More Thoughts

Listen To The Voices

The ancient forest is dying

The angry sky is alight

All the wild things are crying

As wildfire cremates the night

A child cries out in the madness

“What have you done to my world?”

Neocons ignore the sadness

With fingers round profits curled

The time-honoured farm’s under water

As the river bursts its banks

All the stock are faced with slaughter

And the neighbours all close ranks

An old man cries out in pain

“What have you done to my farm?”

Neocons press on to gain

And deny any cause for alarm

The drought has lasted for years

As the sun burns the soil away

The cattle succumb to all fears

While the farmers share the dismay

A mother cries out in despair

“I’ve a family; where is your pity?”

Neocons do not care

And the children move to the city

Time passes and overlords change

As science puts its case

Politicians seek to rearrange

To meet trouble face to face

Debates ensue and a plan converges:

“We must listen to the voices.”

Common sense at last emerges

And what’s left of the world rejoices

  I Love My World

I love my world

Those quaint deprived koalas

Trying to feed on scorched trees

Who is speaking up about global warming?

I love my world

Those heavenly fish

Slaughtered by illegal fishing practices

Who is speaking up about not conforming?

I love my world

A beautiful cityscape

Sullied by developers who thrive off bribes

Who is speaking up about not informing?

I love my world

Childhood angels

Tortured by ruthless demons with unrestricted power

Who is speaking up about not reforming?

I love my world

Even though I am old

I am writing poems about a better earth

Who is speaking up as I am performing?

Because Of A Word

Said the student to the wise man

“Tell us a tale.”

And the tale ran thus:

Because of a word a friendship was lost

With friendship gone a dream was lost

Without the dream a vision was lost

With no vision reform was lost

With no reform a vote was lost

After the vote good will was lost

With no good will a peace was lost

With no peace many people were lost

All those deaths brought cries to cease fighting

So the bellicose lost an election

As pacifists were elected

A dream then became a reality

And friendship was enjoyed by all

How could history be determined

In this way by a single word?

The answer will not be a cause of debate

For the word was hate.

Said the wise man to the student

“Was there a word to bring peace?”

The student replied thus:

“Yes good sir it was love.

And this brought an end to the tale.

The Crooked Man

There was a crooked man who walked a crooked mile

Corrupting politicians as he quickly made his pile

The vastly tainted lawmakers earned themselves due fame

With that man’s help they did dark things escaping any blame

They turned the state into a slick felonious place

As they hid their guilt so boldly from the gullible human race

The media played a vital role concealing the whole bleak truth

As with deliberately biassed news they duly hid the proof

As time went by those rogues grew richer

With the schemers all painting an amenable picture

And the money flowed in as a perfect flood

With follies unnoticed by flesh and blood

Developers joined in to work their wiles

While all corrupt funding was removed from the files

The villains gathered prestige by the lucrative hour

Their influence rising along with their power

So successful was the crooked man

He achieved a mastery with sheer élan

Then came a rite with appropriate regalia

With the false star awarded an Order of Australia

There was no end to the praise indiscreet

They gave our man’s name to a busy main street

Now corruption’s not seen as the root of all evil

Villains have been popular since time primeval

To the common man this may be a mystery

But the way to awareness is to look at the history

Yes there was a crooked man who walked a crooked mile

You won’t know his name but you’ll note his crooked smile

I Saw A Star The Other Night

I saw a star the other night

A thing of wonder twinkling bright

What a joy it was to be

Able to see that mystery

So far away and yet so real

Such deep emotions it made me feel

Here was I old and alone

Observing the beauty I was shown

I thought of others whom I love

Unable to see what I saw above

Some are dead and some still living

Part of a world that is unforgiving

Some friends of the past now away so far

All brought to mind because of that star

Voices I hear conjured up by that light

Sharing the memories of my past delight

Other thoughts come flooding in

So many I wonder where to begin

Above all else is my own impermanence

Shaped by life’s hostile determinants

When I am dead in predictable time

Others will still see that vision sublime

That in its way now gives me peace

For that star’s beauty will never cease

So I look again at that heavenly glory

And that is my never ending story

I Don’t Need Your Pity

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wingsHigh Flight by John Gillespie Magee

