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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

(No title)

Black or white. Theirs or ours. Choose only one.
Creating conflict, and always one who wins.
A world diverges, different, each is just one.
A man and a woman diverge. One, the other.
But life is not grey. The search is eternal.

NEW YORK


Life is full of surprises, places, people
Upstate, summer, on the lake,
the people from 82nd. street
a cottage, timbered, at water’s edge,
unbelievably quiet.

Not that far, a pub, all invitation, local noise,
we drive, a half-hour, too far to walk,
the small village, a  boat repairer, two shops,
sold everything. Like my childhood.

So quiet, remote, far removed yet so near
to a city that defies gravity, huge, confronting,
A city that is America, loved and hated,
brass knuckles, noisy, ambitious,
A city of universities, bookstores, theatre.
hamburger joints and Chinese laundries.

A city where unreachable minds, unreadable people,
created ground zero.
Often we think that it could only be there
that we could watch a building disintegrate
while so many people die.

It may have places of quiet dignity,
there maybe an old world charm,
But we see do not see this beauty
and rarely realize its charm.

We see instead downtown canyons
that never see the sun
yellow cabs and rushing people
speaking in a hundred different voices

The world is there; It is a city like no other.
It is the future for all others.

NELSON MANDELA


Out of darkness comes a man
with the best and worst of us within him,
A man who rebelled with arms and explosive
As his only path to justice.

What today do we call the man
who fights that way for freedom in his land?

Twenty six years of his life it cost him,
With months in solitary confinement,
And years of breaking rock.
a cell of stark nothingness,
The brutality, the invasion, the denial,
of letters, of contact with those who love and care.

From it emerged one above us all,
That we, good, bad, and so ordinary,
could never be. And for most
would never wish to be.

A man who has a thousand reasons
to hate more than most. A man who struggled
and won with those who had hated him.
The world has a need for such a man.



Nelson Mandela was a man struggling for freedom for his people, but sent to jail as a terrorist. Yet he could forgive. He must be regarded as a great moral leader.

My virtual reality


Found at last an office
in that dirty unknown town
Just a desk in fact. One in an arc of desks
a half circle in a green brown field .

A messy desk, a scattered litter
so moved to an empty one
a few desks further on the arc,
A stranger came to share, a rough one
I don’t know why he was there
But I don’t know why I was either.

I was sealing an envelope, torn at one end
Couldn’t find  new envelopes
between us each with half messed desks,
Went back to the old desk, but none were there,
so tried to seal it with dirty tape,
which stuck to my fingers, 
knotted like a tangled fishing line
sticking to me, the envelope, itself
The envelop wouldn’t seal.

Looked for new tape,
my desk sharer had put  it in his bag
along with a dozen
empty sticky tape reels

A shout from a desk across the field
The dog playing happily
by a small muddy patch
Was pulling himself out
covered in mud
left side hanging, leg dragging behind

He looked to me. piteously
His leg was slit long , I could see inside , to the bone
I cradled him close
Where, where could I find help for him
In this unknown and dirty town ?

My world suddenly became half dark,
It had not been a good that night
The envelope was gone; the dog was OK
My virtual existence
had become real

SLEEPING ALONE


I sleep alone
it's great

Room for you stuff on the dressing table.
keys, the torch, all the  books

and  papers that still
have to be read

She complains
No cuddling she says

No hot sticky bodies
shoving you out of bed

say I
No blanket wars

No sleeping to another's rules
Can wake at 2. Or 3. Or 4.

Read for an hour.
Without an earful of complaints

And if you want a bit,
of you know what.

You can always
make an appointment.

MY MISTRESS’ EYES

The Spencerian counter attack,
     after Edmund Spencer
against William Shakespeare.



My mistress’ eyes shine for all the world to see
And long a-glowing are her lips of ruby gold
Her lovely breasts enticing solely me
And hair so beauteous black in long drape and fold.

I have seen roses immersed in red and white,
Such as the roses constantly in her smile
And in no perfume do I find more delight
Than in the looks with which she doth me beguile,

I so love her voice and well do know
That there is no music a more wondrous sound
And although any Goddess can only but flow,
Each step of my mistress floats o’er the ground

With no other I know she can compare
And that by heaven my love is so rare.


------------------------------------

Shakespear’s sonnet 130
A very unkind sonnet to a mistress,
Attacking the Spencerian sonnet

If hairs be wires, black wires grew on her head
And in some perfumes there is more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music has afar more pleasing sound


My Last Day


Steve Jobs has asked himself 

If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?

