Saturday, August 31, 2013


Ponderings from Beaufort St – 1st September 2013.

They stood, huddled in the door way
Two bodies taking up space
Peering through glass panes
They looked within
A window to another space

An empty space,
Deserted and forlorn
Where echoes had died
Strangled by the empty weight
Of rooms with no breathing space

They shuffled sideways
To a window, grey and grimed
Looking through
Dusty tracks of tears
Rain drops of regret

Empty rooms, filled
With silent memories
Sepia toned, shadows
Loitering in the corners
Of their minds

They stood, but where?
In front of the window looking in?
Or behind the window looking in?
Did they peer within?
Or peer without?

With a sigh, they turned
And walked away
Imprint of a hand
On a grimy window

A smudge of memory

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Kiss

Ponderings from Beaufort St – 30th August 2013

They sat,
She side saddle on his lap
He perched on metal stool
Beside busy road of
Anxious cars driven by
Neurotic drivers and
Buses constipated with
Rush hour commuters
They oblivious to it all

A word spoken
Caught in the cacophony of noise
Slipped unheard
In the space between
She leaning in to him
Youthful suppliant
Strands of hair falling
Blond curtain of
No privacy

Eyes shut
Transported and transformed
From teenage gangly awkwardness
To sophisticated erotic lovers
Arousing passion with smooth finesse
Instead of groping mole like to plant a kiss
I passed the second before mouths met
Within the embrace of youthful passion
Was more a clinging it would not last

That first kiss
Is always weighted
Weighted with the fragility of possibility
Weighted with hope’s expectation
Of what might be
Perhaps that is why
They closed their eyes
So they could not see
The weight behind each other’s eyes

Thursday, August 29, 2013


It started with a step
More half a step
Tenuous, careful
As it testing
Then retreating
Two steps back
The momentum of that step
Crept, toe tapping forward
It tapped a beat
Then two
Shoe shuffled
Then two beats became three

Movement began as a twitch
Self-conscious spasm
Key to unlock
Decades rule against movement
The twitch became a ripple
Supple, sinuous, sensuous
Syncopated with three beat feet

Then with a sigh
A sigh that blew open his doors
He danced in careless freedom
He danced his dance
His dance of liberation
And some look on in disbelief
And some in sneering disdain

But he unconcerned,
Had finally got the beat
Had the rhythm of his dance
The syncopating beat of feet
It was his dance
His dance alone
He danced his liberation and his freedom
He danced his grief, his sadness
He danced his joy, his laughter
He danced as he never had
He danced as he thought he never would
He danced for he had learnt
To dance his dance

His dance alone.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


I am the haunted
Who dwells
In the mansion of my hauntings
Content to wander ghostly corridors
Grovelling in guilty shrouds
Apologising for being me

I wander deserted hallways of my mind
Cobwebs strung across
Neural pathways
Dust catchers instead of dreams
Spiders of guilt, sucking on the
Ashes of what I could have been

I dance in the grey, grey light
In my arms embraced
Under guilt’s revolving disco ball
Fractured, rupturing
Splintering me
I dance for absolution

What would I do with absolution
What do the haunted do
When healed
Drink absinthe to forget
The ghosts of our own making
Wormwood grown fat on layers of guilt

I am the haunted
I am the haunting
In minds mirrored halls, I see
Reflected back to me
My genuflecting
To the ghouls of me

They feed on me
These parts of me
Yet they are not me
For the whole of me
Is more
Than a summary of my parts

I am not the haunted
I am not the haunting
I am the dreamer
I am the dancer
I am the dreaming dancer
The dancer who is me

Monday, August 26, 2013

Railway Stations

Platforms, so many
In one lifetime
Places of leaving
Saying good byes
Always hoping to arrive

Short junctions between
Here and some place else
Hoping to arrive there
Still learning how to leave

Leavings truncated
By grief curtailed
The religious rituals of goodbye
Prayers and hymns
Inadequate to suffice

Arriving there is no resting
For we have never left
Another platform passing through
On our way
To somewhere else

Our restless selves
Anxious to find some place to rest
Have not learnt that to disembark and settle
We have to lose sight of the station

And accept where we are

River's Boundary

Brown muddy waters
Lying sluggish
Pools of desperation
Smell of stagnation and decay

In its season it rises in majestic pride
Sweeping chaos before its regal force
Cleansing, fertilizing
Life giving waters

Now exhausted, spent, fetid
Dancing ponds for mosquitoes
Fish preferring hooked quick death
To slow interminable suffocation

Slow dying, drying river
Out the back of beyond
A boundary between
This state and the next

The state of sanity
Grimly held too
Amongst fetid state of
Home’s perpetual suffocating

The boundary between
God’s day of rest, and
Human need for friendship
Human touch won out

Punished by mosquito bites fever
Having transgressed the boundary
For God, a jealous God prefers
Obedience than human friendship

Though for years
He lived within the boundaries
Finally, a recidivist

He transgressed the boundaries.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Blue Sky

In 2012 my youngest daughter and I trekked through the Western MacDonald Ranges near Alice Springs.  The skies were magnificent, in fact indescribable.  Not that it has stopped me trying!

