Words Still Matter

The Gift Of Learning

O I can build castles now
That look down on the twisted world
With understanding
I am aware of solutions
To uncertainty that once destroyed my self respect
The gift of learning is suddenly mine
And I have the power to see things as they really are
The rulers of my past
Sought the safety of my ignorance
And tried like overlords to sanction my erudition
But they did not succeed and now they never will
Understanding at this moment walks beside me
Through a troubled wilderness of stupidity
Energised by the power of awareness
Lies of dominant political figures
Now are confessions of guilt
Developers reveal their payola to me
Before they build their sanctioned effigies of greed
Defence industries now make weapons of mass destruction
Border security becomes a racist wall
And protecting our way of life
Turns into a triumph of vested interest
As well as this, I have learnt to experience
The wonder of the artist
The triumph of music over iniquity
From street song to symphony
The rapture of beauty untrammelled by personal gain
The power of satire by way of the written word
Which embarrasses the guilty
And the excitement of the theatre
Which reveals so truly the foibles of human existence
So heed this
All you null and void self-promoting counterfeit statesmen
I know who you are


Liar! Liar! The Earth’s on fire
Destiny’s controlled by a few
Can you not see a minority
Of arsonist leaders
Burning our future away?
Supporting with fake applause
Pathetically wrongful causes:
Acceptance of a methane disaster
Destructive fracking of gas
Or devastation by coal for the usual pieces of silver…
Those deeds will live on as unsurpassed iniquity
Consequences of what they do
Will forever curse mankind
Look at the consequences:
The heating of the globe beyond repair
Coral paradises cursed with doom
Species slaughtered by malevolence
Betrayal of tomorrow’s children
Denizens to be
In a world maliciously destroyed by greed
For the sake of devious balance sheets
Or spurious requisitions…
No contrition about emission
Exists in my awareness
They let the cattle eat our future away
Hell on Earth
Is not an opium dream but reality
Created by unscrupulous opportunists
Incineration! Incineration!
It’s all for the good of the nation
Fie on your false elation!
What nation are you talking about?
The proletariate of a doomed state?
A kingdom of fools?
Where is the propriety you claim to have?
Does it lie in the money bags of kleptomaniacs?
You are found out
Even children
Driven by you towards desperate activism
Understand what you do
And fight your folly with marches and rallies
Stirred by the sacred reality of science
What can we expect from you?
Righteous indignation
Pious utterances claiming integrity and reenforcing deceit
The usual unprincipled chatter of ne’er-do-wells
Defending the indefensible
Yet one thing stands with stark reality
Your doings will be written
In the annals of eternity for all the eyes of the future
And your children and their children
Will never escape
From the mortification you impose upon their lives


Thank you so much for your kindness
I appreciate the seat you gave me
It’s good to sit down
Thank you for the water too
It’s important at my age
Any age really
But look, there are one or two things I would like to say
Don’t feel too sorry for me
Even though, according to the usual viewpoint,
My days are numbered
One of the advantages I share in growing old
Unlike those who die young
Is I have an encyclopaedia of memories
I was there
When the grocer used to wrap up your butter for you
And cut off your piece of cheese
When you saw the only news on celluloid at the movies
When the baker and the milkman knocked on your door
When houses outnumbered apartments in the suburbs
When the last steam engine was put into endless sleep
When the trains ran on time
When buses had conductors who gave you a ticket
Helped you if needed, and supported the driver
I recall when sport was a game and not a business
I saw Bradman’s hundredth hundred at the SCG
I remember when century makers would doff their cap gently
And gently raise their bat to the applause
Instead of circumnavigating the globe via the stratosphere
And having a love affair with their headgear
O yes!
All very interesting.
But I was part of more potent history too.
I saw the lights go out in World War II
My heroes were not footballers but fighter pilots:
“Bluey” Truscott, “Killer” Caldwell, and “Paddy” Finucane
We lived in Woollahra when the Japanese shelled the harbour
And sent in their midget submarines.
I remember with horror the crimes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
I read about them in the daily papers
I took one giant step for mankind on the moon
And voted against our Vietnam invasion
Traipsed William Street and past the Nazis as we demonstrated
I saw the first telecast in Australia
Having loved the radio to death
So there you see
I’ll leave my story there
With much more I could tell if the need arose
Dear Friend
Thank you for your kindness
We have shared a small part of a journey and we rest now
Time occasionally masquerades as an enemy
But it’s the same for everyone
Recollection can still be a joyous way of re-living
A panacea for your aches and pains and occasional sadness
Yes, that is the way of things

Were You There?

Were you there when they chose to go to war?
Did you vote so that innocents would die?
Were you there when they chose to go to war?
Do you lose sleep now because of what you’ve done?

Were you there when they imprisoned refugees?
Did you vote to have the blameless writhe in gaol ?
Were you there when they imprisoned refugees?
Do you lose sleep now because of what you’ve done?

Were you there when wildfire torched those people?
Did you vote to continue burning coal?
Were you there when wildfire torched those people?
Do you lose sleep now because of what you’ve done?

Were you there when the great whites mangled swimmers?
Did you vote to make the ocean warmer?
Were you there when the great whites mangled swimmers?
Do you lose sleep now because of what you’ve done?

Were you there when hundreds died in floods?
Did you vote to pay no heed to global warming?
Were you there when hundreds died in floods?
Do you lose sleep now because of what you’ve done?

Were you there when heat or cold killed millions?
Did you vote to condone a worthless plan?
Were you there when heat or cold killed millions?
Do you lose sleep now knowing what you haven’t done?


Every day
Young people give me hope for tomorrow
Not my future
As there are more years behind me than lie ahead
Humanity is in my mind however
But not just people
All the creatures of land and sea
All the plants, and notably the trees
All the rivers and mountains and the rain forest of the tropics
All the air, the wind and the clouds and the sun…
Young, clear thinking, vibrant mentors are needed
If our present world is to flourish or even survive…
Mature age vandals
Have damaged these precious miens of our lives
Almost beyond repair
With their harmful, hurtful, inimical vested interests
Their programs of aggrandisement for the rich and powerful
Even though they are so small in number,
Their inability to see beyond themselves
And I must admit when I see the desolation
Or listen to the lies disguised as integrity
Depression tends to sink into my soul
And yet
Quite often these days
A comforting ray of light lunges through the darkness
There is a voice too to uplift me
And then another, and then another
Emanating from upright, youthful, flexible bodies
And vibrant faces alight with fire and controlled energy
“Yes we can,” they say. “Yes we can. Yes we can.”

Voices Not Heard

Silence is a common device these days
Adroitly used by imposters and politicians
Please pardon the tautology
So you and I
As citizens who care about things
Need to explore this situation a little more closely
Evil triumphs
When good men (and women) do nothing*
That’s a pretty strong piece of wisdom
So let us explore it a little further
In my lifetime
Because it is quite long and increases every day
I’m still glad to say
A lot of sordid things have happened
Let us examine one or two to learn a little more about life…
In the Sixties, America invaded Vietnam
At the time
A majority of Australians thought this was a good idea
They were what Richard Nixon in1969 called “the silent majority”
And Scott Morrison in 2019 exploited as “the quiet Australians”
That was not me in those times
I joined the long-haired rebels, although I was short back and sides
And took to the streets with brothers and sisters, pacifists in vain
In the end events proved us right, we were listened to and won
When will they ever learn? said the song as it happened again
With Iraq in 2003
This time the war planners had an eye for Persian Gulf oil
Again our voices were not heard
All drowned out by weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist
And the poor people of Iraq suffered – and still do
So what to we learn from these tales
Today silence is not golden
Net voices now are louder than ever before
I hear them day and night now, and they gently lull me to sleep

*It was not said by Edmund Burke. I don’t know who.


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