To Luka,

one day

winter begins

to end


June – July 2013







Our riches lay beneath the soil, or so

we thought. At least two centuries of coal,

just one of oil – enough for all our souls

to sink deep underground. It is a blow

to realize now how much we must forego.

As oil dries up and climate change constrains

the use of coal a hungry world remains.

But history, for those who listen, knows

of simpler uses of the soil, its riches

nearer to the sky, where fertile seeds

in germination point – abundance of

the brimming earth. This gentle world, to which

we owe our origin and life, exceeds

all expectation with forgiving love.



Its measurement appears as one great curve

that tracks the open sky, invisible

to us, its consequence inevitable

as year by year the planet, undeserved,

is choked. I wonder if a lonely bird

immersed in deepest blue can feel the change –

that’s fanciful – and yet they say the range

of where the bird may fly has been observed

to vary, breeding times displaced, and food

supplies, on which it once depended, fail.

A solemn thing, to change the atmosphere,

and yet we do it every day. Eluding

us, a sense of urgency, to rail

against our inability to fear.



Who taught us all to play this tune,

the world in which we live, consume,

the goal of our humanity

to drown beneath unbounded seas

of what we do not need? It seems

our hearts contain another seed,

which, tended grows, ignored it bleeds.

I do not know, I cannot guess

what we will do. I hope to bless

the future is what we desire,

but hesitate, I see a fire

that grows, and cry for what has been.









We see the world anew those special times

when hearts are open. Nature had not changed

but we, its witnesses. The unengaged

perceive so little that is there, it shines

but they, to much that’s beautiful, are blind.

Accustomed to a winter world, we look

to images inside, and nature’s book

is left to gather dust. There is no rhyme

or reason for our great neglect, accept

convenience – a virtual world is at

our fingertips, whose sun can never set.

But we, who in this modern age have slept,

are sometimes wakened by the dawn, the blackness

pierced, a world unrecognized as yet.



A humbling thing, to realise we are part

of nature. Joyful too, to leave our small

cocoon and stretch our wings. The night may fall

on dreams of independence, life imparts

its own vitality. A work of art,

despite its great diversity, has forces

structured deep within that guide the course

of every thread, no thought appears apart

from one great vision, like a galaxy

each star is swirling, beauty poised above

the void. So we exist – who sometimes thought

our place was in another world. To be

a fragment is our call. Though holy doves

descend on us, their path within is fraught.



A single bird is floating in the air.

Its eye observes the sprawling marks of our

humanity. It meditates, a flower

in bloom within a field, its heart aware.

A timelessness has come and settled there

and beckons us to stop and, like a tree,

send tender shoots into infinity.

Our certainties give way to a despair

as nature takes our image. Solitary,

the circling bird ascends and disappears.

A riddle left for us to solve – to see

an image fade – which one remains unclear.








Why is it you no longer intervene

or answer when we call? Our voice is frail,

this we admit, but when did frailty mean

you were unauthorized to move? I fail

to understand. Our weakness is the cause

of every kindness you display, our lack

the signal that your mercy needs, our raw

untended wound the reason you look back.

So why are you so far away, and every

evidence of love so secret and

so hard to quantify? In history

you parted seas and with an outstretched hand

delivered those you said you loved. Are we

to be deprived today, who trust, but do not see?



Within a temple made of stone, with walls

all panelled, graced with gold, a secret inner

room displaying a marvel – standing tall,

two cherubim, beyond the distant glimmer

of the day, were all the room contained.

Each had two wings, and both were stretched as far

as they could go. By this they each attained

the borders of the wall. As neighbouring stars

shoot forth their light, and, in the emptiness

between, the particles of power meet,

so wing touched wing, attune in holiness.

A mystery I understand. To greet

the day, an empty room is all we need.

The curtains part, the light enters with speed.



Show me, Lord, how I can serve you, how

I can avoid complaint. Graciously

you hide yourself in our humanity.

So secretly you make a desert flower.

Seldom is a tree untouched by power

of the sun. Each day a radiance

embraces our fragility – the ants

in long paths, foraging, the sleeping owl,

the far off birds at home in rushing air.

All life emerges from the deep, you took

the journey once. Though miracles are rare,

encouragement is here for us to look.





A Heritage



In times less technological than ours

the stars were the great architects of paths.

The formless tracts of sea were lit in showers

of light, and journeys ended in a Sabbath.

