its ego but the herbivorous Fillibits had no concept of placatory sacrifice in their group mind.

Awe, on the other hand felt that gratitude was a surer way to win followers. It, therefore, set out to cooperate with the Fillibits and make life easier for them by bringing rain in season, mild nights and easy winters.

Confusion reigned in the group mind of the Fillibits. Some elements favoured trying to ingratiate themselves with Fear, especially when times were hard, while other elements longed for the easier life and favoured Awe.

The debate raged for generations, swinging from one preference to the other.

At last, after a particularly hard winter, the group mind concluded that the being that cared for them must do so for love and that this was very much better than the hatred that had to be assumed motivated Fear. From then on, Fear was banished from the group mind and Awe was treated with reverence, much to its gratification.

And the morals of this fable are:

  • That you must choose your gods with care and
  • That cooperation is always to be preferred to malice.        

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Life of a Butterfly
Patricia Shannon

Sitting in my garden I watch it pass by,
small and colourful, the gracious butterfly.
Where does it come from, where does it go?
I really wish it could let me know.

I'd like to be a butterfly,
I'd like to fly high in the sky,
fluttering around in gardens and hills,
soaking up the sun on window sills.

To view the world from above,
the world where life can be rough.
Free from chores and responsibilities,
free from hatred and atrocities.

To fly against the wind and rain.
When people try to catch me, luckily in vain.
My rapid movements fool them all.
Miraculously I hardly ever fall.

It is a mystery to me
why it is so gorgeous and free.
One of the reasons why
I adore the attractive butterfly!

Perhaps one day I could try
to be like them and fly
around the world, to be free,
that will be a dream for me.

Until then I have to rely
upon a butterfly passing by.
So I work in my garden every day
and try my best to make them stay.

The End.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Do it Yourself – or else
                                                  John Riminton

Hera was in a foul mood – shouldering her way through the minions on her way to see Zeus – and why not? It was winter and she had just lost a dozen of her devotees on the way up the mountain to her favourite shrine on Olympus. Zeus was going to have to do something about that damned snow.

As Patroness of Marriage it calmed her fractious heart to see the women struggling up the mountain in the vain hope that she would intervene in their disastrous relationships. Sure, the shrine wasn't as grand as the one at far-away, sunny Argos but, at least from here, she could watch them making their futile but gratifying sacrifices – and then that thrice-cursed avalanche wipes 'em out! This could mean that others would be put off during the whole winter – three months without a sacrifice – it made a goddess's blood boil.

Zeus, as usual was having one of his fantasies, having it off with some wretched mortal girl as a swan or a bull or something. Not that he need look in her direction any more- all those kids and she had never fancied making love to her brother, but that didn't mean that she was going to let him off his responsibilities as the Father of the Gods.

She stormed into his presence, shattering his dreams.

You've got to do something about the weather around this mountain. Twelve of my pilgrims have just been wiped out and it is not good enough – why can't we have perpetual summer on the slopes?”

Zeus sighed and went into placatory mode:
Hera, you know that it is not as simple as that. If I stop it snowing here there will be weather repercussions all over the world. Poseidon will be furious. You know how he hates having to deal will all those supplications from drowning fishermen. Just think of it – if a butterfly flapping its wings in Crete can cause a storm to sink Atlantis, what do think the effect of large-scale climate change would be?”

To Hades with Poseidon and his fishermen. I'm the Mother of Gods and I'm not going to have my worshippers put off my cult – so do something”

Well, of course, you could go and do it yourself and stand guard over the shrine. Think of the effect on the cult if worshippers saw an approaching avalanche divide around them, leaving them safe. The word would be around Greece in a week and the Argos shrine would be over-whelmed with offerings”.

I've never heard anything so ridiculous in my immortality. Do you think that the Mother of Gods has got nothing better to do than wrap her arms around a bunch of mortals? I've got the whole of Olympus to run; you expect me to keep an eye on those wretched Nordic Gods, Odin and that lot while that son of our Ares is always trying to stir up trouble somewhere.”

Well, we could always advertise for an avalanche watcher and employ a mortal, offering him a Dryad on the side”.

Now, that is a good idea”.

But they were still advertising in 2008.


