Poetry 2017

Togetherness 
Light and airy 
Space between my feet and the earth 
Am I flying? 
Or is life so good I’m walking on air? 
I like you, we can be friends 
You are me and I am you 
Entwined, past, present and future 
You rise, I rise You fall, I fall 
Grab my hand, we’ll face it together 
You and I, one forever.
Franz Peter
Sweet sorrowful music
Inevitable, pure, penetrating
Enveloping my heart, lifting i
Gently, tenderly
My heart radiates
Tongues of unsullied love
Reaching out to anyone, everyone
Franz Schubert, you gave this to the world
A pleasure, a sacred privilege
Pure joy, pure sorrow, sublime beauty
Before which darkness melts away
The struggle remains but
Bathed in the beauty of your music
My burden is lighter.
Present Tense
Does my life have fixed purpose
Determined before my birth
By a power above
Or
I am a living organism
A unit of life on this planet
A thread in a broadening, heaving, kaleidoscopic tapestry
Changing my purpose
Changed by my purpose
From one moment to the next
Tune in, get on board
See it, it is looking at me
Feel it, it is touching me
Break the shackles of higher purpose
It is an illusion
An invention of those who seek power over me
Queen Lizzie
Ninety one, still on the job
A Monarch’s lot is an easy one
A figurehead, no power, no role
Ceremony apart
Seen to advise
Those with real power
Without power themselves
An institution past expiry
Welcome overstayed
People, grow up!
Government
Who are these people?
Our representatives
Their credentials?
Manipulation of the truth
Sometimes skilful, sometimes blatant
Always contemptuous of voters
Its only today’s news
Swamped by tomorrow
Another lie covered up, defended
And on it goes
Government, hah!
Goodness
Have something to say
Open your heart
Let others see what moves you
What floods your eyes with tears of passion
Believe in things
Good things
Inclusive things, because division destroys
Humanity is a collective entity
Only goodness will move it forward
Blockage
My thoughts strike a slab of concrete
Not far below the surface
It wont budge, wont yield
My sharpest mental drillbits snap
No penetration, too hard, too steely
Give up for now
Force doesn't help, won't succeed 
Step back, turn away, look at that man walking past
He looks anxious, no he's smiling now
The moment is offering me abundance
Accept, appreciate
Return to the task later
Know when to tune in and tune out
Listen to the rhythms
Heed the signals
They will tell you when the channels are open
When you can dive in again
Immerse yourself on the task
Unleash your creativity
In the meantime, chill!
Right-wingness
Whither this country
jingoism loud, clear
Ringing out in appeasement
Of those who divide, those who destroy, who thrive on disharmony
Where do we go from here?
Humanity being divided again
The good and the bad
Distinguished by colour, by race, by religion
By language too
A descent, lowering
Of decency, of dignity, of compassion
Expensive suits and colourful ties
Cover hard, unfeeling hearts
Political survival is everything to some
May their stay be brief
Short enough to undo their damage.
War
Humanity finds glory in conflict
Death in battle, the ultimate accolade
To vanquish the enemy
No greater objective
Seeds of conflict
Sown by greed, bigotry
All partake
The good and the bad
The righteous and the evil
All relative
Their greed is my desire for betterment
Their cruelty my need to protect what is precious to me
Their wanton murder my self defense
Turn it around, it is no different
Zero sum
No one benefits
We all go down in the end
Oneness
Colour, race, religion, sexuality
Measures of true worth they are not
Just used by bigots
To mask their dysfunction
To reframe it as superiority
Examine your hearts
Would you be a bigot if you were truly fulfilled?
Would you look down on others
If you were truly happy with yourself?
Would you not wish for all others
The rights and privileges you enjoy
If you were content, if you did not compete?
Isn’t your religion inclusive at its core?
Isn’t your nature inclusive at its core?
Get in touch with the real you
Wherever it hides, wherever it lurks
Don’t be afraid
Joy awaits you
Morning
The morning, my favourite time
The earlier, the better, the quieter
Wakefulness inspires mindfulness
When the shroud of sleep lifts
My thoughts are copious and clear
Inspiration ignites
A transfusion of optimism permeates my body
My step affects a spring
I welcome the day
Relationship
What’s a relationship?
Mutual love, mutual respect
We are one
Inseparable
Our lives richly entwined
Our fortunes, futures, interdependent
Watching over each other
Caring, sharing, as one
Your growth, my growth, our growth
Happy companions
You learn French
I sweat over Mandarin
You dig Adele
I swoon over Schubert
Pursuing our individual dreams
Alone, together
Accountability
Who is responsible
For my happiness, my destiny
For my successes, my failures
For my actions, my inactions
For my thoughts, my beliefs
For my anger, my irresponsibility, my greed
For where I find myself today
I see him often, know him well
He looks back at me when I look at him
Cheekily copying my expression
He has failed, let me down, many times
But he is improving
He will never get it all together
He will always have room for improvement
I will let him know, ruthlessly, when he has failed yet again
I will not let up
But, he is all I have
I guess he is ok, tries hard, sometimes does his best
I begrudgingly give him some credit
Not too much, lest his head swell up
His grades have improved
I give him a pass most times
Abject failure is less frequent these days
Sometimes I surprise him with a credit
But, distinctions are a long way off
Keep trying my friend, there is plenty of time
Like, the rest of my life
Worry
My worries. The real ones
Bordering on panic
Waking in a sweat
Constant unease
An approaching time of reckoning
Wishing it away, desperately
Knowing it won’t go away
What is it?
What is my fear?
What can’t I face?
Who can’t I face?
Is that the key, the cause of my crippling fear?
Fear of people, fear of authority
Fear of reinforcement of my self-loathing
I am speechless, dumb with fear
Unable to defend myself
I whimper apologies, anything I am ordered
To do, say, just let it end
Please.
Happiness
Walk daily
Along the path you cut, you shape, you surface, you adorn
Strewn with your happiness
With your contentment, with your fulfilment
Happiness does not await only at the end of a journey
It is a constant companion
Not found in wealth and opulence
Or grand achievement
Or huge success
It hides in full view
In simple things
In honest toil
In expressing your passions
In reaching out
In loving
In embracing
In diligence
In learning
In good health
Above all, in humility
Learning
Is your world spinning out of control
Are you caught in a vortex
Go for a walk, clear your head
Smell flowers
One thing at a time
That’s all you can do
Humility is power
Acknowledge your ignorance
It opens the door to finding out
Accept your failure
It is an opportunity to learn
A small mind is always full
Only a thimbleful, but still full
Proud of its fullness
Has nothing more to learn
A large mind is always empty
Its many thimblefuls slopping and splashing in a corner
It hungers to learn, to find out
Grow your mind, it is easy
Just be aware of how little you know
Be tenuously attached to your knowledge
Flow with the truth, swim with the facts
Be swept by the currents of truth and fact
But always be ready to change course
Collectiveness
Can’t you see
We are all in this together?
You cannot survive on your own
You will die
Benevolence, generosity, compassion ensure survival
Aggression, greed, bigotry ensure extinction
No longer relying on physical superiority or instinct
Our weapons lie between our ears
Happiness and prosperity for all

Chill
The morning chill
Reaches my skin through inadequate insulation
Penetrates
Until hot coffee pushes it back
It will return after my cup is empty
Relentless, cruel morning chill
Wear a bloody hat, put on gloves
Wear a thicker jacket
Thumb your nose at the morning chill

Turn On
What turns me on?
What rocks my boat?
What lights me up?
The joy of being with others
Friends, family, those I don’t know well
Even strangers
Solitude, pounding on a keyboard
Producing music or words
Curled up with a book
That transports me to another world, another time
Music that brings me to my knees
Or makes me soar
Or moves me in words I cannot express
Walking, walking, in city or country
In jungles of concrete or trees and shrubs and soggy paths
My life is measured in moments

Compassion
Whom do we look after
Who is taken care of,
Supported, welcomed
By a truly caring society?
Where does charity begin?
Where does it end?
How do we regard those in need?
What do they deserve?
Our compassion?
Our contempt?
Do we extend a hand
to draw them into our fold
Or to push them back into their despair?
Why is the desperation of others
So easy to ignore by those who enjoy the largesse of affluence?
What sort of mind is not moved
What sort of mind is so focussed on excessive acquisition
That the welfare of others, even those in their midst,
Is of no concern
No, much worse
That it begrudges assistance to those in need?