It started powder blue
In reality it started grey
Then turned to powder baby blue
With the hint of yellow

As if transformed by yellow’s touch
It deepened into cornflower blue
An upside down field
Of bluest blue

As day aged
It gained depth
And baby blues and cornflower blues
Of childhood were left behind

Deepening into azure
As it reached its pinnacle
Aging blue gave
Clarity and clearness

Cathedral dome
Of infinite beauty
We trudged through your nave
Seeking solace from the weight we carried

Having reached our daily rest
We wait your final transformation
Where azure slips into sapphire blue
With hints of royal indigo

Royal indigo, the under garment
Covered with blue velvet
That darkens into cape of black
With iridescent diamonds

While your diamonds dance
With shimmering light
I, amazed at beauty’s blue

Close my eyes in sleep.


Rusting strand of wire
Sagging from the endless watch
Of holding the memory
Of the boundary

Once proud it had been strung tight
Wind harp that sang for trees
Harmonic to rustling leaves
Now collapsing vein of capillaried rust

Farmers happy in their belief
The boundary’s due east
From that tree on the hill
Wire fence not needed

Great, great grandfather
Did that,
He marked the boundaries
Everyone knows that

Though whether great, great grandfather
Was great
Or more a rogue who took what land he liked
Who knew, who cared

The boundary remained in place
The fence, a training jump for joeys
The tree on the hill
Now skeletal hand upturned

Everyone knew the boundaries
Except me
I can never find that rusting wire

That lets me know the boundaries

Friday, August 23, 2013

Deja Vu

I’ve walked this way before
Was it yesterday or the day before?
Was it me or someone else
This sense of déjà vu

I stepped into a creek
One foot in and one foot out
I changed feet
It was another creek

I had a sense of being there
When I was here
Transported in time’s fissure
Of déjà vu

Perhaps time grown tired
Of advancing
Had looped upon itself
Master illusionist of déjà vu

In the frisson of a moment
A quiver of a second
Time warped
And left me in a quandary
Of déjà vu

Dream No 1

Dreamscape frozen
Dragged into daylight
Image that should have dissipated
Vapours burned off
With heat of flickering eye
Lies like a corpse wrapped in ice
Behind my eyes
Cadaver lead belted
That dangles out of reach
As I surface punch drunk from sleep

Ice queen unshrouded
Did the cold light of moon
Disturb your sleep?
Did the orb of the queen of the night
Raise your howling fury
Your vengeance insatiable
In life
You rose in skeletal finery
And strode the borderlands
To persecute my sleep

You hide your agate fury
Behind Madonna eyes
Eyes disguised in long suffering piety
A trap to lure me close enough
To feel the bite of your ferocity
The iciness of your poison
Freezing life’s arteries
Petrifying heart
I know your tricks
The tools of your trade

Dreaming I do
What I could not do
I tell you what I thought of you
Still with simpering saintliness
You try to lure me into silence
With eyes of down cast piousness
You garrote and castrate me
Vicious queen of godliness
But what you did in life
I will not do to myself

Ice queen
You lie in marbled splendour
On throne of worms and grit
Content I, having drunk your cup
And felt your fanged kiss
Will continue to castrate myself
Yet petrified heart has cracked
And frozen arteries thawed
I will not do down
Into your cold embrace

My rage will keep me warm
Eyes of fiery orbs
Will greet your pious eyes
No eunuch to your iciness
Your winter years have past
Now is the time of day
Retreat back to memories
Cold sanctuary
Take my truth
Back through the borderlands

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Poison of Spaces

The poison waits
Content to rest
Behind many layered defence
Of rational thought and
Logics guard

Behind the soul
It has no haste, having learnt
The value
Of venoms slow release

It lies and listens
To spoken works
Assuring all and sundry
“I’ve worked it out”
“I’ve seen the light”

I’ve had therapy
I have the remedy
I’ve got it all worked out
I’m healed
Till I’m not

It’s not so much the spoken word
Repeating down through time
It’s the words unsaid,
Empty spaces where words should be
That ricochet into me

Then poison yawns
And toxic contagion
Leisurely uncoils
Seeping under defences
Strangling rational thought