Hello. Nice to meet you

It is my pleasure to greet you

Thank you for all your kind thoughts wrought

With compassion for the trouble my old age has brought

Aches and pains and difficulty walking

Hard of hearing with others talking

But there’s really no need to be concerned

In the light of other things I have learned

Yes I’m battered and somewhat shattered simply because I am old

But I’m still alive able to thrive and can come in from the cold

When things go wrong and days seem long

I have memories of the past to carry me along

I leave the present when the need arises

And enjoy the past as my mind devises

So don’t be sad for me 

Instead be glad for me

For yesterday is my golden compensation

The days of yore are my wondrous deviation

When I was a little boy steeped in inspirations

Visionaries created the United Nations

In my days as a child leaders found new delights

In the Declaration of Human Rights

Then came Sputnik’s conquest of space

A new age began for the human race

And my hero Neil Armstrong made very soon

One giant leap for mankind on the moon

Yet another wonder in my life I’ll impart

Barnard’s transplant of a human heart

So triumphs are there if you see what I mean

With memory a sanctum where I love to be seen

So much more comes to me through that door

Whether I’m rich or whether I’m poor

Electronic devices TV and the net

The more I remember the happier I get

So if you should ever seek my company

Come to past times and then fly with me

One more thing’s left before I depart

I’ve not recalled folly right from the start

So conflict’s ignored; that’s what my heart chooses

As war has no winners just nothing but losers

So thanks for your company as I end this short ditty

Remember what I’ve said; I don’t need your pity


Latest Thoughts

Perchance To Dream

Beautiful things will be shared by all

Perchance to dream

Kindness and love at everyone’s call

Perchance to dream

Hatred and fear will disappear

Perchance to dream

Each call for help someone will hear

Perchance to dream

The world will see no weapons made

Perchance to dream

Leaders will promise not to invade

Perchance to dream

The globe will be seen by all as warm

Perchance to dream

Only the skeptics will be caught in a storm

Perchance to dream

All politicians will tell no lies

Perchance to dream

Developers will hear the wild things’ cries

Perchance to dream

University study will be free

Perchance to dream

So all can share the diversity

Perchance to dream

All refugees will find a home

Perchance to dream

No stark need for them to roam

Perchance to dream

There will be kindness for rich or poor

Perchance to dream

A generous heart and an open door

Can dreams come true? It is up to you

The Hypocrite Who Leads

I hear what you say

You who have been exposed

As a self seeking liar

A bold and enterprising ego promoter

Now your own virtue flows from your mouth

As if it were real

Excuses are dressed as realities

Love and care and interest that don’t exist

Are hurled at our minds as if they were real

During your arranged media interview

There is even a hoax tear in your garnished eye

To fit your fake posture of caring for humanity

You are not what you say you are

You with your invented tales

Concerning your counterfeit integrity

You are nothing but an eloquent imposter

Leading the masses with sly press agency skills

To a fantasy world that suits your purpose

So hear this now

True words about your policies

Are rising from the mire you create

Your followers are turning away from you

Like beasts from the slaughter

The truth is never classified as belonging to the chosen few

It chooses villains to destroy

Your lies are the sword of Damocles

They hang above your head about to fall

And this will be soon

For that is the way of things


To love is to live again

Like the sun at dawning

Like a wave of the ocean

Like a bud of a rose

Like a sapling in a forest

Like new grass in a field

Like a breeze in summer heat

Like rain in a drought

Like moonlight in darkness

Like shelter in a storm

Like food when you’re hungry

Like a friend when you’re lonely

Like music when you’re sad

Like a rug when you’re cold

Like a youth when you’re old

So love me still please

And give me sweet ease

Until the day I die

Why I’ve learned Not To Pity Myself

At last I have learned not to pity myself

Even though I am tattered with age

Yes I am old and time seems to mock me

Batter my limbs and constantly shock me

And yet I remain alive

Do you read me? I still survive

So many years have relentlessly passed

Often I thought each one was my last

But no, my life went on

Something I need to reflect upon

At the age of eighty-eight

So glad to avoid several dead friends’ fate

There was Clive blown apart by a blunderbuss

Billy run over by a wayward bus

Enid killed off by a life of smoking

And Joe who thought his doctor was joking

They have all passed away I’m sorry to say

While decrepit yours truly endures today

With an ache in his back

An arthritis attack

An ulcer fear

And a hearing aid in each ear

So there you have it

I’ve a chance to explain and I’ll grab it 

Why am I free of myself today?

Well here’s what I need to say

As a dweller in this city

Not prone any more to self pity

I find glee in a liar’s contrition

For I’ve ceased, yes I’ve ceased, with rapture released,

I’m no longer a politician


Wanderers marooned in loneliness

Forever in detention

As a punishment for seeking shelter

From life’s merciless inhumanity

Is there pity somewhere hidden

Among the mores

Of getting on with business?

No answer to my question

The silence thunders!

Black deaths in custody

Four in four weeks

As part of the civilising process

Handed out to an oppressed culture

Is there justice tucked away furtively

Amidst the prejudice

Of being white?

No answer to my question

The silence thunders!

Old folk punished for not dying

Lingering in decrepitude

In palaces of orchestrated neglect

So as not to trouble the family

Are there traces of the love from the past

Hovering in memories

Of family life?

No answer to my question

The silence thunders!

Troubled minds in stress

Abandoned by lawmakers 

Too busy with market pressures

To bother with mental illness

Is there compassion for families

Torn apart

Yet treated with neglect?

No answer to my question

The silence thunders!

Fools who believe the politicians

And vote them in

To positions of significance 

To change the world

Is there not one voice that we can trust

To put conscience

Ahead of personal gain?

No answer to my question

The silence thunders!

But wait. There is a voice at last

This in the end is true

Like the roar of a lion emerging from a child

It speaks to us all

Can you hear it, that school walkout

Brings a voice of reason

Virulently attacking folly?

There is an answer to my question

Yes. We talk to the children!

When I Am Weary

When I am weary

And days are long

I dispense with theory

And try to sing a song

But I am old

And feel the cold

My back is painful

My purse not gainful

It is hard to walk

Or even to talk

I try to be slick

With a walking stick

I have many fears

Hearing aids for my ears

Aches wrack my body

My clothes are shoddy

Eyesight’s dim

The future seems grim

They’ve sold my home

For the cost as I roam

To an aged care place

Where the food’s a disgrace

I have few friends

But as each day ends

I plan an end to my tears

As I live through the rest of my years

I will start a revolution

And write poetry as my solution


Yet More Poems

When The Stars Don’t Shine

Yes, and how many times must a man look up

Before he can see the sky? Bob Dylan Blowin’ In The Wind

When I am alone and thinking

And the light from the moon is shrinking

I notice the stars don’t shine

That’s trouble afoot in this life of mine

There is so much folly around me

Conspiracy seems to confound me

As I sink into the mists of despair

The world I knew is no longer there

It is changing like a child overwrought

A noble vision is no longer sought

Of beauty strength and purity

They’re banished into obscurity

You ask me where the trouble lies

I reply you’ll find it in the skies

For the city is cloaked in murk

Caused by demon engines at work

Yes carbon is everywhere

Made by moguls with money to spare

So they burn the night away

Like pyromaniac birds of prey

Until the air is cursed with grime

And flows like a sordid river of slime

Well may you ask me why I am sad

There’s a simple answer to be had

And it is all you need

I’m dismayed by this villainous greed

Though the felons are rich

With a virtuous pitch

And blandly donate to charity

Condoning their deeds with fake hilarity

The ages will tell what harm befell

These rogues who light the fires of hell

For one day the stars will shine again

As the cosmos destroys forever the follies of men

A Friend Nobody Knows

I have a friend nobody knows

Who stands by me in spite of my woes

Although I am outcast he remains my ally

The only one left as time goes by

When my fate turns sour in my darkest hour

He gives to me a new found power

As my other soul mates cast me aside

This loyal companion comes along for the ride

Together we roam down the streets of dismay

He keeps me company all the way

Who is this person you may ask

To give you an answer is no easy task

His first name is what comes to me

That seems the way he wants it to be

For names are but labels a part of the fables

Only required at dinner tables

And before a funeral pyre

To make some sense of the fire

Yes existence once was letting me down

My nerves went to pieces and I acted the clown

My world came close to disaster

I was no longer the master

So there you have my story

With clearly no added glory

But thank you for your attention

There is one more thing I must mention

My friend’s profession is not to be missed

He is my psychiatrist

Where Have All The Trees Gone?

Our cities’ foliage they say is reduced

Comfort crumbles with heatwaves induced

Where have all the trees gone?

Urban dwellers are a new élite

They spend a fortune on harsh concrete

Where have all the trees gone?

Politicians now are the arch envelopers

With their tainted money from get-rich developers

Where have all the trees gone?

Demolish with polish is the new catchcry 

Planning doesn’t matter as long as buyers buy

Where have all the trees gone?

Relentless expansion is habit forming

It takes no account of global warming

Where have all the trees gone?

Reckless destruction is the current mode

You mutilate the landscape to build a road

Where have all the trees gone?

With open eyes you will see fools fail

As they cut down a forest to build a light rail

Where have all the trees gone?

Alas this poem can never be

A thing as lovely as a tree

So where have all the trees gone?

Around The Bend

Dreams come true

Around the bend

Clichés are new

Around the bend

Politicians tell the truth

Around the bend

Admen don’t spoof

Around the bend

Business is moral

Around the bend

Lovers don’t quarrel

Around the bend

War is peace

Around the bend

Prisons release

Around the bend

The earth isn’t warm

Around the bend

Love is the norm

Around the bend

Coal is clean

Around the bend

Deserts are green

Around the bend

The needy get help

Around the bend

Dogs don’t yelp

Around the bend

Atoms don’t split

Around the bend

Bombs don’t hit

Around the bend

Idiots are sane

Around the bend

There’s no dirt in the rain

Around the bend

Families aren’t riven

Around the bend…

And so we are driven

Around the bend

Fire In The Sky

Do you know why

The daemon’s eye of fire glares at you in the sky?