Generosity
Why doesn’t generosity become bipartisan?
Why don’t we become a nation of people who
Look after each other
Appreciate what they have
Are willing to share
Are welcoming
Reach out to those in need, far and wide
What is stopping us from being happy with what we have
We have the means of becoming a wealthier country
But for whom, only ourselves?

Xenophobia
What drives politicians these days?
Xenophobia, greed?
Our xenophobia, our greed
They smell in the wind
The scent of what we want
Why don’t we give them a different scent?
The sweet scent of generosity, inclusion

Disclosure
Near the heart of things
are deep fears
I doubt myself
I question my worth
I wonder about my sincerity
Am I a charlatan, a dilettante?
These questions stand like sentries
Blocking the road to my absolute heart
My innermost place
They dilute my passion
Who created them?
From where do they spring?
I push on regardless
I try to ignore them
Refuse to believe them
But they jump out
Grab me, pull me down, sometimes crush me
Something dark lies underneath
I have to find out
Is it that I don’t accept myself
That I don’t like myself
Why not
Where is the answer
I plead to be liked
You don’t hear those silent pleas
Because they shame me
Neediness shames me
My façade of self-sufficiency took years to build
I’m trying to break it down
Difficult
Can I replace fear with passion

SelfLove
Let up, let up, let up
Go easy on him
Don’t beat up on him
Stop bashing him
He’s not that bad
Yeah, he can be silly
And he chickens out
Retires to his corner
Disappears from view
But, he is aware of his shortcomings
He tries
The effort hurts him, scares him sometimes
Don’t judge him
Applaud his efforts
Give him credit for his small successes
Like him
Please

Trust
Whom can I trust?
Whom do I trust?
Everyone, no one?
When is trust betrayed?
When a confidence is betrayed?
People slip up, let out a secret
But, will they let you down
Will they abandon you in your hour of need?
What about those who keep secrets
But run away when you need a helping hand
What is trust?
Degrees of trust?
Is it reliability?
Is it knowledge
That someone is on your side
Knows you, accepts you, loves you
Rejoices in your success
As if it is their own?
What about those you don’t know?
Do you trust at first sight?

Progress
Falling down
Rising up
We do it all the time
Two steps forward
One step, two steps, three steps backward
Inching forward, hopefully
Setbacks happen
Back steps outnumber forward ones
Temporarily, one hopes
The march is on
Life
We must all move forward
Or we will all slip backwards

You
Don’t hover on the surface
Find that opening
Go inside
Drag it all out
Your fears
Your hopes
Your passions
Look at them
Let others see them
They are you

Chopin
Chopin, pure emotion
Deep, troubled emotion
Poetic and sentimental
Compelling
Never unmoving
Even the most whimsical mazurka
Or little prelude
Leaves a mark
incapable of dispassion
The Barcarolle, pure, unadulterated Music
The ballades, scherzi transport you, if you let them
Etudes, preludes, gems of serenity and turbulence and in between
His grave forever a shrine
Adorned with flowers
Visited by those like me
Who are helplessly gripped by his music

Self-Loathing
Why is it so dark
the sunshine shut out
In broad daylight, I cower in a corner
Dark, dank
Wet with fear
I cannot move
I dare not rise
I will only fall again
The world laughs
Wants to keep me there
Delights in my fear
Cruel world
Or is it me
Cruel to myself
Stamping unworthiness
On myself
Sending myself to an imaginary corner
Don’t come out
Don’t try to rise above your lowly station
Who do you think you are?
They’ll only laugh at you anyway
You are no good
Go back to your corner
And stay there

Self-Acceptance
Go ahead
Get ahead of yourself
Throw caution to the winds
Find yourself in the outer reaches
Unshackle yourself from restraint
Leave forever the cloisters of fear and caution
Fall and rise
And fall again
And rise again
Love your life
Love yourself

Me
Knowing myself is a struggle
I suspect I’m not so bad, after all
I try to remember, not that good either
So I don’t get carried away
OK probably captures it
Just like you
And him
And her
You might despise my politics
Laugh at my poetry, such as it is
Confession: it’s not really poetry
I don’t know anything about writing a poem
But don’t hate me
I sort of know you don’t
I don’t engender hatred
Maybe pity
Possibly cringing at my disclosures
I cringe too, sometimes
This one scored a cringe
From me
But I feel compelled to show it
I’m not sure why
I might find out later
I try to be positive
It’s not easy sometimes
When I’m down, it’s time for a long walk
Preferably uphill

Perspective
Like yourself
Like others
No one is better
No one is worse
We do stuff
Good and bad
We are not fools because we do foolish things
We are not superior because we do some things well

My Worst Enemy
I hold myself back
Not through lack of effort
Not through lack of dedication
Not through lack of motivation
But lack of self-belief
I will never be good enough
I will always fall short
So, I lower my expectations
To where I think they deserve to be
Warranted by my mediocrity
Who told me I was mediocre?
Who was so cruel?
I know him, he controls my destiny
I don’t allow him to be positive
I stop him when he is encouraging me
I don’t believe his praise
I cannot get rid of him
He is me

Cognition
The turning point in Darwinism
Is when a species is able to annihilate itself
And its habitat
For humanity
It is no longer survival of the fittest
Individual survival dissolves into collective survival
Human cognition has the tools
Intelligence, compassion, generosity, selflessness, kindness
To survive together
But we must shed our arsenal of
Greed, selfishness, bigotry, lust for power
That promote individual, short-term survival
Long-term, we are done for
Let the penny drop
Before it is too late
Is it too late already?

Knowledge The Key
Hurry, there’s no time to lose
Don’t waste time
On trivialities
Serious business awaits
Unlock secrets
So much unknown
Jump to it
Find the key
Open the doors
Go inside
Feast on knowledge

Conquer Fear
To stand up
Face the public
Regardless of fear
Regardless of being thought of as an imposter
No matter how developed your thoughts
No matter how prepared you are
It is now
Parade your imperfect achievements
They will always be imperfect to some, especially yourself
Inspire others
Inspire yourself
It is your courage that inspires
Not the quality of your achievement

Your Passion
Don’t lock away your passion
It is the ultimate disservice to yourself
Don’t idle in neutral
Open the throttle
Passion breeds enthusiasm
Passion sprouts optimism
They let the sunlight in
Rush out, get moving
There’s no time to lose
Make a start
Draw that line in the sand
Don’t look back
Tune in to the present
Take that first step
Then another
Slowly, surely moving forward
You’ll soon pick up pace, guaranteed
Your feet will leave the ground
You will soar
Into your new world

The Blues
The dreaded blues descend
It’s part of being human
Recognise it
Accept it
Ride it
Take a walk, burn some energy
Change your hair, put in some colour
Treat yourself some other way
You deserve it, always
Talk to someone, there’s no shame
If you cry, so much the better
Analyse, if you can
It’s not important, but
Try to remember you are intelligent
Smart
Capable
Don’t be hard on yourself
You deserve the same kindness you show others.