Today we are indebted to the natural

world, the animals and birds, to be

the bridge to what once was ours. Their visceral

wisdom taps a subterranean stream.

Reverently we watch the salmon coming

home, or note the solar mapping of

a bee. Their starlit paths are blossoming,

no aimlessness is there. And yet, because

their ways are emblems of eternity,

we turn away, preferring certainty.



We have uneasy fellowship with things.

To be within a world so full of other

lives is cause for wonder. Yet we bring

a clouded history. Once considered brothers,

sisters, our companions, guides and teachers,

later ages transformed them into

the picturesque, the category of creature.

We think our right inalienable, to chose

which one should live or die, and relegate

a species to extinction. The whispering

continues in the air, perhaps too late

we catch the sound – it calls us every spring

to take our place as one of them, to gently

bend, and so to be here more intently.



The glass that’s resting on the table there,

half full of earth and sky – has nature room

for each of them? Of course we say. But here

it is a different thing, our life in bloom

is stealing other’s joy. A heritage

in common has been steadily consumed,

and even our descendants loose. A privilege

has become a dream, a memory,

a winter sky swept clean. The river flows

by waiting trees, the cars stream past. To be

amidst this waiting world, to cease as birds

do in the air – a way to be preferred.








The rain is falling gently. All around

me I can hear the silence pierced.

The night is lonely, grateful for the sound

made by another’s presence, so like tears.

Little streams appear beneath the moon

that carry light as much as water. Leaves

are like a gamelan, each one in tune,

their strokes a ghostly music, barely breathed.

My soul descends within, the spirit world

is but the mirror of the other, landscapes

stretch beneath the stars, with lights like pearls

that sparkle in the great expanse. A place

for us beneath their endless fires, a home

where water falls and innocence atones.



In rocks across a continent are maps

describing origins. To those who know,

their secrets offer wise instruction, lapping

like a sea upon their consciousness. Below

a ridge engraved with symbols of a land,

the land itself is like an open book,

its waterways and pools revealed. A hand

had long ago inscribed what earthquakes shook

and long erosion formed. Above, the birds

in long migration lines, as ancient

as the rivers there, without a word

are flying from the sea. We see their advent

on a summer day. Our lives keep passing,

passages in rock are everlasting.



Amongst the sound of traffic and a clock

I hear the calling of a bird. It’s sweet

and clear. The early songs of dawn have stopped

but here, accompanied by rain, its fleeting

voice, in ripples, speaks to me. What language

does it use? It’s not the one I speak,

but still I seem to recognize the cadence

of its words. Subconsciously we seek,

in language that we share, a way to sing

appropriate to beauty everywhere.

The minutes pass, the ripples grow and linger.

Deep, the words are ringing in the air.








A flower is like a memory, beginning

bright and pure. Its eye is single, floating

near the sun. In innocence it drinks

the rays, an image of perfection, shining

with a smile, while all along it slowly

dies. A strong narcotic, summertime,

has laced the air, mortality has grown

unsettled. Days grow heavy, soon, resigned

to distant purposes, it beauty fades.

A flower is the face of nature, turned

towards the world, its mystery displayed.

Autumn comes and fields are left to burn.

A memory is all that’s left, an image

in the mind, a remnant of a lineage.



There’re here, each beautiful upon a stem,

with tiny petals formed around their centre.

Silence is a truth that will not bend

to time, fragility a lovely treasure.

Once they lived in fields of white, untouched

except by bees. Today they dwell within

a human world where we remember much

with flowers. Light’s the gift a morning brings,

they each contain the radiance of the sun.

They do not speak – no need of that – their presence

is enough. A future barely had begun,

but now, its solitary inhabitants,

they bloom within another world. Uneasy,

frail humanity awaits the breeze.



They stand alone, their forehead crowned with stars.

Contentment marks their true identity,

they cannot be apart from what they are.

Each dawn they witness what they’ll one day be,

and lost in dreams they wile away the hours

like boats adrift upon the open sea.

A paradox, for anchored firm they are,

attune to earth, its pure simplicities.

The sun invites them to remain, but, far

away, they see the vacant space to be

when they no longer are, and, like the stars

that drift away, they greet their destiny.





