Beryl bounced once in the old days
rebounded for a second, third,
this final time upon the board
outstretching her muscular arms,
lengthening her growing body,
she flew upward and out into
the April air tucking her knees
to her chest tightly embracing
legs frequently tumbling over,
straightening her body at the
final moment the trajectory
curled toward the water in the
local swimming pool. Dr Davies watched
her gracefully enter the hole
she drilled deep in the blue aqua.
As coach, he suggested points to
consider on her climb to the
plank for her fourteenth encore.
The diver and the boy cadet
were fifteen years — separated
by maturing youthful grace.
When I opened the door, I could not believe my eyes. In my absence, the room I understood had changed. I knew we had few possessions, (married six months), but I remembered we had a new unused television, record player, radio in the front room. A very up to date three in one appliance it was. It was there, standing in that vacant space. I missed it. Had anything else gone? The cash from the sale of some charity raffle tickets, a few other odds and ends, had also gone.
I remember it as if it was yesterday (it was almost sixty years ago). The things didn’t matter in the long run; we knew we could replace them with an insurance claim. What really hurt was the violation, losing privacy and the invasion of our little home.
Imagine if we lost our home, our land, our way of life? 1,000s of Australians have experienced this in the last twelve months the imagining has been their reality. Events of this type have reoccurred for nearly every year of the past 250 years of Australian European history. What have we learned as a people?
Is history an excellent teacher? Observers continually remind us if we take no notice of the past it binds us to make the same mistakes. My recent holiday to the Apple Isle of Tasmania has reminded me of the history lessons I took as a child, mainly because life has taught me how inefficient those lessons were.
Previously we have visited Port Arthur prison village. My school lessons taught me about the severity of the punishment metered out at that awful place. I had not imagined so many as 2,000 convicts housed in Hobart itself.
They taught us the Isle discovered by Abel Tasman, first called Van Diemen’s Land, was a superb place to send miscreants who filled British gaols. Therefore, from 1807 until 1868 74,000 people were transported to Fisherman’s dock in Hobart. On the dock today stand four bronzes of young women and a boy to represent the 14,000 women and children who were transported to the island. People like: Margaret 27 for stealing thread, Sarah Emma, 29 for vagrancy, Anne, 19 for stealing wheat, and Rose, 23 for murdering her children. Children like Toby 10, and a list of other waifs like, Joseph Robbing 10, Sarah Thomson 12, Louisa Gannon 3, Ann James 6. (What crimes could these children have perpetrated that required them to be shipped to the other side of the world?)
The city sitting on the edges of the broad Derwent River is a very attractive modern city. It is the last destination of one of the longest open water yacht races. Each New Year’s Day, the competition leaves Sydney. Daily the media reports on the yachts as they make their way to Constitution Dock at Fisherman’s wharf Hobart.
Tasmania therefore has a long association with the mainland. We know it for its fish, its apples, its milk, wine, mining and whisky. It is also the home of the extinct Tasmanian tiger, the thylacine. They captured the last animal in 1930 and it lived a miserable, solitary life in a wire cage instead of in the wild forests it was born for.
My school lessons told of its awful last years. They also told how the migrant settlers had rid the land of the wild indigenous people. (Missed was the story of the murderous behaviour of the people with guns hunting them like animal and massacing them for the sake of their beautiful timbered land. It told of Truganini.)
Little by little the inaccuracy of the things I learned at school about Tasmania and its peoples has come to my attention. The most recent improvement came from this visit when we visited the Museum of Tasmania. In confirmation of my class lesson, the museum has a bronze bust of Truganini on display. It also has a UNESCO recognised treasure as a recording of Fanny Cochrane Smith singing. Fanny out lived Truganini, who died in 1876 by 30 years. They considered Fanny the last fluent speaker of her language. Thus the Palawa or Pakana people supposed lost to history unlike the thylacine remained. Fortunately, the bloodline of these people survives.