Loneliness
How nice to be in the “in crowd”
At ease, plenty of friends about
Gathered at the table
Helping themselves to goodies
Or laughing and chatting in groups
They all know each other
It is hard to join
Introduce oneself
They don’t want to know someone new
Or even know someone better
There are the exceptions
But they are swamped by those who want to remain in their comfort zones
The polite laughter
Clipped replies
Please go away now
You are not yet one of us
Perhaps you will never be
Not stated, but clearly understood
Other stragglers befriend
Hello there
Get to know each other
Then their eyes wander, gleam recognition
Aha, their friends have arrived
Alone again
Naturally?

Autumn Walk
Autumn Leaves
Moist forest paths, Autumn strewn
Soft and comforting under foot
The trees smile down, it’ll be winter soon
They’ll fall asleep, trunk, branch and root
Silky, low slivers of sunlight
Shimmer through canopy sparse
Bathe the forest in twilight
Give pleasure to those who pass

Truly Blessed
The truly blessed are those
Whose passion is to help others
Who are those people
Who eschew material wealth
Whose needs are simple
Whose pleasures are cheap or even free
Make no mistake
They exist, in our midst
No placards, no banners
Herald their arrival
Or proclaim their contribution
To making this world
A better place
They have no need for jewels
Or caviar
Or Havana cigars
Or mansions
Or luxury cars
They find happiness
In feeding a family in far off Haiti
In educating a child in Bangladesh
In welcoming refugees on our doorstep
In sharing their wealth and bounty
In brightening the lives of the disadvantaged amongst them
We must know some of them
Can we be like them?

To Music
Music finds its way deep inside me
Chopin’s music parts the folds and layers
And always finds the openings and crevices
The fault lines in my crust of invulnerability, of self-reliance
Schubert seeps through my skin
Into my being
And warms me with an inner glow
The beauty of Tchaikovsky, arrows
That painfully find their mark
What about Mozart
Melting, simple, sublime beauty
Beethoven, awe-inspiring, majestic, weighty
And JSB, music that brings out our better selves
That speaks to us individually and collectively

Right Whinge
To right-wingers
Why are the 3 percent of climate change deniers
Within the scientific community
More compelling than the 97 percent
Who endorse it
To some Christians
Why are isolated Bible verses that condemn homosexuality
More compelling than the example of Jesus
Who exhorted us to love one another
To not judge
To cast stones only if we were without sin
Who was always inclusive
Tell me

Concentration
Concentrate, focus
What do these words mean?
Concentrate on what
Focus on what
Specifically!
You play notes
You write words
Your mind wanders
You rein it in
Try to tether it to the task
But on what?
The rope attached to my mind is still in my hand
It takes off again, away from the task
Mind and body doing their own thing
Not interested in what the other is doing

Seymour
Seymour sixty-eight today
If he was alive
Guileless
Innocent
Creative
Sunny
Gifted
A free spirit
Harnessed, shackled, choked, finally crushed
By neglect
By bullying
By physical violence
By stigma
By religious hate
His life wasted away
Consigned to the scrap heap
Too difficult for siblings
Battling their own demons
I wish, wish, wish
That I had shown more courage
To protect him
Look after him
He is forever my soul mate
If ever I look forward to dying
It will be to see him again

Mirror Man
Focus, focus, mirror man
Silly man
Concentration
Don’t you know it holds the key
To using time productively
To making progress
Achieving success
Don’t wander off
Don’t be distracted
Attach to the task
Like a limpet on a hull
Immersed in the music
Submerged in the words
A part of the picture
They, a part of you
Don’t wander away
Stay your troubles
Face them later
Your special moments unsullied
In your oasis of wonder and delight
Watching your private magic
Luxuriating in your endeavours
Emerge with a lighter, springier step
To lighter burdens
To a better world

Winning
What is winning?
Winners don’t need vanquished
Success does not require the failure of others
Success is learning from your failure
Failure is gloating over your success
Enjoy the success of others
Regardless of whether you succeed or fail
Life is not a contest between individuals
Life a contest with forces that can destroy us all
Fortune places us on a ladder
The higher we are the greater our potential
To contribute to our survival
The ultimate victory

Right-Wing Bubble
The hard right wing bubble
More like a balloon
It soared for a while
But it is now deflating
People have seen what it stands for
Division
Elitism
Bigotry
Rejection of scholarship
Hatred of minorities
Suspicion of differences
Greed
Heartlessness
Benefits for the few at the expense of the many
Trickle down
Small-mindedness
Devoid of vision
Ultimately destructive
Its brief race is coming to an end
Its hold on power is loosening, diminishing
Oblivion is the best place for it
Banishment from decent human communities

Fear Of Failure
We all fail
Make mistakes
Commit errors of judgement
Suffer from stage fright
Terrified of appearing ridiculous
Plagued by the imposter syndrome
Fear of failure
Blocks learning
You learn from failure
When you don’t fear it
When your sense of self is unchanged by it
When you know you are not a lesser person because of it
Only then can you find the reasons you failed
Rise from your failure
With a snippet of knowledge you didn’t have before

Footscray
Scorned by inhabitants
Of the other sides of the CBD
Drug-ridden, violent, indigent
Only the odd white face
Submerged in a sea of dark shades
In a derelict, forgotten pocket
Of this fair city
But Footscray, with alacrity
Demonstrates to all who care to look
The heterogeneity of racial, religious and cultural diversity
Combining easily, no, effortlessly
With the homogeneity of shared values, needs and aspirations
Immersed not in drugs but goodwill
Providing rich, varied fulfilment to all
Come along late on a Saturday morning
Be one of a thousand faces
Hailing from all over the planet
Going about their business
Marketing
Enjoying the sunshine
Rugged up against the cold
Sheltering from the rain
Talking to their kids
Ducking in somewhere for lunch
Quick to smile back
Or greet you in return
Enjoy a kebab
Or bite into a heavenly Viet roll
Or grapple with a gigantic thosai
Or slurp some pho
And please
Return with a changed opinion
Of this marvellous suburb

Kate
Kate, feisty, wilful
Beware when she is hungry
Better that you look away
Or a dagger pierces your forehead
But she loves
With all her heart
With no guile, with no restraint
It’s on her sleeve
In her eyes, in her outstretched arms
In every bone, every fibre of her miniature, six-year-old body
Which strains at the leash
To reach out and engulf you with love.

