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Road in Central Australia

Never been here

yet a familiar landscape

Is this

…Kenya or


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


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.

Thank you!




1 March 2017

I remember.  The final day I had with you Mom.  1 March 2011.  I was there when you opened your eyes, looked at me and your grandson Nathan and then closed your eyes forever.  A few days earlier you had asked me if you were dying.  I said yes and that everything was taken care of, you could go in peace.  And you did.

Yesterday I got out your blue jean jacket with the patches from one of your trips to Africa.  You sewed all the patches and embroidered the outline of the African continent on the back of the jacket.

Mom's Africa Jacket

                     Mom’s Africa Jacket

I live surrounded by you.  Whenever I go out, I open up the drawers with your jewelry and choose something to wear.  Bracelets, necklaces, so many to choose from.

You are always with me and will be forever.

With love,



Below are comments from people who have read my book of poems and drawings, Silence Spoken, available on

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 11.44.14

The poems I liked best are those set in Venezuela, describing aspects of the environment and the sea and those set in Beijing capturing the impact of rapid change – for good and bad, especially “Observed:Beijing”.  It’s what I felt when in China, but succinctly and eloquently expressed.  I enjoyed the whole book, for what it expressed and also for what was left unsaid, or merely hinted at.

Mary, Canberra, Australia

Thank you very much for your awesome publication.  Sketches look lovely & will enjoy browsing too.

Khalida, Blue Mountains, Australia

There is another side of you, a contemplative one that I would not have guessed.  I am no poet and so can’t comment on the poetry but I like the sketches.

Anita, Canberra, Australia

2. Ink Tucacas Sea 3 web

I just browsed through it and your art work is powerful.  I especially like the brush painting from Pakistan. But then your “essentials only” style on Langata, Nairobi, Kenya is so spot on. I’ve read some poems too, but you know me, the art is so immediate.

Sheila, Berkeley, California, USA

Thanks so much for your book of poetry and illustrations!
It is really lovely.  Keep creativity alive!

Margot, Berkeley, California, USA

3. Pak Karkoram 772 webKarimabad, Pakistan

I have looked through it and read several random poems and David has spent much more time with it. We both are enjoying looking at these snapshots of your life.  Your drawings give life to your travels.

Linda, Baldwin, Kansas, USA

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

7. Ink Nairobi Person webMan walking, Langata, Nairobi, Kenya

The poem Somewhere, snagged my eye. A knee jerk response to seeing my birthday near the bottom of the page. Reading it through I can only say, thanx for the birthday present.

The poem, Fishing at Sunset, I was timeported to Elk California doing that same such thing using carpenter’s line with old spark plugs on the end for weight. Holding the line for the twitch of the rockfish that might be dinner or dining on smaller fish if it slips the hook.

David, Baldwin, Kansas, USA



Sunrise Tucacas Venezuela

Sunrise Tucacas Venezuela

9 October 2012, Tucacas, Venezuela

First Sorting, Culling

How can I?

Sitting at a large

wooden rustic table

made in Mexico

Purchased by my mother

in the year 2000

half price

at a shop in Valencia Venezuela

specializing in Mexican and Thai

furniture and decorations

Shipped to Tucacas.

I would like to take

the table to Australia

but that is not possible.

And is it possible

to take all these fat files

With me?

Should I carry the past onward?

To what purpose?

How can I?

Sitting at a large wooden table

in the sea breeze

Listening to the triumph

of the Revolucion Bolivariana

on the television

and wading through

20 years of my life

files upon files

The fat heavy thick ones

are about women

in Afghanistan.

The ones I easily discard

are about gender training

which somehow never worked

seems useless now.

Yet women are far from equal

anywhere in the world

as if the world stopped.

Did I give up?

Did I decide to go with the flow?



Let others decide.

Don’t push so hard.

Reigned in by



in a Nairobi slum

with young people

mostly male.

Far removed from

working with

mature Afghan women

mostly professional,

with Somali radio team

full of contradictions

and  betrayal.

I tried to overlook

while I concentrated on

well-paid international

do-nothing officials

as the main enemy.