Our journey took us down the river Derwent, past the suburb of Risdon, that place that houses the women prisoners of today to the Museum Of Modern Art, MONA. MONA is the private art gallery of the eccentric collector David Walsh. This man has contributed wonderfully to the people and the State of Tasmania. Tourism to his museum is one compelling reason to visit the state. An off shoot of his artistic endeavour is Dark Mofo. This annual winter event is in the last stages of planning after the museum was closed because of Covid 19.
The Spanish artist Santiago Sierra had requested the aid of local indigenous people and asked them to donate blood to him to help him create his additional art work. His gimmick was to soak a British Union Jack in their blood. David Walsh thought nothing more of it. I thought it reasonable as well. The idea of ruining a flag with aboriginal blood seemed at first to represent the struggle the people had had to keep their land.
Fortunately, the artwork will not proceed. Sufficient people pointed out aboriginal people have lost enough blood over nearly 250 years and this is not the time to lose more. David Walsh apologised. I apologise. I understand, enough is enough.
Which brings me back to my home burglary. I easily replaced the property I lost. The point is just a matter of conversation, whereas when the British colonised this land the people that lived here lived productive lives based on the knowledge of 60,000 years of continuous occupation. The colonisers did not consult them, and they did not cede land to them. In payment for their generosity, they were exploited. It dispossessed them of their land, their culture, their language. 500 locations mark places of massacre. The land has so many locations defiled in this way, researchers have used newspaper reports to build a map recording of the happenings at each site.
Australia has a constitution that does not acknowledge the indigenous and their long ownership of the land. Today marks the third anniversary of the well-considered statement. The Uluru Statement from the Heart.
As background, the country has discussed the issue since 1963. The From the Heart Statement came out of two years of careful consultation and they presented it to the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the morning of 26. March 2017 and by the evening of the same day he dismissed it without discussion. It is now time to recognise our people in the Constitution and acknowledge with pride how lucky we are to live in a nation with such a proud history.
Today I signed the Uluru statement of The Heart to support the aboriginal nations that made this country.
26 March 2021.
The grudge match was settled from the church choir loft.
It had brewed for days — who made the better flier?
We required regular writing paper.
John folded his piece in half and length ways.
He took the right and left top corners
and folded them to the centreline
Increasing the angle he folded each side again
Until he had fashioned a dart with acute angles
He was satisfied when he gave a twist to the paper
and two wings shot out at right angles from the centrefold.
I chose to tear the paper on the fold
where the larger portion became a square
With deft origami moves I folded it in two
to make a rectangle half the original size.
Folding that into two smaller squares I flattened
Those and bought the outside corners to the centreline
Until it was the shape of a delta wing. I slipped the
discarded piece and slid it in between the delta folds
to make a tail. We stood, side by side
and threw our planes into the void.
John’s arrow shaped plane flew true — diagonally to the floor.
My ancient design flew up, dived sharply and gracefully
glided above the church pews toward the pulpit
where it came to complete rest. Mission accomplished.
Proof that the shortest space between two points,
pilots know, Is not always a straight line.
Here we are at equinox in the home town of Errol Flynn. He lived a full life, equally able to offend or charm.
As I write the mainland is under water. The Eastern States are drenched with more rain than they have seen in sixty years.
The cloud hanging over Mt Wellington is like the cloud of misogyny hanging over the country in the news emanating from Canberra.
The contrasts could not be more pronounced.
As half the population await justice.
A change in the air reminds me of twenty minutes lost,
alert to the waltz a virtuous murmuration of starlings gave.
A fabulous swirling smoke of beating, iridescent wings, and assuring cries.
The ubiquitous birds hopping after insects, rising as one mass from the lawn
that evening became a swoosh, a concert, a dance rising and falling, a twisting
and turning of synchronised swimming on the fluid
broiling air. A smoke curling above the dark tree-line their flight of fancy.
Currently, a vicious parliament rings to a decade of got-you’s.