My Music
To music, the music that I love
Human expression sublime
Always says something
Never banal, never in the background
No matter how well I know it
Or how often I’ve heard it before
It always demands attention
I cannot resist
Reaction is involuntary

Honesty
What, then, is honesty
Is it accepting the harsh truth
Whose truth?
Who can I trust
To tell me exactly how it is
I cannot trust myself
My perceptions are biased
Often against myself
Others are driven by their own undercurrents
Is the essence of everything black and white
Just a matter of digging
Uncovering layer upon layer of disguising colours
Until the kernel is reached
Just asking

Beginnings
The end of something
Marks a new beginning
Preparation
Embarkation
Completion
Reflection
Cycles of life
Some concentric, never ending
Others leaping and dancing
Bouncing
Colliding
Partnering
Colluding
Chaotic
Ordered
Continuously supporting life
From birth to death
What beginning is marked
By the end of life?
A new chapter
In heaven
Or in hell
Or on earth, in different skin
Or as a wandering soul
Or re-united with loved ones gone before
Or nothing
Who cares
Don’t long for heaven
Or insure against hell
Or find life’s meaning in the hereafter
Live this life as if there is no other
Be nourished
By the air you consciously, gratefully breathe
Reality beckons
It is happening
Before your eyes
Heed, act
Grasp the opportunity
Now.

Jingoism
Dutton’s jingoistic drumbeat
Sounding again
Feebler this time
Rallying fewer to its cause
Not that it attracted many to begin with
If you want to be a citizen of this country
Be competent in English, Thump thump!
(whatever that means)
Embrace Australian values, Thump-ti-thump!
(What are they again?)
Answer new, more difficult questions, Thump-titi-thump!
What’s the point
No one’s interested
Save your breath
Foolish hard-line conservatives
Your race is run
The people’s flirtation with you lot
A resounding failure
They now know, first hand,
What you stand for
So, sip your Grange and puff on your Havanas
As you lament the stupidity of the masses
When they consign you to the political scrapheap
Under an anachronistic rock
You have no role in humanity’s future

Best Me
Who is the best me?
Is it the one
Whose clothes are always ironed
Who plays the piano
Who loves music with eccentric passion
Who supports charities
Who gives help and support
Who values self-sufficiency
Who values good health
Who is usually thoughtful and considerate
Who does not take himself too seriously
I’m getting warmer now
Who sees the funny side of things
Who is vulnerable, thin-skinned
Who is eager to please
Who likes to be liked
Who needs to improve
Is it all of the above
Is it none of the above
Is it someone I know very well
Or don’t know at all, because I try to be someone else
Just be, just do
Don’t overthink
Don’t analyse
Free myself from myself
And don’t forget to laugh

Words
Find words for your thoughts
Find words for your troubles
Your fears, your doubts
Without words to describe them
You don’t know what they are
Or why they assail you
Or hold you back
Or even cripple you
Without words
They are nebulous, elusive, out of reach
Problems
Need words to define them, describe them
Words to find solutions
Try words
They pull you from the clouds
Plant you on solid ground

Marriage Equality
Come on, Government of Australia
Why do you heed the bigots?
Marriage equality for all
Female-male
Female-female
Male-male
Objections are rooted in bigotry
Even when The Bible is quoted
Make no mistake
Scripture can be cherry picked to support anything
Rise above the “Them and Us” mentality
Step out of the comfort zone of Them and Us
Get to know a gay man or woman
Recognise that their love is normal, worthy
Become acquainted with a transgendered person
See, feel their humanity
Admire their courage
The power of marriage equality
Is its rejection of bigotry
And its recognition that GBLTIQ is normal
Part of a rich, diverse fabric of sexuality
That characterises our species.

Life Journey
Life is a journey
A work in progress, like it or not
The path behind you is strewn with
Your rejections
Your failures
Your disappointments
Your missed opportunities
Criticism of your efforts
Discouragement
Disparagement
Don’t look back
Don’t wallow in them
Mired in bitterness and regret
Leave them there
Move on
Take up the cudgels
Roll up your sleeves
The present beckons
Replete with
Excitement
Opportunities
The chance to fail again, true
But the chance to progress
Move forward, even by a millimetre
Improve
Achieve
Learn
What are you waiting for?

Something You Love
Is there something you love
A compulsion, an addiction
You cannot live without
It fires your passion
You glow inside
It engulfs
Sometimes overwhelms
Your feet leave the ground
You float, wrapped in its clouds
You dive into its waters
Willingly swept by its currents
Your life is better for it
It gives you abundant joy
Extreme pleasure
Never let it go
Pursue it, develop it
Luxuriate in it
Let it light you up
Let your love of it be seen
For miles around.
Baggage accumulates over the years
The contents now stale and out of date
But still fertiliser for doubts and fears
Burning resentment and virulent hate
Open your shoulders, fling with power
One after the other, till nothing remains

Bigots Rule
The bigots are running the show
With Abbott their spiritual lead
Watch out Christopher
They have not put their dummies back in
They might still want your blood split
Face up to it, they don’t like you
They have Malcolm’s balls
Willingly swapped for the top job
Your support of the PM
Will get you nowhere
Your prominence in the government
Tenuous at best
But now you’ve done it
Shown that a moderate heart
Is gathering strength
To stick it up the right-wing cretins
You are a pain in their backsides

Piano Magic
The sound of a piano
Stops me in my tracks
Compelled to listen
Even Chopsticks does if for me, briefly
Quality appreciated but not essential
Honky-tonk can rock by boat, sometimes
But it’s the masters I worship
Those creative minds
That extracted every drop of life sustaining juice
From the grinning, toothy monster

Perceptual Veil
How do I see the world
Through glasses coloured
To turn everything rosy and cheerful
Or glasses tinted
To darken even the brightest day
Is the world I see
Distorted by my morality, my beliefs
My perception clouded
By my biases, my prejudices, my hatreds
The lives of others
Judged by my version of right and wrong
Can I lift the veil
And see the world as it really is
A planet teeming with life
Dominated by a species
Capable of eternal survival
But also instant extinction
It’s in our hands
We are the architects of our own destiny

Nature
Nature cannot be tamed
It always wins in the end
Respect it, understand it
Don’t push against it
Use it, not abuse it
Nature is a gift to us
Bountiful, eternal
But remember
It controls us
It determines our ultimate fate
We ignore the signs at our peril
Submit to nature
Accept its truths
Be in step with its beat
Heed it when it falters
Our survival depends on it

Just Be
Is all the world a stage
As the great bard proclaimed
Do we play act throughout our lives
From the moment cognition sets in
Different roles
For different audiences, different situations
Power differentials
Bringing out in different proportions
The good and the bad in us
The weak and the strong in us
Dominating some
Submissive before others
Can’t we just be
Without pretence
Affected neither by audience nor circumstance
I know I want to just be
No mystery
No deep, murky water
No dark side
Always crystalline
Transparent
An open book
Predictable
What you see is what you get
Surprises always pleasant
A good way to live

Self-Acceptance
Accept yourself, unconditionally
Not just to a degree, but totally
No one can give it to you
No one can take it from you
It‘s your supreme power, use it
Feel it, breathe it, assume it
Take it for granted
The seed once its planted
Will grow as you grow
You will flourish as though
You are no longer aware
That you languished down there
A timid, tentative soul
Trapped in a deepening hole
You were digging with all your might
Energised by your fright
Fuelled by your fear of people
People just like you

