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Poetry in motion

(on the bus in Canberra Australia)

 

Grey green rain

Winter grass

surviving

Fog shrouding

Black Mountain

Softening the

harshness of

Telstra tower

Bare tree limbs

reach up

Edging the lake

Ride ending

Get off

Go on

 

Reading Gary Snyder

Grey shale roof

Mountain over village

A few lines

Others go nowhere

Awareness sharpened

By thought and travel

Can we all be poets

If we keep moving?

 

 

 

Pain of cars upon cars

taking up tree space

Metallic invaders

destroying people and plants

Square standing building

Windows in shadow

Books upon books inside

protected forever

Will someone read them?

Why write if not read?

Why paint if not seen?

Why breathe if not loved?

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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

 

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

 

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. 

Kangaroos Red HIll 014

The gate signing

what can and

cannot be done

Walk through

path rutted

shaped by so many feet

no need to look

Scraggly natives

Yellow strawflowers

Grey green shoulder

Broken by embedded stone

Piercing red rose hips

Screaming noisy miner

birds signal invasion

Swinging head

back and forth

Kangaroos watching

waiting

Fleeing from unknown

Arrived

on top

Viewing all

under control until

Grey clouds

open

slivers of gold

above blue ridges

defining the end

 

Vista Red Hill Sunset_0391

Gum Tree 20002

 

White skeleton

of a gum tree

against green

deen deen deen

Bell birds

toll slow death

of the forest

 

Gum Trees 20005

Below are comments from people who have read my book of poems and drawings, Silence Spoken, available on http://www.lulu.com

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

 

 

Sunset Red Hill vista_1730

 

climbing Red Hill

2 mushrooms

1 dead rabbit

countless kangaroos

 

 

Sunset Gum Tree Red HIll, Canberra, Australia

Sunset Gum Tree Red HIll, Canberra, Australia

7 October 2015

Dear Friends,

I am reposting the blog below about SIEV X that I posted in January 2014.

Recently I returned to the SIEV X memorial and walked and read each post. This Sunday 11 October 2015 there will be a protest against the incarceration of asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru Islands, instead of bringing them to Australia for processing and resettling.  The struggle for human rights goes on.  JOIN US!

———————————————————-

In my last blog, I asked when does a death become a tragedy?  Death is a normal event. When is it a tragedy?  What does it depend upon?  The relationship of the deceased person to you?  The age of the deceased?  The circumstances of their death?

The examples I gave were from my own life – my friends and family members.  Each death had a meaning – an impact on me and many others.  Only one death, because it was preventable, that of my friend Tausi who died of stigma attached to HIV/AIDs, did I describe as a tragedy.

Another criteria for tragedy is numerical.  If there are many preventable deaths, is that a tragedy?  What if we don’t know personally any of the people who died?  Do we experience their deaths as a tragedy?

On 20 October 2001, in international waters off of Australia, a small, very overcrowded fishing boat sank.  This boat was not being used for fishing.  This small boat was transporting 400 desperate people, mostly women and children, who were trying to get to Australia to seek asylum.  The boat was labelled SIEV X – Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel X.

353 people drowned – 146 children, 142 women, 65 men.

The drowning of 353 people jammed onto the small fishing boat called SIEV X is a tragedy.  Although it happened over 12 years ago, SIEV X is a continuing tragedy for Australians.

SIEV X is a tragedy that is burrowing away inside the heart and soul of this very large, mostly arid continent and country.  The response that ignored the tragedy of  the deaths of SIEV X is a tumor that is silently growing.  Some people in Australia are trying to excise it, but many are feeding it, helping it to grow bigger and bigger.

The mainstream media and political parties in Australia feed the growth of this ugly tumor.  They categorize  as “illegals”, the asylum seekers, most of whom are fleeing for their lives and have a genuine claim, according to international conventions signed by Australia.

As a huge continent with a population of about 23 million, enjoying one of the highest standards of living on the planet, politicians and media have again and again whipped up fear of  the “others”, who are supposedly planning to invade and take over Australia – much as the Europeans did to the original indigenuous Australians over 200 years ago.

Opposed to this fear mongering, thousands of Australians are bringing people together to expose and destroy this tumor burrowing deep into the social fabric.  One of the most splendid and inspiring examples of this positive response is the SIEV X Memorial, which acknowledges a profound tragedy that affects us all.

SIEV X Memorial sign Canberra Australia

SIEV X Memorial sign Canberra Australia

I first discovered the SIEV X Memorial by accident.  After a picnic in Canberra, Australia, I walked around Weston Park. I saw a number of white poles, similar to Aboriginal memorial poles, on a hillside overlooking Lake Burley Griffin.

SIEV X Memorial, Lake Burley Griffin in background

SIEV X Memorial, Lake Burley Griffin in background

Each pole has a unique painting, a plaque with the name and age of the person who drowned or “unknown” on it and a second plaque with the name of the group in Australia who painted the memorial pole.

I looked carefully at each pole – 353 for the people who died when the SIEV X boat sank  in October 2001.

I walked the entire 400 metres reading each plaque, overwhelmed by the pain of this tragedy. At the same time  I was encouraged that thousands of Australians throughout the country participated in creating the SIEV X Memorial.

SIEV X memorial, Canberra Australia

SIEV X Memorial, Canberra Australia

If you live or visit Canberra Australia, be sure to visit the SIEV X Memorial in Weston Park.  SIEV X is not listed in the free tourist booklets  or on the Canberra website. You can find out more information at http://www.sievxmemorial.com

SIEV X Pole commemorating death of a child, age 2

SIEV X Pole commemorating death of a child, age 2

Still winter

Grey green landscape

startled

by extreme yellow

too abundant flowers

Overflowing

bending branches

to the ground

Shouting

Look at me

Like the raucous flock

of sulphur crested cockatoos

overhead

Beating out the competition

Blooming extravagantly

before others

even get started.

Acacia pycnantha

Golden Wattle

 

 

Wattle Trees 60146Wattle Cascade 60151

 

 

 

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