Silent Things



In clouds we see the slow advance of silent

things. Even a tree communicates

with wind, the sea is always near its cry,

and some can sense the passage of a snake,

or hear a lion’s paw. The clouds, however,

are reminders of the transformation

we must finally undergo. Though never

to be heard, it comes, and brings creation’s

time to be within its own. To those

who watch, a beauty’s there, like clouds that drift

on summer days our lives draw to a close.

And all that is begins to slowly lift

and float into eternity. The earth

looks on as mothers do at joyful births.



Silence is the friend of time, they walk

in harmony. Time escorts its charges

hence, while, in its quietness, each fork

in living’s road is infinitely large.

The clouds that cross the steady sky – this image

is an icon. Their silent path, the splendour

of the perfect sky, at peace within

its depths, encompassing all change in grandeur –

our breathes are formed upon its glass, their fading

patterns frame the view. Our silence is

the friend of time. In presence of unchanging

things that silently abide, the mist

of our mortality is beautiful,

and passing endlessly renewable.



A stone falls in a lake and steadily

it sinks into the unseen depths. We hear

the sound its entry makes, but are uneasy

with its journey when it disappears.

Our course from present’s actuality

into what lies ahead is fraught. What is,

although familiar, holds what is to be.

Like water lilies covering the surface

of a pond that children may mistake

for solid ground, decisions made release

eventualities that will, too late

by then to change, sink like the roots of trees.




Fiercer Times



In fiercer times there were the predators –

the food chain’s higher ranks – each had a place

in their society. Our ancestors

were well aware – often they knew them face

to face. It’s said that they were beneficial

to each niche they lived within – it’s strange

that fierceness seems to clear the air. A dismal

thing, to live a stunted life, attaining

little of the promise that it gave.

The wilder things claim our imagination,

surely they deserve another day.

To integrate them with our sprawling nation

requires the fiercest kind of watchfulness –

to cherish what may kill instead of bless.



We’ve lived surrounded by a sea. So many

of my time and culture would concur.

We know it’s rough out there, and ships descend

beneath its waves. Occasionally we murmur

that the winds come closer into shore

than we find favourable. But do we realize

that our place within the world is more

uncertain than we thought? The fear we feel

is that of conscience, waking from its sleep.

This life is based on things that are unreal.

Another world than that beneath our feet

has been and is and will be. In our zeal

to live content injustice is entrenched,

our fortresses dry land without defence.



A rock is one of nature’s miracles.

Essential things have such humility.

Existing, lonely in the world, the pull

of gravity has destined where it sits,

immune to vagrancies of time. Its knowledge

could be infinite, or very near,

and yet, obtuse to all, its postures homage,

without eyes to see or ears to hear.

Its structure tells the history of stars.

Its features, carved by time, reveal its wisdom.

Able to endure the things that are,

daily disappearing into freedom.





The Circle



The rain began this morning. Someone knew

this long ago – not only as a fact,

but in its beauty. It’s a little view

that we are privileged to see. Vast tracts

are hidden. Knowing, we appreciate

it more, like views of mountains, seen through trees.

A circle’s wide circumference, a great

expanse describes, no place on it can be

the centre. Future and the past surround

the core of presence here. But you inhabit

every time, the sphere of earth the ground

you walk upon. Eternity in orbit,

fixed forever by this gravity –

a love for rain this morning, shrouding trees.



As clocks their steady circle turn, each hand

about its business, unperturbed by others

passing near, so we exist, abandoned

to the servitude of time. Our brothers

on their pilgrimage may often hurry

past, as we, perhaps, the slower moving.

Some may recognize, amidst the flurry,

that their course is shared, and be approving

of the labours of their peers. But many,

fixed upon the course, have other cares.

For some, at least, a great epiphany –

we are dependant on the other, where

we come to be is built upon the journeys,

great or small, of our contemporaries.



These minutes and hours are wheels within wheels, encircled

by days and the years. The passage of time is seldom

in lines. Today it is winter, yet autumn leaves, startled

by wind, are gripping to life on a tree. Unwelcome,

the end of the line, and so they continue to be.

Our breathing, our daily routines, are patterns of ebbs

and flows. Above the swift hare, the spiralling eagle

is waiting the moment to fall. The living and dead

are facing each other, surrounded by those yet to be.

We circle a centre, whose life is the winter and summer

and spring – but never the fall. Each autumn he sees

the sorrow of trees and hastens the kingdom to come.