It has power beyond all mortal ken

It will not bend to you or tell you when

You will not be safe from powerful fiery fingers

Your mere faint hope of survival lingers

And Vulcan does not wait

To negotiate with you your fate

Who lit the fire? you may ask

To answer is but a trivial task

If you don’t accept the reality of global warming

It was you

Yes you, it’s true, it was you

The skeptic who kindled the fire

Is that Dante revealing his ire?

You who make excuses

Concerning the uses

Of coal and CO2 

Burning the world is what you do

So heed this warning

Of tragic days dawning

Don’t act the fool

Let reason rule

And put out the fire

Before we expire

This is a last alert

Lest we are hurt as the world ends

What Have They Done To The Wind?

What have they done to the wind?

It smells like dead sheep skinned

Chemicals are in the air

A fresh pure breeze just isn’t there

Breathing gives my heart a wrench

I simply can’t endure the stench

What have they done to the wind?

Penance for those who’ve sinned?

Trees uprooted walls blown down

Destroyed buildings of great renown

Windows broken roofs blown off

Waves on the ocean express their wrath

What have they done to the wind?

It’s as if that doomsayer grinned

The temperature is high

Dust now fills the sky

Heat kills the flowers

Birds desert their bowers

What have they done to the wind?

Rubbish isn’t binned

Zephyrs meander

Amidst skeptic propaganda

Gales tell the tales

Of when science fails

That’s what they’ve done to the wind


Surprise: More Poems


Words are brutal things

If used for a sinister purpose

They can start a war

End a relationship

Or build an army of discontent

One thing stands alone

Once uttered

A word cannot be denied

It stands beside your reputation

For better or worse

Your moment with kingdom come

Or a devil’s curse

So heed this well you who speak loud and often

If your words are missives

That seize the minds of others

Leading them astray or into foray

It is you who must pay

You who will meet the harvest of criminal intent

As you fall into line

With the ghouls of the ages

Who generate rages

And sully the human condition without consent

That is it then

Judgement will come

As surely as the rising sun

Judicial words 

Will have a different tone

They will echo in the halls of justice forever

And brand you guilty

Thus to pay for what you have said

Life Is A Terminal Illness

Walking is a challenge now that I’m old

I wear lots of clothes because of the cold

And my movement resembles a circus trick

As I need to walk with a walking stick

Ho hum beat your drum

I look for my finger and find my thumb

My poor back aches with both knees in pain

As I try to pick things up in vain

My vision is weak with my hearing poor

I need a hearing aid what’s more

Fiddle de dee and can’t you see

I’ll soon have a place in a nursery

Blood pressure’s up with cholesterol

My doctor’s off to Sebastopol

There’s gout in my foot, arthritis in my fingers

A constant ache and the memory lingers 

Hi ho you should know

My hair is white as Christmas snow

When I am seated it’s hard to rise

So I perch on a stool to compromise

I can’t watch the news as I fall asleep

I forget so much it makes me weep

Boo hoo that is true

My whole poor life is a hullabaloo

I go to great length to cure my ills

It takes me ages to count my pills

And so my life goes on and on

So much to be frowned upon

Rage rage listen to the sage

Now I can’t learn to act my age

But one thing stands like stone

Dead people cannot moan

The ultimate test is still the best

As I am not yet laid to rest

So it’s ho ho ho and time for bed

I must stop my moaning for I’ll soon be dead

Right Honourable Hypocrite

You always know what to say, don’t you?

Always have a position to take

That will not harm your ill-gotten reputation

Words flow from your mouth like drugs

Purchased in a back lane hit

Overt guilt-free monologues of mendacity

Designed to strengthen your niche in the polls

O how virtue oozes from your lips

As if you were of the hallowed few!

Fear not

Most loyal drones will not see through you

As I do through your glass darkly

I notice the subjects you avoid or just skim over

Projecting shame on others

With devilish dexterity

Your demeanour implies 

You are born and deserve to rule

Your smile of fake benevolence flickering forth

Between your lies

Lulls each listener into false awareness

And your arranged interview 

With chosen images

That illustrate your day

Works to divert observers from your true reality

So rant on counterfeit knight in glistening armour

Deliver your spiel to your followers

As you lead them down to hell

And it shall follow, as the night the day,

You will remain in power

Coal-fired Power Stations

There’s a storm coming

Not a little thing gently disturbing tranquility

But instead a monstrous violence

Shaking the earth with venomous vigour

Daunting flaunting haunting humanity

With horror and terror and dread

As many, so many, lie dead

It is not a mere ruction but vast destruction

Fists of anger beating up the earth

With force undreamed of before

Then will come the cold

Icicles hanging from the branches of trees

As even the sun seems ill at ease

Cars sliding backwards down icy roads

As snow many frozen deaths forebodes

And the wind is a dagger that pierces your clothes

A gruesome pain your very soul loathes

An awful way of dying

Look at those bodies wrapped in ice

Nature’s revengeful cryonic device

And then

At last that wind’s abated

Silence rules the world created

See, there’s a lonely one resisting

Still by chance only just existing…

So all this will be

As mankind burns divinity

When The Sun Goes Down

When the sun goes down I have company

Even though I am alone

Realities from the past drop into my mind

In ways 

My critics would never imagine

Teachers, physicians 

Heroes from sport I have never met

A lover or two

Other people who tolerated me 

And the odd pet dog

Come forth as recollections that cannot die

There’s something about relationships

It’s that particular sharing 

That makes you what you are

A product of experience

Unique but so dependent on others

That’s me

Old and frayed and at times dismayed

But linked forever 

To different figures from my life

Constantly with me they are

At times of their own choosing

Lingering on 

In spite of everything …

Old Tom for example

Reminding me

Of our radical cures for society

Over a glass of wine

There’s Mr Manuel 

Who taught me to love poetry

And that parallel lines meet at infinity

He stirs my brain still

Hound dog Baxter

Runs with me 

When my legs are supple and functional

Even though only in my mind


Still teaches me where heaven is

And suddenly one is two

Doctor Miles

Tells me that my heart is working well

Even though it is broken

Don Bradman

Still plays just for me

On Sydney Cricket Ground

Quite often

I hear a song that Crosby sings

Without a record on the gramophone

So there it is you see

Blessings need to be counted

Although I am on my own

I am never alone

A Lone Bagpiper

I’m listening to a lone bagpiper

Just stumbled across him 

On one of my unpredictable journeys

The sun is setting too

So the atmosphere is poignant

Darkness is lurking

What do you think he does to me

That solitary figure?

Is his melody 

A source of pity or contempt?

Contempt most likely …

It is it seems a lament

Perhaps a mourning for chances missed

Or a denouncement 

Of the things 

I have failed to do

And the mistakes I’ve made

So many

Down so many years

Duty is in the eye of the beholder

So I bow my head

In acknowledgement of my flawed existence

It’s a tough game, life

When you are a failure

Everywhere you look 

Is a dead end …

Ah! There it is again

The music

Yes it’s a dirge

That piper knows me

Better than I know myself

Listen for the tune

Can you hear it?

Or is all this a figment of my imagination?