Frozen in helixes of history
The past spirals around me
Embracing and crushing

The present not the past
Recoil into the current
Embrace this moment

The poison’s past

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I am that

I am that shadow behind your smile
Unseen, yet
I dull your beam
Transgress its openness

I am the slithering restlessness
That snakes through your happiness
A rustling you thought you heard
And yes, you did

A restlessness that leaves
Your happiness on edge
Gladness on guard
Against itself

I stand in the spaces
Of half open doors
Neither in or out
On the edge of both

I am the creaking silence
Behind doors within your soul
The rasping whisperings
You rush in business not to hear

I am your fear you are not enough
Enough of what you are not sure
Just the fear, the chilling thought
You are not enough

You turn and turn again
First this way, then that
Demented dogs trying
To catch their tails

How can you catch a shadow?
How do you hold restlessness?
How do you catch spaces between doors?
And rasping silences?

I am you shame
You know me well
I am the puppeteer

I hold your unseen strings

The Swim

I swam in the lake
The lake of fire
While nymphs sang my damnation
I entered your waters
Your heat fired my skin
And warmed its surface

Unclothed and naked
Aroused I entered
I swam in the lake of fire
Embraced by your waters
Waves slurped and slapped
At my frame

I floated on the surface
Of the lake of fire
You surrounded and held me
With watery kisses kissed me
You entered me and
Fed my desire

I was baptised in the lake of fire
Naked, aroused I submerged
Into the depths
Baptised into the trinity of
Anger, rage and desire
I rose with fire in my eyes

I drained my damnation
In the cup you provided
Phoenix in resurrection
I rose from the lake of fire
And dammed I may be
But living, I’ll live with fire in my eyes

Early Morning Start

Pondering from Beaufort St – 20th August 2013

Parrots screech in drunken hilarity
Drinking nectar of flowering flame trees
Soon they’ll turn to squawking drunks
Shrieking obscenities into sunlit space

Crows with laryngitis
Cough to clear their throats
To see if they can sing arpeggios
Instead of coughing croaking caws.

A harried scraggy mother magpie
Chased by hungry adolescent
Eating worms on the run
To try and get some space

A huddle of teenage boys
Blink and grunt in monosyllabic tones
Stunned to see the morning light
When their body’s clocks still say night

Adults sit hunched over coffee cups
Addicts inhaling steam
Waiting, delaying

The early morning start

Monday, August 19, 2013

First Love

Ponderings from Beaufort St – 19th August 2013

He smiled a thousand smiles
A childhood smile of sheer delight
Navigating the first awkward steps
Of walking hand in hand

He held her hand with proud resolve
A knight in school uniform
He’d risked his heart
Now held his prize with slight surprise

He held her hand with eyes alert
In case he had to step aside
The pride was for himself
Not her.

He held her hand, but not too close
Their bodies did not touch, for
Lust and desire had not closed
The corners of his smile

They walked hand in hand
Old enough to love
Young in uniforms
Of segregated schools

Somewhere on the way to school
Tomorrow or Wednesday
Thursday or Friday
He will take a step

And cross the Rubicon into maleness
Innocent love will entwine with lust
And love being not so innocent
May be less willing to risk his heart

And she?  Will she find
Another knight and
Search his eyes to see

That smile of a thousand smiles

Not Here

I’m not here though I was
Here not there
But now I’m there not here
It’s easier to be there than here

I tried my hardest to be here
I thought if I was good enough
It would be enough
To have a spark of love

I didn’t want much
Just a spark
Brief promise of possibility
Before the dark

There never was a promise
I found that out too late
The possibility never a reality
Your darkness was the certainty

I tried my hardest to make you see
But you were blind to me
I came up close to help you see
You shut your eyes to me

I just wanted to be seen
One look would have kept me here
Was that so wrong?
One look to be seen

Not seen, not here
Not good enough
It’s easier to be there
Unseen invisible

My body’s here not there
I’m there not here
In shadow where I’m safe
Behind my body’s wall

I’ve lived in the shadow lands
Purgatory of emptiness
I’ve grown used to obscurity
Vampired by your darkness

Stay here
Don’t journey to the shadow lands
It’s a long way back

From there to here

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Hallways from my mind

 To the memory of a 15 year old

Silent hallways
Passages of emptiness
No place to stop and rest
Endless walking to nothingness

Don’t run, just walk
One slow insubstantial step
A step to nowhere
I hope is anywhere but here

Yet here is where I am
One step marking time
Everlasting nihilism
In the hallway of my life

Life compressed into four walls
Beige existence monotonous
Silent horror show of rocky normality
Lived in empty passage ways

Parents, people stride straight through me
I have no walls to them
I am their passage way
They have no time to stand with me

I stand in the silent hallway of my life
I speak no word to disturb
Dumb and mute
As empty as the empty hallway of my life

