Who owns beauty?

I have a number of roses in my garden that flower despite the amateur level of care I provide. They are mostly older varieties that have been here since the sixties. Many are richly perfumed and have the most amazingly full bloom.

But that’s not what this poem is really about.

English rose 
The beauty of the English rose 
is not in her scent of sweetness, 
although it is a welcome relief from the world’s bitterness. 
The beauty of the English rose  
is not the softness of her petals, 
although they bring feeling back to hands of callouses and metal 
The beauty of the English rose 
is not in the way her barren stems survive the cold, 
those winter months when life is on hold. 
No matter how many invaders try to bring her down 
she wears her flowers like a crown. 
A crown not worn for your pleasure 
it is the bees she invites to her hidden treasure. 
The beauty of the English rose 
is not for human poem or prose, 
her beauty is for her alone. 

 
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Waking up to good news

Congratulations Australia on surviving a 6 week election campaign in which candidates bulldoze tackled small children; non-one knew what the OCR was (or why it matters); and someone who “doesn’t hold a hose” seemed to be forever donning hard hats and high-vis.

There will, of course, who are disappointed that they won’t have the seats to form the next government. I suggest they look to back to the core values that founded the Liberal party and compare those values to its current policy platform. Take a look at the society you exist in now and think about you can rebuild trust and regain your integrity. My final suggestion is – never take the voting woman for granted ever again. Women are sick of the misogyny inherent in policy decisions that don’t recongise the value of their work; that don’t address job security and decent working conditions; that don’t tackle discrimination, harassment and violence; and that don’t enable them to fully participate in public life.

Sunrise over the harbour 

In an instant our world is transformed 

the first light breaches darkness. 

We turn to face the sun, unadorned 

eyes shining with hopefulness. 

Discard the empty memories of yesterday: 

we are alive and live for today.

A sunrise promise 

A sunrise paradise.
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An opposite view

Winter is my favourite season, followed by autumn (fall). Summer is my least favourite because it is way too hot and, to be honest, I prefer wearing warm clothing and breathing crisp cold air. Spring is the season I am most ambivalent about – it means that I am leaving my beloved snow capped peaks behind, and will soon be sweltering through long commutes to work.

Spring 

Spring – the most joyous of seasons 

considered so pretty and fragile: 

a metaphor for love and life, 

and paragon of virtue beyond reason. 

Spring – the underhanded season 

it has successfully waged 
a propaganda campaign 

to create its brand, its name: 

so that we don’t remember its acts of treason, 

the creation of life purely for death. 

The explosion of colour that, too quickly,
is laid to rest. 
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Letting go

Primarily today’s poem is a reflection the slow process of losing someone to dementia, for example Alzheimer’s. All the things you remember become tales from a strange land for them: strange, and frightening, tales they don’t want to hear and you don’t want to tell them again. The poem also reveals a fear that lingers in the back of my mind – that memory loss will creep into my life, robbing my of the things that make me who I am; that my tales will become and strange and frightening. And that I will forget the people who mean the most to me.

Leaving 

I remember the sound of 

soft crunching as I walked over  

the dried leaves that had been stolen by  

Autumn only to be thrown to the ground. 


I remember the feeling of  

the damp air cool as the sun disappeared 

over the ranges. The loss of warmth  

signaling the end of the summers I had known.  

I remember the scent of  

your perfume, how it hung around  

you like a moon in orbit.  

The bottle sits half-empty  

collecting dust as its contents sour.  


I remember.  

Yes, I remember.  

And although I don't walk in  

that forest anymore,  

or see many of the people from before,  

I can still recall all the details  

and I can't stop remembering  

that you will remember nothing of me. 


 
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Coal is good for humanity

“The future for coal is bright and it is the responsibility for government to try to ensure that we are there making it easier for everyone wanting to have a go. It is a great day for the world because this mine will keep so many people employed … it will make so many lives better. This mine epitomises the have-a-go spirit”.

Tony Abbott, australian prime minister at the opening of a coal mine in Queensland, 13 oct 2014

Are you appalled yet? In May 2014, Abbott told a minerals industry parliamentary dinner he could think of “few things more damaging to our future” than leaving coal in the ground.

So today I am kicking the tires on messaging about coal, climate change and the future of humanity. If you’d read some of my other blog posts you know I get a political and write on themes about nature quite often. Here is a poem I’ve been working on that looks at the ‘good for humanity’ claims of the former Australian Prime Minister.

Coal is good for humanity
Coal is god for humanity
no wait - hear me out.
If it weren't for coal
we'd be stuck in olds of old
No industrial revolution
No copious and conspicuous consumption.
I doubt we'd have tv or social media
Imagine having to be book readier?!
Oh the humanity.

Coal is definitely good for humanity
You gotta hear me out...
It doesn't deserve our demonisation
As it loyally supports the combustion
that drives the world's energy needs
even as those pesky ice caps recede.
Maybe it's actually time
To open more mines.

