WE LOVE THOSE BRISBANE STORMS

© Linley Kennedy – March 2016

If you live in Brisbane, you have got to love the storms.

The heat’s oppressive with no breeze. The ground is bare and dry,
and Brisbane-ites plead for relief from curdled leaden sky.
Heat rises from the pavement and our bodies exude sweat.
We know the rain will soon be here – the punters make a bet ….

A rumble in the distance, where the clouds hang low and dark.
Sporadic flashes round the hills – we head home from the park.
The air is humid, hard to breathe, foreboding clouds now slide.
Dogs know it’s coming, blindly race to somewhere they can hide.

The storm hits with torrential rain – we now sense some respite,
as precious rain comes thund’ring down – birds disappear from sight.
Next comes the hail, great chunks of ice that bounce on path and ground.
Tin roofs will rattle, skylights smash – a terrifying sound.

We’re wary as the storm attacks, on this warm summer’s day –
of course we Brisbane-ites make sure we’ve put our cars away!
The lightning cracks …. resounding BOOM – we count the seconds now
to see how far away it is – it’s just two seconds, WOW!

That one was close – keep off the phone, away from windows too.
Don’t shelter underneath a tree … the hail starts now, on cue.
We pray to God our roof won’t leak, our house is built up high.
Then myriads of lightning strikes illuminate the sky.

I stand and watch this deluge – it is awesome you’ll agree,
a hundred thousand flashes – entertainment all for free!
I breathe clean air and feel relief, my fears are all but gone,
take in this pyrotechnic show which nature has turned on.

Before the storm, oppressive humid air enshrouded town,
and Brisbane seemed to lose her brightly coloured floral gown.
This wild exploding storm has brought us welcome cooling rain …
We feel renewed, our world cranks up, and life goes on again.

These storms are nature’s special gift – they come around each year –
to Brisbane, when those lightning shows and green rain clouds appear.
It’s all around. Great spectacle! Rain thunders all about –
“We love this rain,” our parched and dried up gardens seem to shout.

So where else but old Brisbane would they take a storm with ease,
which causes chaos on the roads, small floods and splintered trees.
But friends come round to help each other clean the wild storm’s trash …
and pretty soon it’s swept and gone, that awful soggy mash.

So come to Brisbane if you like to see a raging storm.
We’ll also promise we will keep you sticky, clammy, warm!
Next day, it’s gone – the lightning show with all that heavy rain,
Within a week, her new cloak blooms – she looks her best again!

THE VERY POLITE BUSHRANGER

© Doc Bland

A career in finance has, for some folk, long been a sure way of making it to the top.
*Note: any resemblance to Prime Ministers past or present is entirely coincidental.

The stagecoach turned a corner near the creek at Wangaroo
To be bailed up by a bushranger who called out “How d’yer do!
Please disembark now, easy – I mean no threat to your health.
I wish only to relieve you of the burden of your wealth”.

He beamed, a wide apology, his pistols straight and level.
“Audacious”, thought his victims. “The man’s the very devil”.
“The inconvenience will be brief”, he said with quiet demeanour,
“And I humbly apologise”, his smile becoming keener.

“Now please, unload your pockets,” he requested of the men,
Then smiled and kissed the ladies’ hands as he was robbing them.
He took their jewellery and their gold, he took their bags of cash,
And mounting on his horse declared, “Excuse me, I must dash”.

He called to the small company before he rode away,
“Thank you all, it’s been so nice, now have a pleasant day,”
He raised his hat and headed off at quite a gentle pace
To leave looks of bewilderment on every victim’s face.

“Well, that was cordial,” someone spoke, the thief now out of sight.
“Could have been worse,” another said, “And he was so polite”.
They all agreed the bushranger was quite a gentleman,
“So charming,” said one lady, blushing red behind her fan.

It wasn’t long before the stories of his exploits spread.
A bounty of five-hundred pounds was placed upon his head.
But everywhere he went, his victims spoke of him with pride,
Each one of them beguiled and each one seemed to take his side.

In time, his reputation had surpassed that of the King
And, instead of being captured, he was cheered when entering
Each new town where he’d plunder their post offices and banks,
While always smiling courteously, and offering his thanks.

And in due course, in Wangaroo, he was elected mayor,
His ill-gotten fortune used to help the townsfolk there.
He joined a certain party, attracting many votes,
Smiling for photographers, delivering smooth quotes.