For most of my days 

I have not done what I would do if I  were at my last day

For on my last day, I would want to hug and kiss each and all those dear to me,

 and then say a loving goodbye

and go to the verandah at my mountain house to die,  

But if I did that, I would achieve near to nothing,,

Yet I would have given many hugs and kisses

and hopefully received some back

So I would like you, and all my loved ones

to treat me as though each day

was my last.





Amended 2010 

My Country

Today. I cannot understand
I try to forgive
the country of my birth
Of my early years

I was grown, with family,
When we accepted
that there were other people.
Other colours. Other races.

That we lived among them.
I can never accept
That the first act of my new country was
to exclude them.

There were people here when we came
We, my people, my fathers, my forebears,
Killed them.
Women, men. Like us.

As this century moves on I come to know,
How different I have become
My country’s past is not now
one which I am proud to know

There was another country.
I knew it not
I was taught its history long
I knew it better than my own.

Today, I read  history of my own
I find
That we fought that country’s wars
Our young men died for them.

And that we gloried in that obeisance
That unwillingness to be ourselves
I cannot understand, I cannot forgive
Those who taught me thus

But I am proud. I am proud of those young men
of courage, of a depth so often called on.
And the vast expanse of green and brown.
Its people all, just as strong,
as those young men.

Yet still today. I seek,
To find those we ask to lead ,
touching with the same knuckle
as did my fathers and father forebears.
This I cannot understand. 

My Cat proves Nothing

Or

What David Morris told me


That an elephant has four knees
Where the rest of the world has two
So I yelled for the cat/dog to come
And sure enough it is true.


But my dog is just one of many
So I tried to find the cat


And a bird, I’m sure hasn’t any


Then  David complained  about knees
And  said I should pay him fees

MY BROTHER

 

My brother doesn’t write poetry.
All he does is worry
about his business.
And his money.

And make life gruff
for all of us he loves
His children, his wife
My children, and me.

Tho’ he’s not too difficult
For buried there deep
beneath  a  well–hidden soul
and his barnacles galore                                                     

is a kind-hearted man
who will come to your rescue
provided you ask
more than ten days before.

He’ll loan you a quid
Or even a few hundred
And for the kids
It need never come back

The help  is free,
Slow to emerge
And in need of checking,
But there, always there.


Written in 2002

MOUNTAINS AND THE MIST

 
Today is a day for writing.
And walking.
The leaves all wet, the trees
a hundred different types surround
disappearing into an ever thickening mist.

Those near, tall, climbing ever upwards
to a sky of grey, dripping damp
then fading into a far nothingness
and the hills you know behind them.

The birds are quiet on a day as this
Yesterday full of sunshine,
they laughed, chattered, a thousand songs
you believe of joy and happiness
Today, in the mist, a few short calls,
Most are quiet.

A walk today is a different pleasure,
little to see, but a day with a deep deep soul
down the path, through the sky-climbing trees,
enveloped in a cool damp greenness,
closed in your own small world.

Out at the cliff’s edge,
high and spectacular still
The valley is buried, the hills the other side,
no longer there. The sun far gone
It is a world primeval,
engraving itself on you.

You welcome this return to yourself,
But deep within are very glad,
No longer is all primitive man
Today should books, a fire,
 a desk to write.




MNEMOSYNE


A river, a dam,
An English dam they said.
Welsh water for the English,
But I was from a far distant land.

Above all a woman,
A girl and a woman,
from the town nearby,
Tom’s daughter.

She tried to teach me
where my soul belonged,
what it is to be me.
to love and be loved. Not easy.

We joined, stayed,
for long years,
Traveled much
as people of my land do.

Many lands, oceans separate.
Many differences.
Always, always, She came with me.

But we were different
Logic and emotion
Are not
everlasting companions.

In the years since
they have found a name for those
whose logic
demands compliance.

She left.

I have traveled alone
Many new lands,
But finally I came back
To the river, the dam, the little town.

I rang her own,
That unpronounceable name
They talked to her,
and to me, said no.

I came again
More years later
The dam, the river, all much smaller.

The house, the hotel,
She was gone.
Cardiff maybe?
But nobody knew.

I searched in vain
for that unpronounceable name.
And all I have now
is a memory.






Revised, February, 2005

MAX

Just two or a bit.
Near total joy.
The words we all use.
A warm and willing smile,
outstretched arms, his,
reaching out to us. Irresistible.
Love, infinitesimal, immeasurable,
his without asking.