Yes coal is good for humanity
You really should agree
It's finally given us a use for trees
And winters that are starting to feel balmy
Is it really possible for a tulip bloom
to be described as arriving too soon?
But maybe coal can be even better for humanity
Our meddling species could learn a little humility.
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Poetry about sport

We are approaching rugby union season in those Southern Hemisphere countries that partake in this particular form of sport. The Black Ferns, New Zealand Women’s side, has had remarkable success winning five of the past six World Cups. The male team, the All Blacks, are an ok side too.

I wrote these poems while watching a game of rugby at Sky Stadium (it was called Westpac Stadium at the time). We had cheap seats in the nose bleed section, and there was a guy behind us who basically screamed instructions to both teams all game! From what I recall the Sprinkboks (South Africa) beat the All Blacks that night.

So you are getting two sports themed poems today. #winning

It's only a game
The heave 

a rush 

Bodies pressed against each other 

meaningless passion 

Collision 

territory gained and lost 

colours fly high, a testament 

to consumerism, corporatisation 

And I am amongst it 

trying to decode meaning 

hidden in the testosterone  

and malice this Friday night.


Projections 

All the things he said to you, 

those barbed compliments, 

dangled as if you could ever 
win his approval. 

The combinations you think they should play. 

The weaknesses in their side, your side. 

The empty plays 

that are eating you alive. 

And you are here now 

with your flag flying high 

believing that you can shout 
the winning combination  

from the noise bleed section- 

to the losing team on the field 
and to the little boy inside your head. 
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Not quite, but close enough

I haven’t found my poisoned honey poem yet – it was in a set list from early last year I think. It will turn up, I hope. In the meantime I thought I might write some new material based on some of my favourite phrases.

A haiku
Golden words drip from 
your mouth like poisoned honey.
Slowly killing truth.

Not plain sailing
Words are like sharp coral
setting traps for the 
unsuspecting sailor.
So many ways to trip up:
disclose what you'd wish 
had remained hidden.
With each syllable
facades fall away
and we are left naked
anchored in truths.
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Hardening

This poem was written a while ago and was hiding out in the archive, waiting for its rediscovery. I was actually looking for a work that contains the phrase “poisoned honey” but it must in another note book pushed further to the back of the cupboard.

Anyway, I found this one and read it again. I think it deserves to be set loose into the world. It is about damaged people and the ways of knowing our stories that we have.

 
Burn marks on memories
Their eyes are full 
as they stare at the wounds and scars. 
“You should really do something about that". 
They'll tut, the acid of their words 
Burning deeper into fragile flesh. 
“How bad does it hurt?” 
they ask prodding at a scab 
in the hope it will dislodge 
and will blood rise to the surface. 
Turning my immune system against me 
is a cherished dream revealed as a twinkle in eyes 
and a less than convincing furrowed brow. 
“Why do you do this to yourself?”. 
An innocent question posed by the guilty party. 
As if I can stop their demons and mine 
with the body they broke. 
I can see my transformation happening, 
the hardening into thick lizard skin,  
I love the beauty of its protectiveness  
and the way it repulses them. 
I may not feel like me, 
but I don't think I ever have. 
I doubt many of us ever do. 
The wounded and those who carry the hidden scars, 
we know what I mean 
when I say 
I can trace the terrain of where I’ve been 
in the lines 
across my finger prints 
and burn marks on my memories. 
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Barrenness

This poem last written last year when I was thinking about the word ‘barren’ and the various connotations it can have.

It started with the first line, as I had just harvested some Christmas potatoes, and I been digging the soil in search of their starchy treasure. The rest of the poem flowed from there.

Lost causes

My hands are digging into the dirt

Soil embedding deeper under my fingernails

I cannot stop.

My eyes are searching

Rocks and the roots of weeds mock my efforts

I cannot stop.

My hope is dwindling

There is no meal to be found here today

I cannot stop.

And just like that, your face turns away from my kiss

And I know the fertile land of love is lost to me now

I don’t know how to stop.
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What is ‘survival’

Over the last few weeks I have watching Extant, a TV show starring Halle Berry. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3155320/

It’s got me thinking at a meta scale about species extinction and those that are extant (still surviving). But at a micro level, every individual is surviving in face of challenges both real and imagined. For those who survive horrific experiences there are consequences such as ongoing physical health issue, post traumatic stress and survivor guilt. Thinking about these things inspired the following poem that explores the meaning and consequences of being a ‘survivor’.

Survival 
Survival is an act of defiance 
That can fill your lungs with air and make you feel your power. 
Survival is an act of carrying on with wounds 
That no-one else can see but pollute your senses. 
Survival is a state of being 
So betwixt and between that you are both dead and alive. 
Survival is a commemoration of those who didn’t  
That places weight on your shoulders to mourn and laugh in their honour. 
Survival is the pattern of a species so intelligent, so creative 
And so incapable of rewriting its scripts. 
Survival is not something to be proud of, it is not heroic 
It is result of the universe’s randomness and disregard for us. 
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