Possibly so

But I need to get on with what’s left

Of reality


Time flies

On vulture’s wings

And old age knows how to end things

Hark now it’s dark

You had best listen to the last notes play

Because I’ve nothing left to say


Last Of My Poems For A While


I wandered lonely through a crowd

Lost in thought not thinking aloud

When something worthy of mention

Suddenly got my attention

An elegant, stately man crossed my path

Gave me a nod and then a laugh

And continued on his way

Till the mills of chance came into play

And we met again in a cafe down Kings Cross way

I remembered his laugh and the smile in his eyes

So a conversation was no surprise

Concerning far more than the weather

As we nurtured a conference together

How was he dealing with the virus? I asked

What outcomes flow from being unmasked?

Where does mankind go from here?

And can wisdom survive current fear?

His answer rocked the awareness around me

And destroyed the barriers that often surround me

In ways unknown before

It changed my view of life what’s more

“Which virus?” he asked with a gleam in his eye 

“A pandemic’s here that will not make you die.

“It fills our world with arrant deception

“In a quest for success without exception.

“So while I acknowledge that COVID exists,

“We must never forget that another bug persists.”

“An ugly danger that haunts our every hour

“It is man’s endless quest for power.”

Time brought an end to our meeting

With the chance for further talk fleeting

In the course of time we went our way

But still I have one more thing to say;

I may seem to belong to the vile bar sinister

But I think that man was our Prime Minister


Once in a dream when wide awake

I started to think for humanity’s sake

What life would be like when I’m dead

So I pondered on what lies ahead

With many reasons for cheerlessness

As my life’s not marked by fearlessness

I soon felt quite depressed

It was clearly no time to jest

Weapons were a first thought that unfurled

There are so many in our troubled world

They would surely lead to war

But a voice within me denied it and closed that door

A golden age came next to mind

A boom in the market with profit defined

But something in my heart left a reverse impression

Sometime or other there’ll be a depression

Then I let my mind run another way

Here’s what my inner voices had to say

It was the sky; the sky was falling

And denial on climate was appalling

How could I stop despair from forming

When so many fools denied global warming?

Ah me!

But the day went on despite this fuss

As my thoughts backfired like a blunderbuss

Until I met a child, the kind with temperament mild,

Who spoke to me like a lost soul reconciled

“Sir,” he said, “you look so pale. Are you well?”

He was a pupil, after the go home bell

Suddenly I had found a friend

Who brought my pondering to an end

A new page in my book

Showed me the way if I dared to look:

Every tomorrow will need a sharing

Like an innocent child compassionately caring


I am an actor and here’s my news

I’ve learnt to stand in other people’s shoes

I feel the pain deserved by no man

When I play the role of Willie Loman

There I must understand myself

What it feels like to be left on the shelf

At another time I could be Pozzo

When I find myself waiting intently for Godot

Here I’ll convey an empty existence

Where nothing happens despite my insistence

Or perhaps King Lear could demand my false rule

As there I must play an arrant fool

Folly I’d convey as a way of living

And nature portray as unforgiving

And so all my world is indeed a stage

I deal in emotions from desire to rage

Observing humanity without vanity

Walking somewhere between trust and insanity

Until reality finds its place

And reminds me I’m part of the human race

Suddenly I realise there is pain off stage

There are other entities I need to engage

Refugees for example treated as dirt

Give me a script and such grief I’ll avert

And what of the white supremacist sadness

Write me the words to destroy that madness

Then war victims I long to save

Peace is my offering to spare the brave

Do you see the unique place in life for me?

It’s the gift of loving with empathy


I have been rarely perfect in my ways

Despite the multitude of my days

Now I am old and in from the cold

There are certain faux pas you need to be told

For of some things I am not very proud

Here are some of the sins I’ve allowed

I’m an entrepreneur with morality somewhat lax

Who made his pile and paid no income tax

Made insider deals until blue in the face

And became a disgrace to the human race

Then there was Whitlam who got the sack

I helped get him sacked alas alack!

Accepting the whims of autocracy

To sound the knell of democracy

Next I mention the Vietnam War

I supported a war people now deplore

I swallowed like a sheep allowed to meander 

Robert McNamara’s propaganda

Disaster came and a nation cried

And many many humans died

Another thing now courts disgust

One politician got my trust

And a vote that crushed my soul

Amidst global warming he brandished coal

Now I add my support for privatisation

Profit not service to civilisation

Once we people owned so many things

Now they belong to cabbages and kings

So there you have it, some of my misdemeanours 

I’ve taken dirty linen to the cleaners

Yet times change and before my life ends

I have just seized a chance to make amends

So now a flower’s growing in my dump

I’ve written a book to praise Donald Trump


Sport these days is just a commodity

And that to some is an ugly oddity

It IS just for the sake of a ribboned coat

That keeps the moneyed business afloat

Pay up pay up and play the game

Defeat is deadly and brings you shame

Breathes there a man with soul so dead

Who forgets if we lose we’ll be in the red

The spirit of kindness doesn’t exist

You must fight the war and never desist

Private enterprise makes the rules

All the players are merely tools

For winning whatever the cost

As defeat means a profit is lost

So here’s to the heroes from each hall of fame

The ones that make money just from their name

Let the battle rage at the coming of age

Of teams that condone the rage

Watch the winner climb to the highest rung

And manage the minds of the fervent young

Who believe the tales of administrators

And the media get rich infiltrators

To form a crowd that shrieks aloud

In a cause obscured by a profit cloud

So the year progresses with many fixtures

The contests are really nothing but mixtures

Of pain and gain and legerdemain

Where you have to win or go insane

For health it is a blessed thing beloved from pole to pole

Though if you are not fit enough, you’ll be on the dole

The vast crowds attending resemble a Roman mob

Smoke and trumpets complete the job

As history cries out for tradition

But all that there is is stark transition

Where winners are grinners defeating the sinners

And losers don’t rhyme


No murder in the news today

No ghastly car crash on display

No man shot in a carpark

No rape in the after-dark

No children drowned in the ocean

No deadly party commotion

No kidnap and a missing child

No grave by louts defiled

How boring life is!

I shall just have to listen to music


More Poems


Silence is a dangerous thing

It can be a bird with a broken wing

For there are times when we should speak

Instead we ignore the suffering weak

Fear can cause this deadly hush

When jeopardy looms with a frightening rush

At times we are silent and simply afraid of power

Our muteness stains the earth like a dying flower

So tyrants rage on, unfettered in their deadly way

While wordless, we leave them to thrive on dismay

Victims fall, plaintiffs call yet cowards do nothing at all

Villains rise and realise they are safe with a silent wall…

Once in the mists of history an autocrat came to power

He bullied his foes, gave people woes, and built an ivory tower

He ruled by force and crushed dissent

Dispensing lies wherever he went

Making his power grow each hour until he reigned supreme

Never a soul dared challenge him or decry one evil scheme

No one spoke of injustice even though it often occurred

Many deadly outcomes came untouched by a single word

Until one person had a dream

And spoke of a wondrous cleansing theme

Revealing the truth with a fiery, relevant call

That brought about the despot’s sudden fall

“For the Emperor has no clothes,” he said

“He robs the poor and rules by dread”

