To be outside

one’s self

Listening

running water

screeching birds

machete chop

Smelling

tall grasses

wild jasmine

Watching

white and yellow butterflies

fluorescent blue-green birds

Trying to remember

what you thought

you’d never forget

A stream in Nanyuki, Kenya

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If I could

 

If I could

rearrange his life

like I do his shoes

Move them over here

by the front door

accessible

The ones he needs

to go out

 

17 April 2018

Last night at Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, Australia, a night of poetry reading, speaking out for refugees and human rights.  That Poetry Thing: Not Very Quiet Journal Presents: Women’s Voices for Refugees – Poetry Fund Raiser for Canberra Refugee Support.

I was the last person to read after a series of poems by refugees and powerful spoken word presentations of the agony of asylum seekers imprisoned on Nauru and Manus by the Australian government.

As I listened to the poetry readings,  I had been thinking how could I possibly follow these powerful presentations?  Do I have anything to say? When called upon to read, I got up from the rear of the rather crowded venue, climbed over several people, stepped on a few toes and climbed up on the stage.

I read two poems, one an excerpt from Frontline by Tony Birch, the other poem Identity by me.  I focused on the expropriation of Australia by European settlers.  Why was I allowed to come to Australia but asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru were imprisoned?  Who determined who had a “right” to be here? All of us, except the Aboriginal peoples, were interlopers, invaders and migrants.

Here are the poems:

Broken Teeth: poetry collection

By Tony Birch

Excerpt from Poem:

Frontline Australia

 

we call on all white men

of military experience and

willing to defend

 

at whatever cost and vigilance

our coastlines, our cities

our clubs, wallets & women

 

against the vast mass

of humanity not of us

as we know us to be

———————–

24 Jan 2017 (date of writing)

Identity

By Pamela Collett

 

Mine was never based on

birthplace

religion

family

 

Mine was based on

Getting best grades

Going to university

a pragmatic

empirical

daily

identity

 

No roots

Just a bundle of

values

that could travel anywhere

A floater

living in my head

 

Confused by questions

of identity

in Australia

European people

living in a place based on

denial of place

of country

of those

who have been here

for 65,000 years

Upstarts

destroying records

bones

artifacts

to assert their right

to control identity

 

1 March 2018

Remembering 1 March 2011

In my mother’s house

by her bed side

A few days earlier when she asked, Am I dying?

I replied, Yes and everything is taken care of.

So grateful that I could be there

with her those final days.

I flew to Kansas City from Nairobi

to join the team caring for her at home.

Deedee was the carer closest to my mom.

I was the back up,

listening every night on the monitor

in my bedroom

connected to her sleeping porch.

Listening for any changes, any sounds.

In the final days

my older son joined us.

We were by her side

when she opened her eyes

and looked at us both.

We each said, I love you

and she was gone.

Miss you mom.

Bette Hutchison Silver (date 1996?)

Bette Snidow Hutchison and Pamela, 1945

 

 

 

Greetings!

Welcome to feedback on my book of poems and drawings, Silence Spoken.

 

I am enjoying reading your poems and I like your sketches very much. You have experienced so much in your life. Your words are an eloquent expression of your suffering, joy, awareness and appreciation of the natural world. The book is very attractively designed and printed. Congratulations on publishing it!

Anne, Kansas City, Missouri, USA

You can purchase Silence Spoken at http://www.lulu.com (discounted price) or on Barnes and Noble or Amazon.  Thanks!

Watching, listening
People at Kingston Library
Canberra, Australia

Very stressed man
The well-dressed man, black pants, long-sleeved, light blue cotton shirt, dark, maybe black tie, first stand against the plate glass window of the library
stand up talk and straight. Is he waiting for someone… no one comes

Then he sits down on the low brick wall encasing a green garden that has no appeal, that is something green, growing but without definition, just bunched together green, with a green metal bench near by. Yet he does not sit on the bench.

His head is down. His hands rub his almost bald head, with the remaining hair shaved, newly shaved, must be shaved every day. He’s using earphones that are plugged into an iPhone. He is not talking to someone is he listening to whom to what?