Winter Night



The sun is weak on winter afternoons –

but pleasant, still, to sit beside a window

as it slowly sinks. A crescent moon,

appearing like another cloud, begins

to shine. The silver leaves, like flocks on hills,

are fleeing from the wind. A floating city

passes in its mystery, as still

as ancient tombs, without capacity

to hold the dead, like memories that drift

away. The sunlight, present everywhere –

its soft negation to it tied – insists

so sweetly that we cease from all despair.

The hours pass, the sun descends, the birds

leave off their song, recalling all they’ve heard.



The day has closed its shutters. Lights come on

in distant windows. Sorrowful, the wind,

without a home, is left to roam the lonely

streets. The lucky have a place within

to fellowship with day at ease, to share

his table and his wine, remembering

the sweeter times that came before despair.

And sometimes, later, we can hear them sing.

To be familiar with our minds prepares

us for the harder times that are to come.

When we’re at ease what thoughts emerge for air?

A mind at peace has fought its wars. The sun

goes down, the swords and spears have turned to ploughs –

in harmony, the songs beneath the brow.



A winter night is like the core of apples

or of pears, the secret place beneath the flesh

from which a life will spring. It is a chapel,

nestled among pines, where air is fresh

and travellers find a place to clear their minds.

In darkness where the light was born, the core

of every star, a spark contained each time

to be in one eternal now. Before

our eyes descend into our dreams, we

sense the deep that once was here, and like

a child content within the sheets, we leave

the night and stars, the future to conceive.






The World Left Over



Two gulls swoop and circle

above the water.

A tug boat passes.

Grasses and their shadows

mark the movement of the wind.

It’s cold here in the sunlight.

Traffic is in the air

before it is seen,

a constant flow from bridge to road

and road to bridge.

A bridge of light is there

on the water.

It stretches out before me,

shimmering upon the surface.

I do not need to look above,

the light already crosses here.

I am one pylon of the bridge,

the other is the sun.

One lamppost nearby,

unlit this time of day.

The sky is simple,

lending colour to the waves.

A little dog scampers by

with its uneven gait.

A distant flag follows the breeze.

The sun is in a thousand pieces,

brightly leaping from the water’s surface

like hatched turtle eggs.

Where is it?




All of these.


beneath the radar of identity

the light thrives,

at home in all that is.


A river lies before me,

unmoving motion past the trees.

Birds fly westward.

Clouds live a mirror life

beneath their formless home.

A bridge of white

amongst the green.

Daylight lingers,

unmoved by the breeze.

The sun is already in

the swaying grass,

distant cars,

faces of the walkers,

the movement of blood

from heart to mind.


Now – darkness,

the lamppost shining.

Water reflects the light

from the road.

Only a ghostly bridge,

at home in imagination,

still there somewhere

in the world left over

from today.


In Newcastle,

in early spring,

we watched the tugboats

escorting coal ships

like angels.

Wind caught the waves

and tossed their crests.

The ships glided towards

the port

or out to sea.

My daughter and my son

and my wife

and I

and the sun and sky

and the waves,

one long walk

from town to breakers.


At night

I woke and saw

one huge ship



moving past the

terminal lights.


God speaks

and we hear

but do not know.


A million years

but we do not have

a million years.


We do not know

God speaks

and we hear.


From my son’s balcony,

the ocean,

a crest of light.

Dawn breached the horizon

just as I awoke,

the curtain drawn back.

Today they are undecided

which beach to surf.

We breakfast in sight

of waves.


Would you again,

as the sun was setting,

impaled upon a pole,

hold back

the sun that was setting?


A piece of coal,


a piece of day.


Two hours west

the land gapes,

two weeks north

a world on fire.



in me




in me.


The grey splits apart.

White breakers on the surface,

rain on my eyes.

The rocks are hungry for the sea.

A man half swallowed,

walking now on sand.

The sea encroaches,

one offensive after another.

It retreats without counting losses.

A far promontory curtained by rain.

Five towers at war with the sky.

Clouds like sand.

I will lie beneath the grasses,

near the waves awaiting dawn.

To the east where grey meets grey

one coal ship waits.

Seaweed litters the beach.

Birdsong rises between waves.

Water pours from rock pools coloured with sky.

Footprints of the previous day.

A father with two little girls.

I fill with longing.

Two wooden seats to watch the sea.


The sky was a desert at sunset.

