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David Mitchell  

All Together Now: A Digital Bridge for Auckland and Sydney             


Poems from Bronte


Poem in Spring

She is kinda nice
in a quiet , old
fashioned way

her persistent entreaty
namely ;

just pen a spring poem
mistah mitchell

leaves me
with a most unkool
chill , at the base
of my spine

here goes ;

the house sparrows
are busy on the lawn
this morning

a white half loaf

which moves
according to
their sallies

from south
to east

in a tremulous
arc ;

she comes
& sprawls nonchalant
on the grass

to read what
has been writ
so far . . .

The little birds
too, are curious

one with the other
re: their place
in the sun

as for myself ?

why citoyens
to be sure

I yam
as happy
as a sandboy.



Bill comes in
& works the machine
for a glass of purified
water –

then Mabel
turns up with a newspaper
& reads
to us all

points out my mistake
with her
christian name 

& I
change it !

( see above )

Rima has left
her worknotes
at the table

Soft music
playing from a radio
forms a backdrop to
this scene

the only other noise
is the occasional
passing car –

light is good

colours are


& lunch is served.

I try the drink

a half glass of thickened
orange fluid

which is poised
in the receptacle


& with a distinct
smell & taste

of the locker rooms at
Wellington Teachers College


to say the very


Poem for Niamh

She says
Good morning

her trolley
loaded with all kinds
of goodies

pills, potions &

she is standing , laconic
before us all

waiting to serve


a free
Irish smile.


sitting in the BBQ pit

the fine
high clear light of yesterday
has vanished

has been replaced
by a flat black
& white

as a harbinger
of colours to come.

As I write now

the softer edges & tones proclaim
the veracity of my surmise

& within minutes
a kind of balance
is restored.


Melanie, whose idea
this poetry is

has been very kind
in hunting out this pen
for me to use

& supplying
this diary

she also seems
genuinely interested
as to its contents

as to what
gets written

she is a writer

I feel her talents
best lie in journalism

she will probably
be ropeable
when she reads my diary next;

one way & another
I wish her the very best

& repeat
my former praise

that she is



Well the summer is icummen in
icummen in

as she has been
for some months

is pausing to gain
a foothold

until she’s quite ready
to continue.

The drab pageant of these days
is finally followed
by clear blue skies
& weather
you can depend upon.

This summer’s fulsome figure
is nothing , if not
a mathematical reflection of
her midwinter appearance

loose limbed
in Attica

& in some
poor bastards




Installed in the lower floor
dining room

by nurse Melanie
& given a sharpened pencil

I am instructed
to write

here goes

Melanie was furious
She had just catered for one writer

& as if
by a secret vote
two more turned up

one , by name
who lay in bed
& read
her poems in a breathless

Fern displayed
the relaxed attitudes
of a mature woman

inadvertently featuring
the hidden front of a somewhat
sophisticated persona

The other


The Stoush

March. 19. 2009. Tuesday

In the BBQ pit
the sun is shining –

& the birds in a fit
of momentary


caused –
in a major part by an intruder –
a seagull . . .
whose thin red legs stomp
mechanically up & down
up & down
against the grass
the daisies and the trees

In a few minutes
it is all over – the gull
has simply spread its wings
& flown away

While the others –
a couple of pigeons , a brace of mynahs, and
the usual handful of house sparrows
retire to the sunlit lawn

and once there
take up positions against



shaves me carefully

then showers 

& dabs
me dry

she dresses me
in the clothes she has laid out
on the bed

for this purpose

white underwear &
a dark maroon T shirt

followed by
chocolate sox

topped off with French rope soled sneakers
& light grey tracksuit pants
and a zip up top made from
the same material

resplendent I arrive at the
brekkie table
washed, combed & dressed

more than equal
to the porridge
the eggs
& the highly coloured & thickened
cordial drink.


June 17th

My room is empty
the TV is switched off

sirens sound their messages

in here, at least
its not raining

the bedspread
has been knitted
with love . . .


Poem for the winter

So take a hand and help me
to celebrate this cold clear high
solitary sunny golden time

it is the middle of July

the birdlife is conspicuous
by its absence

David Attenborough screens
some footage of a pride of lions
headed by an ageing male


January Fri. 15th 2010

Today is wet
outside everything is sodden

three jokers
with fancy PVA working gear

slice away
at a room on this floor
preparatory to

the paint job
the plaster job
& the new wooden tiles

pretty soon, mine
will not be
the only room on this floor
so treated

they are all to get
a makeover.



Poem for Shrijana

is very direct

she walks into
the room
& even
the small voices
on the TV
seem hushed

she looks around

then slaps
the narrow lined pad
that she is carrying
down hard on the table

Slam   Bam Bam
1, 2, 3

then gidday, she says
to all who care to listen

ow ya goin . . .



Nigel Roberts writes :

Slowly wasting from Supra Nuclear Palsy, David Mitchell lives in a nursing home in Bronte, Sydney. He shares room 3B with an older man. The two do not converse. Poor & uncertain motor skills do not allow him to use the Olivetti that he has possessed since the late seventies, thus he writes in pencil with a shaky cursive script into a junior exercise book set on an ergonomic mobile dinner table desk beside his bed. Writes, keeps a general notebook of names addresses birthdays etc, and of what he hears, sees, & makes of ‘a life in care.’ At times the poems are responses to the ‘write something Dave’ provocations of Melanie his therapist & muse; who, when he does, types & publishes the same in the photocopied A4 paged in-house journal. There is no working up of these . . . only the one draft with the odd word crossed out and a better one substituted. Once done, that is the poem. Such works are fashioned now as they were years ago, with a sure use of the suspensions, lineation & verse breaks that indicate how a Mitchell poem is to be read. Their hallmark, now, is direct observation, no bitterness, light touches of irony & a whole lotta love for the world outside his door.


©David Mitchell