His charm and winning ways soon took him to the very top,
Becoming the prime minister* and vowing he would stop
His wayward ways of bushranging as, now, he could relax
And take all that he needed from the people’s income tax.

THE STOCKMAN’S CHOICE

© Kay Gorring

As the first settlers arrived in Australia, they also brought livestock. Among them were various breeds of horse. They were bred on vast and mostly unfenced tracts of land and became known as a Walers (short for New South Wales). They were strong, sure-footed and could go great distances with poor quality feed and little water. As a result, they were greatly valued as horses for the Cob and Co coaches, stock-horses and military mounts. With the outbreak of WW1, the military’s demand for stock became insatiable. The horses that had successfully eluded capture and ran with the brumby mobs in the high country were now desperately needed to fill the gap. This poem imagines the live of one:

I was born a horse on a mountain ridge
with a savage storm in sight
when the thunder roared and the lightning flashed
and the day turned into night.
And I heard the call of the wild horse mob
as my mother pawed the ground
and she urged me up on my shaking legs
as the brumbies gathered round.

Then we turned and ran for the snowy tops
high above old Jindabyne
through the deep ravines and the fallen logs
as we scaled its steep incline.
And the valleys rang with a thousand hooves
and their thunder matched the skies
as the sparks threw light from the flinted stones
like the fire in our eyes.

With the blood of Walers and station studs
running strong within our veins
we knew every inch of those alpine slopes
and the fragile frost-swept plains.
And I grew up proud and I grew up strong
where the snow gums brush the sky
and I learnt to thrive on the brittle grass
and the dew when times were dry.

But the mountain riders were toughened men
and they knew that country well
as they chose the best from among us all
with an eye to buy and sell.
So, when old enough, that’s the way it was,
I was captured in a pen
and I met the likes of the breakers there
and I learned the ways of men.

Then a stockman bought and he trained me well
with a firm and gentle voice
and a bond was forged in a rugged land
for I was the stockman’s choice.
Then a war broke out on a foreign shore
and the Anzac spirit rose
and the stockman rode as a soldier now
and I was the horse he chose.

And the rifles roared like the thunder storm
and their muzzles flashed with light
while the thick black smoke and the choking dust
quickly turned the day to night.
But we fought with pride for our southern sky,
for the country of our birth,
though the guns spat pain and an early death
and a life held little worth.

And we rode the length of those arid lands
as we viewed the gates to hell,
‘til we felt the sting of the bullets bite
and on foreign sands we fell.
And I heard the calls of the wounded men
and I heard the stockman’s voice
as he urged me up on my shaking legs
for I was the stockman’s choice.

And I went to him on those blood drenched sands
and I got him to the line,
but the price I paid made the stockman curse –
his life for the cost of mine.
And he leaned in close with his whispered words
when he knew what must be done
and his eyes grew moist as he stroked my side
and he sadly aimed his gun.
So, I died a horse on those desert sands
while the soldier stayed to fight
when his rifle roared and the muzzle flashed
and the day turned into night.
Now my spirit roams on my mountain home
and I listen for his voice.
Then I’ll go to him and I’ll bring him back
for I was the stockman’s choice.

NORTH PINE BUSH POETS POEM

©Peter Hasenkamp

If one fine day your
Wandering round,
The markets in Old
Petrie Town.

And if you think you’ve
Seen enough,
Or are a little
Out of puff.

Then you should maybe
Take a break
And grab a drink and
Philly steak

And head down to Coutt’s
Cottage where
You’ll find some people
Gathered there

Just grab a seat right
Next to me
No need to pay it’s
All for free

And there you’ll hear
Some poetry
From Aussie champs and
Such as me

But something else that
I should tell
And you should know of
This as well

It’s should you show a
Bit of wit
You’ll be a North Pine
BUSH POET!

SHE – ODE TO THE WIND

© M M Beveridge – November 2017

The wind drives our weather and creates the good seasons and the bad and is always with us.

She waltzes the breeze with a tickle and tease
past maidens who dance in the late summer’s heat
and shimmers and glistens in streets as she listens
through devils who whirl in the dust at her feet.

On late autumn days she remembers the ways
she tends to and nurtures the vine and the crops
in ripe burdened furrows and deep buried burrows
and mellows the roots and the stalks and the tops.