Have Your Say (Twice)
Better to be called a showoff
Than a shrinking wallflower
Better to be disliked, scorned, ridiculed
For parading your humble skills
For insisting on having your say
For demanding to be heard
Than staying quiet
Forever ignored and overlooked
When, in your opinion, the only important opinion,
You have something worthwhile to share
To show, to remind, to inform, to entertain
Stand up, grab the spotlight
Turn it on yourself
Shout to be heard
If necessary
You have nothing to lose
Not your dignity
You can rise above the fray
Loud and clear
With your dignity intact
Put it out there
You cannot make a difference
If you don’t speak out
If you are not heard
------
Call me showoff, I care not a jot
I have something to say, like it or not
I don’t mind dislike, ridicule, scorn
If I voice my opinion, for this I was born
My skills may be humble and
My opinions considered bland
To some
Just ho hum
I will have my say
Rising above the fray
If I have to, loud and clear
Dignity intact, no fear
How on earth do I make
A difference if I do not take
The spotlight, turn it on myself
And be heard

Macedon Ranges Walking Trail
The Macedon Ranges, lush rainforest it is not
Harsh, unfriendly, unwelcoming scrub, not quite
But hospitality is not laid out
Vivid green welcome, you have to do without
No low hanging fruit or rivers or streams
Or frolicking wildlife, just a few wombat holes
But the spectacle of a bushland’s struggle to survive
In conditions that often conspire to defeat it
Is laid before me in scenic splendour
Commanding respect and awe, an opportunity
To experience something mightier than me

Mental Wellbeing
Always, always, always ask for help
You know when you need it
We all need help
At some time in our lives
Seeking help is natural
For us, social animals that we are
It is a hard-wired social contract
Inherited from our collective humanity
Self-sufficiency is an illusion,
A mask to project the misconception
That to seek help is weakness
Unmanly, needy, lazy
Ungrateful in this affluent environment in which we live
They are judgements we impose on ourselves
Reach out to seek help
Reach out to help
It is a natural expression of our humanity

Self-Sufficiency
Sanity is not a narrow mental state
It is a large canvas
On which I apply the brush strokes of
My individuality
My eccentricity
My special likes and tastes
My fashion
My loves and my hatreds
My activity and my idleness
My happiness and my sorrow
My sleep and my wakefulness
I often approach the edges
But find the resources to move back towards the centre
Sometimes I cannot do it alone
I need assistance to be pulled back
Or I could fall off
Knowing when to seek help
Knowing what help to seek
Is the secret to self-sufficiency

The Brown Dog
Down we go
Driven by meaningless impulses
Illogical, senseless
Powerful, compelling
Resistance is draining
Difficult to sustain
Overcome by fatigue, my focus wavers for a second
Darkness enters again
Not deep and penetrating
But enough to keep me down
Each time the melancholy lifts
I see light
I bounce back
I chide myself
For my self-indulgent moping
Whatever, I manage
The story of my life
Head down, coping, no worries
Everyone has difficulties
Most far greater, much graver
So I’m told, in roundabout ways
So I tell myself, directly
Get over them
You are living the dream

My Enemy
Who is my enemy
Do I know him
He is in my head
Telling me I’m no good
Inadequate
Unworthy
Look at him, look at her, look at them
Look up at the height of their achievements
Now look down at yours
Insignificant by comparison
You are a fraud
Know your place
Get back in your box
Accept your mediocrity
Your only escape is to be as good as them
I accept my mediocrity
I think I am an imposter
With no right to claim anything good for myself
I desperately want to escape
Become as good as them
Show all the people
Who I imagine are scornful and dismissive towards me
My true ability
Prove them wrong
The ultimate revenge
Who then is that enemy
Whom I given permission to do this to me
He is my damaged ego
Preventing me from accepting myself
Why don’t I shove him out of the way
And get on with life.

Evil
Devastation
A portrait of utter despair
Deep knowledge that the deed is a line in the sand
Ensuring it will never be the same again
Innocence once tainted by wilful bigotry
By ignorance worn like a badge of honour
Is lost forever
A new paradigm rises from the morass
Clothed in suspicion, caution, anger, injustice, hatred
Lost with the innocence is open, unbridled affection
The freedom to love curtailed, approached with caution
The eyes of hostility, of jealousy, of revenge, of the thirst to destroy
Always looking, waiting, waiting, waiting
Why don’t I turn around
Walk away forever
I cannot walk away from the deep love of my family
So I face it, a demon, lurking, slinking
Amidst the love, the goodwill that
I trust will keep the evil suppressed

Despair
I have sunk to the bottom, in speechless agony
I know what it’s like to feel utter despair
To be grabbed by the throat and immobilised by blackness around me
Not knowing how I will overcome the unbearable pain
Of the end of my world, the end of my future
A future in which he occupied the foreground
Suspecting, knowing that I was absent from his future
So it was, from the beginning
A sense of foreboding hovered over us
Gnawing at my guts, but I welcomed him into my world
Gave him everything, held nothing back
Entrusted my heart to him
Foolish and blind, against better judgement
Shut out of much of his world
Love is not at the end of a logical progression
Not at the end of a process of trimmed dangling threads and tied up loose ends
It strikes when the tapestry is still a jumble of incoherent patterns
There’s no saying what it will look like complete
I gave him control of the loom
He fashioned our tapestry, his tapestry
And left me out of it.

Treble Clef
The treble clef
Where singers find their song
Where birdsong leaves its print
And pianists slave day long
With finger-twisting pain
To conquer waves and waves
Of hemi demi semi quavers
Jamming up the staves

Soulmate
When your soulmate is not beside you
When they are on a journey without you
Their absence is a sharp reminder
Of what you have
Of your privilege
To have someone in your life
Who wants to be with you
Who will come back at journeys end
To the foreground of your life
As you regain your position in the foreground of theirs
Puppets
Religious bigots are puppets
The puppet master pulls their strings
Manipulating, twisting this way and that
Telling them what to believe
Warning them against reason and argument
Appealing to their faith, such as it is, to condemn others on spurious grounds
Exploiting their fear of eternal damnation, turning their faith into superstition
Encouraging their greed, not seen for the obscene acquisitiveness it is
But a reward for righteousness
If this is the image of God, for wasn’t humankind made in His image?
What sort of a god do they worship?
Commonality
What can divide us
What can stop us from reaching out
If we our welded together by our common humanity
Every person I see is just like me
I may not know their name
They may be Muslim or atheist for all I know
Partnered or single, a ring can mean many things
I might suspect their ethnicity
Laotian or maybe Cambodian, I could be wrong
But they are smiling, I know they are happy
They are crying, I recognise distress
They are running, I run too when I am in a hurry
I hear them talk, I cannot understand what they are saying
But I recognise a greeting in any language
They smile down at a baby
How universal is that
They yell at their scampering children
I am suddenly multi-lingual
They are telling the young ones to be careful on the busy street
The gulf between races, religions, cultures
Exists only in our minds
Nurtured by fear or ignorance or bigotry
My Purpose?
What am I doing here, is there a purpose for my existence
Pre-ordained by someone or something
That mapped out my life from conception
Determined who my parents would be
Where I would be born
Every moment pre-determined
If that were so, I must have existed before I was conceived
Even in the creator’s mind
What was my blueprint
What was I earmarked for
What is a stillborn baby earmarked for
Or the Syrian child washed up on a lonely beach
Or Somalians starving to death
Are we so powerless, so lacking in intelligence
That we cannot see that accountability stops with us
There is no divine superpower to save us from ourselves

Dream Of Near Death
Hurtling in inky blackness
Through a winding tunnel, not touching the sides
A force unknown propels me
I don’t taste fear, just a puzzled curiosity
About where I am going, where it will end
As I pass the next bend, suddenly a white light
I cannon out, land on my belly on soft, green meadow
Looking ahead, at stream just beyond
Who’s that on the other side
My father, my brother, what are they doing here
With a pair of long gone beloved cats
Lovingly side swiping their legs
They see me, they wave, even the cats
I get up to run to them
And stop
They are waving me back
What are they saying
I hear words, you are needed, go back, go back
The inky blackness engulfs me once more
As I hurtle away from the light
I wake up, a paramedic is looking at me
He’s conscious, he shouts, then addresses me
Hmmm, for a while we thought you were gone.

