A COLLECTION OF POEMS

Written with love, loyalty and laughter.

 

REMINDERS

from Love is Cruel

You left several strands 
of hair 
   scattered across my 
sheets


you left your yellow 
toothbrush 
   on the top shelf 
of my bathroom cabinet


you left your white lacy 
G-string 
   in the pocket of my 
bathrobe


you left your pink lipgloss 
with the glitter 
   on my dressing table


you left my alarm clock 
   set at 6:45 a.m.

you left your new novel 
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez 
   unread

we both left so much 
   unsaid


but most of all 
   you left your scent 
buried deep inside my 
pillow 
   & even though it's been 
six nights now & i've changed 
the bed linen 
   rearranged the bathroom 
cabinet & the dressing table - 
placed your book in my bookcase 
   thrown out your G-string 
   your lipgloss 
& your yellow toothbrush

your scent is making my eyes 
watery 
   & still i can't escape you. 

 

THE LUXURY OF WORK

from Punch On Punch Off

Lots of shop girls work for small
family businesses she told me
        with some of them you get paid
ten dollars an hour & asked to stay
on the dole
        while they drive flash cars
& their shop girls ride bikes


yeah     it’s hard being a shop girl


especially when you know they’re out
drinking their lattés 
& slagging on so-called dole bludgers
        you’d have to wonder just what else
they might get away with


i mean it’s hard enough holding back
a pee for three or four hours . . . 
let alone your tongue at times
        & i mean sometimes you just hope
one of your mates will turn up
to watch the shop while you do go
        it’s hard on your bladder


yeah     it’s hard being a shop girl
& when one of your mates does
turn up you can bet your sore feet
your boss will turn up too —
& spring you yacking to them
        as if you do it all day . . . 
every day
        & yeah     you can tell by their
eyes & their thin mean lips
that they think you’re both bludgers


i’ve had to be sick in a plastic bag
behind the register a couple of times
because i’ve had no-one to cover for me 
        & i’ve cried out the back some days
when i’ve been a day or two late
with my period
        & then i’ve had to go out & serve
someone
        & sometimes i’m sure my tears
have scared customers away
        & the boss sure as hell wouldn’t
want to know about that


yeah     it’s hard being a shop girl


& it’s hard getting a lunch break too
        in fact sometimes it’s hard even
getting some lunch
        unless you take it with you —
& most times you’re living so day-to-day
you have nothing to take to work
except yourself


it’s even harder those times when
the till doesn’t balance
        they make you put in
(as if you don’t anyway)
        & some days i’ve worked for half
my real rate because i didn’t check
the balance when i started


& yet they tell me i have the luxury
        of work.

 

THE VIOLENCE OF WORK

from Punch On Punch Off

I work in a factory 
Monday to Friday 
    punch on      punch off

i work a rotating roster 
Monday to Friday 
    punch on      punch off

i wear earmuffs & gloves 
Monday to Friday 
    punch on      punch off

i stamp on a press 
Monday to Friday 
    punch on      punch off

i still had my fingers last 
Monday to Friday 
    punch on      punch off


i make repetitive pieces 
Monday to Friday 
    punch on      punch off

i work on a tally 
Monday to Friday 
    punch on      punch off


i'm told to work faster 
Monday to Friday 
    punch on      punch off


i have smoko with Billy 
Monday to Friday 
    punch on      punch off

i play euchre at lunchtime 
Monday to Friday 
    punch on      punch off

i just do my best 
Monday to Friday 
    punch on      punch off

i'm paid the award for 
Monday to Friday 
    punch on      punch off

i don't complain to the boss 
Monday to Friday 
    punch on      punch off

but complain to my partner 
Monday to Sunday 
    want to punch on 
              punch on. 

 

MILES AWAY

from Poems for a Dead Father

I remember my feet 
on the cold kitchen lino 
that morning 
    teenager with 
bumfluff & pimples 
   i was leaning over  
the kitchen table 
   most of its red & white 
marbled laminex top 
covered in the morning 
newspaper


as i stood above it all 
   i read there was a war 
in the jungles of Vietnam 
   & they were sending Aussies


Vietnam I thought 
   Vietnam . . . 
where the hell is Vietnam


& i found The Jacaranda Atlas 
from school 
   Vietnam   i kept thinking - 
it must be next to Queensland 
   but it wasn't


it took a while but i did 
find it 
   it was on page 75 - 
& it was miles away


as i stared at the map 
   i thought about the madness 
the old man lived with 
   & how he served 
in the Middle East


& i thought about the madness 
uncle Bronte lived with 
   & how he served 
in New Guinea

& i thought about the madness 
cousin Neville lived with 
   & how he served  
in Korea

Vietnam   i thought 
   Vietnam . . . 
& i knew then 
   knew then i was going - 
nowhere.

 

TURNING IN CIRCLES

from Punch On Punch Off

In the 1950s
       when the doors crept
open
       migrants & refugees
were often referred to
as   new Australians


later in the 60s
       old Australians —
were finally included
in the census

& in the early 70s
       the White Australia Policy
was officially dismantled

this was post-war Australia
       long before post-modernism
& imported Italian woollen suits
       (no value adding here)
when the Snowy Mountains
Scheme employed bogs     wogs
& dagoes
       just like the whitegoods
industry
       & the car
industry
       & the manufacturing
industry
       & the building
industry
       & most other
hands & feet industries
(’til tariffs took their toll)
       these new Australians —
they got a go
       as well as some of the
older ones
       though blacks were still
discriminated against
       & roo meat remained
petfood
       & bush tucker reserved
for missions
       yes   this was even before
the humble Lebanese cucumber
could call Australia home

now in this new millennium
my landlord is Greek
       my dentist Korean
my coffee shop Italian
       my fruit & veg Cambodian
my supermarket Vietnamese
       my smallgoods maker German
my computer man Sri Lankan
       my legal advisor Greek
my neighbours Swedish
Croatian   Prussian   & English
       my nephew & niece
Anglo-Italian
       my grand-daughter Anglo-Indian —
& my phone book half-full
of names i can barely pronounce


it’s 2001 when the Tampa sails
into history
       & a nation full of wogs
& bogs & dagoes & boat people
of all persuasions
       are scared by a container
full of wogs
       & political parties
of the so-called left & right —
turn in circles
       in concentric circles —
their greed & their power
sucking   at the vortex.

 

KLEVA VOOMUN

I kleva voomun-
speek five langvij
    Enklish
    Arabic
    Turkish
    Kurdish
    Rushun


mi naem Suheyla
from Baghdad
    but Baghdad
no moor
    Saddam kill mi
if i return    hang mi
but i luv heer


i goot hellth
    kleva voomun
goot mind-
    i run from Iraq
in March 1991
    i got 3 chouldren
2 gerl    1 boy


i don’t vunt mi sun
die for nutheeng
in Amerika voor
    i tell him sun-
to run
    i run with him 


everiday i cri
    i’m friitink
i run with doorturs 
too
    got no husbund-
that bich man
i don’t wun to si
no moor 
    he live Amerika-
Chicargo
    i sine for deevoors
long time ago
    1978
i got nutheeng now
    mi doorturs maree
    sun maree
thay lif Germany
    but i lif heer-
Orrstralia

wen i run with chouldren
    Kurdistan
    Turkey
nobodee gif mi wun bred
    kristchun peepul
ar good
    how thay saa
Grate Britisch
    i saa
Grate Orrstralia

i am singool
    i am aloan
        i am okay.

 

POET FOR HIRE