Archive for January, 2022

Monday, 31 January 2022

Her Own by Jane Clarke

My mother said she knew, just knew
I was going to be a girl,

two boys before and two boys after –
fodder for a hungry farm,

but I was hers.
She taught me her tricks of the trade;

it’ll look like dinner is nearly ready
if the table is set when he comes in,

bread and butter will fill them up,
add three drops of vinegar to water

so your mirrors and windows will gleam,
cool your fingers before rubbing lard into flour

for pastry, a handful of ground almonds
will keep your fruit cake moist,

darn a few socks every night
and never leave the ironing for more than a week,

don’t cut off rhubarb stalks with a knife,
just twist them clean from the crown,

and always hold onto the children’s allowance;
a woman must have something of her own.


Date: 2016

By: Jane Clarke (1961- )

Sunday, 30 January 2022

War Poem by Yvonne Green

There are no heroic deaths in war,
if you round people up they cry like stuck pigs,
if you run with a bayonet you wet your pants
if you kill with a drone, computer games
make you crazy when your kids play them.

For evil not to triumph good people
need do nothing but advocate, negotiate, react,
be diplomatic, watchful, mindful.

They need to listen, hear,
answer not placate, resist not fight,
determine not dominate, be dutiful not expectant.
And ramparts will give way to borders,
wars will be averted before
they grow tired, seed poppies,
make mounds, cinders of macheted limbs,
empty boy’s bowels, girl’s wombs.


Date: 2011

By: Yvonne Green (1957- )

Saturday, 29 January 2022

Morning Knowledge by Kevin Hart

My gentle father died when day was young,
When there was very little left to take:
Gray face, a raft of bones, a bitter ache,
A word or two still living on my tongue.

There’s bread that only dying men can eat,
Worn words that only weary men can say.
Sometimes those wispy words just slip away,
Sometimes that gritty bread falls on a sheet.

In those last days my dad ate nothing much;
His words were mostly gnawing at warm air.
Dark One, I’ll be the one to smooth his hair.
You be the one who lets him know my touch.


Date: 2009

By: Kevin Hart (1954- )

Friday, 28 January 2022

Steady Fetters by Emma Lew

Drive one nail out with another, that’s our only hope.
We can’t live any more like birds on a branch,
because the murderous past never stops,
not even at night.
Every day we expect to be accused of unspeakable things and turned adrift.

Do you remember
when Ernesto disappeared
in a puff of smoke
as he was bringing the cows in from the meadows?

And when the girl Rosamina
fell in love with the son of a man
and they faced certain death
because they were incapable of creating anything,
so they withdrew again into images more beautiful than anything?

All of us, at one time or another,
have travelled in the company of smugglers,
or pilfered whole sacks of grain.

Likewise, the lady who had to grit her teeth
and shake the columns of the white hall.

She could smell the fresh lumber
though the door led nowhere.

Can you imagine her singing a love song?
But it’s true! It’s true!


Date: 2013

By: Emma Lew (1962- )

Thursday, 27 January 2022

The Acrobats by Charles Higham

Five shabby dancers in the circus dust,
Five midgets balancing their grief. I must
Tell of their hour upon the glittering stage:
Laughing like gutted dolls, crying like owls
Stiff in the public’s gaze, quelling their rage
Under the sheeted arms that stretch like sails.

Once they were young, and capered through the tents,
Drunken and flushed with their first innocence.
It lasted little. Beauty was not long.
Those pretty things their limbs grew sharp and frail.
Once born they had to know another wrong.
Lines crawl across the cheeks. Time thrusts the nail.

Now in their teetering pyramid of arms,
And legs the cracks threaten their earthly charms.
Applause whips like a snake about their heads,
Where once it broke like tempests. When it goes
All they can do is reach across a bed
And hold each other in a sad embrace.

For centuries the Wessels knew the air.
Lights searching, steel wires taut, they danced up there,
For generations whirled above the ground,
Swinging and dancing in an endless waltz,
Their stark geometry matched to each sound
Of drums and fifes and timpanies and flutes.

Then came an hour when the whole structure went.
That perfect discipline shrivelled and bent.
They fell into a net. The mob did not
Forgive the act. Soon they were grounded. Then
A finis was inscribed beneath the plot.
Now they are not quite known as gentlemen.

It doesn’t matter, nothing does. They go
Happily dancing in the sawdust glow.
Lamely climb up on shoulders, sing and clap,
And wave thin hands across the shadow-line.
In every ring they toil and toil the trap
Like insects struggling round a vat of wine.

From: Higham, Charles, “The Acrobats” in The Bulletin, August 22, 1964, p. 47.

Date: 1964

By: Charles Higham (1931-2012

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

The 26th of January by Ben Lawson

Go grab your mate and celebrate the good old Aussie way
The twenty-sixth of January, oh, what a bloody day!

From Nowra, out to Cowra, up to Darwin, down to Perth,
we raise an ice-cold tinnie to the greatest place on earth.