The Wake
After the funeral, the Wake
Sombre colours, but an occasional bright splash
A scarf or maybe someone’s hair
Breaking up the blacks and browns and greyish blues
The dark hues belie the mood
Gentle, friendly, appreciative, always welcoming
Our grief is lighter because you are here to share it
Handshakes, hugs, kisses, well wishes
Everyone spontaneously giving of their better selves
In solidarity with the bereaved
Food and drink in copious supply
To enhance and uplift the sense of coming together
To celebrate the life of the dearly departed
Lamented but also remembered with joy

Despondency
I went down, down, down
To the bottom of the well of despair
The walls, high, high, high, and sheer
I could not see a foothold to help me clamber out
I could not see anything
Darkness enveloped me
I existed there
For who knows how long
Going through the motions of everyday life
Working, eating, reading, listlessly, without enthusiasm
Sleep only begrudging, sporadic
Thinking, thinking, thinking
Constantly afraid of the unbearable pain
Of knowing the love I shared
The love now denied me
Was being shared with someone else
A weight on my chest kept me down
Unable to rise

The Boys Club
Physical strength, might, power
Symbols of male dominance that tower
Over everything else humanity can achieve
If you don’t like it, you are welcome to leave
They say with derision and scorn
Go back to your wishy-washy life, you don’t belong
With the men, unless you get yourself a pair
If you dare
Or if you prefer
Go wallow in your fear
Bring out your feminine side
Amongst the women, wearing it with pride
A hero to them, making a name
To us, the men, it is nothing but a badge of shame
A denial of your manhood, your gender
Maybe you are a homosexual bender
Taking it up the rear
While the fillies stand and cheer
At your courage to be yourself, have your say
Stand up to the bullies they tell you, come what may
Well, this is the boys club, bullying is our game
We eat red meat and smoke cigars, we’ll never die of shame
We’ll drink you under the table, at our bravado you’ll recoil in shock
We are proud of our arteries, all hard as rock
We dominate, we tell you what is good for you
We kill and maim to defend what we think is true
Go ahead, challenge us if you dare
You’ll come a cropper, more than you can bear
Much more than egg on your face, you’ll be sure to wear.

Look Beyond Deformity
Pounding the pavement, head always cast down
He seems unhappy, bet he's wearing a frown
Is he studying his shoes on a bright joyful day
When The world is so lit up, so bathed in sun's ray
Look closely my friend, and you will see why
He always looks downwards away from the sky
Engage him, go greet him, say how do you do
He'll return your greeting, a bit shyly too
But if you persist, he will ask you something
He will issue no words, but it will be the one thing
That stops all people dead in their tracks
That shows up humanity for something it lacks
Can we look at disfigurement square in the face
Resist the impulse to turn round and race
Away from the hideous, horrible sight
Instead look beyond the scourges of blight
At a person no different from you or from me
If fate decreed different, how would I be
Respectable Bigotry
Respectability is only a facade
Just pleasantries exchanged on a promenade
Or a rugged-up couple walking their dog
Seen at church on Sunday, come rain or fog
Never a swear word heard from their lips
For adventure, it’s take-away fish and chips
What’s behind the façade, what do we find
What are their attitudes, to what are they blind
Are they deaf to the heart-rending cries of the poor
Are they scornful of refugees who knock on our door
About equality and fairness, what is their call
For only the respectable, or for us one and all
Manners do not a person make
Without substance, without compassion, respectability is fake
Self-Perception
Caught in a perceptual maelstrom
Currents and undercurrents, pushing and pulling
An entanglement of interdependencies
Influences stacked one on top of the other
Interfering, colouring, distorting
Affecting how we see the world and its inhabitants
Influencing our attitudes, stoking our fears,
Fuelling our desires, entrenching our hatreds
At the core, the primary fuel rod
Self-perception
The driver of every other perception
Strive for healthy, unfettered self-perception
It lets you see yourself as you are
It reveals your ever-changing purpose
It brings to you the world as it is
A world you no long fear
A world to which you want to belong

Sunday
What is it about a Sunday morning
Has it something to do with the only work-free morning after a work-free day for most of us
Double restfulness doubles appreciation, doubles optimism, doubles happiness
A matchless, sunny, cloudless Sunday morning
Nature’s compassion for bustling humans
Caught up in their unrelenting, frenzied lives
Moving single-mindedly from one thing to another
On Sunday morning nature beckons
Trees sway invitingly, flowers raise their heads in welcome
The footpaths lay down the red carpet
What are you waiting for

My Shame
I loved him from a distance
Unable to get closer
Than the edge of the chasm that separated us
He lived his life to the fullest
Aware of my existence
Loving that part of me that connected with him
Never once looking toward the chasm
Never seeing my yearning gaze from the other side
Unaware that a part of me was in agony
The two parts of me
On either side of the chasm
Never coming together
Separated by my shame
For loving in a forbidden way
Poison
There is no justification for jealousy and hatred
Don’t carry them with you, don’t take them to bed
Your environment they poison
Tormenting each and every loved one
Harmful and destructive, so often targeted at those who wish you well
Meaningless, irrational rage intent on creating hell
For them. But the ultimate victim is you
The carrier of the evil, the nurturer of the malevolence that eats into
Your very soul, gobbling your energy, stifling your freedom
Leaving you languishing in your very own venom
Eroding your health, why channel your intelligence, your creativity
Into wreaking chaos, destruction, calamity
In a world moving forward there is no place for it
You’ll be left behind, thrashing around in the snake pit
Of your own creation
Sad, pitiful, a worthless dissipation
Of a life

No Fools Here
Are you known to not suffer fools gladly
Then I have something to say, sadly
For you, that no one is a fool
Maybe a statement that’s not cool
For you, coz it shatters your idle boast
You may think you have them on toast
Seriously, all you have to do is look
Leave your ego and arrogance on the hook
If you can, for you will find
That even the simplest mind
 Contains the wisdom you seek
Clothed in the humility of the meek
Be attentive, get the message
Or forever carry the baggage
Of empty-headed arrogance, egotistic and fake
Of unlearned wisdom lying in your wake

We Are One
At what point in our lives
Does a human difference
A difference that should be celebrated
Become something to fear
Or treated with suspicion
Or dammed as deviant
Or regarded with disdain
Or classified as sub-human
When does the barrier go up
To shut out a black child from her white friend
When do the curtains come down
To block out the humanity of those
Who cry out for your acceptance
For your compassion
When does bigotry set in
And prevent you from seeing the good in people
Because of spurious, venomous notions
Instilled by nurture and religion and environment
That rob you of your innocence
Block out what is real
And replace it with poisonous perceptions
Not founded in reality
Not based in truth
What is the purpose of education
If not to equip you
To question what was instilled into you
And become complete accountable
For everything you think and say and do