Sometimes it is enough
To survive the emptiness
To trust the current of nothingness
Will carry you to somewhere else

Sometimes, if we are lucky
Passage ways become door ways
Door ways to something

And we can risk leaving the nothingness

Friday, August 16, 2013


Bound in bonds
Self spun
Cocooned by convention
Conforming with compliance
Comatose in our daily routine

Routines of repetition
Imitation of life duplicating
Then replicated into tedium
Convinced we are living
We sleep in oblivion

Oblivious to our stupor
Our rock hard insecurities rolled
Into place, secure in our sepulchre
Content to decay while
Deluding ourselves we live

Waiting for a lifetime
For Gods to rescue us
We pray our servile obedience
Has been good enough
To grant us some reward

We look outside for recompense
Some reimbursement for our insecurities
We are the heroes of our inferiorities
Convinced our smallness makes us grand
Imposing corpses impersonating life

Yet life is the risk we take
When we resurrect ourselves
And step beyond or
Step into

To the beyond
Our insecurities
Our tedium and our boredom
We step into the

Possibilities of our life

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Incessant metronome of beep and hiss
That count of indrawn breaths
Mechanical tracker
Of this thing called life

Silence so deep
Between the beep and hiss
A wavy line to distract the eye
From gazing too long on unconscious form

Breaths synchronise
Father and son
I draw in and wait
For beeps permission to exhale

We wait you and I
Conscious and unconscious
Breathing in time
All that’s left of us

Somewhere between
This breath and the next
Between your breath and mine
Death crept in

So now we wait
Ragged symphony of breath
The spaces of rest grow longer
Between this breath and the next

The metronome of beeps
And spaces ……..grow

Where breath                 breathed

Dialogue on Love No 5

He walked beside me
A silent presence
Out of step
His left to my right
His breath percolated steam

Wet roads
Shards of fractured street light
Jaundiced yellow in black puddles
Silence except for footfall and the
Shhhhhing of cars slipping by

The fag end of pre-night
When sensible people sleep
And insensible wait
In somnolent restlessness
The resurrection of drugs

Past lines of girls
Calves taut
Feet nailed in heels too high
Or perhaps its more girl calves
Doe eyed, hoping tonight’s the lucky night

Chaperoned by pubescent studs
Testosterone fuelled but potency limp
Till beaten with Johnny Walker’s cane
And delusions of their size
Their rods will rise

We walk
His silent presence
Out of step
His right to my left
Turning he asks

What are you looking for?
Love, my reply
He caught my eye and held my gaze
Is it love when we walk in step?
He turned into a shadow street

And left me standing incomplete

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Old Photos

Life compressed
Captured in a flicker
Imprisoned in four edges
At least for life

Laughter frozen
Historical uplift of lips
Before hard and bitter lines
Voyeurs of other times and other lives
Titillated by life paused

We watch and wait
Waiting for life to be resumed
Colour and movement to flow back in
Stories to recommence
Instead a moment and full stop

Photos held too close
Bring memories tinged with grief
Questions of what went wrong
Perhaps if held at arms length
We’d see what was right

The mind deluded with illusions
The past was not too bad
Like child birth pain dulled with time
We’d do it all again

Yet are we sure
The laughter captured by the light
The lift of lips
Is not the scream of primeval pain

Before hard and bitter lines

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Writing into fear

Perhaps it began that day.  A day of hazy recollections until the darkness.  There was nothing hazy about the darkness, it was sharp, black.  A darkness that absorbed all light.  Then there was the sound of sea.  Restless in the darkness, hungry for the flesh of prisoners.  A taste long denied but never forgotten.

My father, a disembodied voice, all that was left after the darkness had absorbed him, was waxing lyrical in hushed worshipful tones about those martyrs who refusing to give up their faith were chained and fed to the incoming tide.  I shuddered, an involuntary convulsion and longed to get out into the sunlight and the biting cold wind that rose up from the sea.  At least I could feel that coldness not this suffocating, invasive darkness that stole my substance.

Was that the beginning of my fear, a fear of corridors in the darkness?  Not corridors of power but hallways of blackness that even in my dreams could not be escaped.  Always running down hallways, an Alice Wonderland of fear and anxiety trying to shut doors and windows before thieves and robbers entered.  Golem creatures of my dream-scape intent on stealing, though what I never knew.

Ageing has its advantages.  The hallways of childhood don’t seem as long when you are taller and older.  There is that universal surprise the haunts of our childhood are always so much smaller than we thought.  The doors I had run to shut in my dreams were now firmly bolted and Golem creatures faded into dusty memories.  Or had they?