But others were lurking

to ensure the work

or at least myself

was undermined.

Is that why I am tired?


but not bored.

Jumping up to

eat dark chocolate

for renewed energy

to face the past

And sort it out .


Tucacas Beach at Sunset

Tucacas Beach at Sunset

8 Sept 2013 Tucacas, Venezuela 

Papers sorted

with a scanner

In one week

Reliving 20 years










Dual citizenship

Friends since lost

or found again

Packing stuff







to send to Australia

Narrabundah house

Walls covered

With paintings, photos.

Floors covered

with rugs.

Walking through rooms

walking through my life

Making room for everything

and everyone.


What  is Kibera?  A sprawling urban slum in East Africa, home to several hundred thousand people.

Where is Kibera?  In Nairobi, Kenya.

Why do I walk through Kibera every day?

I live on one side of Kibera and work on the other side.  There is no public transport through Kibera.  There is one very bumpy, often impassable single dirt road which vehicles use only if they must make a delivery to some small shop.  Motorcycles do go through regularly delivering, bread, milk and people.

Here is part one of photos of my daily walk through Kibera.  I am walking home from Hot Sun Foundation (, where I work as a volunteer.

I usually wear gum boots because it is quite muddy in spots, even when it hasn’t rained recently.  During the rainy season, gumboots are a must.

Let’s go 

Pamela at the gate of Hot Sun Foundation in Kibera, starting her walk home

Pamela at the gate of Hot Sun Foundation in Kibera, starting her walk home. Son Nathan Collett in background

On the street, near our office, with school children, small shops

On the street, near our office, with school children, small shops

WTK 4 RR 556 web


Walking towards the railroad tracks.  The railroad runs 
through Kibera, from Mombasa, Kenya on the coast
to Kampala, Uganda 
Trash heap near railroad tracks.  No regular services in Kibera.  Occasional pickup by train or truck.

Trash heap near railroad tracks. No regular services in Kibera. Occasional pickup by train or truck.


To be continued.


Sketches of  Mazatlan Mexico

Sketches of Mazatlan Mexico by Bette Silver, in horizontal and vertical frames in bedroom, Canberra Australia

Bette's Inn Sign

Bette’s Inn sign on our patio wall Canberra Australia

Bette Hutchison Silver had an open house policy.  Until the last two years of her life, she had parties and frequently entertained her friends and neighbors on her wonderful screened-in front porch at 623 Greenway Terrace, Kansas City, Missouri.

Her house was full of objects that Bette collected during her travels throughout the USA, including from the SouthWest and antique trips with a friend to New England, from  Africa, which she visited several times, from Latin America, especially Mexico and Venezuela as well as from local Kansas City artists.

Bette shared her house and her collections with all, giving away objects that people admired.  After her death on 1 March 2011, all of the contents of her house, except for a few mementos kept by her family were sold at a house sale.

People everywhere, many of whom knew Bette Hutchison Silver, now have Bette in their house.

In our house in Canberra Australia, many of the objects that make it a home are gifts and objects from Bette Hutchison Silver.  On all our walls, our shelves, our book cases are objects from Bette.

From the entry way, through every room,  in our house in Canberra, Australia, there are reminders of Bette. In this blog are photos of just a few.

Please send me photos of the objects you have of Bette in Your House with any comments, memories, stories you might have.  I would like to post them on this blog.

Happy Birthday Bette! 

Bette Jo Snidow was born on 10 March 1922, in Joplin, Missouri, USA.  

Bette would have been 91 years old today.

We miss you Bette!



Our house in Canberra, Australia

Our house in Canberra, Australia

Entrance to Canberra house
Entrance to Canberra house

In our entry: Bette’s punched tin pie cabinet, from one of her many antique trips, with her hat from her Australian trip and some local artists multimedia art.

Bette's multi-colored Southwestern USA cabinet

Bette’s multi-colored Southwestern USA cabinet

Fantastic painted multicolored cabinet, with Kansas City cow sculpture, wooden and ceramic village and bus from Venezuela and painted fish from Mexico.

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