We party and we barbie in the backyard or the beach,
and all of life’s odd problems feel a little out of reach…

But, being woke, I get some folks might be a touch irate
the thing you’ve got to understand is this: it’s just a date!

Yes, pound for pound some sixty thousand years is quite entrenched,
But our boy Arty Pip rocked up nigh on the 19th cench.

In turn as far as we’re concerned it’s then that things began,
Your history, while great I’m sure, well that’s an also-ran

And yes those uninvited guests were not exactly chill
They made light work of your mob, hey? They took out half a mil!

We dead set get the bloodshed that arrived with that first fleet…
But that last week in January, the weather can’t be beat!

What’s that you say? There’s more at play before we’re done recapping?
Oh yes, I guess we’ve also dabbled in some light kidnapping.

I can’t deny, we thought we’d try to breed out all that black
In truth, it didn’t work too well, but geez, we had a crack!

I’m appealing to your feelings ‘bout he whole “assimilation”
We thought it might look neat as a monochromatic nation.

We’ve erred but unperturbed we’d really like to make amends
‘Cause come on, what’s a smidgen of eugenics between friends?

And after all, we took the fall, and ultimately patched it
When Ruddy took it on the chin and buried that old hatchet

Prior to Kevin in sixty-seven, we got hip to the beat
And counted you as citizens – that must have been a treat!

In fairness though, awareness was not emphasized in school
The heroes of our history were Euros as a rule.

We never, whatsoever, learned apportioning of spoils
I had to learn of land rights by just… listening to The Oils.

For shame, I never heard the names: Lingiari, Burnam, Clague.
But then again, there’s every chance, that I was sick that day

We know the drill, things went downhill, when white man first arrived,
Don’t focus on the bad bits though, it’s just some genocide

And blackface isn’t lacking taste, that’s just a bit of fun
And when we booed at Goodsey, well, could have been anyone!

Despite “It’s OK to be white” ‘Cause well, that’s not a slag.
The union might mean jack to you, but hell, it’s just a flag!

You don’t agree we’re young and free, but guys, it’s just an anthem!
And sure I gave my Ford a nickname, no need for a tantrum!

And Jimmy Cook is off the hook, he wouldn’t try to sully us
All I can say is that it must have looked like terra nullius!

We all salute a better future that’s for sure, but mate
today we’re gonna party like it’s seventeen eighty-eight

Our stance is although we’ve advanced, Australia isn’t fair
So come on take the hand out and we’ll all just call it square.

You’ve had a truck of rotten luck both here and in the Straits,
But now just doesn’t work for us to meddle round with dates.

Our schedules are somewhat full to have a conversation,
our kids might have more time if you can wait a generation.

Our hope is you can focus on the sausages and steak,
And not your great-great grandmother’s strong likelihood of rape.

It’s painful and a stain and though we’d love to lend a hand,
the kids go back to school next month, and well, you understand.

I’m sorry mate, but thems the brakes, it’s just the Aussie way
The twenty-sixth of January, oh, what a bloody day.


Date: 2021

By: Ben Lawson (1980- )

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

The Track That Leads Home by Marion Miller Knowles

Sometimes in my lonely hours, my tired feet tread it still—
The narrow winding track that leads across the stony hill,
The shining crystals of the quartz, I see their sparkle yet.
With the sunlight and the mountain streams I never can forget!

The lichen on the old gray rocks, the dewy moss beneath,
The ferns within the shaded clefts, the groundwort’s trailing wreath,
The jewelled scabbards of the grass, the cobwebs’ fairy lace
Throw still across the sordid years their soft, ideal grace!

And, evermore, the distant hills, whose ev’ry peak, I knew,
Stand out with snowy crown against the sky’s deep, tender blue;
The Goulburn winds about their feet with swift and silv’ry flow,
And beckons every wayward burn to sunnier vales below.

I used to chase the mountain wind with all a child’s conceit,
And fancy that it lagged behind the flying of my feet!
I used to answer back the birds’ sweet shower of melody,
And think that ev’ry nestling’s tweet was welcome blithe for me!

And when I reached the little gate that crowned the homeward track,
How often, in my love of all, I paused for one look back;
And waved my hand in brief farewell to river, tree, and bird—
The sweetest feelings in my heart by Nature’s beauty stirred.

They say that when our day is done, and Heaven’s Gate we near,
Our childhood’s, is the only path we see with vision clear:
To us who weary miles have strayed, and still in sadness roam,
May God with loving pity bless the track that leads us home!

From: Miller, Marion, “The Track That Leads Home” in The Australasian, Saturday, 2 Feb 1901, p. 52.

Date: 1901

By: Marion Miller Knowles (1865-1949)

Monday, 24 January 2022

Letters to Live Poets (XII) by Bruce Beaver

Three anti-depressants and one diuretic a day
seven and five times a week respectively
save me from the pit.
I pray while I’m taking them and in between doses
because, as Dylan Thomas says, I have seen the gates of hell.