Perhaps I had just grown a tad more sophisticated.  I wrote journals.  And when the bolts on my doors rusted and loosened I wrote.  I wrote my fears rather than dreamed them.  The sulphuric smell of the hell of fear still lingering in the singed hairs of my nostrils.  When the journals had grown into a pile I dug a hole and burnt them.  A symbolic act of both burial and cremation.  An unmarked grave to protect the next generation from the enlightenment of too much knowledge of my hallways.

Then in an attempt at alchemy I taught myself short hand believing that in hieroglyphics I would have more freedom to unbolt doors and do battle with my thieves and robbers.  The hallways of my childhood are now the hallways of my soul.  These hallways are always much longer, they are a labyrinth of corridors, a maze I have spent years running down, seeking to keep the doors shut, the bolts in good condition and to find a way out. 
Perhaps, I am running the wrong way.  Rather than trying to find a way out of the labyrinth, I should be running deeper into the maze.  Like Theseus in Greek mythology I enter the labyrinth seeking the Minotaur and writing is the string I trail behind me as I journey within.  I write to test my boundaries and having tested them and grown comfortable, my writing encourages me to cross those boundaries, to journey deeper.  To cross unmapped spaces of my soul to the next boundary.  The next act of writing becomes an act of fear and courage. 

It is an act of fear because I wonder is it safe to disclose this part of myself?  Is it safe to unbolt this door and write of my rage, my hatred, my ecstasy?  These raw emotions I keep behind the bolted door of civilised niceness, can I declare them?  Will people still like me or more importantly, will I still like myself.  It is an act of courage.  The courage to journey within, to face my Minotaur.

The Minotaur was half human, half bull, unable to feed naturally he devoured humans, men who were sent into the labyrinth as sacrifices.  Theseus went into the labyrinth and killed the Minotaur and using the thread he had spooled out behind him used that as a means of escape.  Within me there is that strange mixture of human and animal.  In writing into my fears, in writing to push my boundaries I learn that human and those darker, more animal passions can co-exist.  I learn using the strength of the bull to be most fully human.

Writing into fear can be the thread that leads us back out to live most fully human.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Memories - No 2

Compressed snippets
Of stark recall
Previous scraps missing in mists
Next scene lost on the cutting floor

Oddments of life
Pasted together
History of sundries
The preface of our present

Tenuous needle work of thoughts
Crocheted more holes than lace
Fagged treasures, fillers
In the drawers of our life

Scent of camphor
Washed in tears
Dried in the heat of our rage
Memories leeched of reality

Obsequious slaves to pasts
Worshiping backwards
Chanting stale repetitions of yesteryear
Memories trick for redemption

Memories bless us with the ability
To stay stuck in our present
And grieve our futures
Our ‘could have beens’ but for what was

Would we risk facing forward
Would we with grace give thanks?
And hold our memories light
Knowing they are the oddments of our life

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Lover

Dark lover
Swarthy, agile
Ebony black
Eyes pale, translucent orbs
Pearled white

Lips, lust warmed
The intensity of a
Lonely gluttonous kiss
Standing in silence
Luminous in your darkness

Sword in hand
Horn of potency
Rise in splendour
Tight and taut
Dark Predator

Fold me in your wings
Wings of sable
Hold me while I burn
Skewered on your horn
Jubilant in elation

For years I ran to outrun you
For years you tracked me down
Your messages I left ignored
I kept to sunlight path
The places you could not tread

But now my lover
I turn to you
Kiss me and let us dance
Dark lover
Swarthy, ebony black

You are my shadow
The darkness of myself
The bits of me I’ve hated
You've kept
Till I learnt to love

Friday, August 9, 2013

Actually I don't

If  I could speak what would I say
What words would make amends

Non-vibrating vocal chords
No major opera originates

A minor scale squeaked out
Sandwiched between a smile

Mind rent in two
One half nice, one half not

If I would speak what could I say
What words would speak my truth

Perhaps I need to reframe

If I could sing what would I sing
If I would sing what could I sing

I’d sing my pain
In bass I’d sing its depth

Thought torn in three
Would I, could I and need I?

Perhaps I need to reframe

What does it matter?
For nothing will mend what isn't there

What isn't, wasn’t there
A shaky foundation built in silence

And pain?
A self-indulgent pass time

There is no need
To speak, to mend

No need
To sing of pain

What was, was
And has become what is

Would I go back
To what was?

Would that atone
For whom I am?