Luminous red sand hills

and grey escarpments

east to west.

Then suddenly,

a far away desert

above the horizon.


Sky is a vision

at certain times.

A flashing insight,

an image remembered

from a dream.


I witnessed twenty three baptisms

in that water.

The preacher likened it

to the Red Sea.

When they entered it

they entered you,

joining in your


from heaven

into us.

Grey sky and grey sea,


until dawn splits apart.


Up the coast –

the biggest coal port


Your feet will split apart

the Mount of Olives.

Where you once prayed with sweat and blood

springs open.

Stone tombs in Jerusalem

are shaken.

Lives long passed

emerge into the light.

An army surrounds

the world city,

standards fluttering.


do not look back.

The temple falls,

stone after stone.

Wail sea captains

of black oil and minerals,

your merchant ships

are no more.


For millennia

light has shone

through human windows.

Finding a way to

grasp an image of the day

and hold it,

memory remained

untouched by time.

Today humanity

begins to hold the sun

long after it descends.

Moon tossed seas

and winds

once showed their willingness

to bend to a voice.

Leave the ancestors of modernity

to sleep in their graves.



a king sought

to make the dead appear.

They only word they spoke

was doom.

Before another sun went down

his body lay defiled

upon the battle field.



the line across the sand.


where God must intervene.

He emerged,

a tiny child

from one young woman’s womb.

Among the ordinary

beauty is,

asking us

to tenderly



But soon

from city

to the execution field,

the streets were stained

with blood.

Silence was

the sound of evening sky.

In the world left over

from the day

the body of the trinity



The great ones of the world

are custodians of light –

a fusion of two suns,

of eons past

and now.

Their unity,

a curse on all.

Who will make the great ones bow?

Who will rescue Babylon

from its beasts?

Who will turn the coin around

to show its face before the crowd? –

and they reply,

the image that we see

is our true identity,

Caesar’s face had us enthralled,

the face before us now

has universal features

of a Lord.

A light upon the waters,

in faces of the billions

he appears.


One bush ablaze,

a singularity

within the world’s deserts.

Why was it there

that it came down?

The focus of his eye.


the flame descends.





Black Armbands



Today’s a day for black armbands – a war

to be remembered. Wars forgotten are

an evidence of shame. There is a law

that what a nation hides away, from darkness

will emerge. What we ignore will be

the thunder of a future age, when

stories of our lawless theft of country

not our own will shake the core of men

and women here, and blood upon the wattle

be our elemental history.

For rights to country and its wealth are not

the eulogies we sing – identity

is found in foreign lands and fallen lives.

But who recalls the black man’s sacrifice?



This land is ours by force of arms, let none

deny. The settlement of Europeans

was contested. From the rising sun

to where it sets, a people saw the ruin

coming soon to what was theirs, and so

they fought, true patriots, in wars extending

through the years, a violent ebb and flow.

The dying left a world that does not end

to those who’d follow them in treasuring

its wide uncertainties. Yes, land is more

than what we see, a spirit beyond measure.

Yet the dust and rock and tree are all

that holds its mystery – possession, then,

is what their long campaign sought to defend.



A country marked by monuments to war

has shown scant interest in its unmarked graves.

A silence has engulfed what was before.

Acceptable, to reverence those who gave

their life, mythology, a national game.

Amnesia, though, is what comes into play

when conflict at our origins is named.

An unknown soldier, lit by sunset’s rays,

remembered in each little country town –

it needs, perhaps, an altering of his face,

an evidence of suffering that abounds,

a monument to an unconquerable race.








Our refugees were first outside the towns.

A feature, common as the church or pub,

the campsites in a riverbed or down

the road beyond the cemetery. A subject

of disgust, their foreign ways and poverty.

A nation, humbled by defeat, the exiled,

now recipients of charity.

A country should remember and respect

its history. To say it as it is –

that’s what we all admire. Well, this story

is so close to home it terrifies.

The eyesores of our country towns, the lawless

men, the drunks, the children running wild –

the refuse of a nation sick inside.



The wind is bleak today beneath the moon.

The rolling waves, the unmarked tomb of men

and women, little boys and girls, too soon

departed. Now a void – those left attend

to things, while wishing they could be beneath

the sea. These scenes are those of recent times,

the situation north of here, the grief

is real. And we, how does our heart incline

towards humanity, those daily seeking

shelter of these shores? We watch them drown,

the rest we hope to drive away. The weeks

go past, they turn to years, those country towns

have found their replica in refugees,

this day, abandoned on the heavy seas.



