Personification in Poetry, Poetic Phrases and Personal Pain


20 James Road, 1988
Mairi Neil

The TV babbles,
the gas fire hums and hisses
to the squeaking, creaking
Jason recliners
settling down for a night
in front of the ‘goggle box’.

Dad’s brandy glass
smooches the table
between sips
until the final
perfunctory kiss –
Goodnight Sweetheart!

Mum’s tea cup
gossips with the saucer
gulps snippets of
the day’s details
digested and refuelled

A cigarette smoulders
fuming or
tension released.
The marbled green ashtray
a present from Venice,
from friends now gone.

Curtains shimmer and shake
new moon’s light filters
the delighted red sky,
the room aglow,
forty years of marriage
comfy as snoozing slippers…


Albert Street, Autumn 2015
Mairi Neil

Towards the railway station
the sky turns to navy and
muted purple hue
stains remnants of clouds.

Parrots soar across
the sky; black darts
seeking branches to rest
as dusk descends.

In the orange glow
of street lamps
red and green flashes
squeal and squawk

Rosellas determined
to fight sparrows or thrushes
for roosting perches in palm trees
lining Mordialloc Main Street.

Most trees still and silent
this mild autumn night,
the sea breeze too gentle
to rustle leaves, shake fronds.

Beside the stoic finery
of native gums and ti-tree
branches of imported trees
already stripped and stark

Proud and strong and
uncomplaining, they’ll rebirth,
withstand the years of
insect and birded demands.

Watching people pass,
hearing trains trundle
inhaling the exhausts
of countless cars.

Mother Nature’s guardians,
the earth’s lungs
the Creator’s gifts
to be treasured.

I looked around the room, focused, reflected,  wrote whatever words came to mind. Short sentences and phrases, staying with a single thought in rhythmic lines…

Forgotten grapes fermenting
or is it the apples?
Buying ‘specials’ has its price.

Jasmine leaves dying
possum nests abandoned
winter on its way

Must kill the wisteria
before it destroys the fence
beauty sacrificed to finance

Ornate wooden crocodile
carved from driftwood
memories of Darwin and Kakadu

Two silver bejewelled elephants
a long way from home
reminder of senseless slaughter

Purple, tall and willowy
gifted orchid
struggling to survive

The year of the horse over
Yellow origami steed
memento from Chinese writer


Margaret’s Gift
Mairi Neil

A Waterford Crystal glass
four thistles etched for
a Scottish touch from the
Emerald Isle.
It reminded her of me…
(or perhaps it was the flaw
marring inside rim)

The seahorse wine stopper,
another reminder of …
flatmates, drinking buddies,
the good times often rolled.

Gifts painstakingly parcelled
trimmed with recycled silk ribbon
‘life is for living’ stamped
green ink on soft silk.
Bubble-wrapped and boxed,
declaration of a loving friendship
that needed no reminders…

Security at the airport alert
to a pointed silhouette
‘Please step aside’ embarrassment.
I babble about a funeral,
an old friend, we flatted together
an unexpected inheritance,
‘…crystal, fragile, be careful… please’

A young man with empathy
and clumsy gloved hands
unties the ribbon
opens the cardboard,
unfolds the bubble-wrap,
unwraps the tissue paper
‘I’m sorry for your loss…’

He fumbles and blushes
hands hampered by latex
and inexperience.
My flight is called
I hear my heart pounding
his breathless frustration…
‘It doesn’t matter,’ I whisper.

Nerves as fragile as the crystal
equilibrium shattered.
Cancer’s curse has robbed
me of yet another friend
memories more precious
than mementoes…

On board the plane
the gifts repackaged,
grief compartmentalised.
I stare at the shifting clouds,
wonder if there is
life after death…
as surreptitious tears
flow. Smothered
by the sounds of flight.

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