Now he lifts his head and rests his chin on his hands. Wait a minute
He just moved his hands and he is talking now. His hands show some frustration as do the wrinkles in his forehead. He seems somewhat upset, tapping the phone in his right hand while into his left, his hands are moving back and forth. He is wearing cuff links. I could see them before. Now he looks as if he is thinking about what is being said, but he is not happy about it. He punches something on the phone. He strokes his chin. He looks down but not at the phone. His chin rest on his left fist. Now he lowers his head again shakes his head puts his hand on his forehead briefly. Now he chews for a second on his finger of his left hand.
Looks upset. Lowers his head. Shakes his head
Rubs his head, left hand holding the mobile phone
White strings of earphones hanging down
Right hand cradling his head
Cannot see his eyes
Not looking anywhere                                                                                                         Left hand momentarily lifts the phone
Now he looks up briefly over his left shoulder
Head down again
Hand on his head
Left hand now cradling his chin
Moves mobile phone to right hand
Thinking
Moving left hand over his face
Pulling on his nose, his chin
Looking over left shoulder
Taking up phone again
Punching something into phone
May be making a call
Looks at phone
Yes probably but now puts phone down beside him
momentarily picks it up again
Rubbing his head with left hand, right hand holding phone
Seems to not know what to do next
People walk by but he does not see them
Now chewing on fingers of his right hand
Looking up but not seeing
Slight smile crinkles around the eyes
Now he is talking? Briefly
Gets up
Straightens trousers
Adjusts belt walks towards library
Stands outside Vietnamese restaurant
Is he talking? But he doesn’t have a blue tooth just earphones which enable him to hear but not talk
Now he is talking raises his hand
Points with his finger
Walks over to low wall
Right foot on low wall
Phone behind his back in left hand
Walking with arms crossed, standing near Vietnamese restaurant
Average looking chap neither thin nor fat neither muscular nor skinny
yet no pot belly
Now can no longer see him

• • •

Young woman shapely tight dress
very tight dress can see her crack,
movement of buttocks,
not very shapely legs, high heels,
black and white horizontal stripes

• • •

Out of sight for some time
The stressed man has something in a small paper bag in his right hand.
He still has the white earphones in his ears with the wire trailing down to his left pocket when he has placed his phone
He is gesturing and talking while he walks across the street and disappears

• • •

Overheard: mobile phone conversation

Why because of the money
She miscounted it
Why
Doesn’t she want to go home?
Are you kidding?
No you don’t want to deal with it
Yeah
Yeah
Are you looking for anything else, Katherine?
You cannot go on like this
You either have to go home or do something
Your health is
You’re going downhill
She’s really being rude and awful
And
She’s really converted into
Noise of opening door obscures conversation
Another opening door

• • •
Another overheard mobile phone conversation

Lookalike of stressed man but taller, thinner and checked shirt
Large eyes
Balding shaved head

That’s right
Well it’s like trouble like this
It’s the essence of special case
She might get back
Noise again
But what
Yeah
Oh my god
I’m sorry
Okay
Now she’s not well
Yeah
Yeah
Yeah
Uh huh
Well ours starts at 8:45 so that’s all right
Oh yeah yeah yeah
Yeah yeah
Yeah
So what
She
Yeah
Yeah
Uh huh
Yeah
Uh huh
Yeah
Huh?
Half laugh
Change in stress of voice
Jackie who?
Jackie Boodle I thought she left
Yeah
I don’t know her
Other people turned up
You had to go to the side door or whatever to let them in
Um humm
Yeah yeah
Yeah
Uhmmmumhumm
Is Kerry being mean still or
Yeah
Oh
Well it doesn’t look good
All I can say
Think about coming home
Still a ways away
Yeah
Yes
Okay I’ll talk to you later right
You too bye
Bye

• • •
Man trying to look distinguished but
his stomach so protruding he cannot button his suit jacket
A Michael Moore look alike
Fat
Sloppy
No neck
Swinging arms
Walking around the corner

I’ll walk you through that
Yes the walls have been painted
Yes
Um I believe that yes
I’ll ring up the book
I remember because I was there
Okay so
On the ninth of January
I am reading his handwriting

