Tasmanian Europa Poets Gazette No. 197, September 2020
The Insignificant Soldier
He was an insignificant soldier of no important rank,
He was only a son and a brother.
He was the grandson of some character sent to
Australia and was never allowed
To return to the mother land.
He only served some years in the
Of France and Belgium
His lungs were infused with mustard gas.
He was lucky to have
Spent time in German prisons,
Working in ‘mental chains’.
On his journey homewards
He, the insignificant soldier,
Was severely punished for a time-on-the-town,
Night-out without permission.
He returned to farm on a soldier-settlement
That had non-productive soil, doomed to fail.
During hard times his children were to sleep in a tent
And there was no government support nor handouts.
He only ever spoke of his trip abroad but to a few.
Some folk thought that he was a weird little
Bloke of few words.
He, like many other insignificant soldiers,
Went to his grave early.
His child and wife were spared the horrors of his trip.
It is only 100 years later when it is in vogue to honour
These Insignificant soldiers -
The distant dead have now their names in concrete.
Tribute to Arthur (Patty) Smith of the 12 battalion.
I wear all the shades of the battle game
You know the one with no real name
I laugh with the sun
As I cry with the moon
For we are all going home soon
Weary and worn
Some a little torn
Some still lost
And for those, we mourn
We all wore the shades in every way
The good, the bad, a little each day
Some rose high while others fell
Who was who, so had to tell
All I know is I wore all the shades
And for that I expect no accolades.
Lost in Space, Joe Lake
The Old Times
At the end of a brilliant day,
A ruby sun sits low in a cloudless sky,
Casting a shimmering beam towards me
across the water -
Like a golden sword that cuts
the still turquoise sea in half.
I sit on the beach, mesmerised by this beauty
and think -
Why is everything so transient?
I want this magnificence to last forever!
Youth, beauty, love, joy, excitement, wealth -
life itself parades swiftly by,
And finally all we have left are memories -
Sharp images at first,
But with the passing years they flicker
and fade in our minds,
Like old silent films,
Then, we are left with deep yearnings
To return to the past - the good times -
The old times.
June Maureen Hitchcock
The Cross-Country Run
My friend and I weren't into sport
Swimming, running or any other sort.
So when we had to go on a cross-country run,
We knew it wasn’t our idea of fun.
We made a diabolical plan
That we thought of as we ran.
The teacher had gone for afternoon tea
So we made good our opportunity!
We slowed down and let the other runners pass.
Then we hid in the bushes and the long grass.
When we saw the two winning runners returning
We sprinted to the finish line
Receiving our first ribbons felt so divine.
The ‘cheated’ winners were two boys
Who were protesting and making a lot of noise.
We were told we’d be going to a cross-country run
The following week in Ulverstone.
Mysteriously my friend came down with the flu
And I conveniently rolled my ankle too!
So the two boys took their rightful place.
All this connivance over a damn stupid race.
Your Order No. 121
Had to laugh the other day…
...in a well-known burger place
I fronted to the counter there
To order face to face
No one at the counter,
But a lady drifted by,
She called me over to a screen
And asked what I would buy.
‘One large coffee...yes, full cream!
A breakfast burger, too.’
‘I guess you want a burger meal?’
She tapped more info too.
She started ticking on the screen,
It whizzed its info fast.
She checked all boxes, up and down,
I really was aghast!
‘Cash or card?’ she blankly stared,
I just said, ‘Cash today’
And then she sighed: ‘Just come with me.
We do it a different way!’
We walked back to the counter then,
(The place I’d rather be),
We had to wait for those then there,
Who’d queued up after me.
Their orders finally taken,
And I was next in queue.
I paid cash and sat straight down
To wait for what was due.
There’s just no justice in this world
As far as I can see!
You have to do things twice as long
In name of efficiency.
On righteous ground,
Light, all around,
illuminates the soul
within, the whole,
Unseen, those crying,
Blind in the dying,
Cannot, beyond, believe,
But wail and grieve
in solace and embrace,
Each tear-stained face
reflects loss, denial,
And all the while
the light is there,
Exquisite in its rhythm,
Alive, this wondrous prism.
Some look and never see
soul’s flight, in instant, free!
Michael Garrad July 2020
Remains Of Yesterday
She didn’t get older today,
And clouds hung heavy
under palest sun,
Shedding their tears,
Beating in anger
on cold stale concrete,
Wailing in street silence,
Raw and unforgiving,
Others had arrived at tomorrow,
Moving with changing weather,
Laughing in desolation,
Sheltering in each other,
Hiding from grey misery,
The rain relentless,
The sun always pale.
