•December 15, 2009 • Leave a Comment

To the editors of letters in the Sydney Morning Herald
Whether here today, or long since dead and buried,
I dedicate these verses in a spirit of great thanks.
If I’d had one letter printed then these pages would be blanks!

Listen to the Songs

•November 27, 2016 • Leave a Comment

 

For DENG THIAK ADUT

Listen to the songs all peoples sing,
The ones learnt at a mother’s knee,
Hark the solemn messages they bring.

Listen, though heralding bells don’t ring
For songs that mean all people can be free.
Listen to the songs all peoples sing.

Though sometime in dismay our hands we wring,
Listen for nuances oft hard to see.
Hark the solemn messages they bring.

It’s unwise to our old notions firmly cling
Against strong words that make another plea.
Listen to the songs all peoples sing.

And when strangers reach our land by wing
Or sailing o’er a wide and treacherous sea,
Hark the solemn messages they bring.

It can be a great and beauteous thing
Harmonising tunes him, me and thee.
Hark the solemn messages they bring,
Listen to the songs all peoples sing.

Wattle Day

•August 5, 2016 • Leave a Comment

As a schoolgirl, I wore joyfully
Wattle on wattle day.
Pinned on tunics with great pride
In lessons or at play.

It made us sneeze and sniffle
But we stalwartly complied
A bout of bad hay fever
Never stilled our wattle pride.

The first day of the ninth month
Was the day that this occurred
And “Song of Australia”
Cross the nation could be heard.

When the Queen came to Australia
They planted wattle trees
A memorial road from Canberra
Waving in our Aussie breeze.

What’s happened? Is it climate change?
Or just wattle getting older?
The weather’s getting warmer
September isn’t colder?

Decree! The wattle’s quickly finished
So let’s change our Wattle Day!
The first day of each August
Our wattle still is bright and gay.

But what happened then to wattle?
Almost gone by August One.
No more sprigs on the school uniforms.
I think our wattle’s done.

Like the Song of Australia
Into our memory box.
We don’t need national symbols
While we have our TV Fox.

It’s great to be multinational
And to learn how others play
But I don’t like our Aussie wattle
Bowing to the USA.

Bunny Push and Plunge,

•July 21, 2016 • 2 Comments

“Bunny push and plunge”,
The picture it evokes
Little rabbits in their burrows
Exchanging bunny jokes.

Whiskers might be twitching
Ears be might standing high
Digging dirt lined hollows
Where baby bunnies lie.

The mother feeding quickly
From her mammary glands,
Nuzzling little noses,
Paws instead of hands.

No! Moist rabbit mammaries
This phrase is not about,
But dry human milk glands
BRAS’N’THINGS does tout!

They mean playboy bunnies!
Try some tails and ears,
Push those mammaries up
And quell your rising fears –
No plunging down the rabbit hole
It’s the cleavage (for your tears)!

BOOKS

•May 29, 2016 • Leave a Comment

My earliest recall, Mummy’s face and words so sweet,
“Clop, clop, all the way there
Pooh’s a little teddy bear
Tortoise is slower than the hare”
As she led us through books’ valleys towards our gentle sleep.

Then I could read it by myself! What a miraculous event
The Naughtiest girl went to school,
Oliver Twist proved no fool,
And Mr Darcey made girls drool,
And through these paper tomes of time my eager mind just went.

Plays and histories followed, and books that gave me facts.
Why a rock had moss upon it,
Shakespeare wrote a sonnet,
Jane Eyre wore a bonnet.
And fun there is in “who done it” genre, penned by famous hacks.

I gloried in the freedom and the thoughts that came so fast,
Seized each eager second
As every new book beckoned.
Then carefully sat and reckoned
When will I finish all the books that have been written in the past?
.
My Year Five teacher took our class to the first city in our nation.
The Mitchell library was last goal
To add learning to our soul
When weariness had taken toll
After all our earnest viewing of this settlement’s foundation.

We entered that great library building, magnificent sandstone,
Admired the tiling on the floor,
Were awestruck at the ancient door,
Looked around for books and more.
At the shock of shelves towering tall, I could not but help a little moan.

For, while by that fatal reading bug I’d seriously been bitten,
And I vowed I’d read the lot.
It showed me that I hadn’t got
Time to fulfil my dearest plot.
I saw I’d never come to read all books mankind had ever written.

