Day 25 — make love not war (3 for the price of 1 today)

For once, I don’t feel conflicted about writing an Anzac Day Poem. And as happened 2 days ago with Bill Shakey Day, (& last year for both days) having a superimposed theme (“love” this year, “climate change” last) made me look at the day in a whole new way — which in turn has generated not 1, not 2, but 3 poems of which I am exceedingly pleased. 

Looking at love in war time is a wonderful way to get around the whole uncertainty I have about A25. 

It’s also a lovely way (pun intended) to honour, commemorate, call what you will my grandparents in poetical form.


Anzac Triptych
1. Atherton Tablelands 
2. Goodbye Will Moon
3. TIL


Atherton Tablelands

In April 1943 following three weeks leave after seeing action at Tobruk, Mersa Matruh and El Alamein Gunner RL JONES of the 2/7th Field Regiment arrived at Kairi in the Atherton Tablelands.

It was love at first sight.

Even though he was from 
a notoriously lush part
of the Adelaide hills the green 
in Far North Queensland 
is several degrees greater 
than most mortal eyes 
are used to — or able to endure.

Gunner RL Jones remained 
on the Tablelands with his unit
for almost two years — training
and playing upon the rich red 
loam born in ancient volcanoes.
Before being sent to Tarrakan 
that began the Allies’ Borneo 
Campaign. He survived those jungles 
by thinking often of the equally 
lush Atherton tablelands — 
until the Americans blew up 
the world and the war ended.

Gunner RL Jones eventually 
made his way home & made
Florence his fiancé.

Rueben told Florence. 
Of the green.
Of the red soil. 
Of his desire to move there.

Florence said no. 

He never saw the Tablelands again 


Goodbye Will Moon

In late 1944 Corporal BI Burgan of RAAF 1 Squadron was likewise on leave when he visited his parents in Port Wakefield.

Quiet Sunday evening.
Parents off praying.
It’s been a long journey 
and I’ve only a few precious
day’s leave. But I know
dad will be disappointed
if I don’t attend. So 
although I don’t feel like it
reluctantly walk across town.

Only one seat remains 
in the very back pew.
Slide into that space next 
to a beautiful young woman
who smiles as I sit down.
Can’t concentrate. On 
what the pastor is saying.
Nor the service itself.
Nothing but —
that sublime smile.

Afterwards, I offer to walk 
her home and am bemused 
and delighted to discover 
she’s boarding with our next 
door neighbour.

We stand talking for ages
til I brazenly lean in
and kiss her over the garden gate.
I’d best go in now, she says.

The best night of my life.

During my leave we spend 
as much time as possible
together but it ends
all too quickly. Before I 
deploy to New Guinea 
I must tell her. I confess
undying love. The hammer 
blow. She’s engaged to another!
I didn’t know I say 
and chivalrously
offer to step aside. 

Leave it with me.
She says.
I’ll deal with it.

And. She. Did.




today i learnt 
that unlike my
gran and grandad
nana and papa 
weren’t engaged
or even dating 
while he was away 
during the war
they only started 
seeing each other
after he got home 

her first  love 
     died     flying   bombers
over    germany 
   she       was                s h a t t e r e d
when   Will    was  

suddenly saw my frail
ninety nine year old nana
       with  newer 
    sadder  eyes

Day 17 — Gran’s lifetime: under a century

Today would have been my Gran’s 97th birthday. I’ve used that as the impetus for this pome.

WARNING: it is quite long; probably the longest I’ve ever posted for NaPoWriMo (though my anti-Jazz rant was up there). If you choose to skip to the last stanza, I’ll quite understand, & you’ll still get the general gist hahaha.


Gran’s lifetime: under a century

1. Introduction
It infuriates me when people say
oh we can’t change things too much
think of our economy : et ceterablah!

