Tasmanian Europa Poets Gazette No 196
The cattle crowd, the slaughter house,
except that’s not it, not really.
It’s just that you’ve been reading those articles again, you know the ones,
Where they talk about the stress of animals
in abattoirs and you said, I know what that’s like.
I’ve felt that way too, you said, but I couldn’t
seem to understand. Your voice wasn’t your own,
It came out in bleats and bestial moans that racked your body. I am ashamed.
When I entered the slaughter house,
I didn’t see you -
Or maybe I did
And wasn’t able to recognise you.
I think that would be worse.
It’s just that it was so crowded,
Air thick with the musty scent of perfume
and eau de cologne.
That confused me.
I didn’t think it would smell that way when I walked in.
I was given a glass of pinot noir to mask the scent,
I think, or stop me dissecting the surrounding scene.
It worked, I think
But I still couldn’t find you amongst the herd.
The walls were white, too;
Another surprise but I was happy about this one,
I didn't want to see the walls stained red with blood.
Where were you? I had a joke ready that I knew
you would like.
I thought our eyes locked
For a moment when the undulating flock paused,
Preparing to swell again.
You were crying.
You looked like a puppy I had when I was younger.
Did I ever tell you about him?
That’s a story for another time - I promise, I’ll tell you another time, but it’s ending soon.
I can hear the brass bells in the distance, rounding up the cattle. I hope you got away;
Everyone was herded away until the room was empty
And it was just me and - no. I won’t talk about her.
Angel Clarke, Burnie Eisteddfod 2020 Year 12 winner,
Burnie Eisteddfod 2020
I’m sorry… I’m sorry for what we have done.
I know it was wrong but we did what we
Thought was right but now we know what we
Have done. So now we shall grow bigger and
We can grow as a country, not just with some,
We can do it together, not just with one.
Aboriginals were here first, before the
Europeans… I’m sorry.
Tobias Jordan, Grade 5,
Burnie Primary School,
Burnie Eisteddfod 2020, outstanding poem.
You are very
Active for a dead person
You should take more care
The last illness killed you
To lose you again, I couldn’t bear.
Ruler of the house, whose interest in food
Will dominate all that goes on.
His need for attention, when timing not good
Is all a pussycat con.
He needs a brush, a play with his string,
Some treats hidden in secret places.
He sits n the window doing his thing,
Then pleadingly, sings to our faces.
His royal tabbiness comments again…
‘What does he need this time?’
Is it my turn or somebody else he sees then,
Who will fall for this sly, feline mime?
Boxes stand, weary, in the sky,
In grey monotony, high,
Those inside exist, forgotten,
In this monolith, rotten,
Stench of wealth below,
In the shuttle to and fro,
Gives rise to envy, scorn,
This place, where poor were born,
These cages, one upon another,
A drab edifice, like no other,
Leftovers from a faded past,
When planners’ die was cast,
Are prison windows on the world,
Stories deep within, untold,
Concrete, steel - same and same,
Rooms multiplied in manmade frame,
Ageing is this tower block,
Sealed tight and under lock,
Fragile life is trapped to die,
Unopened are these boxes, high.
Michael Garrad July 2020
To grasp at the living of,
Reach through ethereal veneer,
Touch beautiful conception,
Cross unseen line
to the very essence of existence,
Epicentre of all that is non-matter,
This is the passion,
Without physical boundary,
When eyes see the invisible,
For others only look,
When a breath is eternal,
Forever sweet and pure,
This is the passion,
Beginning and end at gated arch,
Surreal in the real of sublime
union with oblivion’s ecstasy,
Emptiness, full and rich,
There beyond, two as the whole,
When the same is no reflection,
An agony of delightful implosion,
Symphony cradled in embrace,
When it is and never not,
This is the passion.
Michael Garrad July 2020
There was a time when a life germinating
in a woman’s womb
before a mother became a bride,
was considered a sin.
The mother was regarded as loose
and not worthy of becoming a bride.
Bastard registers were prolific
at many places.
were often not allowed to inherit.
In some countries,
where Christianity was rampant,
weren’t allowed to be baptised,
Thus deprived of a perceived
celestial life after death.
Some bastard-illegitimate children
were to provide an economical
commodity for baby farmers.
Not all bastards’ lives were doomed,
for some were free to leave
their own mark on society.
For example, Confucius and Da Vince,
And authors like Catherine Cookson,
left a recording, even if fictional,
about the pain inflicted on them.
Would the next generation
understand the pain of the illegitimate child?
The word bastard is slowly becoming obsolete.
A novel by Joe Lake
The biting cold north-westerly had turned itself from the Arctic, through the west coast of Tasmania into the back of the men who were struggling to pull the heavily-laden boat up onto the beach near the Emu River. Most of them were convicts who were still serving their sentences, displaying the stark arrows on their clothing nonchalantly. Some of them had wrapped themselves in blankets while others, who had to drag the skip onto shore, had wet boots and legs, cursing into their beards.
Higher up on the beach stood a tall man in the uniform of an official of the Van Diemen’s company here in the north-west of Tasmania that was to be new grazing land for sheep and cattle, inland towards the west, into the hills that were spouting huge eucalyptus trees and scraggy bush. The man, Henry Hellyer, was staring into the wind that was now augmented by stinging small rain. He wiped his face with the back of his coat sleeve, shook his head as if to knock the water off and took a few steps towards the seemingly impenetrable bush. He had been here before, him and two men from the company who were his servants, convicts who had received their tickets of leave after their seven-year sentence in this Van Diemen’s land. The two were now unloading the barge. There were tents, saws to cut down trees, general supplies of flour, salt and other necessities.
‘Mr Hellyer, sir.’ It was one of his servants, a man called Simpson, known as Simmo, who now stood behind Hellyer and shouted into the wind. ‘Sir, you’re sure we should camp here. I heard Mr Curr, at the head office, say that we should start inland from Table Cape.’ Hellyer shook his head without looking at him. ‘This is better. There is grassland just inland from here that will serve for the sheep. Í am the surveyor and we will build a track from here. Ýou had better take the boat back to Circular Head and bring some horses.’ He then walked back to the boat, pointed to a spot just above the beach and said. ‘We’ll make camp here. Put up the tents and start a fire.’ One of the supervisors came up to him and said, ‘Mr Hellyer, the convicts, Ward and Harley, pretend to be sick and won’t help.’
‘Get them to collect and chop firewood. If they refuse - no supper tonight and they can sleep out in the open.’
(To be continued next month)
Little Boy Waiting
Little boy waiting, waiting for many months now
For his daddy to come home.
The boy plays with his toy sailboat
At the edge of the sparkling bay near his home
And he watches as his boat with red sails
Is carried out to sea
By a sudden gust of wind.
Sadly, he knows the boat his daddy made
For him is gone -
And he can’t get it back.
He wonders if his daddy will ever come home,
Or if he has sailed off over the horizon,
The edge of the world,
In his own yacht with red sails -
Exactly like the boy’s toy,
Never to return -
Little boy waiting, waiting.
June Maureen Hitchcock, April 2007