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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
unmoved by the breeze.
The sun is already in
the swaying grass,
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
in early spring,
we watched the tugboats
escorting coal ships
Wind caught the waves
and tossed their crests.
The ships glided towards
or out to sea.
My daughter and my son
and my wife
and the sun and sky
and the waves,
one long walk
from town to breakers.
I woke and saw
one huge ship
moving past the
and we hear
but do not know.
A million years
but we do not have
a million years.
We do not know
and we hear.
From my son’s balcony,
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
Would you again,
as the sun was setting,
impaled upon a pole,
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.
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.
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
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
Stone tombs in Jerusalem
Lives long passed
emerge into the light.
An army surrounds
the world city,
do not look back.
The temple falls,
stone after stone.
Wail sea captains
of black oil and minerals,
your merchant ships
are no more.
light has shone
through human windows.
Finding a way to
grasp an image of the day
and hold it,
untouched by time.
begins to hold the sun
long after it descends.
Moon tossed seas
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
Before another sun went down
his body lay defiled
upon the battle field.
the line across the sand.
where God must intervene.
a tiny child
from one young woman’s womb.
Among the ordinary
to the execution field,
the streets were stained
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
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
One bush ablaze,
within the world’s deserts.
Why was it there
that it came down?
The focus of his eye.
the flame descends.
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
prime real estate
in a city park
mid afternoon –
the gums question
when we sleep
how far they’ve come
so far away
companion – mingling
my thoughts a masterpiece
and very rare –
no time –
a night has
to take us
frail colour –
a tree’s reflection –
too much beauty –
only on earth
to the branch
each holds –
each lets go
a cherry tree
bright clouds –
and they go
spring is our
sends a cloud
life after life
is this life –
a day that
of cherry trees
the clouds slowly
its pink cloak
on the grass
shade finds a place
from the sun
between deep water
and deep sky
too late for caution
sunlight covers everything
in its fervency
to the sun –
the city stops
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 –
sun soaked towers
a summer storm
to the horizon
even the sea
one colour –
of all things
sounds of insects
lit by stars
I cannot sleep –
from every tree
hymn to the sun
of excess –
a pod of
dolphins – near surfers
rising to keep
clouds pity us
slowly passing over
sun tipped heads
at the beach
before the sun
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
a whale carved
in sight of the sea
in blue air –