Common or Garden Poets #10 – Jan Dean inviting Peter Wells


This Festive Season

For Peter Wells


                   ‘you will always be/ that sole cigarette ember

on a summer night/ blending into the wilds of the garden

       you planted behind a sentinel of spiders’ — Morgan Bell



Top heavy, agapanthus, heralds of the season

kiss the ground at the front of our house

after so much unseasonal rain and seasonal sunshine.


Next door has blue ones and ours are mauve

both virginal, reminding me of my husband’s late aunt

who gifted the flowers over thirty years ago


when the house was new. She was the one who shocked

her granddaughter, uninitiated in religious life

when she lay prostrate at Christ Church Cathedral.


On the western side Christmas colours of green and red

abound, including firecracker or cigarette plant.

Grown taller than I am, there’s money plant


if you’re superstitious, or jade if you romance.

A burgundy crepe myrtle my best friend gave as a miniature

thrives, something my friend couldn’t manage.


Along that side there’s grevillea robusta, bottlebrush

native frangipani, macadamia and multiple tibouchina, masking

the view of Munibung Hill. Recent weather caused


the Havana cigar plant to creep horizontally on the path

impenetrable for the aged and unstable. There’s a place

for us though without leaving the house to partake


in shinrin-yoku, the Japanese art of ‘forest bathing’.

From my kitchen chair I look across a covered deck, a walkway

and melaleucas that fold and unfold to acreage of eucalypts, so tall


they dissolve the horizon. This year a poinsettia glows in a bulbous

terracotta pot. Following the sun’s path throughout the day

allows a sharpening of senses and calm descending.


Left alone, nature carouses. Scruffy needn’t equal ugly.

Sometimes heaven touches earth and when it happens here

it’s a blessing for randomness, since the contrived are unfavoured.


                                                                              Jan Dean

Common or garden poets #9 Morgan Bell inviting Jan Dean


The Grave

For Jan Dean


“the zucchinis are King Midas

withering in their own liquid gold”


Magdalena Ball, ‘False Promise on Petals’


a backyard is a cemetery.

there are tiny bones down there.

bones of birds and mice and skinks.

each year they subside further

into the sandy soil.


if you were buried there,

the way you wanted to be,

all that would be left of you

in one hundred years

would be your teeth and some nylon thread.


you will always be

that sole cigarette ember

on a summer night

blending into the wilds of the garden you planted

behind a sentinel of spiders

Morgan Bell