• • •

Two unlikely characters
one quite thin, flat hat, young, dark hair, heavy black eyebrows
One quite fat, shorts, more typical Australian hat, straw, blue band, belly sticking out shirt cannot stay tucked in, light hair, blue eyes
Beard, beige shorts, brown leather sandals

Put in your details
I’ve seen multiple copies
I’ve seen like
Unfortunately not
Go for the license issue
The technological issue

I’ve been applying for jobs
You just don’t have the right voice
My day off
Needs some polishing
And said for you to proof read after he’s done
It’s always good to have another pair of eyes
It’s a job at the ANU for a library position as well
Working in science
Many years ago
Research part
Going to use you as a reference
I knew that would be okay
Chris said to use him
Great
Is that the visitors’ centre
Yeah yeah
You would have been fine the deadline was February 1st.
I did apply for that
I just couldn’t budget and all that sort of thing
Yeah
Sure
Yeah
Is this all about the
That’s the way
A wake if he’s still alive in a lot of ways
Well you took care of him
Hello
That’s incredible

•   •   •

Gaggle of girls going by
Like parrots on the ground
instead of in the air

• • •

Yet another overheard conversation

Okay
I know
The critical element
Yep
It is
But you can’t
Yep yep
Okay
What do I need a little more
Anything in particular you were looking for
Thank you very much
What’s that?

A dead end
a cul de sac end of conversation
I wasn’t there
So I don’t know
Yeah
Yeah
All right
I was trying to ring up
Good afternoon
How are you
It did
It did
No worries
Sounds perfect
John’s working on it
And I am too
My pleasure
Talk to you later
Bye

I write the poetry
of every day life
of chance encounters
with people
with plants
with birds
Magpie wandering
through our house
Wind
Waves
Clouds
Reach out
and touch
Write out
and share

 

                                                          Gum tree

22 September 2017

Poetry on the Move, the festival of poetry sponsored by the University of Canberra ended yesterday.  A week of poetry and poems and poets… Delicious.

In between poetry readings, I wrote two very short poems. The first one was just after I left an evening session and was walking through the campus back to my car.  The second was right after a poetry reading.

•  •   •  •   •   •   •   •

talking to myself

walking to myself

thinking to myself

looking to myself

watching to myself

singing to myself

jumping to myself

leaping to myself

speaking to myself

asking to myself

learning to myself

telling to myself

forgiving to myself

•     •     •    •    •   •   •

Pamela at Boodoree National Park, ACT, Australia

•   •   •   •   •   •   •

time jumping

space splitting

heart thumping

mind shifting

head shaking

breath escaping

word singing

poetry emerging

 

Feeling excluded

alienated

by poetry readings

Poetry should open up

new worlds

expansive ways of being

Aching head

Worn out by tedious presentations

Speaking only to themselves

and a closed off group of poets

But are they poets

if they speak only of other dead poets

of esoteric translations

Not speaking to me

Except for the Serbo Russian Australian woman

sitting next to me

She is a storyteller

I haven’t read her poems

Only one about Anzac day

I only partially understood

her use of the Aussie idiom

How many languages does she speak?

She speaks stories

so she will be heard

I seek refuge

exhausted

barely able to drive home

Going to bed

Sleeping not too soundly

Awaken aching for something

Opening a poetry book

Our Post-Soviet History Unfolds

for solace

for reassurance

Do I still understand poetry?

Can I read and be comforted

that there are other worlds out there

other minds that

show me the world

I cannot see by myself?

Thank you Eleanor Lerman

 

 

Panorama, Depot Beach    New South Wales, Australia

 

 

Nature Reserve

 

The gate signing

what can and

cannot be done

Walking on

path rutted

shaped by many feet

Scraggly natives

Yellow strawflowers

Grey green shoulder

broken by embedded stone

Piercing red rosehips

Screaming noisy miner

birds signal invasion

Swinging head

back and forth

Kangaroos watching

waiting, then

fleeing from unknown

Arriving at summit

Grey clouds open

slivers of gold

above blue ridges

defining the end

     Sunset      Red Hill Nature Reserve                     Canberra Australia

 

Thinking of my brother Lon Hutchison.  His birthday is 22 June.  He would have been 62 years old.  He was hit by a bus and killed in Mazatlan Mexico 5 May 2014. 

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