Their homelands, stretching far beyond horizons,

those of time as well as those of space,

a territory we entered with munitions

and the hubris of a cultured race.

Among us, voices of compassion, rarely

gratitude – although some mentioned God’s

indwelling in their reverence and care.

But rising high, the voice of reason – should

resistance bar our way? Their lands by destiny

are ours, their end, our right to hasten.

Over us, outstretched unto the western

sky, a litany of blood laid waste.









Who owns this continent? The valleys, hills

and plains, the rivers from their source unto

the sea? The arid centre, silent till

the thunder comes? The mountain ridge in blue?

Two centuries, and little is resolved.

Though most, however, have no cause to question

such a thing. Here truth is undersold.

A ceremony and a declaration,

insignificant, without the legal

power to transfer sovereignty. And where

were treaties? Conquered land is judged illegal

where custodianship is clear. The air

is common to all men, but land belongs

to those whose genealogy is long.



The year of Federation – still vast tracts

remained unconquered. Nations kept their dreaming

paths as old as man. Our country lacked

a centre. Westward soon we looked for meaning

in a war. The true frontier was where

Australian guns still sounded, part of one

enduring wound that marks our core. Unfair

to criticize – what other men have done

is their responsibility. But if

we benefit, and if injustice is

the root of our identity, a different

way to see must be required. A gift

from God, to come to terms with what has passed,

and hold more lightly what our hands have grasped.



About the time a referendum granted

them a place, the final groups emerged

from deserts. History is elegant,

it reconciles. A film shot then observes

their way of life. We see a people bending

by a pool. Their lips touch water with

such gentleness. They take enough and then

withdraw. A sacred thing – that it will give

them what they need. A thinker from our Western

world declared that men, once disposed,

retain a right to the possession of

their ancestors. For they the future bless.








Who ever said – of those who were its heirs –

that title to this land to us was granted?

Documents do not exist. It’s clear

that fiction is the soil in which we’re planted.

Terra Nullius, convenient

for dispossession – who could take what is

unable to be taken? From the Derwent

to the Lockhart, every right had this

in common – it completely disappeared.

In time we recognized prior ownership –

two centuries too late – but still the years

go by, and who will bravely come to grips

with this – a nation’s emptiness, the legal

void that leaves a sovereignty besieged?



Extinguishment of title – this our courts

allowed, the Crown had exercised this power

in times past. More recent rulings brought

adjustment – land that still retains its flowers

shows their right to flourish in that soil.

Across the sea the heirs are born to bear

the British crown. A sovereignty despoiled

by strokes upon a page, as thin as air

the substance of the claim – what law enabled

foreign powers to cede a continent

by raising flags or acts of parliament?

We live upon foundations so unstable,

land acquired with other people’s blood,

legalities that are not understood.



How did productive land so vast, and mineral

wealth within – how did it come to be

the place by right we call our own? A funeral

and a theft, and then complicity

of every generation thence. Each death

was multiplied beneath the blue Australian

sky. Each year the tally rose of theft,

practitioners increased, until invasion

was complete from coast to coast. The prize

before our eyes, the glasses raised and speeches

made – but no one thinks to be surprised

that righteousness remains beyond our reach.







We have the names of sixty thousand dead,

a number shocking in its size – a tiny

nation’s sacrifice, a balance in the red.

Such loss of life can bear no scrutiny,

a heavy weight upon our consciousness.

These numbers are much harder to discern:

Through years of careful scholarship, and sense

that comes from many patient minds, we’ve learnt

another roll of wasted life – ten thousands

are again its scale, by multiples

of three or more, these are the best at hand.

Their lives were lost on native soil, the wool

and wheat replaced their spear and fur, the crow

the bleak memorial, not overthrown.



Tongerlongerter and Pemulwuy,

Mannalargenna and Jandamarra –

patriots, whose country was their joy,

their brother, sister, father and their mother.

How many more, lost to our history, dance

within their bright eternal flame of war?

The long white lines across the fields of France

remind us of our dead. A silent awe –

to witness vastness you have not forgotten.

Over time another symbol grows

in power, resonant with every shot,

a monument to terror felt, a blow

to tyranny, a man upon a cross

who bears the features of the land they lost.



