Still Here

Despite the lack of evidence to the contrary, i am still here.  I do still write.  I have plans for another book…or two.  It is just that I do not have time to  do all that I want to do.  Doing my job, spending time with family and friends, gardening, writing, exercising, eating and sleeping.  The days just seem to disappear.  My wonderful intentions to blog regularly have not come to fruition.  This little poem captures some of my dilemma.

WAS A TIME WHEN I HAD TIME 

Was a time
When I could do almost anything
Filled my day with the doing of such things
Hours flew by
Filled with productivity
Now I long for those days to return
With all I did
And still do
There is more yet undone
A list
A pile
A growing heap of things to do
Ever growing
Ever new
Unceasing
Even as I slow
And cannot do all that I wish
My expectations mock the reality
Of my achievements
My best day now
A poor relation to those days of yore
That time when
Even when I could do so much more
Even then
I never did it all at all

James D  280815

Tom Waits

One of the joys of the internet is following up on old memories and catching up with friends from the past.  Recently I have been watching YouTube clips of Tom Waits being interviewed and performing live at various venues.  I first heard Tom Waits’ song Small Change on the radio at 2 a.m. while working late on an assignment at college.  The saxophone introduction followed by his rough voice and poetic lyrics caught my attention.

When I mentioned this to a friend at college, she informed me that he was coming to Perth and I managed to get a ticket to his performance at the Perth Concert Hall soon after this.  It remains as one of my favourite concert experiences.

I later travelled down to PIFT in Fremantle to see the film One From The Heart in which Tom teamed with Crystal Gayle to create an amazing soundtrack to this quirky love story.  The following tribute poem borrows heavily from his lyrics and song titles.

TOM WAITS

A surreal impressionist
Bob Dylan meets Salvador Dali on a spree
Wild, lyrical pictures
Dockside gangster meets reformed prostitute
In a seedy diner
While on shore leave
There’s a lazy piano in the corner, drinking
Long-winded sax and swordfish trombones
Closing time under a grapefruit moon
Drunks and bizarre relatives
Live on the nickel upstairs
Waiting on a foreign affair
Love songs from the heart of a Saturday night
Images of life and death and times in-between
A percussion sandwich
Blues meets jazz
Original lyrics
Unmistakable voice

James D    290697

 

The Bush

‘The Bush’ is a term that is often used metaphorically in Australian story telling and writing, but it was very real for me.  As a kid I liked nothing better than going out to the bush block on the back of the truck to help Dad collect some firewood or move some cattle.

The aptly named Crooked Brook road that took us there was winding and turned from bitumen to gravel to sand.  Often we would stop to chat to a neighbouring farmer or to pick kangaroo paws along the way.  The final section along Collins Road was a mad dash under low hanging branches with wildflowers littering the bush on each side.  If we didn’t duck our heads in time we would cop a decent whack in the face.

The bush changed over the years as we gradually cleared sections and a gravel pit took away part of a hillside, but it always maintained an aura of age and otherness.  The only constant was the windmill in the middle of the gully running through the property, which we always checked to make sure that the cattle troughs were kept full.

In later years, sandminers took over the bush block, widening the road and stripping away much of the original vegetation.  The following poem, written over a period of years, captures some of the grief I felt at losing this special place that held so many memories for me.

THE BUSH AND THE SANDMINE
(Then and Now)

Then Dad drove the old farm truck
Along a sand track through the bush
Scratching both the roof and sides

On the back, don’t forget to duck
Breathing a million flowers’ scents
On those bumpy, joy-filled rides

Did the work we came to do
While we played in childhood dreaming
Blackboys pointing to the skies

As with passing time we grew
So we loved the sounds and colours
Of this part of paradise

Now the windmill’s haunting cry
Echoes lonely from the hills
Rousing spirits long since dead

Where bushland grew in days gone by
Gaping pits of sand and gravel
Fill the miners’ trucks instead

With tears of gold the wattles weep
And seeing them makes me cry too
Each time I pass that lonely track

The scars of mining creep and creep
Like sores across this land I loved
And I can never bring it back

James D       1989 – 1993

P.S.  I recently went back there with my daughter to see what was left of the bush and to share some of those memories.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that the old windmill is still there in the middle of the paddock!

You can also hear this poem on Western Tourist Radio:
http://www.touristradio.com.au/localtalent/

Bush block and windmill 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

Approaching Christmas

Many years ago I started photocopying and distributing Christmas ‘cards’ to my friends and family.  These little booklets contained a few poems and a summary of the main events from the preceding year.  Over time, these booklets grew to over twenty pages long and now contain up to fifty poems each.

What began as a simple gift has developed a life of its own.  Some people collect them, others read them out to their families on Christmas day.  It takes a lot of time and effort to compile, print and distribute them, but they seem to spread a lot of joy…and that is what Christmas is supposed to be about.

One of the traditions that developed around my ‘card’ in more recent years is the ‘Annual Seasonal Doggerel’.  As the title suggests, this is a pretty rough and ready bit of rhyming verse about the Christmas season and some of the issues around it.  There are several examples from earlier years in my book ‘The Momentous Ordinary’.  The following is this year’s offering.

ANNUAL SEASONAL DOGGEREL 2013

Christmas seems to start earlier
As each year goes by
There are people now on facebook
Talking about it in July!