We require an avalanche fore-caster
for the coming – season. Must have
Avalanche level 2 and min two years
previous forecasting experience. This
person will be responsible for all snow
safety on Mt. Olympus for the coming
season. Contact........

Christchurch “Press”

7 May 2008.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Abduction in Moscow


Patricia Shannon

Vladimir Dorokhov thought about Alexandra Tsarov. The snow flurried down on Old Arbat Street, in the historical centre of Moscow. He looked worried. Yesterday she told him she didn't need him in her life anymore! When she left him behind that afternoon, two big, strong men wearing balaclavas, abducted her and forced her into a van. Leaving him aghast and even more confused.

Did she know danger lurked around the corner? Had she wanted to protect him by breaking up? Questions only Alexandra could answer. Where did they take her? Who was responsible? He needed to take action!

Vladimir walked over to the huge fireplace in his living room. He touched the wing of an eagle, carved out of wood, guarding the hearth, it seemed. The wall gave way and revealed a secret room with large computer screens and other high-tech devices.

He poured himself a glass of vodka and sat behind the main computer. His experience in the intelligence field guided him in his search for information. He discovered that his charming, elegant friend Alexandra led a dangerous double life. Being a spy himself, he admired her ability to hide it from him. He never imagined her to compromise their work in the same field! What an eye-opener!

Reflecting on their five-year relationship, her at times awkward behaviour now made more sense. All along, she'd been controlling their alliance. In fact, she used him to gain access to certain information. The slim built Alexandra with her long, curly auburn hair, blue eyes, and immaculate wardrobe had fooled him.

This revelation made her even more interesting. If she double-crossed her Russian employer, her abductors could either be KGB or American Intelligence, he reasoned. He looked at the footing of his security camera to get a clearer picture of the van and its license plate. The plate was difficult to read but, he managed to figure it out. After further research, it turned out to be hired by an American. The name of whom sounded familiar. An old friend who owed him a favour.

Vladimir switched off the machines and closed the wall. After another glass of vodka, he changed into his spy outfit, gathered his gadgets and left the building in his black Bugatti. The snow stopped falling but, he still had to be vigilant. With the touch of a button, he switched to ultra sturdy ice tyres, to get more grip on the road.

An hour later, he stopped at the Ritz-Carlton hotel. He left his car with the valet and announced his arrival at the reception desk. The clerk made a phone call. Minutes later, he took the elevator to the 12th floor and went to room 1210.

Once he arrived at his end point, he knocked on the door. He froze when Alexandra greeted him with her most charming smile. “I knew you'd come to rescue me!” she said, defiant.
He remained silent and stepped inside. The snow started again and blew against the hotel window.

Hello my darling,” he replied, calm but on guard. “And hello Richard!” He turned to the tall, distinguished man in the corner of the room.

Vladimir! My long-time friend and enemy! It's great to see you again!” Richard greeted him with a humorous glint in his eyes. “I'd say we are even now, don't you think?”

Alexandra gazed at Vladimir with the affection of a puppy dog. “Forgive me, Lapochka, I love you! All I wanted was attention and recognition. I never intended to betray you!”
Of course not,” he lied. “But you sure know how to persuade a man! Clever to make me suspect you walked over to the Americans!”

I guess you no longer need me?” Richard asked. “I'll leave you two alone to sort things out.” He kissed Alexandra on the cheek and left the room.

Vladimir watched her with mixed feelings. Was this another one of her games? How could he ever trust her?

He looked at the exquisite furniture in the room and saw the huge, inviting king size bed. A chance he wouldn't pass up.
Shall we?” he asked her with a courteous gesture. Strong, confident yet kind and sensitive. She blushed and surrendered to his James Bond style romantic move.

Outside the cold-blooded storm raged on.

The End

Thursday, November 03, 2016

A Dog's Day
John Riminton

I wag my tail
and pant with glee.
I know that's something
They like to see.

We'll soon be off
on another walk.
Throwing sticks
and laughing talk.

Life is good.
They scratch my ears
I bark when needed
to calm their fears.

I'm part of the family
I love their boys,
and they love me
Even more than toys.

When evening comes
I know I'll be fed.
Then a tummy stroke
and we're off to bed.

I'm committed.