Olympic Colour







There were painter’s clouds that day;
broiled and tumbled,
moving inner silence across an easel.

Beneath them
a concrete mind mixed and etched
one long brush-stroke;
the tarmac before us.

Excited engines carried us along
and carried by us
an air befriended…

with the convertible top thrown down
your hair streamed behind
olympic colour; a spectrum of extraordinary.

Your head held back a sunrise laugh
and all the wind
belonged to exhilaration.

Ahead of us, the horizon captured another sky,
a mist-green hail filled sea; that ominous litany.

A pallet knife scratched its lightening
and the danger of no potential
that kept us moving on.

MChallis © 2015

Sleep as Metaphor

when there is nothing left
but the need for sleep
all the body can do
is close the eyes
it will not need
for a time
and find the hollowest
part of a calming memory
to tuck away into
releasing the need
to hold anything
save the desire
for peaceful

from deepest rest
there can be a return
to the world where
possibility re-awakens
and with morning
the opportunity to
go again
to attempt what had
the night before
been unimaginable
and unknowable

MChallis © 2014

This being human is a guest house

Rumi Meditatinh=g KITThis being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows
Who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture.

Still treat each guest honourably,
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
Meet them at the door laughing,
And invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
Because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Poem by rumi

Loss Makes Us Grateful

at first learning
grief brings the un-returnable message
there is no un-reading
no un-learning
only unbearable immutable fact

in solitude there is no escape
in connection there is no solution

over time the seven stages are traversed
and while there can be no forgetting
with acquiescence
there can be acceptance
and with it
a gentle light of loss
to illuminate
the deepest gratitude






MChallis © 2104

Of Cynicism

the voice of cynicism
with imperious wisdom
informed by circumstances past
where through defeated expectation, corrupted naivety
perhaps wounded vulnerability has been
disappointed on innumerable occasions

and chanting incessantly
in a cavernous register
“there is no hope – there is no point”
and louder
“there is no hope – there is no point”
and louder still
“there is no hope – there is no point”

would have you adopt this epigram as your own
in the belief
that if you do
the prophecy of self determined hopelessness
will be affirmed and validated

its unspoken fear of course is that you will leave it there
abandoned and alone in the cavern of its own arrogant despair

so here’s an idea
surprise it
take it with you
out of the pit
take it for a bicycle ride on the beach at low tide
hump it in a ruck-sack up a rocky ridge
swim with it in a lake with a sandy bottom and willow banks
invite it to the funniest Robin Williams film you can think of
above all else, let it experience your unconditional positive regard

offering counsel
in all the tones and voices
of unrelenting love

MChallis @ 2104


I would like to know you
More than I do

You are a gracious presence that in glimpses I have seen influence the mightiest egos acquiesce

Somehow at times I stumble across you yet would know you more as a constant companion

I forget you often and in the throes of reaction and defensiveness catch myself in arrogance or in self righteousness or justification

Which is always followed by regret

How do I know you?
How do I find you in the moments when I am alone and embattled?
How do I find you in that first breath?
Of surrender


MChallis @ 2014

What is Natural

For Jan

as a breath
will happen by itself
as water
will find the way to flow
as gravity
will hold us to the ground

I will love you always
and this will be
as natural

MChallis @ 2014

A Fish Out

A fish out of water slaps
for the wet familiar
as first rainbow gasps
for all colour beneath
evergreen eucalypts

and boy becomes hunter.

White flesh in the pan
rainbow now grey;
a dull eye pops in the fat.
The first meal of camp

“We’re all about survival”
says the voice from the beard.

In that first howling night the tent holds no echo:
a cocoon of down
muffles the want of a scream
for mother’s goodnight.

Terrain is now is real and not just a geography lesson.

When morning arrives
relief and sunlight slap awake
the face of survival.
Mosquitoes frustrate the zippered gauze, march-flies marshal to march.

Wisps of gum-smoke, the smell of the wild, steam from hot-streams on tussocks, beans in the pannikin, dust in the billy, leaves of tea and gumtree chase the boil.

Longer walk today; boots even more ready for rubbing off skin.

Fourteen miles to the next creek and next water.
Ache in the pack
No rest only winter.
The dingo pads on.
Wild boar root en mass. Wombats rummage the banks.
Wallabies thump up the ridge-line.

“We’ll circle our tent-line and raise tonight’s fire after dark.”
Says the beard and walks on.

The hunter
Seeks now no quarry
Dreams the snap of a soft sheet
and mouths words
for the water of home.

MChallis © 2014


the unequivocal

a living metaphor

from the gesture
of simply

letting go

MChallis © 2014

A Fist Gutting

Rodney the Tormentor came toward me,
a slick sneer edging the mug of his leering mouth.

He prepared the next barb garnished with a delicate sliver of dry ice.
What was he going to find to ridicule this time?

My hair too long, too short?
The art assignment a pathetic attempt at literature?

My bowling action; a cross between a mental patient and a broken wind-mill?
Knees too bulbous for any normal person?

I thought, not today.

I’ve had this, like this, for almost two years
each day a new torture, a new laceration of clean practiced words
and me accepting the torment with the dull weariness that comes only from unkind relentless repetition

allowing the beast fresh meat
thinking, hoping one day he’ll stop
surely he’ll tire of the incessant need to ridicule
believing one day the ‘turd’ jokes will dry up

but they never do

such is the never-end brutal articulation, the
verbal incision, the cruel words of blunt destructive beauty:

teenage confidence stumbling like a novice boxer
dribbling with fresh bruises

but not today
the animal hunted turns
to find precision and strength in defiance

it is the time to wound the wounder
and then all
that follows

‘Rodney the Tormenter’ going down in a windless scream

one blow
two years in the forging

one first and final blow
one strike one out

a fist gutting and nothing gets back up

the art gallery attendant, the other students on excursion
the teachers, all as if complicit in retribution like a magicians audience;
look the other way

and Rodney down solar-plexus perplexed

the swift shock in defeat
and a new entry in the part of Rodney’s brain that stores
future possible outcomes to hitherto unchecked actions

decades later I can still see his face in that ghastly micro-moment: pain, shock, horror
and most surprisingly






MChallis © 2005/2014