I have no other home than this – a son

of southern skies. My forebears came to stay.

Like ducks that in formation near a sunset

fly, apocalyptic things remain

a feature of our lives. Migration made,

we cannot turn. And those whose home we now

have come to share, a branch engrafted, swayed

by the same winds? We make a solemn vow

in memory of their many dead, to often

think about our origins, and try

to make amends. A sunset pours its softening

light around the birds. They westwards fly.







Two monuments to time beside the sea –

near as neighbours, seeing each other’s yard

across the fence. An island, full of shards

of rock lying littered everywhere, both treeless

and profound. The stones image complexity,

rock carvings, from the dawn of human time,

of beauty and enigma, spirits shining

in their pictographs of faces. Try

to count them – they are numberless like stars.

Across the water, towers of industry,

a petrochemical development.

Two monuments contesting that which lasts –

Today I stand and contemplate the sea

that contemplates our origin and end.



In February Eighteen Sixty Eight two mounted

parties went to Murujuga, homeland

of the Yaburrara. Near the stones

they slaughtered many. More than could be counted

died while trying, on logs, to cross the Flying Foam

Passage. These were those they decimated:

People of the Dampier, the makers

of the petroglyphs, their site the home

of art in concentrations unmatched in the

world, a culture straddling time, outliving

the last age of ice. For fifty years

our governments have planned, but could not sing,

they’ve dreamed of great industrial hubs to link

the hemispheres, while glory disappeared.



The frontiers of our world today are foremost

in our minds. This age accept no bounds

in its dark quests, desacralized, the ground

bends to its foreign will, no nation’s door

is shut, its citizens comply. The poor

increase wherever poverty is found,

and many who might rise and act are bound

in modern slavery, the love of more

that charms our hearts to sleep. Today the oil

and gas, the tar and coal, rare metals, prized

and profitable, these are the frontiers soiled

with lies that poison hope and mar our skies,

but those who look towards the sea remember

past nobility, and gather embers.















without sound the moon

falling from eternity

walks upon the grass


dewdrop on a leaf

poised to take its last ascent

into the unseen


I open my eyes –

light again has brought the world

to be here with me


just before sunrise

a pale blue planet floating

on the horizon





the city


with heat


silent crowds




prime real estate


in a city park



paved in



mid afternoon –

the gums question

their existence





our life

falls silent

when we sleep


how far they’ve come

to be

so far away



companion – mingling




my thoughts a masterpiece

of abstraction



and very rare –



no time –

a night has



shoes wait

to take us




ocean –

eternal sky







Cherry Blossoms


perfection –


and below


frail colour –


blue sky


a tree’s reflection –

pink on

the ground


beauty returns

clothing winter


new blossoms


of wind



surrenders again

to beauty


too much beauty –

we are

only on earth


temporary –

but so

is day


each holds


to the branch


each holds –

in time

each lets go


a cherry tree

dressed for



bright clouds –


in spring



they come

and they go



spring is our



ten million


of spring



sends a cloud

without wind


life after life


into water




by rain


is this life –

a day that

doesn’t end


silent tears

of cherry trees


we watch

the clouds slowly



spring leaves

its pink cloak

on the grass






light consumes

each thing


shade finds a place

to shelter

from the sun


ferries cross

between deep water

and deep sky


too late for caution

sunlight covers everything

in its fervency


towers pointing

to the sun –

civic religion


the city stops

to meditate

its heart ablaze


too hot today –

the trains aren’t running

waiting for a breeze


ants with wings –

a great invasion

from the air


beetles arrive –

for their

summer holiday


sun soaked towers

bracing for

a summer storm


thirsty pigeons


under eves


to the horizon

even the sea

is warmer



disappear beneath

the waves


one colour –

marking ownership

of all things


open windows

sounds of insects

lit by stars


I cannot sleep –

nor can

the crickets


from every tree

one long

hymn to the sun


a city

of excess –



a pod of

dolphins – near surfers

in wetsuits



rising to keep



clouds pity us

slowly passing over

sun tipped heads


at the beach

they bow

before the sun


ants explore

the continent

each summer day


the ants prepare

for great drops of rain

while sky is blue


gum leaves –


to the heat


so many arrows

raining down without mercy

from a summer sky



Before Time


before time

a whale carved

in sight of the sea





finches falling

in blue air –

winter dawn