The legacy of us all,
is also his.
The overriding self,
the “Mine!”, “Mine!”,
the unbelievable tantrum,
the instant demand. Unsatisfiable.
They are also his, from aeons past.

Lasting  an eternity,
tho’ sometimes only seconds
then the Max of much love
returns again.

The years will pass,
G’andi will go.
The love, the lessons,
will never cease
from two people
with infinite care and patience.

And Max will join the adult world
Thinking. More careful with words,
“Mine”  “Mine” long gone.
Not perfect, we never are,
but now
ready to pass on lessons of his own.








Read at  XXI World Congress of Poets, Sydney, 2001

JOY


A dog wondering, head tilted
Sun on grass, filling windows
A boy, just five, constant movement,
Smiling, laughter, sister too
A woman, big breasted, loving
Life, a fullness, total joy.

Purpose, work, small successes,
Little measures, goodness
Always trying, searching, filling
Winning, just a little now,
Maybe, one day, full success.
Life, a fullness, total joy.

Humorous they said

Humorous they said!      Impossible!
How can we make jokes about ships and the sea?
Glorious history ; the seven seas
Cook, Nelson, and all , Heroic. Not humorous

And Admiral Byng, for failing to engage the French
in March of ‘57, in magnificent ceremony,
shot on the deck of the Monarch,
riding at anchor in Portsmouth harbour

He was George , but there was John Byng and Richard
Admirals all, and pubs and schools and historical societies,
named after one or the other
Even as cowards, they’re famous, not humorous.

And one’s own adventures to tell,
Perhaps not across all seven
But heroically across channels, straits and rivers
around  the four corners of the globe.

Courtesy of a job with forever travel
First attempt on Acapulco Bay
Learning the ropes in San Francisco
Crossing the channel dead in the night.

Inspired by Hornblower,  Aubrey and all
Heroes who could both fight and sail
The first engagement was a hired boat,
Across the bay, with an admiring one ashore

I know not how Nelson learned to sail
But it was not by hired boat
For this one  flipped, and with me on top
started slowly drifting out to sea.

He came out when my hour was up.
The admiring one had gone to sleep,
But since then I have sailed the world,
never again astride a turned-over  boat.

Adventures galore, hours on smelly rivers
The Yumna into the Ganges
And the poisonous Potomac too
But sailing always the right way up.

Navigational  feats without number
Frobisher in the North West passage
Bligh  4000 miles in open boat
Me across the channel

La Manche; the channel at night
Rough it was ,dark, all of us a-heaving
Correcting for the sweep of tides
France on the horizon in dim light finally.

Which way Deauville?  he asks ,
Port I reply, surely half right
Frobisher must have made some guesses
Ours were just as wrong as his, 
But we at least came back.

All night. Exhausted. Next day into the pond
Tripping face first on the mooring rope
Woken at last  to the nurse’s thermometer
Frobisher didn’t have to face it like that.

Then came the first of seven
The Tasman, oh a wicked sea
Chichester around the world capsized
Only in this beast of a sea.

We tried last year, Dave and me,
Along with  Dave’s light at the time
But she got sick not far from shore
So that day we thought was not for us.

Tried once more again last month
Cautious of Chichester’s sea
Forecast after forecast , but finally the day
that was smooth & safe for Dave and for me.

So safe in fact that wind it died
And we did not sail the first of our seas
But now the boat up there sits, waiting for
the day they forecast winds the other way.

And in the meantime we sit and dream.
Of Anson round the Horn,
Drake on the Spanish Main
Or me on my second sea.






He apologised for the awkwardness of his wings

Awkwardness is a word
Of a type that I’ve often heard
Its like the word mosquiter
Not easy to match the meter
Nor do you have the time
To make the damn word rhyme
And worst when set in an exercise
To use the word apologise


                        ooo

There was a  drake called Dings
Who apologised for the size of his wings,
Every time that
He went to bat
On a duck by the name of Linglings

For their length was such
That he couldn’t do much
Although he often tried
To take a long ride
Using his wings as a sort of a crutch

For if you ever have been
Where a duck and a drake aren’t seen
Doing what they shouldn’t oughta
And that’s trying it out in the water
You’d see why Lings was never too keen

And the reason is that
He would go very flat
As his wings would drag
And cause him to sag
Somewhat like a drowning rat

And whenever they try
On the beach to lie
After he had taught her
To get out of the water
His wing on Ling was as high as the sky

So for a good duck’s sake,
If you’re  a drake on the make
The lesson for each -  don’t try on the beach                    
To get her peach is too long a reach.