They were older now,
I was older,
She was as it was.
These are yesterday’s remains.
Michael Garrad July 2020
On Hallowed Hill
In this savage place
there is a hallowed hill,
None may step upon it
save lost souls in renewal,
The leavers fresh from mortal remains,
Confused by this new oblivion,
Snatched in a passing breath,
Now without careless need,
Seeing through new blindness,
Unaware still the longest
journey has begun,
When the hovering is complete
in withering crescendo.
There is abundant silence in death’s chatter,
A magnificent isolation,
Where the keeper’s words
are softer than whispers,
Hostile pain and burdened thought
is trapped in the maelstrom of before,
No hunger for the senses that ruled in chaos,
No wants in this transience,
Un-being to the being of.
Michael Garrad August 2020
The sun is brilliantly coming into my room,
Stillness is very unusual,
Most times car and truck noise at lights,
I looked at the new-design Europa Gazette,
Very nice, bright and colourful.
On opening The Advocate,
Ned Kelly’s court papers found in Devonport,
Surprised he came from Glenrowan, Victoria,
Strange how his papers came to Tasmania,
There are collectors everywhere.
Henry Hellyer (a novel)
Previous: Hellyer’s party has landed its whale boat near the Emu River’s outlet in the NW of Tasmania, 1826, to begin building a road to open the way to the Hampshire hills thought by him to be suitable for grazing sheep. Some of the convicts were misbehaving.
‘Harley, come back here but don’t point that rifle at me. It’s been given to you to protect us and to shoot the occasional kangaroo but the dogs seem to be better at this than you are.’
‘Ýes, Mr Hellyer, sir, we’re working hard for you, sir.’
‘Ánd don’t let me catch you stealing any more whiskey from the government store or - there goes your Ticket Of Leave.’
‘Yes, sir, but the others are worried, sir.’
‘Four of us started the road into the hills and now we’ve heard that Lieutenant Barnard and Mr Curr want the road to go from Table Cape instead and they’re out there felling trees as big as houses.’
‘Ýou let me worry about that and furthermore, what have you got there, Harley?’ Hellyer points to a sack at Harley’s feet.
‘That, Mr Hellyer, sir, is a native cat the dogs have killed. I brought it for you to look at.’ Harley hands over the sack. When he empties it, out falls a ripped-apart native cat.
Hellyer nods. ‘That’s good. I will sketch it. I can’t use the pelt, there is too much damage but good. Well done, Harley and could you organise the whale boat to go back to Circular Head to get some more provisions? Before that, help the others with the tents. It looks like rain.’
‘Ýes, sir, we’ll have to take some provisions up into the hills first and some tents where the four men are working.’
‘Fine, Harley, and take your offsiders with you.’
(To be continued next month)
From Winnie The Pooh
By A.A. Milne 1926
The Piglet lived in a very grand house in the middle of a beech-tree and the beech-tree was in the middle of the forest and the Piglet lived in the middle of the house. Next to his house was a piece of broken board which had TRESSPASSERS W on it. When Christopher Robin asked the Piglet what it meant he said it was his grandfather’s name and had been in the family a long time. Christopher Robin said you couldn’t be called Trespassers W and Piglet said you could, because his grandfather was and it was short for Trespassers Will, which was short for Trespassers William. His grandfather had had two names in case he lost one - Trespassers after an uncle and William after Trespassers.
(On seeking the Heffalump):
By and by, Piglet woke up. As soon as he woke, he said to himself: Oh! Then he said bravely: Yes. And then, still more bravely: Quite so. But he didn’t feel very brave, for the word which was really jiggetting about in his brain was Heffalump.
What was a Heffalump like? Was it fierce?
Did it come when you whistled? And how did it come?
Was it fond of pigs at all?
If it was fond of pigs, did it make any difference what sort of pig?
Supposing it was fierce with pigs, would it make any difference if the pig had a grandfather called TRESPASSERS WILLIAM?
Say Not, The Struggle Naught Availeth
By Arthur Hugh Clough 1819-61
Say not: The struggle naught availeth,
The labour and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not nor faileth,
And as things have been they remain.
If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars,
It may be, in yon smoke concealed
Your comrades chase e’n now the fliers,
And, but for you, possess the field.
For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
Comes, silent, flooding in, the main.
And not, by eastern windows only,
When daylight comes, comes in the light,
In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly,
But westward, look, the land is bright.