In south winter gales when she howls and regales
the oceans that rise to her call and her whim,
she lashes and clatters with hail as she batters
the ships and the shore and the streams to the brim!

She curtsies the trees and she bends her fair knees
on shores that know only the wet and the dry
in far northern reaches, by corals and beaches,
caressing the seas and the sand and the sky.

She garners her strength and unleashing at length
tornado and cyclone and super cell storm
she holds up to ransom the trampled and handsome
without any fondness for birthright or form.

On far western plains she drives drought or the rains
and fetches the first of the fire and the flood
to good ground and weary, through towns packed or dreary,
while leaving a bounty as price for her blood.

But she doesn’t judge, doesn’t care or begrudge,
and cares not for sinner or saintly or sinned.
Capricious, seducing, indignant, inducing,
she ever in all ways is always the wind.

MATES AT THE GATE

© Mick Martin

The bank had loaned him thousands 
And he signed as farmers do
To keep from going under
And the interest would accrue.

The years of drought had pushed him
To the edge of dark despair
His family loved this station
But the bankers would not care.

For bankers are like dingoes
Waiting on that final fall
For blokes like Arty Fleming
There would be no curtain call.

Six years of drought behind him
Surely rain was over due
He had to feed his family
There was nothing else to do,

The tanks were all but empty
And the dams were bowls of dust
The stock were dropping daily
And this loan was fit to bust. 

While some had rain a plenty
Even floods so cruel and cold
The dust and flies kept coming
And his dice had now been rolled.

“I’m sorry Mary darling
I have done all I can do
Forgive a dopey farmer
Its a bitter pill to chew”

The banker came in person
Even feigned his sad remorse
Left Arty with the papers
Saying things had run their course.

No words could Arty mutter
He was crushed and cold inside
To tell his wife and children
Was beyond this farmers pride.

The grapevine did its duty
And the news spread far and wide
His neighbours felt his anguish
And collectively they sighed.

But rain was due that evening
Even that would be too late
For arty and his family
Waiting for their gloomy fate.

The bank took all the titles
Leaving Arty in the cold
But neighbours helped their mate out
As the chattels would be sold.

He’d need to buy a dwelling
In the town not far away
The bankers left quite quickly
Thinking wisest not to stay.

It started with a bore pump
As the bids went up in tens
But soon they were in hundreds
As he watched his farming friends.

See every single dollar 
That the auction made from then
Was just a masked donation
From these farming wives and men.

When Bill bid twenty thousand
For the tractor near the gate
He wished he’d helped him early
Maybe now was all too late.

When Mrs Farring Fosworth 
bought his clapped out Falcon ute
The auctioneer was speechless
Even Arty stood there mute.

It only took the morning
And the lots were spoken for.
300 k said Chalky
Bill said make it fifty more.

With tears of silent thank yous
Arty held his darling wife
And took the gift from neighbours
And to start a brand new life.

But Mrs Farring Fosworth
In her subtle quiet way
Gave Arty one more gesture
“If your family care to stay

I’ll buy your family station
And I’ll need a leading hand.
Don’t move into the city
You belong here on this land.

And when at last I leave here
You can keep the title too
We like to help our neighbours
And I know that you would too.”

And not one auction item left,
His neighbours thought that fair
So that’s the way it happened
Arty stayed and he’s still there.

Through drought and fire or flooding
We will always find a way
It’s part of being Aussie.
Its our nation’s DNA .

KANCHANABURI

© Dot Schwenke, 2007

The Kanchanaburi War Cemetery is located 4km from the bridge over the River Kwai. It sums up the tragedy and cost of the Thai-Burma Rail and each headstone documents a sacrifice and our loss.

I read it on a headstone,
It was on the Burma rail,
And it touched my heart so deeply
That I felt myself turn pale.

It asked for those who did return
To tell of them and say,
“We gave our own tomorrows,
So you could have today.”

Now as I count the years that pass,
Those many days gone by,
When I think of how we used that gift
It makes me want to cry.

So might was their sacrifice,
Their life the gift they gave.
You ask, “How can we thank them?
Those who lie in foreign grave.”

We can count each day as precious,
We can know it as a gift,
We can do a turn for others,
We can give some heart a lift.

We can truly value freedom
For our country and each man,
We can love life and each other,
Those men died for such a plan.