Once I drew back in distaste from the metho drinker
and his bleary lady friend — you’ve seen them
weaving a way through non-existent traffic.
He, swollen faced, with a backside kicked in
by what the tougher call life. She,
the terrible veteran doll of Pantagruel’s nursery.
Let them pass into the peaceful holocaust.

In Rushcutter’s park they congregated over bottles.
Walking, we avoided them as mined ground,
fearful of their implosions bloodying the day.
Later I fell so far into self-sickness
I envied them. My thoughts
haunted their submerged wreckage like a squid.
At their groaning subsidence I retreated
into a pall of ink.
Whatever I tell you,
you have heard before.
I remember Swift’s
fascination with the insane. I whistled
Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came
outside the grimy walls of Callan Park.
Inside — il miglior fabbro — the best of us all
chewing bloody knuckles, wept dry,
daft as a headless chicken circling dust.
Where are prayers said for him and the parkside horrors?
Some prayed for us, I know. I’m still here
partially, trying to live detachedly.
Is it only the exceptional ones, the broken battlers,
shred me into uselessness? Does it mean
I’d pick and choose in hell? Discriminative?
Like a dog in rut — no,
self-abasement’s out. So is complacency.
I’m never likely to forget
the day I walked on hands and knees
like Blake’s Nebuchadnezzar, scenting the pit.
So it’s one day at a time spent checking
the menagerie of self; seeing
the two-headed man has half as much
of twice of everything; curbing the tiger;
sunning the snake; taking stock of
Monkey, Piggsy, Sandy’s belt of skulls.


Date: 1969

By: Bruce Beaver (1928-2004)

Sunday, 23 January 2022

She Comes as Comes the Summer Night by Frank Samuel Williamson


She comes as comes the summer night,
Violet, perfumed, clad with stars,
To heal the eyes hurt by the light
Flung by Day’s brandish’d scimitars.
The parted crimson of her lips
Like sunset clouds that slowly die
When twilight with cool finger-tips
Unbraids her tresses in the sky.


The melody of waterfalls
Is in the music of her tongue,
Low chanted in dim forest halls
Ere Dawn’s loud bugle-call has rung.
And as a bird with hovering wings
Halts o’er her young one in the nest,
Then droops to still his flutterings,
She takes me to her fragrant breast.


O star and bird at once thou art,
And Night, with purple-petall’d charm,
Shining and singing to my heart,
And soothing with a dewy calm.
Let Death assume this lovely guise,
So darkly beautiful and sweet,
And, gazing with those starry eyes,
Lead far away my weary feet.


And that strange sense of valleys fair
With birds and rivers making song
To lull the blossoms gleaming there,
Be with me as I pass along.
Ah! lovely sisters, Night and Death,
And lovelier Woman—wondrous three,
“Givers of Life,” my spirit saith,
Unfolders of the mystery.


Ah! only Love could teach me this,
In memoried springtime long since flown;
Red lips that trembled to my kiss,
That sighed farewell, and left me lone.
O Joy and Sorrow intertwined,—
A kiss, a sigh, and blinding tears,—
Yet ever after in the wind,
The bird-like music of the spheres!

From: Williamson, Frank Samuel, Purple and Gold: Poems and Lyrics, 1912, Lothian: Melbourne, pp. 53-56.

Date: 1912

By: Frank Samuel Williamson (1865-1936)

Saturday, 22 January 2022

What On Earth!? by Π. O (Peter Oustabasidis)

Every S is a P.
This S is not a P. S must be a P.
S is not a P. (If something exists it must be
a Tree). A Tree is a Tree.
Either its a Tree, or its not a Tree.
It can’t ‘be’, and ‘not-be’.
Hot things grow — cold things don’t —
Wet things drain off; and the Earth
gets drunk. If it rains tomorrow: P, i will wear
a raincoat (Q) ////////////// PPPPPPPPP//////////////: Q!
Someone sees smoke, and shouts ‘Fire!’.
Shoes, ships, cabbages, and Gaia.
‘therefore’, and ‘in as much as’ i speak
the Truth, the cloud (on the horizon)
looks like ‘cotton wool’. A fish, is a fish.
A fin is a fin. Hesperus is Phosphorus.
Phosphorus not Hesperus. Hesperus and Phosphorus.
/// PPPP ///// Q! A possum curls up on a Tree.
Post hoc ergo propter hoc the Sun is
larger than the Earth. A flower is a flower,
a seed is a seed. (Why don’t they
just put down that parrot, and call it quits?!).
How do you do a Rule of Thumb?
The Theory-‘T’, predicts observation ‘O’.
— ‘O’ is observed, therefore ‘T’ is True. (6 to
the power 2); the Earth is hotting up.
Count out the Sums: A is True
because B isn’t. B makes ‘sense’, cos C doesn’.

From: O, Π, “What on Earth!?” in N-Scribe, Volume 9, 2014, p. 16.

Date: 2014

By: Π. O (Peter Oustabasidis) (1951- )