Is it you Melbourne?

Is it you Melbourne?
Or is it me?

HORATIO, FRANCIS, AND ME

 
Humorous they want it to be. Impossible when we write of boats and the sea,
For we think of Drake, and Nelson, Frobisher, Cook and others in their mould
Heroes, every one. People who fought and voyaged, travelled and explored,
to the far corners of our world. Nothing to laugh at there.

The humour, of course, is really  me, brought up on these heroes, 
nurtured into adult life  - Hornblower, much later - Jack Aubrey,
The boy, now man, round the horn with Anson, sailed the main with Drake
and across the oceans  with Slocum. An envious boy and man, year after year.

It started with dad’s half cabin – you know half cabins. They’re the wooden boats
with a cough-cough engine…..ones that will never start…with a big flywheel,
A few still scattered around the back bays of this town. But it is an impossible task
to learn to sail in a boat  running on a cough-cough engine.

And then a job with constant travel confined the seven seas and the world of sail,
to views  from 30, 000 feet and late night reads in many hotel rooms
But at last came the time, the dream - courted, joined, and honeymooned
on Acapulco Bay. And on the beach was a man who rented a boat to sail.

Now I don’t know how Nelson learned his ropes,
or how Drake crossed the Spanish Main
But it wasn’t in their dad’s half cabin. Nor in a rented sailboat.
For you know that the wind provides the power, but you are far from sure just how,
So after you sail across the bay, and turn to go back again,

You find that a sail boat does what cough- coughs would never do,
Years later and familiar with the wind in its many varied ways,
 still you cannot remember how you tipped it   upside down
All you remember is struggling on an upturned boat, drifting slowly out to sea,
Nor had you learned, nor did need to learn, how to get right way up again.

The newly beloved is fast asleep, and the open sea is closing fast.
But the rental man comes out, although not before your hour is up.
And as he slowly tows you back, still astride the upturned boat, you see the hundreds watching you from the shore, agreeing that you are not a Nelson yet.

Sailing school on San Francisco Bay. Not the part all you see, but down the bay,
smelly and mud-flatted, but enough to start the adventures galore,
Rivers, and bays, lakes and channels, and hopefully one day at sea.
From the Jumna off the Ganges, the poisonous Potomac to blue Pacific atolls.
And never one of them was ever sailed astride an upturned boat.

The navigational feats without number: Franklin in the North West Passage
Magellan first round the Horn, Bligh 4000 miles of open boat
But I regret that I have to tell you, they cannot compare
with the feats in my years of sail
  
The channel at night is dark and rough,
With all of us a-heaving. Me the navigator
Dead reckoning, correcting the sweep of tides.
France on the horizon in dim light finally.

Which way Deauville? he asks Port I reply; quite sure that I
had  be at least half right. And in any case, Nelson, Drake,
all must have made some guesses.
Even Franklin up by the Pole. Although we at least came back

We sailed the remainder of the night, but finally had to turn about
That afternoon into port, exhausted, tripping face first over the mooring line,
Waking next day to a French thermometer. Horatio never had to face France that way.
And I began to realise my adventures were not of the Nelson kind.

But at last came the first of seven seas - the Tasman, a wicked sea
Chichester around the world capsized only in this sea.
We tried last year, Dave and me, along with Dave’s delight at that time
But she got sick not far from shore. That day was not to be for us.

Tried once more again last month, cautious of Chichester’s sea
Forecast after forecast, but came finally the day
that was smooth and  safe for Dave and me.
So safe in fact that wind it died. We motored the first of our seas.

But now the boat up there is waiting until they forecast winds back our way
And in the meantime we sit and dream.
Of Anson round the Horn. Francis Drake on the Spanish Main.
Or me on my second sea.

In BoatingOZ.com.au

HAVE YOU WONDERED?

You have wondered, I am sure,
from times quite recent to our distant past
why we have wrought great cruelty
on others of our kind.

From Charlemagne and the Saxons
to Cromwell with the Irish,
and not that long ago,
the Germans with the Jews.

That the victims were somewhat different
even portrayed as not quite human,
was the reason that no-one argued
against their imprisonment or their slaughter.

Today we can read the propaganda,
watch the newsreels of that time. We would 
still be very sure that we would not
have condemned the different ones called Jews.

Yet they who sent their neighbours to the camps,
were people who had loved and laughed,
who had worked and cried; and came
from families like yours and mine.