Then he listed the crimes of the evil giant

And vowed he would be not ever again compliant

Suddenly the people saw the point

They rushed as a wild throng to anoint

The speaker with a garland of holly

For revealing the despot’s folly

They banished the villain to his endless shame

To remain forever a monster with a tainted name 

Times change; now many others respect the power of speech

Triumphant words are known to be at last within your reach


So you want to get on in the world my lad

Well it’s lies you will need for success to be had

So pay attention and beguile:

When you tell a lie be sure to smile

Then hit your victim with a flood of data

From the pen of a famous fabricator

Act out fictitious schemes you devise

And be sure to look your foe in the eyes

Don’t let your glances stray and keep that grin

If the smile is returned, my boy you are in

When you tell tall tales, make use of the dead

They can’t deny anything you’ve said

The past is also a fruitful ruse

Time tends to save you from abuse

If you want support with illicit fame

The easiest way is to drop a name

When your deal with money is a pig in a poke

You can divert attention by cracking a joke

Another device is the fictitious friend

He can support you as you pretend

And apparel is a factor for a lying contractor

So you should dress up like a Hollywood actor

Remember too repetition’s trick

Tell a lie often and it will stick

This above all to thine own self be false

And your puppet will dance to your lucrative waltz 


Memory is a child of the past

Mischievous, disobedient, defiant to the last

It can lead you astray like a villain at play

Or give you an answer the pedagogue’s way

Time may be the enemy of what you recall

Sometimes you recollect nothing at all

Though other days are different and cast a spell

And the flimsiest moments you recall well

When you are old your years may seem numbered

But yet that’s when thought can be unencumbered

It is true my body reeks now of decay

But I still recall dancing the hours away

Today I am single and live on my own

Yet with memories of soul mates I’m never alone

Now I am jobless and live on a pension

But still recall lessons I gave worth a mention

Perhaps I am doomed soon to breathe my last

But memory lets me find strength in the past

I was born when the Harbour Bridge was new

I recall when peace ended World War II

I remember hearing Crosby croon a tune

I recollect when Armstrong walked the moon

Those memories are made of the sternest stuff

Of their sweet like I’ll never have enough

Tags from Shakespeare to Walter Mitty

Are cures for apathy in a city

So here I am near the end of my road

Remembering Archimedes and sometimes Mister Toad

I’m thinking too of all the friends I’ve had

When I die perhaps I’ll haunt their minds; I hope they will be glad


Lightning struck near my home today

Thunder was loud and soon after the flash

A gas pipe exploded just a step away

And repair gangs came with a dash

This made me think of the dues we owe

To the fiendishly powerful weather

If science is right and it’s all we know

We have no more power than a feather

My mind started then to stray

With anxious thoughts soon forming

I could not avoid dark feelings in play

Concerning global warming

I’ve heard many a word that is quite absurd

Suggesting a weather solution

But O what folly from an ignorant herd

To buy and sell pollution!

On top of this there’s another scheme

Sheer madness on the whole

Liars are promoting a fictitious dream

And talk about clean coal

But above all this as I watch the clouds

Tumble and grumble in the sky

They seem to me potential shrouds

For so many people will die

When the day of reckoning comes, as it will

And we must pay for the heat

The fools who lie to get their fill

Will wear the shame of defeat

So there you have it; hear my plea

The time has come to change our ways

Global warming will bring us no glee

There are few remaining days

So my gentle wish is that you’ll conform

To my thoughts arising from that humble storm

One Kind Word

I awoke depressed today

It tends to be a common disease

In the present world

So many things cause the problem

Hot days are burning the hours away

Fire alerts are everywhere

COVID is killing like a medieval inquisition

Politicians are buying submarines without my permission

And as for me, I have my own particular burdens

Took my dog to the vet last night

Goodbye to a friend – it’s a sorry plight

Don’t get much money on a pension either

And I need special shoes

For my walking blues

My knees hurt me when I walk

And I’m losing my hearing completely

Confined indoors most days

Once I rode the lovely waves down at the nearby beach

And ran around the cricket field that’s now beyond my reach

My car is in hock, needs a new engine

And you must have a mask if you catch a bus

Dangerous place a bus

On top of all this is the atrophy of retirement

That category is a depressing condition

No more dreams come into fruition

You just fade away as you sigh

And move relentlessly towards your time to die

So there you have it:

A quick fire list of all the woes I struggle to endure

One more thing belongs to my tale

Leave it out and I clearly fail

My precious wife approached me today with a smile

And asked me how I was

“Not too bad,” was my reply – the usual lie

Suddenly I realised my luck to have such a friend and a home

That is why I decided to write this poem

On Growing Old

Growing old leaves me cold

You’re like a fine book cursed with mould 

Your body resembles a pear gone rotten

And your good old days are all forgotten

People get annoyed when you can’t hear their words

While your personal needs are left to the birds

Your body aches and your eyes get sore

You tend to lose your balance what’s more

Young people hurry and leave you behind

The music they play drives you out of your mind

When you’re caught in a crowd you can’t take a trick

As your movements depend on your walking stick

The government too is worth a mention

They constantly tend to reduce your pension

When I’m out walking I accept defeat

As I constantly need to rest on a seat

I’ve been in trouble many times getting lost

I’d get a taxi but I can’t bear the cost

I move so slowly you should remember

I have to buy Christmas cards in September

The clothes I wear are out of fashion

I think they were once part of army ration

I also have problems with my diet

I no longer have a chocolate on the quiet

Admen mock me and drive me wild

When I feel myself portrayed as a bungling child

Often I feel only just alive

It’s hard to keep struggling to survive

Nevertheless I keep my heart active

Let’s face it the dying thing’s not so attractive


More Recent Thoughts

Obituary To A Friend

“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, 

than alone in the light.”

Helen Keller

He’s gone now, my friend

Recently deceased

But how he dominates my memory

He understood my whims

And was willing

To heed my complaints about existence

Without too much fuss

Just a gentle comrade in arms

Willing to go the whole way with support

Whenever it was needed

When my wife left me

We strolled together down the streets of loneliness

Each glad of the other

In shared and loyal communion

His glance was enough as i spoke of my agony

No words were needed between us

He was a good listener

Never interrupting

Just quietly understanding and acknowledging my pain

With a wistful smile of compassion in his eyes

I remember one day extremely well

I was indeed distraught

It had been a hard day at the school where I taught

My class had misbehaved more than usual

And the Principal had commented on my lack of discipline

That afternoon when we met

I shared my extreme misery with my friend

He analysed me truly as he always did

Understanding flowing from his demeanour

Then he wagged his tail

As we walked together again to ease the pain

My dog Rex and I

Freedom Of Speech

The global warming alarmists 

are the equivalent of the flat-Earthers.