Burqa Cabaret
About Pauline’s burqa cabaret
What is there to say
What is she pushing
What step forward is she trying to make
Can bigotry promote harmony
Can racism give rise to a peaceful community
Can suspicion of difference result in unity
What lies underneath attitudes like hers
And those of her ilk
Who inhabit our community
Who can be seen in the corridors of parliament
Or pop up inside the fourth estate
Or even live next door
It must be a raging furnace of anger
That distorts the graceful shape of love, kindness and inclusion
 And produces a twisted sculpture of bigotry and hate and suspicion
Marriage Inequality
The naysayers to marriage equality are out of the woodwork
Opposition on religious grounds has lost its potency
Diminished in influence, wanting in credibility
Churches are in richly deserved disgrace
Their hypocrisy paraded for all to see
It is not now about religion
It is scaremongering with fallacious argument
Threatening breakouts of boys in frocks
Forecasting rivers of gender fluidity in primary schools
Spurious things, the products of bigoted, homophobic minds
Burning the candle at both ends, scouring the internet
To twist and distort isolated incidents
To turn them into hell and damnation
Wrought on societies where marriage equality is now law
Where the sun still shines, where marriage has not been diluted
Where it has only been extended to welcome into the fold more people who love each other
And who seek not only the protection of the law
But also official recognition of the equality of their relationships
Strength in hatred
What’s going on
Is decency now a failing
Is compassion a weakness
Is kindness counter-productive
What can hate and divisiveness achieve
Apart from more hatred and more division
What sort of lives do we want to lead
What sort of lives do we want for others
Do we wish failure, starvation, hopelessness on them
Or worse, do we not care about them
Are we only interested in increasing our own individual wealth
Is it so difficult to be kind
Why do you want to put up the shutters
Show your goodness only to those
You regard as your own
Only those in your family
Or neighbourhood
Or town
What about the rest
Aren’t they human too
Don’t they have needs
Aren’t they innocent victims of forces beyond their control
Don’t they need our help
Get Going
Riding atop a wave crest
I think I see neon ahead
Emblazoning my next success
The lights are so bright
I cannot make out what they are saying
Or what they are shining on
The lights mesmerise me
The lights are what I want
I don’t know what I need to do
So I blindly rush in their direction
Not heeding the instructions on my left
The warnings on my right
I am celebrating success
While it remains at best a remote hope
My life is an illusion of instant success
Celebrated in my fantasies
And nowhere else
I cannot let go
For I will crash to earth with an almighty, soul-destroying thud
Why don’t I take hold of the throttle
Gently descend to the land of reality
And start again
Yes
Roll up those sleeves
It’s time to get dirty
Feel the stark reality of life
Seep between my fingers
Lodge under my fingernails
Soil and muddy my palms
It is a part of the struggle
To learn, to find out
To grasp the substance
To acquire knowledge
Combined with  creativity and imagination
To produce dynamic, persuasive argument
To illuminate and educate
And impart what is special
What is significant
What matters