Christmas seems to be bigger
Than when I was a kid
No doubt we all looked forward to it
I ‘m sure that everyone did

But now it is a commercial operation
Run by media and stores
Something is missing from the heart of it
It’s not all about Santa Claus

It’s not all about getting presents
Under the Christmas tree
The beginnings of Christmas go way back
Back into history

There’s a story that’s told in the bible
About a baby being born
And while there have been lots of babies
This one stirred up quite a storm

It’s hard to imagine our lives today
If Jesus had not been born
Some people say that he made it better
Others respond with scorn

One thing is true, sure and certain
If he hadn’t been born in this way
Then I wouldn’t be writing this poem
And we wouldn’t have Christmas day!

They say he came to save the world
As a messenger of peace
It hasn’t quite worked out that way
That’s why we need police

Perhaps we didn’t understand
All the things he said
Perhaps that’s why he didn’t live long
And he’s been a long time dead

But I am far more hopeful than that
Some would say that I’m naive
I have listened to the things that he taught
And I choose to believe

Loving your neighbour in the way that he said
Makes perfect sense to me
Whether you’ve known him all your life
Or he’s a stranger or a refugee

Love is the answer that we need
To so many problems down here
And not just now at Christmas time
But all through the shiny New Year!

Let’s hope this message does get through
So like the angels we can say once again
On Earth great tidings of good news
Peace and goodwill to all men (sic)!

James D                Oct 2013

 

 

 

The Joy of Running

One of the joys of my life is running.  I try to get out three or four times a week, usually early in the morning.  I don’t run as fast as I once did, but I still enjoy the sense of freedom and ‘alive-ness’ that comes with exercise.  One of the bonuses of running is the beautiful scenery around here, especially at sunrise and sunset.  Many a poem has been inspired and hurriedly written on a pad damp from sweat or rain.  Recently I managed to complete my second ever marathon.  It did take me nearly five hours, and the weather conditions were far from ideal, but the sense of accomplishment was worth the tiredness and stiffness afterwards.  Perhaps I should do more training next time…if there is a next time!

RUNNING ON BUSSELTON BEACH!
The beach, the sunrise and me
No other as far as eye can see
Silhouette of the jetty there
Smell of morning in the air

That golden glow, that glorious light
Day has bade farewell to night
Playful waves upon the beach
Rainbow’s end just out of reach

Then as the rain begins to fall
I am cold and wet and small
I could be warm at home in bed
But here I am, alive instead!

James D

 

 

Morning Reverie

I’m not usually keen to categorize people, but I would happily own up to being a morning person.  Perhaps this is a carry over from my childhood on a dairy farm.  Whatever the reason is, I’m glad that I rarely miss the sunrise and genuinely struggle to sleep in.  Once I am awake, which is usually before 6.00 a.m., I usually get up and get moving.  Going out for an early morning run is one of my greatest pleasures.  This poem was written during one of those runs.

MORNING REVERIE

It’s patterns on the water
Made by swimming ducks
It’s reflections in a puddle
That are not noticed much
It’s the colours of a sunrise
Splashed across the sky
And all the daily miracles
That most of us pass by

It’s the magpies in the morning
Who sing to greet the day
It’s the myriad of shadows
And their subtle interplay
It’s the raindrops catching sunlight
And sparkling in the grass
It’s all those things you’ll notice
If you slow down as you pass

It’s the reverie of morning
And it’s there for all to see
It doesn’t cost a fortune
And it’s not across the sea
You’ll find it in the garden
You can see it on a run
Those blessings of the morning
Of a new day just begun

James D      310513

First Blog Poem

When I first thought about starting this blog I was just about to start six months of long service leave.  There seemed to be so much time opening up before me.  One of my ‘to do’ ideas was to write and post a poem every day, beginning with the one below.  It never happened of course.  I filled my days with numerous jobs and distractions, including the writing of my book ‘The Momentous Ordinary’.  Now that I am back at work I find that I don’t have time to blog every day, but I still like the idea of sharing verse and having a ‘chat’ online.

BLOG POET

I’ve set myself
This little task
But why is that
You may well ask

Because I can
I have the right
But most of all
I love to write

I love to rhyme
Reflect and pause
I like to post
Just Why?  Because!

Because of you
My readers there
I like to blog
I like to share

I like to think
And hear your views
I like to share
My daily news

I like to write
My words on-line
I hope you like
These words of mine

I hope you read
And sometimes write
Then we could meet
Each day or night

In cyber space
We can all share
With each other
Everywhere

In different places
At different times
We can ‘chat’
And share our rhymes

It’s not so hard
In fact it’s fun
So read them all
From this first one!

James D         2012

 

Time As My Friend

This afternoon I walked into a classroom to supervise an exam and found a huge countdown clock displayed on the whiteboard.  It was from www.online-stopwatch.com.

I was immediately struck by the fact that as those numbers kept ‘ticking’ over, my life was just as surely passing before my eyes.  As I have been promising to start a blog ‘sometime’, I decided that this was the moment to commit and take the plunge.

Being time poor is not uncommon in our modern technologically driven lives so I won’t use that as an excuse any more.  I will make time to reflect on my ordinary daily experiences and share them here with you.

I will also aim to include a poem with most posts.  Ultimately, I would like to make peace with time and build a friendship like that in the poem below…but I am not holding my breath…even making peace with time takes time!

TIME AS MY FRIEND

A part of me
Longs for the pace of the garden
Gentle breezes swaying branches
Sunshine on newly turned earth
Newness of growing things
Greenness and scented air
Hands dirty from working
Meaningful meal breaks
Space for naps and reading
Talking with strangers
Time as my friend

James D      141009