HENRY (177153)

Jim Kennedy © 2016

Henry Flescher told me that he was rescued from the holocaust in 1945, he felt as if he’d been born again.

A plague was sweeping Europe, but the victims’ plaintiff tears
were falling onto barren ground – their cries fell on deaf ears.
But now, today, when Nature’s creatures come alive each Spring,
‘round Bergen-Belsen prison camp, the birds no longer sing.

“One double-seven, one-five-three, from now on that’s your name!
You now belong to Deutschland, and your life won’t be the same!
The old, the young, the frail have been …er “deleted” from our list.
You have a choice – you work or die. No way can you resist!”

When Henry heard those chilling words, he guessed what was in store.
His mother, father, sister …. gone! He’d seen the signs before.
Crowds herded into cattle trains on journeys into hell.
Three years in squalid labour camps – near forty to a cell.

Sadistic guards, whose brutal beatings wreaked a deathly toll.
Their hapless victims tossed aside – mere numbers on a roll.
There seemed no chance they’d find relief from this barbaric curse –
Each day of torture followed by another even worse.

“Nine hundred days, more endless toil, my body stressed and numb.
I focused on those nightmares, and I vowed to overcome
the thought of fighting for cold soup, the struggles for stale bread,
the guns, the dogs, the sickly smoke, the sight of those near-dead.

I prayed for my salvation – for some sign to show the way.
One day I must escape from this. One day, please God. One day.
I want to dance. I want to sing, when I am free from here.
I want to run. I want to fly, where I am free from fear.

One double-seven, one-five-three won’t be condemned to dust,
I’ll fight the hunger and the pain, the freezing cold. I must!
I’ll fight those demons with my mind. I’ll fight to stay alive.
My faith is stronger than their guns – this way I shall survive.

I won’t forget those evil men. I can’t forgive them still.
They took away my youth, but they can never break my will.
So when I can be ME again, revenge won’t play a role.
Those nightmares won’t define me, or my life’s enduring goal.

If I have thoughts of cattle trains, a smoking chimney stack,
the snarling of a savage dog, the scars upon my back,
I’ll drive those torments from my mind, and dance to life’s refrain.
I owe it to six million souls who’ll never dance again.”

The tide of war was turning, ‘though they had no way to know.
Retreating on a three day tramp through rain, and sleet, and snow –
exhausted, starving, freezing – at the dawning of each day,
the ones who couldn’t rise were shot, and left just where they lay.

He crept away, fell to his knees, his strength was almost done.
A bulky form blocked out the sky ….a shadow….with a gun!
Six years he’d lived in Death’s dark shade, was this to be his end?
The shadow paused, held out a hand, and whispered one word – “Friend!”

That April day in ’45, when he was born again,
One double-seven, one-five-three could overcome the pain –
ignore the numbers on his arm – his new life had begun.
“I have a name! I’m Henry! ….I have fought the fight, and won!”

DEMENTIA – LOVE’S THIEF

© Noel Stallard OAM – April 2020

There’s a thief that we know as dementia,
his intent is to plunder and thieve.
And the male and female of our species,
are the victims he seeks to bereave.
For like some viral vampire he’ll siphon,
our expression of love for our mate.
He’ll escape with our memory and reason.
He’ll diminish our chance to relate.

Like most thieves, all compassion is absent.
He’ll add judgement and mind to his loot.
Leaving void intellectual function,
so the victim’s no longer astute.
And what mem’ries are left from the pillage,
are distorted with place and with time.
So attempting to share brings confusion,
as recalling seems all out of rhyme.

And those victims dementia has burgled
have been robbed of their means to express.
What they need, what they want, what they’re feeling,
so the loved one now only can guess.
Still we know from the actions they give us,
they can comprehend things that we say.
With appropriate smiles and with gestures,
so we know they are with us today.

And for every loved one with dementia
there are other loved ones it affects.
And it’s these that can often feel helpless
to reduce what dementia infects.
For the patient has been the companion,
the companion as husband or wife;
but dementia’s robbed both of a future,
of together in all walks of life.

Now this thief’s outside our jurisdiction,
we can’t punish dementia for theft.
But accept what remains is our treasure,
there’s still treasure in what has been left.
Our relationship though it is different,
“the loved one is still there”, it is said.
So with love we’ll see life out together,
as we’ve done since the day we were wed.