Sexuality
My sexuality
Like my race
And my gender
Defines me
It says something about me
It does not say everything about me
And it says nothing at all
About my worth as a human being
It does not place a value on me
It does not make me
Less normal
Or more normal
Than anyone else
Those who assign a value to someone
On the basis of sexuality, race or gender
Are bigots, pure and simple.
Wasting Potential
What is my vision
Do I have a dream
For how we should live
I know that goodness has to prevail
Or the world is doomed
But what does this mean
Somehow, we have to stop
A starving, cholera-ridden child in Yemen
A potential Einstein wasting away
Because not enough people care about her plight
The world is being robbed of someone who could make a difference
How many like them have perished, their potential unrealised
Their places taken by lesser minds, able to seize opportunities because of good fortune
Why is inequity allowed to rob humanity of its richest resources
Minds bursting with brilliance
Consigned to the scrapheap because power and greed
Do not value human capital outside its enclaves
Tony's Back
Please hand me a bucket
The prince of the marriage equality naysayers
Taking on Bill Shorten to prove to his party he has Bill’s measure
(So please make me leader again)
Is so bereft of convincing argument
That he latched on limpet-like
To the headbutt that wounded his lip
Probably his bottom one
By a wearer of a small “Yes” badge on his lapel
He is now claiming the high moral ground
Doing his utmost to taint the entire “Yes” campaign
As an outfit driven and peopled by thugs
When he himself has been accused of thuggery
And was a moral vacuum when he led the opposition
Seriously though,
Can he not see that his political games are treating with disdain
The welfare and sensibilities of thousands of his fellow Australians
Come on Tony, you will never be PM again, your party will ensure it
But respect for you amongst right-thinking Australians must be hanging by a thread
Or do you not care about that either.
Moral Custodians
The old moral custodians have had their day
Their outdated morals
Have no place in modern societies
In which the powerful cannot hide any more
In which they are accountable
In which their hypocrisy is out on display
The morality which they continue to stoutly defend
Is instituted by religion, and has a lot to do with sexual practices
Is centred on abstinence and procreation
In the meantime
Those people in power who, mind you, proclaim a compassionate, inclusive faith
Also turn away those fleeing persecution
Incarcerate innocents
Pander to greed
Are selective in their compassion
Are divisive and exclusive
And motivated by self-interest
They are not the defenders of virtue
As some of them like to depict themselves
They just don’t like seeing the shrinking of their power base
Cannot abide witnessing the overdue abandonment of their outdated so-called values
As societies embrace knowledge and their own lived experience
And discard old bigotries masquerading as tradition.
Getting Old?
My mood fluctuates with the temperature
Of Melbourne’s early spring
A weather roller coaster which
My mood is grabbing and taking me on an unpredictable ride
Of joy and optimism and exuberant expectation
Alternating with gloom and slight despondency
When health and age rear their heads and make me wonder
If the reality of my time of life requires me to slow down
The concept of being old is alien to me
May it continue to be so until I shuffle off this mortal coil
But, my body is no respecter of my mind’s frolicsome attitudes
It behaves like an organism that has existed on this planet for
Well….a longish time
My Duty of Care
I am grateful for my good fortune
I never go hungry
The water I drink is clean
My home is warm and comfortable
It shelters me from driving rain and bone chilling winds and searing heat
I am safe at night
I have way too many clothes
I indulge my passions, my interests
I live in a land of abundance
There’s enough to go round
To feed, clothe, house, educate all
With plenty to spare
Plenty to share
There are those who have nothing
Who live off urban and suburban garbage
Children caught in poverty traps
Denied even basic nutrition and education
What is our duty of care to them
Where does our duty of care end
At our borders?
We Deserve Equality
It is time for the law of the land
To move in and remove bigotry’s sting
Let the religions who want it
Preserve their bigotry in defence of their faith
Let their believers think they are going to heaven
For their shameful antipathy towards other people
When I think of faithful, loyal, devoted, loving men
Who nursed and cared for their partners until their last moments
And then were subjected to family invasions
To claim the “loved one” they probably spurned throughout his life
To grab his property and belongings
And deny the partnership ever existed
Not mentioned in eulogies
How many suffered
How many were denied
How many were left without a rudder
Without the roof over their heads
Banished from homes lovingly built and crafted over many years
This then was, still is, the result of bigotry in the law. Remove it
And move on, as a better, more inclusive society
To deal with the next inequity
Virtue Signalling
What is virtue
Is it morality
Is it doing the right thing
Is it fairness
Is it trying to make people feel good about themselves
It is all those things
And more
Feeling good is only a by-product of virtuous actions
I dare say
Those who deride virtue
Those who besmirch the virtuous actions of others
As self-serving “virtue signalling”
Are opening a window
To their discomfort when others’ virtue
Forces them to hold up a mirror to themselves
Consequences
From even the highest vantage point
How far ahead can I see
What will my actions deliver
What will be my harvest
From what I sow today
I cannot know what lies ahead
The future is just that, the future
But I know one thing
That what I do today will affect my future in some way
A decision made today, a forward step taken
At the only time it can be taken
Will close some doors, open other doors
Close a dark chapter, let the sunlight in
Be mindful of the present
It is where your life is happening
Right there, under your nose
Be aware, be awake
Seize the opportunities that come your way
Propel yourself into a productive tomorrow
By what you do today
Stand Up
Stand up for what you know to be true
What you know to be right
What viscerally nags at you
What resides in your heart
What your lived experience tells you with certainty
What cannot be budged by either your politics or your religion
What your personal ambition can mask only for a while
The truth cannot be hidden behind “no go” zones
Bigotry cannot be justified in the name of religion
Don’t be afraid to question your beliefs
Find solid reasons for having them
If not, consign them to the scrap heap
Saying someone or something tells you to believe in a certain way
Is not good enough
Examine the evidence impartially
What does it look like to YOU
Regardless of what the good book says
Or the postulations of your favourite politician or shock jock
You will never go to hell for being sincere, for heeding your heart
Asylum Seekers and Us
Does the fate of the refugees on Manus Island not affect us
Does it not cause us anguish
To know that they are being abandoned
Left to their own devices
Outnumbered, vulnerable in a hostile community
Our government has walked away from its duty of care
Paranoia reigns within its ranks
To never produce a good outcome for asylum seekers to our shores
Hold them up as a deterrent
That is the main game
No matter that that live in squalor, in limbo
Without a sliver of hope
This callousness is being perpetrated by a government of Christians
Some among them wearing it with pride
What is their Christianity, come to think of it,
After church, prayers and hymns
And proud utterances of their faith
Is it ever practised in their lives
Does it feature in their treatment of others
A self-serving form of Christianity for the affluent and the privileged
Hypocrisy is what it really is
A mockery of what is good and just
Hypocrisy of the Religious Right
The refugees on Manus are squatters
In the words of good Catholic Pyne
Who with others in our lamentable government
Persist with demonising souls who have fled persecution
Who have craved our compassion, who have sought our outstretched hand
For so long, to no avail
With Dutton in charge
It’s all about punishment
For those of the wrong colour, race and religion
Who dare to seek refuge in this country
Which has wealth beyond measure
Which has boundless plains to share
But there is a sliver of light, a little brighter, a little broader each time I look
Xenophobia is dwindling
People are embracing things that matter
A realisation is dawning
That the rich and the powerful are self-serving
Concerned only with amassing more wealth and more power
Focussed on their obscenely extravagant lifestyles
Contemptuous of the majority
Unconcerned about poverty and disadvantage
That electing leaders from their ranks
That choosing role-models of their ilk
Serve only to tighten their stranglehold on the rest of us
Send them to the political scrapheap
Bring down the institutions that entrench their privilege
We have the power to do it
We have Democracy
This Wasteful Plebiscite
Did we need this plebiscite
Do I need a tick, a nod of approval
From people who do not know me
That I can marry my partner of thirteen years
I heard the arguments of those who said no
All of them were founded on antipathy to homosexuality
A determination to enshrine a difference
A permanent reminder that same gender unions are not equal
Lesser than, inferior to the union of a man and a woman
The result was empowering, my heart swelled with pride
But I don’t need a majority view
That I am a normal member of the human race
Because this is what the unnecessary plebiscite was all about
Liberation
When you do something, anything
What is your strongest influence
What is your most compelling guide
Is it a low opinion of your ability
A self-imposed limitation
Based on false modesty
Or prevailing opinions
Or conventional wisdom
Let in through lack of confidence
Accepted by paucity of self-belief
In your ear all the time
Telling your to set the bar low
To not overreach
To be satisfied with modest achievements
Because that’s as far as you will go
Or
Do you throw away the bar
Ignore convention
So that the sky becomes your limit
So that your striving becomes an adventure
An exciting journey of discovery
Of confidence and self-belief you thought you never had
Of things your self-imposed limitations said you could never achieve
The War Against Normal People
The struggle is over, finally
The public and their elected representatives have endorsed marriage equality
Left is only the procedural formality
Required to become law, to be enshrined forever in the statute books
There were no amendments, no hooks
The naysayers craved to hang their hats on
To be able to point to the difference, however little, however slight, place their fingers on
And say, there, the law says you are not the same
Not equal, the door is still open to discriminate even in the lame
Pathetic refusal to bake you a wedding cake
Others are fearful about what’s in the offing, the next take
Religious institutions, for so long publicly funded hotbeds of bigotry and hateful
Discrimination may be compelled to abide by the law if they want get their handful
Can they represent their religions in their true spirit of love and compassion
Without judgement and hate and division
And become relevant to a progressive, united society
That is naturally craved by the majority of our humanity
Remember, the true champions of this change, this momentous breakthrough
Are ordinary gay folk, no different from the public at large, who
Turn up for work, love and care for their families, their friends
Are reliable, honest, compassionate, have similar ends
Walk their dogs, go to the movies, laugh, cry, think
Dine out, eat at home, exercise, watch the box, have a drink
It is they who have made the penny drop
For the vast majority, influenced them to stop
And review their beliefs in the light of their lived experience
Recognise that people who love differently to them
Are normal
The Triumph of Decency
Our politicians should hang their heads in shame
When they were supposed to lead they came up with lame
Excuses that kicked marriage equality down the road
Until the Labor Party saw the light and came on board
They pledged to make it a reality, allow a conscience vote
When they came into power. The Libs took note
Of the massive public support, poll after poll
But hard-headed bigots had them in a stranglehold
Our PM too weak, too compromised to lead
Unable to do the right thing despite what he could read
Despite what he believed he bowed to the bigoted mob
They came up with a non-binding plebiscite by letter, hoping to rob
LGBTIQ people of their right to be regarded as equal in the law
A prospect that would stick in their craw
As well as the likes of power bigots like Pell and others of the church
So, Australia was subjected to a campaign of hate, a lurch
Into thinly veiled venom directed at very normality of LGBTIQ folk
Hurtful, shameful, nasty stuff, the work
Of those who wear their piety with pride
Who parade as moral custodians but think nothing to deride
Normal decent people.
Knowledge
Knowledge is power, it has been said before
Knowledge is also truth, the prevailing truth
Not set in concrete, just a marker in a never ending quest
Knowledge breeds compassion
Knowledge drives out division
Take responsibility for your knowledge
Be sceptical, search for evidence
Demand from the dispensers of truth evidence that satisfies you
If you refuse to apply your education, your intelligence,
Your wisdom, your lived experience in your search for knowledge
If you blindly follow the edicts of others
You are squandering your most precious resource
You are selling your soul to someone else’s truth.

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