Ted Cruz, Senator

Washington Post (March 24, 2015)

Freedom of speech is a precious right

You’ll not take it from me without a fight

Therefore I declare that our world is flat

It’s the sun round the earth now fancy that

And if you sail too far out to sea, 

You’ll come to a chasm and be history

Witches all ride their broomsticks well

Black cats are secret agents of Hell

Horse shoes bring good luck it’s true

But a broken mirror’s bad luck for you

Six six six is a devil’s mix

While thirteen is up to its usual tricks

Buildings are safe with no thirteenth floor

While a four-leaf clover is luck galore

Touch wood to guard your cherished life

Fortune cookies will save you from strife

Spilling salt is an evil sign

Break a leg and things will be fine

Bananas bring bad luck to a ship

Whistling will create a storm on your trip

Mermaids are highly dangerous to nab

Kiss the Blarney for the gift of the gab

Water spilt will bring success

Omens prophesy more or less

Sneeze and the devil will score a goal

“Bless you” then will save your soul

The Curse of the Pharaohs is well known

So leave their precious mummies alone

A ladder is dangerous to walk beneath

Foretelling of the cards will catch a thief

O the gift of nonsense is mine forsooth

Thus will I hide inconvenient truth


Love is a whisper from a heavenly breath

Love is the conquest of life over death

Love is the spell that turns harm into charm

When loneliness screams it sounds the alarm

It gently conquers life’s frequent distress 

And eases the pain that leaps out of duress

Passion is a fashion that leads you astray

Love is the sense of a far better way

Love is a giving as a sacred duty

Love makes the mundane wistful beauty

There is no meaning to a world without love

It will lift mercy from below to above

Solitary wanderers will find a true home

When love finds a reason for them not to roam

Love is a refuge when justice cowers

Love is a shelter when angst stirs your hours

Love is a pathway when all hope is lost

There is peace in its outcome at no earthly cost

Time does not hinder love’s final effect

It is a tower forever erect

So climb as you will and encompass the joy

Love is a rampart no one can destroy

Love is a magic that defies the ages

Love of all kinds belongs on these pages

So lovers learn this, when your love arises

And an amorous bond a new life devises

Seize boldly the chance you have found to love

And you’ll grasp the secret of heaven above


How wondrously you seem to fly

Like an eagle defying the sky

Barely touching the inanimate floor

Entranced I watch you and long for more

Your mobile figure entrances me

You the dancer I have paid to see

You court me completely with utter devotion

As you slide and glide with magic motion

Cutting the air with a knife not there

Enchanting with dancing, invoking my stare

You defy the norm of the human race

Performing before us with limitless grace

Contorting, transporting, supporting

Yourself in a race that conquers space

You are a puppet sans strings

Bending, extending like a bird without wings

Dancing to an everywhere, romancing, prancing

Twisting, resisting, insisting, enhancing

So far from the norm with your wondrous form

You banish my fear of the mortal storm

Bewitched I am on a flight of fancy

Carried away by your necromancy

As you change the prosaic world I know

With your mystic, enchanted afterglow

Hail fair dancer, queen of life’s portal

Dancing in ways that seem immortal

While here am I with spirits high

Watching your movements with an ancient eye

For I am old, battered and worn

I walk with a stick in a life forlorn

Yet because of you I am complete

And I dance in my mind in this theatre seat 

In Praise Of Science

Science is the friend of tomorrow

Confronting life’s human sorrow

It is not vain or marred by disdain

And will listen if you complain

Reality is its normality

Questioning finality

With an open mind forsooth

Forever seeking the truth

Once long ago when questioning began

There was little science known to man

Then time passing played a different tune

To let some scientists walk on the moon

What is the secret you may ask

What is the shape of a scientific task?

There is but one place where the answer rests

You must base all your wisdom on reputable tests

Observe, reserve, conserve, deserve

Have an open mind and keep your nerve

Submit your findings to colleagues’ view

That is the rigour that applies to you

A pox on the work of the ignorant herd

For whom the truth is an ugly word

Who see reason as too much trouble

And base their views on froth and bubble

Who decry and deny the truth in vain

And follow their mindless paths of pain

Theirs is a land where the greatest treason

Is to base your views on research and reason

So begone dull fools and get thee to a gunnery

Shoot yourselves in the foot and be treated in a nunnery

The Writer

To A Real Person

Your pen is mightier than the sword

How beautifully you share each word!

Your world becomes mine now at least in part

I can almost hear the beating of your heart

My life is now a part of yours

Each phrase you write will open doors

To my troubled, inconsequential mind

That journeys on a quest to find

The full meaning of what you say

Your images and thoughts are magic at play

Bewitching me your reader with a longing

To understand each word belonging

To a world I cannot enter save through your script

A place that I am only just equipped

To visit by the surprising grace of your mind

The mystery is, once there, the things I find

Transport me to another plane of wonder

Where all my schemes are torn asunder

And suddenly I find myself

Like a book of wisdom found on a scholar’s shelf

I begin to understand and most important of all

You teach me the truth without which I fall

Into the prison of despair

But with your writing I am never there

For your words have led me to the higher ground

Where the angels of logic all abound

You give me peace in your inimitable way

So write on dear friend and I will read my ignorance away

To free myself; what more is left for me to say?


Recent Thoughts

We Shall Overcome Some Day

Deep in my heart, I do believe

We shall overcome some day

Guy Carawan 1960

O the ruling élite are strong

With power that seems insurmountable

They thrive on what is wrong

Pretending to be accountable

Corporate bankers and lawyers

Profit from organised strife

They are simply sawyers

Who cut up the timber of life

Then the media work their spin

Flaunting erroneous truth

Making dissent a sin

And from honour standing aloof

Yet the empire of gain is ending

With victims now fighting back

Now we poor folk are contending

Human virtue is on the right track

Deep in my heart, I do believe

We shall overcome some day

The goddess of law will achieve

What the history books clearly say

So speak up champions of virtue

Let your voices ring out loud and clear

The neocons now cannot touch you

You are angels who fly without fear

Those false towers soon will crumble

The liars will all fade away

Propagandists exposed will but mumble

As the pillars of greed decay

Danger Is A Stranger

Danger is a stranger when people do what is right

But enemies come in handy when neolibs choose to fight

War is but a consequence of profit at fever pitch

Lots of weapons needed to make their makers rich

But first you must have an enemy so invent some evil deeds

Praise the worth of conflict as what your country needs

Warfare is an industry beloved from pole to pole

American exceptionalism plays a leading role

Media barons stir the pot with unworthy causes

Telling lies with every breath as well as in the pauses

If young men die think only this of them

They are remembrance flowers cut off at the stem

And what of little children blasted to kingdom come?

Or burials of old folks to the sound of a martial drum?

Not to worry says the Press to a fake ovation

Spreading the word that’s quite absurd it’s the glory of our nation

So the conflicts continue with each carefully chosen foe

Death can take no holiday with war mongers on the go

Tainting the earth with their loud belligerent feet

With never a moment’s thought about defeat

Yet surprise can take effect at last

Leaving the hawks surprisingly aghast

For there’s an event to end the vile tirade:

It’s a sudden recognition of international trade!