At last came long awaited, glorious, book filled Uni days
Periodicals from the stacks.
Life’s book club paper backs.
Kindles from the IT shacks.
Always loving the non achievable from a hopeful book filled haze.

Since then I’ve seen the Bodleian, and the books Oxford selected.
It holds each new tome
Within a massive Dome.
Yet it will forever home
Old books, still undevoured. Peaceful inevitability that I’ve finally accepted.

PS A young, book loving granddaughter had the epiphany of seeing Mitchell Library for the first time today, 28th May 2016. Her expression mirrors my emotions on my fateful day in 1951.
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Old Age and Choice

•April 15, 2016 • Leave a Comment

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Pruning a bougainvillea is a task for the brave,
But also a task that opens doors to serious thoughts.
Bougainvilleas resist the pruning process.
Their thorns are sharp, their branches supple
If they had teeth they would be bared.
They resist destruction.

Older, as I climb the ladder to chop their heads
To cut the branches ever reaching to the stars,
I reflect that when I can no longer climb this ladder
To reach my stars, I can no longer drive to places far
To unload these off cuts, or merely recharge my senses,
I will wither on the vine.

But now, days later, bougainvillea, once so sharp and spiky
Is a gentle green, and is very softly, slowly reaching
For its same stars. But so low the stars can not be seen.
So low wind cannot blow through needy branches
And the rain, to heal, beats on struggling growth.
The bougainvillea fights for a new life.

Maybe one day, perchance quite soon, I may change my mind.
A wheelchair’s breeze may excite as a car’s slipstream.
A ladder not worth scaling from the highs of bariatric lift.
But no. I will never grow new shoots, stars shine no future
And rain, wind and sunshine wither all old vines.
Time will come to dig out roots.

Ballad of the Plastic Laundry Basket

•April 8, 2016 • Leave a Comment

A shiny plastic basket, for washing, is a dream.
You can transport from clothes lines, sort garments and then fold,
Store clothes until the need arises to wear them, it would seem.
If you listen to the young ones it is worth its weight in gold.

And its weight, so light, means that they’re very, very cheap,
You can afford to have as many as is your heart’s desire.
But they are also very sturdy, will for a long time keep
In a very good condition until they finally expire.

In the olden days of my youth we only had the wicker,
A basket that was heavy and quite difficult to lug.
Such basket, full of wet things, would challenge any ticker
And cause acute heart failure just when you’d pulled the plug.

So we would not wash the linen until almost full of dirt.
Then off the clothes line, almost dry, into the nearest drawer.
Give two wearings to a natty, well ironed business shirt,
To ensure one wicker basket is half full – and never more.

But impacts of plastic baskets as yet remain untapped,
New exposures, every day. Just what can these reveal?
Uncharted waters that will need, by experts, to be mapped,
For one by one, a piece of washing, with expertise, they steal.

Delights, as well as thefts, from these baskets do abound
And “digs”, as archaeologists oft find, will also show us much.
Treasures from the days gone by will frequently be found,
A wedding dress, old bootee, we can caress and touch.

They practise true apartheid. No longer do we share
Clothes with family members who are incompatible.
Interaction with their clothes when clean we could not bear,
Segregation of the clothing makes sorting non-combatable.

As we laud these life discoveries and our changing first world finds
Epitomised in the very fact of a modern, laundry casket
I must confess with due respect to modern customs, modern minds
My ironing’s tucked, out of sight, in one small wicker basket.

Mottos

•April 6, 2016 • Leave a Comment

 

My grandson has a turn of phrase
Befitting someone older
And, because he is but seven years,
His opinions can’t be bolder.

We marvelled as he first described
A film plot by its ethos,
Nodded as he exemplified
A book awash with pathos.

But our nodding turned to laughter
When he started to enquire
The “motto” of a book or film
And the goal it did inspire.

A “motto”, a dismissive word
To describe a whole world view,
To motivate a nation
Or challenge what we do.

But then I listened harder
To exhortations all around.
From journos and the pollies,
Slick words did abound.

Those “mottos” that we live by
A constant pat refrain!
Beware, listen to the infant,
He’s hit the nail head once again.