Day 25 – reasons (& relations)

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Because Anzac Day always falls during NaPoWriMo, I often myself writing about it owing to my many & varied (often conflicting) emotions about it. I think I could quite easily publish a chapbook of just Anzac Day-themed poetry. 

Once again, this is not the poem I set out to write, that one remains half completed needing more time & more research to complete. It is conceivable that parts or all of this poem may one day make their way into that more encompassing piece.

*****

Lest we forget

i.
When Cousin George
declared war
against Cousin Wilhelm
in August 1914,
13 year old Australia,
a British Empire dominion
was likewise at war
— automatically.
We had no choice.

ii.
While many thousands of young
men eagerly rushed to enlist;
thinking it a grand adventure
to assist three spoilt imperial cousins
squabble over colonial interests;
Australia twice voted against conscription
as political parties split & formed new
alliances, elections were fought
& a Prime Minister resigned over
the contentious issue of our involvement.

iii.
60,000 Australian diggers
were treated for venereal diseases —
almost as many who were killed.

iv.
When the war was over
thousands of thousands of men
many with debilitating physical
wounds: torn limbs, gas-burnt lungs,
missing eyes, metal-sliced flesh;
as well as those enduring
post-traumatic stress disorder
back when it was much more
poetically named shell-shock:
the warhorror of bursting bombs
mates exploding next to you,
then days in the trenches
alongside their rotting corpses,
had to be re-integrated into a society
revulsed at the monumental destruction,
keen to resign the war (& too often
those symbols of it) to the past
& attempt to resume normal life.
Many soldiers kept their war silent.
But many of those did not
  or could not
                        make the transition.


 

BONUS POEM: April 25, 2018

In France. In V-B. 100 years on.

*****

Idols

for many windswept years
it’s been our special story
entrenched in lore & legend

my grandfather’s uncle
his father’s younger brother
guts unpacked by a MG bullet

killed in the battle
to retake Villers-Brettoneux
early morning, Anzac Day 1918

however today I met three
families with the same story
all blood drained from it

like a carcass on the hook
plus the bone dry testimonies
of half a dozen more

which has simultaneously
made our special day
less  & a little more   so

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Day 25 – The Year of One Day

Today is a controversial day for many. But it’s been good to me. The past 2 years now, I’ve got good poems out of it. Today I re-read Alan Seymour’s “classic Aussie play” The One Day of the Year, about the changing face of Anzac Day in the 60’s. I haven’t read it since uni, & ironically while it has dated, many of the issues it explores are still ones that people argue about today.

I began with its last line (Last Line, Gone) & continued from there…

the last post

i.

love its haunting frail warbly wobbly squeaky somehow off-key, off-kilter
voice trying to be courageous to death’s face but never quite succeeding
forlorn melancholy brassy vulnerability half-farting battlefield bravado
but most of all the strange perception that no matter how well played
it always sounds like there’s a note wrong in there — somewhere

ii.

yes, it’s time to turn off the taps we’ve had our last warning
your duty is done your time is over your rest deserves peace

last postCROP

The last line of The One Day of the Year is: “i’m a bloody Australian & i’ll always …

(Hour 21) 6.30-7.30pm — #30 “Dirty Gertie”

Incomplete, more drafting necessary; but no time available. A shower & clean teeth helped, but already the steam is fading.

#30
appropriation

16 feet of very nude female
bronze ; on her toeballs ;
arching on her own ball of earth
sword aloft ; a colossus in V ;
grand scale commemorative art ;
celebrating war ; shouting victory ;
triumph ; black silhouettes the sky
somehow towering above
the surrounding scrapers.

locals have a colloquial ;
as Dubliners do for
“the Floozy in the Jacuzzi”
& “the prick with the stick”.

hence the symbol of German
defeat, Paris’s protection ;
becomes “the Wicked Woman” ;
& “Dirty Gertie” ;
all stemming from a time
when bus passengers asked
to disembark at the stop
next to “the Naked Lady”
when buying tickets …

Bingo_card_-_B&W

#74. Oh dear.

Day 25 – “Birth of a Nation” Day (Alleged)

This is either the 3rd or 4th poem I’ve completed today (all about Anzac / WWI). & while I like the others, I’ve chosen to go with this last hour composition because it kinda has an edge the others don’t — even if my sounding board is unsure about its poesy.

*****

recipe for the world’s best Anzac biscuit

Ingredients
1 cup rolled duty
1 cup raw recruits
1 cup plain patriotism, sifted
¾ cup desiccated Colonialism
125 g adventure, melted
2 tablespoons Golden Age of Innocence
½ tsp bicarb of courage
3 tablespoons boiling anger

Method
Preheat the society to 40+ degrees. (Denying climate change will help here.  Note: If your society is fan forced, it’ll escalate quicker.)

Line your history books with a bunch of lies & mythos.

Place the duty, colonialism, patriotism & recruits in a bowl, stir with wooden rhetoric to combine. Melt the adventure & golden age of innocence in a melting pot over low heat.

In a separate bowl, combine the courage & boiling anger, then add this to the adventure/golden innocence mixture.  It will probably foam up & increase in size.  That’s good. Pour this foaming mess into your dry mix & stir.

Once it’s all combined, use a tablespoon to drop mixture onto trays, spacing them about 20 years apart.

Bake for 100 years or until golden brown — just kidding, it’s gotta be mostly white.  Sometimes if your society looks like it’s running out of recipe, you need to rotate the trays in the 70’s, then add some carefully sprinkled jingoism in the 90’s so you get an even bake.

Leave biscuits to cool on beach about 8 months before transferring to other racks to cook & cool in different places — France is good, as is the desert, the jungle.

Store in an old biscuit tin that your grandma gave you. They’ll last months.  Try not to scoff them all within the day.

Finally, please do not share them with anyone offshore. We don’t do that anymore.

Codicil: They really are delicious. And there’s nothing wrong with eating them, enjoying eating them, telling others you’re eating them — just try & understand the reasons why you are.

 *****
anzac biscuits

~ interlude ~ “Eureka!” Another poem published…

Just a quick heads up to let folks know that one of my poems was published in yesterday’s Eureka Street.  Link here.

I’d like to say it’s a cleverly timed poem which combines two very hot topics in the news ATM — terrorism (internal) & climate change — so therefore well done, Mr Finger On The Pulse Of Contemporary Issues Poet Of The People …

… but the fact it’s appeared when it has, is probably just a coinkydink.

Hope you enjoy it…

(No doubt I’ll enjoy the cheque when it arrives. It may even been in double figures 🙂 )

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Image taken from here

Day 25 – April Twenty Five: “national identity day”

As I get older I understand Anzacs, Anzac Day & war more. I also understand it less. Hopefully this poem written at the Dawn Service my Papa used to attend when alive & which we go to in memory of him captures some of those understandings.

keeping the peace

bagpipes fight
the magpies
for supremacy
in cool April air
chilling autumn
leaves & evergreen
eucalypt alike
church bells bless
try to reconcile
that age old
oxymoronic misnomer
fighting for peace

aware what Anzac is
but still shocks
to see the guns
of the catafalque
party so close
reminds it’s more
than just speeches
stirring words
holidays
it’s also old men
getting under
standably drunk

*****

soldier

Image: moi