Why O why should you slaughter that babe in the woods

When he alive with his family is a market for your goods

Let the songs of war give way to friendly rendition

That bans the guns in favour of free competition

Peace brothers it’s so wonderful you may say

As the reasons for war conveniently fade away

There is a logic in the dealings of foreign affairs

If weapons are replaced by peaceful wares

The Last Rose Of Another Summer

My mother planted that rose garden

It bloomed in another summer

She’s gone now

And the bed is filled with weeds

And other intrusive plants

Making their bid for dominance over intended beauty

It’s like a jungle of impertinence now

That garden

Unruly and seemingly proud of its chaos

Of its unfettered fertility

A plot once beautiful

But now transfigured by unintended growth

Yet one rose plant is still there

Proudly surviving the competition around it

And blooming

Yes still blooming

Undaunted by the power of the irrelevance nearby

Just one

The last rose of another summer

I picked it yesterday

For I knew she would be pleased

To have its perfume defy the untidiness of my house

It’s there now

Amidst the clutter

And I can smell its perfume

It helps me remember a spirit

That made me what I am

And somehow

Has me resolve to tidy that garden

As a gesture to a love that does not die

In spite of everything

One Kind Thought

I’m taking pills for depression

A last resort

They do their best

Despite the overwhelming task

Of keeping me on the straight and narrow

But somehow they just don’t go far enough


I am enveloped in the Slough of Despond

And I desperately try to move beyond

The despair of my own pathetic inability

To solve my problems

I search for other solutions and keep falling short

Until as a last resort

I write a poem about my sadness

That’s when the trouble starts

Approaching madness

As words have a habit of running away

With your equanimity

It’s all a matter of meaning

How to say what you really intend to say

No nonsense

No half truths that will lead you and others astray

Truth is such a rare part of modern life

And somehow despite my writing struggles

Plus all my thinking

I still find my spirits sinking

Sinking sinking sinking

Until something mind changing happens

I decide to tell Joan that I love her

And her smile

Miraculously completes the task of my pills

Last Train To Toronto

I caught the last train to Toronto several years ago

Discontinued service

The railway tracks are still there

Overgrown with weeds

A branch or two from dead trees lying across them

I don’t visit old uncle Snow any more

He’s even older than I am

Which makes him pretty ancient

He’s in a wheel chair too

So he doesn’t get out

I miss those talks about old times we had

Not possible any more

I have no car and I can’t walk ten miles 

With my withered leg

There were never many people on those trains

I think that’s why they stopped the service

The greatest good for the greatest number

Seems to be the way things work

In the political world these days

Wipes us odd individuals out

Pathetic minorities like Uncle Snow and me

Don’t carry much weight anymore 

So there you have it

A lonely life for the old fellow

And for me

I write him a letter every few weeks or so

And send him a Christmas card

That’s the way it is

Days pass

A television set for company

A radio in the morning at breakfast

And so the days go by without the trains

Charlatan Unnamed



Distorter of reality

Cunning snake in Eden’s grass

Schemer dedicated to nothing but political gain

Champion of malevolence

Alter ego of murderers

Self appointed defender of evil deeds

Disguised as virtue

Architect of a house of lies

Cohabited by greedy obedient fawning fools

Passionate lover of yourself

Courting cronies

To support your infinity of deadly deeds

Insane darling of the inane

Voice of ineptitude

Mindless leader posing as bright

Last hope of villains

Who gather around you as agents of your intrigue

You blandly court them with your own fringe morality

As you loudly proclaim false triumph

Within your insidious framework of self interest

You are

A cunning fox amidst a tragedy of crows

Dark angels they are, wooed ingenuously by your false prophesy

You are their patron of political pretence

How loudly you praise your own fake manoeuvring

Like a seller of wares in a tainted marketplace

Who’ll  buy

Your pie in the sky?

There is no end to your fallacious schemes

Your voice is loud proclaiming a false integrity

Yet, distorted into confusion like static electricity in a storm

It fails to communicate to the wise

You are such a well-known star with illicit fame

I find no reason here to write your name


The Poems Keep Coming


Dear sharer of meanings

Who brings effigies of sound into the silence

Endured by others

There is love in your energy

Gentle caring for the deprived

Your face is a mirror of everything

A link to understanding for the cloistered

Strangers who hear nothing

There is passion in your compassion

Such willingness to reach out

Such drive in your movements

As if you truly know the needs

Of your special audience

Understanding is a golden gift

What is life without shared meaning?

You give answers to such questions

And there is triumph in your mastery

So there you are

Unnoticed by the busy majority

Just a part of the furniture

Serviceable, functioning, trusted

To be of service

Yet there is something more:

The tenderness of your movements

The wonder of your signing

Make the world a better place

For everyone

I’m Headed For The Last Roundup

Well here I am on the edge of my own antiquity

People give me a seat on the train these days

I am in that category of need

Kind souls raise their voices too, and slow their speech

To deal with the flaws my age predicts…

On a pension too

No place for me in the workforce now

I was once a teacher

Had an active place in many lives

Learning with others

To participate in life with some decorum

Discovered the hard way what not to do

And felt needed from time to time…

Life now is so different

There’s not much comfort on the shelf

You are dusted off so frequently

And company is so scarce

As you pay the price for living so long

But why is it so?

Why am I now no use to anybody?

After all, I pioneered the use of TV and the net

Heard FDR respond to the Great Depression

Saw lots of spies come in from the cold

Observed Neil Armstrong make one giant leap for mankind

Watched the Berlin Wall come down

So much more I could share with you dear friend

And with the generalised others if they cared enough to listen

Not much luck with an audience so far

But not to worry

Time is a good tutor

More people will learn the truth as their own lives grow longer

And we all have the same destination don’t we?

There are lots of cattle at the last roundup

As I head there I think I have what I need: a final plan that empowers:

Don’t hurry, don’t worry and don’t forget to water the flowers

Yippee Yai-oh, Yippee Yai-ay,

That’s about all that’s left for me to say

The Man Who Doesn’t Exist

As I was going to Strawberry Fair

I met a man who wasn’t there

He was but a thought in the bright sunlight

Yet I knew something wasn’t quite right

When a voice loudly spoke to me

A whisper on my shoulder advised me to flee

But I stayed, although I was anxious and weak

Then in a daze I heard something speak

It said it had built a wondrous wall

And the cost would be not a penny at all

So I looked around me in my daze

Confused by what such a voice portrays

And then I heard it again

“I am the most powerful of men.”

I thought I should bow but didn’t know how

I still don’t know how even now

Then the voice pierced the air again

I knew not how but when

“I cure a disease that is not there,

“I have followers everywhere,

“I’m the richest man on earth.”

These words for me had an eerie mysterious worth

How strange it was on this sunny day

To hear such powerful words at play

With not a person in sight

I curled up my toes in fright

Then came a tirade that blew me away

It made me afraid; what more can I say?

It said an election was all but a fraud

And threatened to put all cheats to the sword

And bury them in a garden

Without a pardon

How I trembled with each fearsome word

Even though the meanings were quite absurd

I paused and raised my hand to shield my eyes

In the bright light I was struck by the same surprise

I looked so keenly and my eyes roamed everywhere

But still not a soul appeared; there was no one there

Time passes to restore the happiness of life

Memories fade and end all pain and strife

Now here’s a thought years later I cannot resist

I no longer fear the man who doesn’t exist

Where Have All The Tall Trees Gone?

Where have all the tall trees gone?

Long time passing

Where have all the tall trees gone?

Long time ago

Where have all the tall trees gone?

Gone as lumber every one

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

Where has all the lumber gone?

Long time passing

Where has all the lumber gone?

Long time ago

Where has all the lumber gone?

Dealers took it all away

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn? 

Where have all the dealers gone?

Long time passing

Where have all the dealers gone?

Long time ago

Where have all the dealers gone?

Into boardrooms every one

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

Where have all the members gone?

