I know it was you,
full of simile,
of pig in pen,
of bull in china shop,
of breaking wave,
that in your mind,
and maybe you would have been,
but actions speaking,
got away with it,
but in your baggage,
solid in the night,
full jars fall,
from shelves high,
than the sound they make,
so that now,
the sound of snoring,
is the sound of peace.
This poem wandered around the city, Un-noticed,
collecting words and images, thoughts, snippets,
like Florseim, Qantas and Gleddon Arcade.
Fleshing itself out as an alien from another galaxy might collect things familiar to us,
and hang them around itself so that we might be able to see.
Carillion, Plaza, Commonwealth, Alexander.
You could seek one summer here, or longer,
lured by real estate bargains to spend some time out,
searching for gems under the diamond sharp sky.
Then you might dig at the abandoned gypsum mine,
sifting the tailings, thinking there was more,
or mistake for old workings the limestone hollows
that once housed the abundance of wine,
crushed beneath the feet of ancestors
and cellared for the winter.
But finding none, you’d scrabble along old terraces
where ancient trees gone rootstock wild
tangle themselves into the stone dry ground,
and drop bitter fruit, almonds or small hard olives
worthless crops amid the fallen castles
and forgotten dreams of men,
who come and go, like the harvest.
And you, latest in this tide of men,
of Moors, of Romans, the Greeks who came before,
for now it is the time of the moneyed classes,
surfers of city prosperity who arrive with big dreams,
or weekend escapes to renovate,
in a town where old houses don’t fall, but provide,
rocks for a new wall, tiles for a roof repair,
homes for the chooks free from foxes.
This town on the edge of broadacres,
where vegetables grow from the memory of rain,
and surviving old men welcome you,
even though they know you are not staying.
This town will take you to the edge of money,
here, for your season.
Then you too will leave not empty hearted.
I want you to know one thing, I want you to know how this is.
In the park opposite my house,
raucous white corellas found noisy amusement
on the new tin roof of the pavilion
they pulled each nail
so that in the sea breeze later the sheets might fly
as the shiny feathers from the moult of some sick monster.
My mate Jeffery runs performance workshops for businessmen,
‘Achieve your potential leadership’, shit like that,
‘Your desktop is the window to your soul’.
I saw a picture, on the internet,
Thousands protest global warming.
Snowmen was all it was,
their carrot noses and downturned eyes
‘Do something’ I yelled back.
‘You’re going to melt.’
But they had no ears.
What kind of fool made them,
that cannot hear the warning?
The kookaburras bite holes into the winter stillness,
gaps that fill with nothing, not even silence,
and as I drag myself awake I know that
whoever calls their cry a laugh did not live this day.
Some might say the redwood tree is silent for its thousand year youth,
Or that it has seen so much that there is no more to say.
But listen, and you will hear, early, the soft sigh of seed fallen on snow,
Grains of soil murmuring as roots feel their way,
Or the unfolded paper rustling of bright new leaves.
In storms, the whispering sway of wind as it curves by the giant,
And if two trees touch, you will hear
The tip tap wooden caress of nearby limbs.
After a millennia it has more to say and could go on singing,
The ballard of the forest from one old tree’s ancient point of view.
And so it is that true silence comes with the sharp fall of axe,
Or there, hiding between the creak and cry of timber men,
Silence in the gaps left by the buzz of saws and the rattle of trucks.
So fatal is this space between noise that workers hide their fear,
Sheltering behind an empty wall of loud radio FM,
Bravely playing pop songs of the moment.
A fish wonders what lies above.
Not his every waking moment,
just now and again, after a good meal, friends and idle chatter,
or when things fall down-
bits of boat, rubbish, old iron that is now rusted.
I hear the call to prayer today.
It does not silence the kookaburras
who, in the park outside the walls, cry foul,
I do not know for sure that you are in there,
They will not let me visit,
but each morning, and this morning in particular,
at morning prayer, I think of you.
While we played beach cricket
and chased girls and fast cars
and sent text about our conquests,
you were painting placards, protesting,
asking questions at public meetings
that later became few, then none,
then not allowed.
At your first arrest we scolded you,
Life is to be enjoyed,
I accused you of being one of them,
those professional protesters
who will never come to any good,
Who waste away their life tied to trees,
Champions for everything,
while we were champions to none.
And now, outside the walls,
I wish for you, The Disappeared,
And I wonder, how can we ever get back
That which was, that is now lost,
And now, at the call to prayer,
I realise it was you not us,
who knew the value of your freedom,
and now I hear what you were saying,
in that kookaburra laugh.
Mrs Weertunga died of a stroke. There was not too much pain.
Half paralysed, she lingered for weeks, then gone.
Fallen angel, heal my wings with your tears,
Lay your head on my shoulder to weep,
Cry for what might have been.
Sadness a thing of this earth, not made for us,
Soon we will fly, soon we will fly.