2. Birth Year
In 1924 : the year after : the invention
of TV : the British Empire : is still 
gleefully : exploiting her colonies :
Australia has been an actual country 
for only 23 years : the USA only has
48 states : Adolf Hitler is still in prison :
the Winter Olympics begin : commercial 
radio is first broadcast : the first aerial 
circumnavigation of the world 
is completed : in only 175 days (today 
it takes a little over 2 days : 50 hours)
surrealism is born : movies are still 
silent : & Hubble blows up the universe
discovering : Andromeda is not
a nebula : as long thought : but another 
galaxy : & that the Milky Way : itself 
is only one : of many

3. The Not Quite 100 Years Following
in the succeeding : century
the twenties roar : jazz begins torturing 
eardrums everywhere : before causing
a great depression : nazis somehow
convince an enlightened society 
to eat itself : the USSR rises & falls
we fight a second World War : 
a Cold War : & a War on Terror 
we invent : drop : then are terrified 
by atomic bombs : stop drop & roll :
you’ll still die : but you’ll feel like 
you tried : bikinis make babes 
into bombshells : boomers are born : with a bang
& immediately begin : annoying everyone :
teenagers are invented : along with rock 
n roll : the Holocaust continues 
to horrify us : but later genocides 
get less attention : as ours grow ever shorter

Gandhi marches for salt : Mao takes 
a long one : we promise two new states 
but only officially make one : leading 
to years of unrest : dozens of countries 
shake off : shackles : declare independence

we orbit the earth : & bounce on the moon
pocket calculators : are briefly a big thing
scientists genetically engineer organisms 
(bacteria then mice) : a child is born 
via : in vitro fertilisation ; the culture counters 
revolts against war : conservatism : 
oppression : patriarchy : sexuality

Pong is considered cutting edge :
Commodore 64 wows the world 
with a massive 64K of memory :
the first Macintosh then smashes 
that paltry amount by : doubling it :
Gameboys : Rubik makes a cube

gramophones : give way : to record 
players : to cassette tapes : to compact 
discs : to mp3 : to online streaming 
from the cloud

computers shrink : from buildingesque
then : room-sized : to being : our personal 
playthings : then laptops : mobile phones : 
smart phones : tablets : iWatches
chips are implanted : in our bodies
hidden : in COVID vaccinations*

mobiles shrink : from the size 
of bricks : to fitting into pockets 
& are on their way : back up to brick

multinational corporations :
became the most important entities : on earth
free trade agreements : bloom
like mushrooms : from the dung 
of laissez faire economic policy :
stock markets crash numerous times 
& are salvaged : poor people are demonised
banks go bankrupt : & are bailed out : 
poor people are blamed : for being poor
supertanker container ships : begin 
impersonating small cities 
& pumping out : the equivalent in emissions
the assembly line : makes production 
massive : & turns men into machines
archaea are classified as a new : 
separate : domain of life

we survive Y2K … easily

we transplant hearts : break 
the sound barrier : genetically modify 
crops : map the human genome :
use X-rays see inside ourselves : 

we invent: satellites : Concorde : Skylab 
(even though it falls on us) : the ISS :
high-speed rail : container ships :
& buildings really start scraping the sky

as well as: Velcro : Tupperware : Frisbees : 
The Slinky : modern Solar cells : the pill : 
AstroTurf : ultrasound : the CDC 6600 
supercomputer : ATMs : MRIs : 
email : earlier than you think (’71)
face lifts : stainless steel : silicone : 
polystyrene : PVC : polyethylene
& nylon : & multiple other plastics : plus
thousands of chemicals : for industrial 
& domestic use (though whether these last
are good : or not : is debatable)

develop : radar : transistors : ballistic 
missiles : jet aircraft : commercial television : 
commercials (sadly) : microwave ovens : 
hydraulic fracturing : lasers : fibre optics : 
radiocarbon dating

discover : black holes : quasars : parallel 
universes : mechanics who can repair 
your quantum while you wait : that everything 
began in a Big Bang : (probably) : DNA’s
double-helix; the Cosmic microwave
background radiation : penicillin

scientists develop vaccines for : polio : 
measles : influenza : diphtheria : 
pertussis (whooping cough) : tetanus : 
measles : mumps : rubella (German
measles) : chickenpox : hepatitis A & B 
& eradicate smallpox in 1979 

we survive : eruptions : quaking earth : 
strong winds of a multitude of kinds : 
droughts : plane crashes : bridge collapses : 
train derailments : nuclear reactor 
meltdowns : space shuttle explosions : 
a litany of oil & energy crises : the rise 
& fall of Berlin’s Wall : toxic gas leaks : 
oil tankers spilling their guts 