Were we not the same when most of us approved
of locking men and women, children,
outsiders every one,
into camps with wire in many layers,
patrolled by guards and guns?

Were we not the same when we believed
that there were terrorists among them;
that they threw their children overboard,
and our leaders called them monsters.

Were we not the same? we believed
our navy and our leaders
Yet we did not wonder - no photos were allowed
or why the those who knew did not speak

Did we not believe when told they were the wealthy
that the poor and deserving still wait in queue?
Although a meeting with just one of them
would tell us  that this is far from true.

We might hope we are different to nations in the past.
That justice and compassion are values deep ingrained.
But our nation did believe, and we did condemn,
those that did not belong. We are just the same.


Published in Open Boat, Barbed Wire Sky.  Live Poets Press, 2003

A pome in the stile of eecummings

A ¼ of  what I do
For it must be necessary
Is to be alive
To hold all words.
¾ is to survive.
Baffling and bewildered
i need

without comprehension
to try my soul
to put in suspension
not to be alive [TO LIVE]
any belief
vicariously (second hand, yes, TV)
in grade six.

For
“The greatest
                                    the world
                                                American
                                                            has [EMPHASIZE]
                                                                        poet                sa
                                                            so                   
                                                of the mid                               poesie
                                    much                                      
                        twentieth century”                                          est
            vicarosity.                                                      
PRODUCES crap.                                                                illisible

Hanging on in the train

            HANGING ON IN THE TRAIN



A boy wets his bed, and cries. Deeply fearful,
Slumbers fitfully, little noises, whimpering,
Our world is his in near consciousness;  
He cries for a handle in his crowded train.

Our world is as his, not the whole night through,
for ours is jagged, moonlit, an adult world.
But at times we are caught, when we also need 
more than does he, a handle for our crowded train.

We hate, we fear, a hundred intrusions.
The handles are many, and we use them all,
Speed, new age, ten dozen gods.. from the  
mystics of the east to fundamentalism in the west.  

We try them all, as with that boy in the bed,
We are always with hope to find the way
to protect and sooth him; as is with us,
so that we know our path; where we belong. 

HAIKU

Serious haiku
Is deep and meaningful thought.
But not in my verse

It’s five syllables
Then just seven in this line,        
That never make sense.

For instance, today
It is raining. Tomorrow,
It is Wednesday.

Brunch can be a lunch
When it is salad and egg,
not fried spaghetti.

My car will not start
For it is old and broken;
A little like me.

Can we make love now?
No you cannot she replied,
We have only just met

How about some sex?
Yes please yes, she said eagerly,
Next Friday two weeks.

Heavens open up
I get very wet and cold,
And catch pneumonia.

Ants have small mouths
So do not eat much at all,
And do not grow big.

Five eggs in a pan
Tossed and fried up together
Are such a big mess.

I love to kiss,
And always try for more
Than she ever does.

The love of my life
Is long gone; she found another
And went off with him.

I cannot help laugh
When I write serious verse
That I call haiku.

The soul of my house
Are those who live within it.
It also needs painting.

Monday, January 10, 2011

GRANDPA & THE REST


I don’t remember granddad
Except for his bag- old leather 
Out on the lawn by the path
There many weeks before it went.

I have an old and distant memory
Of a shadowy image in the house
But perhaps I recall the photo, the one
they gave us all as kids.

The one of him and grandma.
A big man from the photo
Sergeant of police no less
Not a man any would forget

Was it perhaps the other grandpa
Mother’s pa, the one who had the bag?
But he is not even a shadow
I have not a glimpse of him at all.

An Inspector of police the first one,
Sergeant in Taree,
And in a dozen other towns
from the Queensland border down

Grandma I remember well
She’s not far from me now.
Musicians hands I had, she told me
A butcher’s was nearer the mark

They have gone now, both of them
to the big family plot by the river.
With sons and daughters.
Our aunts and uncles, also now long gone

Born in those dozen country towns
The last to go was Edith, Pops we used to call her
All that now remains are us,
And we are going now too.

And when the last of us has gone
We can only hope their names
are not to be forgotten - , George and Ern,
Mabel and Toots, Wanda and the rest.

Twelve of them, over twenty there are of us
And again the ones who follow us. Then theirs again
- Max and Piper, Chris and Josh, Tom and Fleur -
so few – to remember the big man and us all.

GALLIPOLI

I sometimes wonder why
we celebrate Gallipoli
For it certainly is a monument
to mans’ unclear morality.

As a war it was a question.
The world was fighting Germans
yet we were fighting Turks
a thousand miles away.