Does who I am
Need to be atoned

Unatoned and free to be
Disinterested in your opinion

Detached, why should I care?
Actually I don’t

A Mother's Love

Hooded eyes
Reptile cold
Glint in mesmerising smile
That bitter freezes

Forked tongue of love
Flicking kisses
Between acid bites
Drawing blood for sustenance

Constricted in your coils of old
Wrapt in your embrace
Tight and toxic
Travesty of a mothers embrace

You’re mine, my precious
My precious son
I gave you life
To give it back

Enthralled in my cold fury
Hypnotised by bewitching charm
You’ll feed me first your balls
On the plate of your maleness

Enfolded in my arms
I love you my son
I hate you
For you are male

I’ll take my time
My tail reaches from the grave
For worms may skeletonise my frame
But your balls are mine

Shaved eunuch, I’ve had my fun
You’ll know my frozen rage
You’ll know my impotent fury
You’re my revenge

You’re my son
I love you
I hate you

You’re a man

Thursday, August 8, 2013


We think we’ve heard
Sibilant rustlings of folding wings
Doubt befuddles our hope
Faith’s certainties bemused by our rationalities

Oscillations of anxiety and desire
Turning between the two
We parade our glorious uncertainties
Desiring to be clad in our theologies

We wait with bated breath
As our tired philosophies collapse
And convictions fragment under aging’s glare
Sulphuric laughter of our stripping through cracks is heard

When mirrors draped in black
Hides our fissured nakedness
We wish through dark crevasses to hear
The silent waves of bending wings

We wish to hear
Angelic wings
Reverberating on tympanic drum

And there is silence

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

This Point in Time

This is the point
To which all pointed
The point of time
This is the perfect point.

We wail, convinced
It’s not the point
We should be somewhere else
We lash ourselves with “if only”

If only I done this
The present wouldn’t be thus
If only I done that
I’m sure it would be something else

Of that we’re right
A simple split second delay
A simple turning right not left
Would find us somewhere else

Would we be happy there?
At that point
Not here?
We delude ourselves we would

Yet I’m not so sure
We would
For everything has brought us
To this point

Life content to wait
While we thrash about
And wail our misery
That we missed the point

Yet perhaps in time
With grace
We come to realise
This is where we are meant to be

This is the point
The perfect point
Of all our befores

That will lead us to tomorrows

Monday, August 5, 2013

Sore Soles - Writings

The sky was in the process of getting changed.  Casting aside its pyjamas of dusky grey and donning the day’s apparel of blue.  I lay a few seconds longer and the fragmented words of Leonard Cohen’s song slipped through clouds of consciousness.  Something about being sore in the places he used to play!  I was just sore, not sore in places, just sore all over.  A night’s sleep in a down sleeping bag lying on the white sand of an empty river bed under the brilliance of a clear Northern Territory sky sounds romantic and ideal.

I suppose it would have been, if I had been a lady of a certain age, in a group of ladies of a certain age being chaperoned by two men, young men.  Tour guides of a certain build, with designer stubble and that rugged outdoor Australian look.  Our paths had criss-crossed yesterday as they were collected from one spot, driven to another, walked 5 kms, were then collected and at the end of such a tiring day were driving back to base camp carefully erected by another few men, young men who provided the meals, the alcohol and various lustful thoughts for said ladies of a certain age.

But I was not a lady of a certain age; I was a man of a certain age who was feeling double that age.  We were 50kms into a 241km walk along the Larapinta Trail.  It had started as one of those throw away lines between father and daughter. 
“Dad, we should do that walk, bit of a challenge you know”
So it was that challenge became reality.  Only another 190kms to walk carrying 20+kilos!  The rangers told us we were lucky, this time last year they had to get people off the track because of hypothermia.  This year we had bush fires and were walking in temperatures of 30 +degrees!  The plus in the 20+ kilos we were carrying was 5 litres of water to make sure we stayed sufficiently hydrated.

I crawled out from my sleeping bag.  The desert wind was totally disrespectful of thermals.  These were good quality thermals, came from the backs of New Zealand sheep according to the labels.  The wind cut through them like a knife.  I stand there trying to work out whether to cook the porridge first or hot water for a tea.  They say the first stage of hypothermia is a slowing of the thought processes which is great if you are standing outside yourself watching the thought processes slowing but really not much help when you are standing in thermals trying to get frigging warm and wondering what to do first and why the hell you didn’t think of bringing along one of those tour guides that could at least have had the decency to boil you some water and make your breakfast.  Did I say being grumpy is the second stage of hypothermia?

The sky has finished dressing now.  The last stars had been rolled up and tucked away till tonight.  The sun, having woken had stretched its figures of light onto the rocks along the river bed.  Their orange hues brilliant and the ghost gums their bark so white, such stark beauty.  We often think of beauty as voluptuous, shapely, and seductive.  In the outback, beauty is stark, it is stripped back to its bare necessity – life, and it stands brazenly unapologetic in magnificent splendour.  I would love to stay here.  To forget my previous life, lives and stay like some hermit of old.  I can dream!