we fight a lot of wars : a barrage 
of wars : police actions : emergencies : 
civil unrests : invasions : genocides : 
& miscellaneous conflicts of all ilks.
protests : separatist movements : 
revolutions : dictatorships : martial 
laws imposed & revoked : coups d’état : 
military coups : run of the mill coups 
& attempted coups : takeovers : insurrections : 
assassinations : uprisings both popular 
& not : riots : troubles : tensions : 
& detentes : aerial bombardments : 
battles : bombs : suicide bombers : 
terrorist attacks : incidents : 
massacres : boycotts : blockades : 
systems actively designed to 
discriminate (some were even 
abolished : well one)

even the occasional peace treaty

*one of these things is not like the others

4. Commonplace Things We Take for Granted
washing machines : clothes dryers : 
air-conditioners : exercise machines : 
refrigerators : freezers : electric 
stoves : vacuum cleaners : cars ;
& a handful of magic devices allow us 
to experience knowledge : gossip :
stupidity : & even extraordinary content
from around the world — so much great 
literature : artwork : music : dance : & cinema 
it’s impossible to list even a fraction of it

5. Technologies Which Have Become Obsolete Since Gran Was Born
8mm : Super 8 : Hi-8 : analog slides (along with slide projectors & hand-held slide viewers) : overhead projectors : analog film : including photo developing : film splicing : disposable film cameras : Kodak itself for that matter : photo albums : flash cubes : photo booths : one hour photo saloons : & (almost) printed photographs : 8 tracks : cassettes : DAT : walkmen : diskmen : vinyl records (except for DJs) : MP3 players : minidiscs : boomboxes : VCRs (VHS & Beta) : floppy disks : Zip drives : CDs : DVDs : Blu-rays : LaserDiscs (oh that’s right : they were a thing : briefly) : telegrams : dial up modems : phone books : rotary phones : landlines (almost) : answering machines : phone booths : cathode ray tvs : pagers/beepers : dot matrix printers : fax machines : typewriters : encyclopaedias : card catalogs : punch cards : classified ads : street directories : road maps : alarm clocks : calculator watches : pin ball machines : space invaders : pac man : 

6. Jobs Which Have Become Obsolete Since Gran Was Born
Breaker Boy : Cigarette Girl : Clock Winder : Copy Boy : Dictaphone Operator : Elevator Operator : Film Projectionist : Ice Cutter : Knocker-Upper : Lamplighter : Lector : Leech Collector : Log Driver : Manual Part Loading : Milkman : Mimeograph Operator : Pinsetter : Rag & Bone Man : Rat Catcher : Sandman : Sawyer : Street Sweeper : Switchboard Operator : Telegraph Operator : Typesetter : Typing Pool : VCR Repairman : Video Store Clerk : indeed entire industries devoted to record stores & videocassette/DVD rentals : not to mention entire industries related to horse-drawn transportation : not mention no doubt many others: i’ve failed to mention

7. The Argument
& if you haven’t read every single word
of this poem i quite understand
i was deliberately belabouring 
relabouring & overlabouring a point
by listing the many many many many things
we’ve changed in under a 100 years
& many in much less than that

so don’t fucking tell me we can’t change
now — & fast

Day 17 – tops (& tails)

An auspicious start to the day. Happy 95th Birthday gran.


day of birth

air of gold  sky of water
bow of rain  leaves of blood
   a promise of home



BONUS POEM: April 17, 2018

One of the highlights of the trip is seeing these little critters first hand. Pookie you’ve got a lot to answer for.


the shadetails

now seen : a dozen, more?

frozen tension : quicksilver bounce : flag fluttering frenzy : the business end ; of the gymnast’s ribbon : electrified question marks

still every time : there’s a flash : a furry pulse : an extrapolated heartbeat : I experience : a silken thrill : of my own

17b squirell tale

Day 27 – poem about bad hair


Some days a poem just writes itself. This was one such. From a few notes jotted while I was visiting my gran in her “retirement home”, the tone quickly established itself & made me laugh out loud as the various descriptions presented themselves.

knot me

in the quiet blue of my gran’s tiny
room a photo of a long-haired kiss-
curled cow-licked feminine-faced lout;
smug in a purple-striped shirt under
neath an all-white knitted jumper
(as was, I hope, vaguely fashionable
in the Miami Vice trashed late 80’s);
set off with a heart-shaped silver bolo-
tie for fuck’s sake
                                 although i recognise
his confident cock-eyed grin, his too-
smooth clean-cut chin, & once-pride&joy
full-but-already-thinning head of fine
wavy hair, my stomach double knots
in grief & pity — for he does not yet
know all he has, nor all he will lose