Tuesday, December 28, 2010

360 Degrees

I am aiming at a performance poem. From the second stanza it is meant to gather pace assertively in a rhetorical rhythm with a touch of southern preacher.

360 Degrees

The sign at Rosney Farm says Moonmairemener people

hunted kangaroo in the grassy forest,

shellfish from the river. Before the plough and barn

displaced Moonmairemener from their traditional lands.


... a half regretful sort of word for theft.

So when is it just ok to steal

say sorry

and not give the bloody goods back?

If we of pale face

need to wear the guilt of our ancestors lets repent

I say really repent

or else I wish we'd all shut up

with the interpretive sign whinges

the whole steamy guilt reminder sauna.

St Paul gives the Greek of repentance

a complete total 180 degrees turn

a-round, 'I'm facing, I'm thinking

I'm stepping out in a whole new direction, brother'.

So if we really did an unprecedented bad

in all the Rosney farms around Australia

we should ... fix it

Not limp tokens

not interpretive signs wet with lament

not some marginal land returns

not patronising smoky ceremony

We really should just … give it back

pack up our copy of the gift of civilisation

in the suitcase and

head back to where we came from

and leave this country to the original owners.

I'm ready. I'll do it along with the rest of you.

Actually my own kit needs a little more space

sits in a shipping container

full of pumps and fridges and stuff like that.

Might get in the way after we all leave.

I'm going back to the USA ...

but wait ... I was bad there too.

Native Americans need that back

just like the aborigines.

I recalibrate my instruments

and my ship makes wake

all the way to mother England

clog the ports there with all the other Pommy ex pats

colonial bad boys and girls

waiting their turn with half of Australia

in the customs line at Dover

But then I remember my Danish grandfather and the pillage

loot and plunder on this the ravaged coast, the stolen land

My God man, send this ship to Copenhagen

but the DNA betrays me

and I'm also one of the raiding Celts from the east

raping the Danes and

they make me truck my shipping container back

on the highway

to middle Europe

home of the original Celts

and there with a long jake bark

on my engine brakes

I hang a slow left

toward the Slavs, my granny babushkas

all the way back to central Asia

and there maybe I can find redemption helping

the embattled Uighurs

my cousins who are trying to claim their piece of turf too

wouldn't you know

from the ubiquitous Chinese

who shoot them random in the crowd.

So maybe we can call in the Turks with a flotilla

(their specialty)

up the Yangtze river

to end this deprivation of human rights.

But the Chinese were here long before

making nice with my Slavic granny

and I'm in a few centuries easy steps

tracing my Mongol ancestry

down to the south Asia coast

down to the Spice Islands

displacing populations all the way

And arriving in my short sail canoe finding pearls

and fleshy comfort with

a black fisher girl

from the only people who never

displaced anyone

the place where the whole human story got started

on the hot beach flanks of the Kimberleys.

Damn. I was here the whole bloody time

and so I heave my rusty container

up on a pile oyster shells

crank up the generator

and pass out enough lemonades

to toast that old wisdom that says

we are all as bad as each other

but nothing a great slather of grace wouldn't fix.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Common Era

I know him not

three times St Peter said

of the arrested one.

New calendars take Peter's part

warming cold hands

by fire of our denial.

With BCE we mark a birth

but hide the one who honoured

Mary's womb, who owns the day.

By year, by date, betrayed,

we know him not.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

To Have and To Hold

People have partners now

because marriage means

the same as it always did

can even be a negative

actually, some say

which doesn't tell why

gay couples are so

keen to own it

bag the vows

same way they

waylaid the word

not so many decades ago

when people were just

happy to be gay

no intimate bits attached.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Treasure in a Field

A first attempt at a sermon in verse, delivered in Hobart 3 October 2010


"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. Matthew 17:44-46

And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden. Genesis 2:9

He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:24

When the world was new the field was a lush garden

before the precedent setting wretchedness

when the soul of man unravelled

and the garden became a field

full with furrow, sweat and plough

Before the guardian with flaming sword

the field was a garden set wide with

Fruit laden trees tended by the Giver of Life Himself

who walked there in the cool of the day.

And at the centre,

splendid of position

roots hung deep in Eden loam

The treasure itself spread vast and

branching skyward with exuberant joy

leafy in unmatched abundance,

heavy with the fruit of fellowship

tasting of God himself.

The Tree of Life

Life without end

Key to the Kingdom

17 years ago in the dark of a still night

reluctant Marion and I

walked 2 hours in

along the Ida Bay railway line past the overgrown settlement

where only the grave stones stand

and buried an 18kt gold Tasmanian tiger

with garnets and black star sapphire

wrapped in hand painted silk and seated

at the centre of three nesting pots

each with a wax seal.