To capture Constantinople
they told us at the time,
although from that day to this
we have never understood that why.

To capture Constantinople
they sent the fleet in first
A second great stupidity
For no other fleet was there,

and floating ships
have yet to win
against forts on land
and narrows that are mined.

So they sent in flesh and blood
gathered around the world
And having never told us why,
they gave no thought to how,

So they died, the thousands,
these young and courageous men.
Told to go by those who build careers
In sending young men to die

So when I celebrate Gallipoli
My sorrow is for those  
who only received the orders
and never asked the why

And if at that commemoration
politicians and generals are there
It is not to them that I salute
for it is they and their ambitions

their empty  confrontations,
who count of battles by numbers dead,
sending so many men to die,
as they did those years long ago.

I salute instead, and sorrow for
those ordinary men and women
for the reasons why they went
for their laughter and  their friendships
and for never asking why.

A New Year


It is a new beginning
A dawning well after dusk,
Celebrated around the world
in a thousand different ways.

Ours is a way so quiet
floating on a well lit bay
A few at meal, talking, a wine
enjoying the last of an evening near gone.

A hundred others floating too
and many more on shore
Waiting for the time to come
when the single star shoots high.

Then world around bursts aflame
A city, its water, lit by a thousand colours
Ears blasted by technicolour sound,
The music plays the battle of the giants

On and on it plays, never seeming to end
Shouts of applause start by
at each  spectacular explosion
high above a crane-necked city.

At last it ends a tiara on the city’s bridge
The final necklace of raining fire
Then quiet, near dark again. We go quietly
across the water; a new year has begun.

Expectations


Expectations placed on me seem all too high
So on us is placed a great and difficult load
And I think at times that they are far too heavy.
But deeply to you they never last

It has been this way over all my years
Asking more of me than I am, can ever be,
Is it my fault for I do not always try
Treading a path undemanding but unaware

Is it, has it been, always like this?
It surely has been for me,
Are we those who wander unthinking
Asking little, giving less, from the beginning of time?

Perhaps I try to meet that demand
I think I do, But I follow a path that does not ask,
Nothing. Nor does it create an asking
Rolling; seeking happiness, one or two, never expecting

And your regrets are always there
Readily given; too readily, for they are the deep you
I say it; But they do paper over
any a deepening crack, for I know you mean them 

EVERYWHERE ON TV

‘How we came out of the trees’
TV shows them almost every week
Bearded uglies and naked women
Some millions of years ago

Tyrannosaurs, dactyls, flying or not
Africanus, habilis , erectus
Lucy and the footprints
Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals
and finally comes the sapiens

But it is the monkeys and the chimpanzees
that they show us time again
eating, fighting, sexing and surviving
The voice-overs always pointing out
how their world ended up our way.

They show us how we learned to walk
With originals wading through a swamp
and because two legs were all now needed
we were free to carry more.

And as we stood much taller now
and could see above long grass
and extra arms now free to kill,
we survived far longer than those before

Again and again I watch that chimp
Peeling  sticks and poking grubs
The voice telling me that is how
tools became another step
in the long leap up for us,

Little trouble all this has for me,
for the line we draw from them to us,
seems readily to explain
the mixed-up mess that now we are.

Even before we reached the trees, it is easy to understand
for one night the TV  showed
a flippered slug crawling from out the mud,  while announcing with great pleasure
that this was early me.

And as I watch my dog and cat
and other animals around
I realize with four, two, and one
of legs, eyes, ears and nose
and with insides equally common,
that somewhere along this line
was something like this flippered thing.

Where I have the greatest trouble,
is knowing  whether we learned to think,
for I believe sometimes as I watch the chimps,
fighting among themselves,
we have yet to reach
a thinking  stage

They fight for many reasons
so similar to our evils of today,
That I have come to believe
that the biggest  question is where to go?

All that TV misses out
will only be completed
in an episode,
still a thousand years away.


Distant

Distant she said. Superficial was his word
Words to describe all that they cared
After the years gone by, long gone
And two children now almost reared.

Twenty they were, those changing years
Love replaced by void, even fears
A house, a high hill, ambitious pride,
A fa├žade, an emptiness, describe it now

A decade ago, anger enough
He quiet, cutting, resentful
She screaming, yelling, throwing,
A vase, abuse, hurt pride

Ten years they have found a half way
To live. To hurt less, to give a say
To the need to express, of each to the other
Superficial is his word. Distant is hers.


Entered in Poetry Australia, March 18, 2002