Camp broken, sleeping bags rolled up, tents folded down, rucksacks re-packed, 5 litres of water on board and we start another day of walking.  The Larapinta Trail is through and over the Western MacDonald Ranges.  Much of it is spent clambering through dried creek beds that are filled with boulders, not like the flat dry river beds we slept in.  These creek beds are filled with the force of natures anger when rains have poured through them and ripped boulders from the sides of the gorges and flung them down, like giants playing marbles.  If you aren't clambering through creek beds then it is clambering over ranges on tracks of perpendicular shale.  It is the equivalent of walking along the back of a fossilized dinosaur; a careless step can leave you with a twisted ankle as I already knew.  While reflexology may be very relaxing when you are lying on a bed with a whale singing in the background and soy candles snuffling up your sinuses, it doesn’t have the same appeal when you are carrying a 20+kilo rucksack and trying to walk on perpendicular shale!

My soles were sore!  Sounds like the beginning of a psalm but believe me there was no singing psalms, there was much cursing and swearing.  It made me think of my grandfather.  Not the cursing and swearing, my sore soles.  My grandfather on my father’s side was a shoe maker.  He made shoes for people whose feet didn’t fit ordinary shoes! 

He was a shadowy figure this grandfather of mine.  From an early age I knew my father never wanted to spend much time with his father.  Apparently on one occasion my grandfather came to visit when we were living in Scotland.  My grandfather lived in Ireland.  I don’t remember this and the only story that is told of this visit was that my grandfather didn’t bring a Bible with him!  Fancy coming to visit your son who was a Minister of Religion without a Bible!  Good God, what could he have been thinking! The times we would go to Ireland for a holiday we would visit my father’s parents for one visit – that sufficed for duty done.  One visit I remember going into the shed at the end of the garage and finding there my grandfather’s workshop.  I remember the darkness of the workshop.  It was light outside; one of those bright Irish days when the sun was gaily shining yet in my grandfather’s workshop it was dark.  It was dusty, the dust of accumulated years and there was one shoe, it was a shoe that had been made for a person with a club foot yet they had never collected it and it just sat there – a forgotten relic.

My grandfather, a small shadowy figure from my past, who I barely knew, yet as I walked with sore soles, I suspect he, knew about such soreness.  I like to think that in his craftsmanship he made it easier for people to walk without pain.  I suspect he also knew about sore souls, the pain of a broken relationship that no craftsmanship could mend.  As his grandson we both know about that pain!

Dam it, just twisted the other ankle, still only 182kms left to go!


Safe within the boundaries
Bound by tame expectations
Lives lived in protected domesticity of
Insipid aging

Life’s glimpses of frontiers
Denied, fearful to push our limits
Retreating to the centre
Where stability is our obituary

Receding from extremities
Content to be conservative
We wait in limbo
For certain extinction

Obituary recording
Our fearful faint heartedness
To face the edges
Of our lives

It is in the edges
The raw and ragged edges
Gashes of our wounding
Red and bloody sore

It’s at these limits
Of our avoiding
We are most
Fully human

We learn to stand within the tearing
Of life’s wounding
And trust there is resurrection beyond
The edges of our pain

Saturday, August 3, 2013


Tunnels of your pain
Tracks that go in and never out
Memories, once trolls shadows
Cast against the light of day
Now dwarfed by time
Still mine the seams of pain

Black holes
Where your light disappears
The glare of your incandescence
Snuffed, stamped out
A patient waiting
In the vestibule of extinction

Enough of judgement shadows
Famished ghouls, false friends
Assuring in empty caverns
Redemption can be found
Under mined skeletal remains
Bleached bones of memories

No Jesus there
To raise your Lazarus form
Just you,
The power of you
To remove your stone

To unwrap the clingings of your pain

The Flame Tree

Crescent moons of flaming red
Pentecostal tongues of fire
Miracle of natures flowering
Parrots screech ecstatically
Language of delight
Knobbly tongues and
Hardened beaks
Kiss coals of nectar sweet

Rebellious trollop
Against winters sombre sobriety
Flowering lips of luscious red
Scarlet lipstick brazen hue
Nails, more talons
Painted, enameled cherry
Illusion of lustful heat
To vainly warm bare branches

There will come the day
When soul’s scars of raging red
And frenzied fury
Will turn to russet ruby
And kiss me with coals of nectar sweet
Will I explode in rebellious riotous colour?
Natures flowering of me
Or hide in winter’s sombre sobriety

Was out walking yesterday morning when I passed a Flame Tree is full flower.  It's flowers of red so vibrant and not a leaf in sight.  Bare branches and red flowers - absolutely beautiful.

Blocks of Fragments - Writings

The “story of my life” sounds much smoother than “the blocks of my life”.  Block is such a chunky word, it is clunky, it implies stops and starts.  Much like my life really.  Sometimes people will talk about their life like it is a river, connected, flowing, sometimes smoothly sometimes turbulently but always there is a clear sense of direction.  One situation leads seamlessly into another, they meet the right person at the right time and life just flows!

Makes me sick really!  I generally meet the right person at the wrong time, the wrong person at the right time and most usually the wrong person at the wrong time.  My careers haven’t been a smooth progression.  I have been a mental health nurse, a minister of religion, worked in aged care and managed not for profit organisations.  Being the other side of fifty you don’t get asked what do you want to do with your life.  Most people assume that by now I have worked it out.  Well, let me assure you I haven’t.  I still don’t know what I want to do with my life, although I certainly know what I don’t want to do!

The first block of my life was lived in Scotland, at least the first block I can remember.  I was actually born in Australia but when I was two years old my family went back home to the UK.  My mother hated Australia and after giving birth to me she conspired with her Doctor and God to get back home.  You see my mother never wanted to travel to the antipodeans or to marry a minister of religion.  The fact she ended up doing both plus having a son was a constant source of anger and frustration to her.  Nine years later God and my father won the next battle and we came back to Australia.  Personally, I think God should stay out of domestic issues, but that is an adult view.  As a child I got used to sudden migrations because “God said we were to move”.  I realize families in the Defense force get moved around on a regular basis but this is a known fact.  You build that knowledge into your lifestyle – every three or four years we are going to move.  When God said to move it was different because usually there wasn’t any warning, except of course the major church fight that had occurred two months previously.

Still, I digress.  The first block of my life that I remember was lived in Scotland, in a smallish place called Larbert somewhere between Glasgow and Edinburgh.  I can remember walking home from school at three o’clock in the afternoon and it beginning to get dark in winter.  I remember going to bed at seven thirty in the evening and it being light in summer.  I remember the day I took the bird’s nest I found to school for show and tell and carrying it home so proudly that finally I have been able to stand up in front of the class.  A gust of wind came and blew it out of my hand and down the road.  Though I tried to run after it I still couldn't catch it and I knew I was in trouble.  My mother had told me to be very careful with the birds nest though what she wanted it for is beyond me!  Sure enough, I was told how careless I was and what a disappointment that I couldn't be careful with a bird’s nest!  My sense of sadness was probably about the same as the birds when it flew back to find its home missing!

I remember Halloween and my father hollowing out a pumpkin so we could put a candle in it.  Yet the thing that surprises me is the fragmentary nature of my memories.  They are like little blocks, little Lego blocks of fragments that I carefully try to reconstruct to make sense of my life between the ages of two and nine.  There is so much that I don’t remember.  I don’t remember any of my birthdays.  I don’t remember any of my friends, whether I actually made any friends.  I have photographs of myself as a child during this period.  I look at the photos and feel no connection between the boy I was and the man I am now.  Am I supposed to?  Am I supposed to be able to link back through the years to those photos of myself frozen in time and who I am now?  There are too many blocks in the way for me to do that.

The overall memory I have of those years is the silence, not a restful silence, a frozen tundra of silence.   Fortunately global warming was not an issue at that stage so I never had to worry about the tundra of my family thawing out!  I became an expert on silences.  You see there is the silence of an Abbey or Cathedral.  I can’t remember what Abbey or Cathedral, they all blurred into one another, but it was the silence of light as it filtered through the stain glass window.  The silence of the ethereal, the beauty of men’s creation mixed with the brilliance of light to point in the coloured dust motes to the otherworldly.  Then there was the silence of stately homes that were opened to the public.  These homes stank of bees wax polish, brasso and the accumulated dust of time.  The silence of the ticking clock that has given up all pretext of being interested in either modern day visitors or family secrets having witnessed it all before.

Then there was the silence of the Lochs and Glens.  The silence of nature brooding.  Still deep waters, cold as mountain snow, mirror for scurrying clouds to make sure they are looking good.  The silence of the heather broken only by bird calls.  The silence of raw natural beauty.  I loved that silence.  It is a silence that percolated into the marrow of my bones and into the gaps of my soul.  It is a silence I still hear and am drawn too though whether I will ever stand in a Glen before a Loch to hear it again is highly unlikely.

Perhaps that is why I cling to the small fragments of memories I have of those years.  Among the silence they are the blocky outcrops of another time.  Like an archaeologist uncovering fragments of ancient history they tell a story.  They do not tell the whole story for they are only fragments and perhaps I interpret the fragments incorrectly.

Yet in the fragments of the block there is the story of the boy who became the man who is me.