The debate, a pixilated landscape of noise
swirling through digital platforms, flying upward
toward a vector of warbling publishers
to meet more misdirection and gaslighting.
Media gathers there, for debate curling over
and through sensibility, yet loses nothing
of the awful, fascinating, and ceaseless filibuster
of truth lived by half the population denied a roost,
swooping toward a light shining upon raw truth,
now a boisterous law of prevailing opinion circles Canberra .
A wrecking ball of justice might just smash the Canberra Bubble this term.
See new Tweets
We live life one day at a time. However we live each day it is just part of the patchwork of activity people live. Today I can think of nothing better than celebrating humankind as it is recorded in the 2021 film Life In A Day.
Watch the film found at https://lifeinaday.youtube/
Just so you can celebrate being your fabulous self.
Play for keeps!
A dusty rut marks the circle
where animated boys ring the orbit
for play, to cry,
Egged on by allies, they shoot,
Aggies, Cat’s Eye, Milk glass,
hunkered down, fist on ground,
a Lemonade Taw knocks out the Glassie,
et shot tour de force.
threepence at most,
all Spud needed
to fill his drawstring bag at lunchtime
when rules, ruled.
Billy McMahon’s marble fell,
Marlene’s groom Ian
marched, measured, militarised,
fit to kill
fell on a foreign paddy,
from the action.
The town turned out
marched home, alone
on a fancy gun carriage.
Rulers decreed — Regimental rules applied
A roulette marble drops,
winners play on,
or lose the house.
The game played for a government’s budget has,
or ocean blue chips,
or thousand, each represents
because no one needs a drawstring bag
in a cashless world.
Rules, rule in the house,
“not fit to hold a licence.”
I had heard of it, but never experienced the madness of Valentines Day until 1976. The children of Carstairs Primary School, Scotland, introduced me to the experience that year. In all the years since I have never felt the need to join in this annual celebration to love. Lest I seem more old fogey than I am, I am happy to acknowledge love is the cement, (there may be better words than cement, but cement seems to fit well to me. Aged cement is very difficult to break) I continue, love is the cement that binds humanity as one people on Earth. Peace is the natural companion of love.
I have just been reading, Letters of Note, on Substack. The last entry includes this extract from a letter written by Charles Darwin. Born 12/02/1809.
Among the extracts was this
“What an utter desert is life without love.”
Charles Darwin | Letter to Joseph Hooker, 27 Nov 1863
It appears Darwin had the same grasp of love as all lovers celebrating Valentines Day tomorrow.
Love can be as local as your loved one, or as wide as your love for everyone. Love, love, Love.
photo. Rattle Poetry Ekphrastic Challenge : Claire Ibarra Photography
Overhead a Rorschach test of brambles
Cast shadows across my pool.
There, fat goldfish beckoned the sky fall
and secret them in the amniotic fluid.
Birds, soaring over the pond,
returned to spear an exhausted fish,
floating belly up, as the in-waiting
swimming thing gasped its last palliative breath.
A fish net soon crisscrossed the pool
and stymied — natural selection.
Testily a bird rebelled. Wildly plucking at the screen
until, flying light, away it flew as
the horizon flagged the sun to rest.
The painter’s brush of lattice web
instructs viewers to remember
Fraser’s words, “Life is not meant to be easy.”
or, being yourself requires tactical grit.
In five hundred languages
Dancing dreamtime song-lines
Millenniums before folk in
Sent men across seven seas
To plunder, rape, and murder
For a King
Claiming fauna, flora, soil
Enslaving all as labour.
Marked its end?
In the lived experience
Of wary warriors
In television studios
Knowing hatred is learnt
In burnt cork antics
Look in the mirror
And see your act
Is not the colour of
And no excuse
Will soothe the wounds
Caused to people
Of ancient grace
Ill from your cold lessons of bigotry
It was in the news months ago. Something about Netflix. I cannot fix it because my words are insufficient but we can.