We dug deep measuring with care and compass

2 meters west of a monument

to George the III a wretched ship wreck

where shackled convicts drowned thrashing in their chains

simple stones piled facing the bay and

the lighthouse tip of Bruny Island

At one meter deep my shoulder thrust deep in the hole

to scoop the last of the soil, we sank our gold tiger casket

backfilled the sand, smoothed the surface like thuggies

and tossed the spade over the cliff

to conceal the evidence just as first light

undid the dark in the sky over the sea.

In succeeding years readers combed our book for location clues

And a fat pile of their enquires is bundled still

in a shipping container propped behind the house.

There are two that I remember well.

Do these two notes tell us more

treasure hunter truth than

our book ever told our readers?

Treasure hunter one:

Your Tasmanian Tiger book is about the number 16


road sign for Derby 16 kilometers

the villan's shoe points to the 16

on page 16

a checkered skirt shows 16 squares up

and 16 squares down

and Tasmanian Tigers have 16 stripes

Dear treasure hunter

… remarkable, utterly intriguing.

You're right ... 16's do emerge from page to page

… coincidental maybe

we did not plant them there

… irrelevant without doubt

they will not lead to treasure.

Treasure hunter two:

I love your riddles, stories and pictures

they make treasure of my experience

Your riddles are koans

evoking flash of insight.

Obviously no real gold waits in a dark hole,

only spiritual gold inside of me

Thanks for the journey

Dear treasure hunter,

The gold is real and buried in a field.

The word became flesh and dwelt among us

Here the field, Christ the treasure

Treasure hunter One reads the Word

by rules of his own

by a different paradigm

And why not?

Don't all paths lead to the same destination

Don't all Ways turn up gold?

Apparently not.

Doesn't in the end

everything equal everything else?

Not in my life

Not by the remarkable book.

Not by God's clues.

Isn't that unfair to all the other seekers?

the readers of other treasure books?

No indeed. The choice cries out

unique to all the world.

The prize beckons to us all

by a narrow path

and hidden in a field

And What of treasure hunter 2?

Is some newer truth concealed.

Is the Garden merely legend?

Is God none other than myself?

What gross poverty would make

a treasurer hunter

settle for this?

When resurrection surety is as real as

our gold tiger in a pot of clay?

When one stepped from the grave fully alive

for us to touch, to hold, to be speechless with relief?

If one can so misread our book...

God's kingdom begs a second look.

Four years after the treasure disappeared

into the ground a reader got it right

and rang one night to say

"I know where your treasure is."

and indeed he did.

And we retraced our journey of that night so long before

and filmed his glee to dig the casket from the sand

and wash it in the sea

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Proverbs 25:11

The Word fitly spoken.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

The Word who spoke the world to life.

The Word who first spun stars from dust

Who pilots exuberant galaxies round the rim of the universe.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Revelation 22:2

So here the garden come again

He the treasure birthed in toil and poverty

unlikely in a small Galilean town

now beams such quality of light that

the garden city of our destination needs

no other illumination.

What cost then the field

to likes of us?

Everything. The lot.

All that you have.

All that you are.

Handed over to God

A man sold all that he had and bought the field.

And the treasure?

What then is in the box?

The embrace of God

the city of light

displaced is the wide dusty field

by a a river

the Garden of God full circle

shimmers, lush and wide

banked by fruit bearing trees.

Life without end.

Treasure unspeakable.

Is there another way to look at the treasure and the pearl in there parables? Is it possible that God himself is the finder of treasure in a field? ... or the pearl merchant and we are the treasure or the pearl of great price? Broken bread and the wine of communion reminds so poignantly that we are indeed treasured by God, so loved as his lost sheep ( another parable) that he divested himself (undressing all the way) as George Herbert has it, to come among us. And at great cost, the cost of his own blood and suffering he bought us, retrieved us, redeemed us, the treasure lost in the field of the world. He considered us sinners of such great value that he gave his life for us “while we were still sinners” the book says, lost and indifferent to Him. So great his love.

Friday, August 13, 2010

In Shapes of Numbers

2, 4, 6, 8, 10

Even's a

....................Swan Lake ballerina

who acquired a

....................matron's chest

but recalls

....................long floating hair,


.............. fair figure

and being a

.............. couple

the day she wed.

1, 3, 5, 7, 9

Odd's a

....................lean youth

who found the


for bold deeds, a

....................Fifties flattop


.............square shoulders

but now


in a chair.