Long time passing

Where have all the members gone?

Long time ago

Where have all the members gone?

Into parliament every one

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

Where have all the statesmen gone?

Long time passing

Where have all the statesmen gone?

Long time ago

Where have all the statesmen gone?

To plant trees in deserts every one

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

Weather Obituary

Dearly beloved

We are gathered here together

To mourn the demise of the weather

Yes there is a sense of loss

Derived from pain inflicted across

The days and nights of our time

Yet memory is a defender that relives the sublime

We remember when the wind was a gentle friend

Not a tyrant of force that brought lives to an end

We all recall still the gentle rain

That helped our pastures grow again

Not the recent agony that troubled flesh and blood

Derived from tempest and destructive flood

Coming to mind as well is the gentle cycle of life

Found through sun and rain without the strife

Of drought and the dreaded curse of fire

That tears apart ambition and desire

So here we are remembering

Conscious of the dismembering 

Power of global warming

Dear friends of the earth

Let us come together united

To save a world benighted

By the follies of our fellow man

That careless indifference abroad since time began

We can change even as we mourn the loss of worldly beauty

Coming together with a sense of noble duty

To comfort nature with a loving embrace

And cool the world for the sake of the human race

I Don’t Know

I keep six honest serving-men

(They taught me all I knew);

Their names are What and Why and When

And How and Where and Who.

Rudyard Kipling

I don’t know what hatches the plot

To destroy the fair air’s charm

I don’t know what causes the rot

And does the earth so much harm

I don’t know why there is dirt in the sky

Pollution to foul the air

I don’t know why man’s deeds go awry

With folly that leads to despair

I don’t know when the world will awaken

And stop making such a mess

I don’t know when they will all be forsaken

Those fools whose names you can guess

I don’t know how in the stark here and now

We can stop the world being tainted

I don’t know how the sacred cow

Is so blindly contaminated

I don’t know where the answer lies

To this universal disaster

I don’t know where I will find clean skies

It’s a problem no mortal can master

I don’t know who the culprit is

The source of this hullabaloo 

I don’t know who’s the destructive whiz

But I hope it isn’t you


Memories Shared

I read recently a speech I gave at the University of Wollongong twenty-five years ago. I have decided to reproduce it here as there still seems some relevance to present day existence.

Gateway was an equity program funded by the federal Labor government designed to give mature aged students another chance to enter university. It was concerned with literacy, mathematics and university life. Here then is the speech.

A Speech Given At The University Of Wollongong

26 June 1995


It is hard to think of a happier task for me than the one I am about to perform. In a few moments, with feelings of genuine honour, I shall present the Gateway prize for outstanding achievement.

For that prize I have chosen a book of words. Guildenstern says:

“Words, words. They’re all we have to go on.” *

Jean Paul Sartre called words loaded pistols. Rudyard Kipling saw them as “the most potent drugs used by mankind.”

And then there was Humpty Dumpty in the Alice Through The Looking Glass of Lewis Carroll.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, which is to be master – that’s all.”

I have been struggling with words all my life. It is such a hard task to win well or even survive. You need to work at it. Perfection with words is an elusive dream.

We all err and fall short again and again – like the Bangkok dry cleaner reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of January 10, 1992 who wrote:

“Drop your trousers here for best results”

or the Hong Kong dentist who advertised:

“Teeth extracted by the latest Methodists”

or Tony Greig who once said:

“Border’s shout of ‘No’ was quick and positive” and

“It’s been a night of misses as far as direct hits are concerned”

or Norman May many years ago, who noted on air that

“It was a dead heat between Azeem and the ball with the ball just winning”

or an early New South Wales Legal Studies Syllabus directive which said:

“All students must study this optional topic”

or Vice-president Dan Quayle who claimed to be

“…ready for any unseen event that may or may not occur”

or the unknown examination candidate who thought that

“Socrates died of an overdose of wedlock,”

Words can be among the most empowering of things. They can be surprising as well as potent. For example I can report that ergasiophobia is extremely rare in Gateway students. Ergasiophobia means “fear of work” or in some quarters “bureaucrat’s curse.” See what I mean? Similarly, I can say from experience that kopophobia is also rare in Gateway.** You probably know that it means “fear of exhaustion” or “students’ curse.”

And there is the question of politically correct language. Some politicians object to this constriction. Examples include not “manhole” but “sewer access hole,” not “maiden over” but “scoreless over,” not “abominable snowman” but “abominable snow creature,” not “dwarf” but “vertically challenged person,” not “bald” but “follicly challenged,” and not “accidental hospital deaths due to treatment” but “preventable adverse events.”

Ladies and gentlemen, that’s enough on my reasons for choosing a dictionary for this prize.

Before I ask the winner to come forward to receive the prize and because this is the eleventh Gateway graduation I have seen, I feel I have to say just a few more things that seem to me important. I have shared or am still sharing the learning journey with many Gateway students. I have seen the struggle and the suffering and the joy from very close range. Therefore my first message is obvious.

Congratulations to all Gateway graduands and where relevant the families and other supporters who have helped you to be here for this moment. It is not easy to reach this point. You have to dare to be wrong and learn to profit from your mistakes as well as from your triumphs. You have to be patient and dogged. Don’t ever forget that to meet the requirements of the Gateway program is an achievement in itself.

I want you to be really sure that you belong to a very special group of people – well over five hundred determined characters who have come forward to receive their graduation certificates at these ceremonies. And now the University graduates are coming through. The average performance of all former Gateway students at the University is just below the cut off for credit level. There are so many I could mention as pillars for your inspiration.


For example, **** ***********, from the 1989 Gateway Program, graduated in 1994 with First Class Honours in Education. From the same year’s group, ***** ******* gained Second Class Honours in Psychology and three to four weeks ago, ******* **** received her BSc with First Class Honours and the University Medal in Psychology.

I must mention too the 1990 graduates **** ****** First Class Honours in Sociology, the former President of the SRC, ***** **** Second Class Honours in Creative Arts, and *** ********** Second Class Honours in Education.

My space for names is limited. There are however a few other role models for you to think about. Recently I heard of a winner of an overseas scholarship. Then too we have among our graduates the winner in Glasgow in 1993 of the World Championship for Law Students in Client Interviewing. Other Gateway students are at present undertaking postgraduate studies and there is a very healthy number of pass graduates. Ours is the most successful identifiable undergraduate group in the University.

I think with great affection of the many people I have come to know who have changed their lives (and mine) by discovering reasons to believe in themselves. I congratulate you, as you become the new Gateway graduates, on reaching this end of your beginning.

Those of you who do enter the University should remember that on the first day of the next part of the journey, you will not be ranked – but will all be starting from the same position. Eleanor Roosevelt once wrote something that has helped me:

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

I wish you all much joy in the adventures ahead. Finally I mention the words of another wise commentator on life, Alexander Pope:

“Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul.”

I therefore have absolute delight in inviting ****** ***** to come forward to receive the

Prize For Outstanding Achievement In The Gateway Program.

End Notes:

*Tom Stoppard Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead Act 1, p.30

** For similar fascinating words see Peter Bowler’s The Superior Person’s Little Book Of Words and The Superior Person’s Second Little Book Of Words.


%d bloggers like this: