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Painting by Fred Williams

Silver and Grey

in the National Gallery of Art

Canberra, Australia

Silver and Grey, painting by Fred Williams

 

Echoes of indigenous art

The land has invaded

His work

His style

His colours

He is the land

He is the painting

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27 May 2019

Reconciliation Day

Smith’s Alternative

Canberra, Australia

Artist Julie Nangala Robertson          Warlukurlangu Artists                               Yuendumu        Australia  http://www.warlu.com

 

That Poetry Thing: Us Mob Writing

It’s Our Mob, isn’t it?

We’re in this together

more than ever

We know

we depend

on our land

our love

our community

our country

This is Our Mob

Our belonging

We acknowledge it

embrace it

Yet our community

connection to country

denied

by the federal government

the Not Us Mob

 

Road in Central Australia

Never been here

yet a familiar landscape

Is this

…Kenya or

…Somalia?

Red soil

grey green

rounded shrubs

blackened silhouettes

survivors of bush fires

limitless sky

puddles of white clouds

flat land that

goes on and on

driving through

Central Australia

 

Watch out

Warning

Reading poetry

makes you write

without stopping

even to sleep

And it’s past

your bedtime

Put your computer to sleep

If only you could do the same

to your mind

Good night

Sleep tight

Don’t let the bedbugs bite

Paintings and drawings

Drawing of Afghan women by Latifa

 

piled up in a corner

Art reflecting life

In Berkeley

In Afghanistan

In San Francisco

Ink sketch of San Francisco by Pamela Collett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a refugee camp

All originals

Drawing by Afghan girl, Nafisa, age 13, in a refugee camp

All true statements

in different styles

Different mediums

Different lives

By different artists

Will they survive

Will anyone remember them

And what they sacrificed?

 

I place my computer

in its purple jacket

Carefully on the floor beside the art

out of the way

I must have a clear path at night

Remember

the secret to a long life is

hold on to the handrail

Do not fall

on your way to the toilet

with the nightly insomnia of age

And you sometimes sleep walk

Keep the path clear

Always

Hold on to the hand rail

even when there is none

written at Life Before Death,  Poetry Workshop with Paul Collis, 17 April 2019

National Museum of Australia, Canberra

 

Dead possum

Dead thylacine

Dead people

How to be alive

even when dead

How to continue

with no story

no land

How should I bury

the dead possum

in my front garden

How to show respect

How is it that today

this very day

there is death at my door

and on the radio

a program on

environmentally appropriate burial

listening while on my way

to Life Before Death

a poetry workshop

 

We need to change everything

The way we live

The way we die

The thylacine

could not change

trapped by invasion

The koala

cannot change

trapped by deforestation

We are trapped

By coal

By corporate greed

By subservient politicians

We are trapped

But trying to break free

 

Young people on strike

Urging us to escape

To do so requires change

and the changelessness

of indigenous cultures

who lived

with the land

with the animals

with the plants

with the rivers

Too late for that

But we must break out

And go back down

Down down

into the deep past

Embrace the deep past

For a renewed future

 

I do not know how

to bury

the dead possum

in my front garden

Perhaps I will learn today

The thylacine will teach me

Thank you for the lesson

I hope I have learned

Dead possum found in my front garden

 

Musical instruments from Kenya

Post script:

I did bury the possum

I read this poem.

I dug a hole in my front garden.

I used music makers from Africa

to send the possum on its way.

 

Your comments are always most welcome.

Please check out my other blog about the

novel I’m writing.  https://familyandfiction.com/

Thank you!

 

 

 

How can I possibly

sleep

with too much

to think

to read

I greedily swallow

poem after poem

by Kenneth Patchen

Reading as fast

as I possibly can

before the words

escape off the page

I grab them

and swallow

hungry for more

Words exploding

Poem sketch by Kenneth Patchen

inside me

I won’t let them escape

Word after word

Non sense

sensible

Ill logic

logical

My socks

have a hole in one

The shock of the cold

tile floor

I want to write

more

and more

Such is life

 

 

San Francisco Sunset, from Oakland Shoreline Park

 

What have you

noticed

observed

learned

after three weeks

in Oakland California?

 

Can you live in two places at once?

Can you accept a divided life,

bringing together past and present?

You thought you had to place your allegiance

with only one

with Australia

after struggling to accept and be accepted

You evaded and avoided

the other country because of your politics

and the comfort level you had achieved

living in Australia

 

Returning to the USA

motivated

by your mother

to distribute her ashes

on the beach at Pt. Reyes

according to her last wishes

And to help your friend Martha

in the momentous change

from an academic life

to so-called retirement

Where should she live?

Where would she accept

and be accepted?

 

You returned to Oakland, California

for three short weeks

Getting a snapshot of the lives

of past friends

and current family

After initial culture shock

living in a smaller space

with less autonomy

more people

more stress

more cars

more people

you settled in

Found a pace

and a space that suited the current you

You can be both

Just like you have two passports

You can incorporate both

the past and the present

 

Returning to Australia

on the bus ride

from the Sydney airport

back to Canberra

looking at

clouds upon clouds

that I lack words to describe

rolling hills

gum trees with grey-green leaves

I am calm and comfortable

I embrace my life here

without turning my back

on previous lives in the USA

 

Brindabellas, near Canberra, Australia

Haiku walk during contour 556 biennial public art festival

Lake Burley Griffin

Canberra Australia

21 October 2018

 

pushing a stroller

upright man

Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra Australia

gazing at lake

companion

walks head down

 

circulating

tree fluff

from foreign trees

 

brown leaves

white fluff

floating

dull green lake

 

red shirt

red pants

green meadow

two men

far apart

 

sculpture

unmoving

landscape

changing

 

large boat

small lake

artificial

 

headless

floating

dead magpie

 

Trash assembled

people attracted

 

Snake in tree

hanging down

tempted

 

White floating fluff

brown slow moving stream

 

zig zag in stream

sacred submerged

 

zig zag above

sacred beneath

Sculpture

minimal

stream

reflected

 

Cat on a leash

owner trained

 

Long dress

high heels

out of step

by the lake

Why can’t I read

novels

prose

as I once did

Devouring stories

lives

characters

immersion

I open a book

and close it

then another

and close it

within minutes

 

Is it the fault of poets

such as Clive James

Where every word counts

causing

prose

novels

to fall flat?

 

Or Samuel Wagan Watson

Ali Cobby Eckermann

Eleanor Lerman

Kenneth Rexroth

Other poets

names forgotten

sitting on the shelf

to be read and reread

 

Emotions linger

Specific poems

unremembered

Poets’ words

pierce

shine

penetrate

Leaving novels flat

colourless

Spoiled by chance

or choice

 

Now and then

poetry escapes me

the terms foreign

the language English

the context unknown

unwanted

unseen

 

A sometimes thing

poetry’s direct hit

reaching the heart

Pelicans Tucacas Venezuela

 

 

 

 

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