There was a time when writing a poem or song on Good Friday was an annual event. This is one. (Apologies for the formatting – I haven’t got a grip on the changes yet.)
GOOD FRIDAY NIGHT, 1978
(Easter Sunday too far away)
The walls are hewn inside the hill –
granite, veined with quartz,
and roughly marked with picks.
The floor too is rough, uneven,
falling just a little inch too close
to give a tallish man the room
The air is gloomy with the stink of death,
heavy with the kicked-up dust
that soon will join the floor
There he lies –
a shrouded, shapeless corpse.
If you could see beneath the cloth:
the alabaster cheeks that dry the grimy blood;
the matted hair that’s clotted
on a tattered skull;
the beard, rustling in the silence;
the filthy neck that’s stiffened now.
All his bloodied body
signs his wretched death.
walled in by stone and air,
the Romans play at dice in silence,
or murmur in the firelight.
It doesn’t make a scrap of sense.
This is a fragment from a larger piece I have been playing with for some time. McKellar’s wonderful poem, ‘My Country’, is part of my cultural baggage: here was a poem that celebrated what others shook their heads at.
I love this many-island country drifting slowly in the planet,
This Great South Land is part of me and I of it – my Home I call it:
Its red-soiled scrubs like heartbeats, constant, quiet, relentless;
Its ancient forests from Gondwana crown the eastern mountain spine;
The inland sea now dust and salt beneath the vast blue skies
That ache my eyes and stretch my mind, shrinking self-importance.
This place for me is like my breath, my heart’s beat, the stillness in my centre.
10 Jan 2018
There are no beliefs here.
I am on my own.
In my being with whatever waits in the darkness
there is nothing but my self to sustain me.
All the frippery and ephemeral disappear,
unseen in the night,
In the Blindness there is only the Light
glowing from within,
a bubble-shield illuminating a few bare centimetres,
not even the length of my foot
shuffling its next tiny step.
Who can tell in the darkness?
It is enough to move in the Light,
trusting my Self not to seek to know –
Why? Where? How? –
trusting whatever this is
It is a precarious way to live.
I wasn’t born depressed –
I was born free.
Somehow, I picked it up, or learned it,
or caught it.
Maybe the could-be-crack in me faulted under stress.
Maybe it was a virus, like the one that causes stomach ulcers,
or a cancer-like cell that hides in us all.
Maybe I looked down once too often and the fear stuck.
It doesn’t matter now. read more …
Winds roar and the bushfires blaze – it’s been going on for weeks now. The weather on the weekend was dry and intense, the sun hidden all day behind the smoke. The sky was white, the white of cumulus clouds, but closed in tight like one of those grey, misty days. It was hot, for here. At 6.30pm on Saturday, whilst picking up my fish and chips, I saw the sun for the first time. It was startling: lolly red, and without any eye-flinching brightness – a great flat lolly without the stick just hanging in the sky. Amazing. And the light reminded me of the almost-total eclipse when I was at Auburn in ’76 on prac.