Poetry

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One Voice

It was just one voice
But that voice spoke
In tones of familiar comfort
Of home and care and love
Of laughter and of knowing
all that had passed between us.
Its music poured itself into my ears, my head, my soul
And calming those storms raging in my mind
Walked me through the waves of emotion
That consumed me
To a place of harmony
And safety and all those blessings
That having you, my sister,
Has given me.

poppies

The Eleventh Hour

As you pin that little flower

Will you mind the eleventh hour?

Will you sit

And stop your day

To call to mind

The battles fought 

And those that laid

Down their lives

And left all they loved

To fight a cause

That the world called yours

And call to mind

Those pure white crosses

That sit in splendor

Row on row

As that great poet

Wrote long ago?

Would you say that this

Made a man

Or ended wars

Or that by their graves

We now have peace

And that some are saved 

Or safe at least?

Look around

And take your time

To think on this eleventh hour

What’s been done

And why you wear this bright red flower.

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Here on Cooge Beach

Every Tuesday sure enough they’re there

You’ll find them – well you know

Behind the locked door – behind the swing doors

Their brown-as-berry faces and crisscrossed backs

The stripes worn for times done and spent

Down here down on Coogee Beach

It’s always a laugh, always a giggle

The stories and recounts of their youth, their happy days

The boys, the men, the people who passed through

Their lives, their memories – so quietly listening

You learn through them: how it is to live a life

How it is to love, to lose and to love again.

The time is passing, but it’s true

You’re stalling, delaying – you want to know

The end to the tale – what happened next….

So bending once more over well-ties laces

Giving nonchalant observance to the cheery narrators

Cheekily eavesdropping – respectfully smiling

Now it’s told, you’ve had your fix

They don’t mind – the audience is a lift

Their twinkly eyes and great guffaws

Of laughter and acknowledgment of what’s past

What’s gone before – it can’t be changed or altered now

But next week “round eleven” it’ll be brought to life again

They know sure enough they’ll be there

Next Tuesday – just past 11

And sometimes on a Thursday too -they might meet –

The same deal; the change and dip ; the splash and out

For it’s more than a routine, more than a plan

To be together and share at the club down at Coogee Beach.

Legacy

The dawn striped red across the sky

When standing still we gazed upon the sea
Breathing in the silence drawing near
As patriotic flags flapped in the wind
We prayed and thought about this legacy
Our minds dwelling on the many and the many more
Who gave their lives too soon in all those wars
And their aching families who mourn them yet
And the countries whose pride they to death held dear
When bearing death, their legacy they gave
The talking and the praying goes on
The hymns that some still know
And sing in quivering tone and tune
In time as the quiet comes and goes
About this legacy and so a unified conscience grows
Now the wreaths are being laid down
Beside the twin flag poles
Names are called with due respect
And whilst we hear “the Last Post” played
We reflect on how their loss to us our freedom gave
When will we know when we have learnt
Through all those lessons that war taught
And whilst we are stirred by native spirit
To all rise to praise the strong and dead
We sing our half-forgotten anthems with our coy pride
As the crowds now make their way
And file past the decorated stones
That mark the lives of those unknown
Whose legacy only our little lives do show
And whose coldness hold warm the hearts of all those left
Should we not find some better thing
Some meaning for ourselves
Some way to comprehend this gift, this loss
To ask ourselves what bleeding heart, what weeping soul
Can immortalise this bloody legacy
So take up your arms and leave your soul
To mourn on what was lost
For these memories of the dead will not bring back
Nor lay to rest the passion and the harm
That simmers in these hearts of the mournful young
They will learn in their own time
What it is that harms a man
But if there be but one sole prayer
That we should chant in eternal unison
Be it that this day shall be their legacy for peace.

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Love by the Hour – The Escorted Heart

If I think and breathe
And that is all my own
No crisp dollar bill
Nor credit card
Can pay for that or shall
Ever take away from me the things I truly am
So if they trade and buy and share
And take from me the things they can
Still deep within my very soul I know just who I am.

There’s those who’d have me for a night
And those who live to spend an hour
Of time, of energy, of desire
To briefly be with me
To try and leave their mark
But despite the good, the great, the sad and those all in between
I rather keep my distance from each of them
Polite and in control.
For I can give but that isn’t me – it is not me at all.

You think you know what you think of me
You believe you understand
But I doubt you’ll ever scratch beneath what I choose to share
For unless you transact in that same currency or similar kind
Unless you know and feel that need
To trade what can’t be bought
You’ll never know the liberty, compulsion or the power
Of what I do, of who I am, or feel as I do feel
And love others as I have.

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At The End Of The Phone

Lola

At the end of the phone
This space
Too far
Though close
Close in thought and heart.

I dialed her number
Though before I did
I already knew
That she’d be crying
I knew that.

There is no comfort to give
We both know
That there was only one way
I’m sorry – She’s sorry
It’s a shame, it’s a loss.

It happened too quickly
A dog’s life’s too short
And sure she is crying
It’s sad to hear her
It’s so sad.

I feel like crying
I cry and listen
That dog was her life
Her “best behaved child”
That dog loved her
And she loved that dog.

RIP Lola.

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In Loving Memory Of A Dear Friend

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Adapted excerpt from a tribute to a dear friend who passed on five years ago today…


…People missed her so much. They thought she had gone.
Slowly they began to see that she had not completely gone – her ideas and her spirit were all around them.
In the culture they loved – the songs and the dance.
In the art they had learned to appreciate.
In the plants and books and shapes and memories they had of their friend.
Indeed they could tell that she was there – in her place – in their hearts.
She will always be there.

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Down Here at Coogee Beach

Every Tuesday sure enough they’re there
You’ll find them – well you know
Behind the locked door – behind the swing doors
Their brown-as-berry faces and criss-crossed backs
The stripes worn for times done and spent
Down here down on Coogee Beach

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The Garbage Guy

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This garbage guy wears a bright, bright shirt
With the name of our town on his broad, broad back
And a wide brimmed hat that goes on just like that
And he whistles through his teeth and as he cleans up all the dirt.

Saying “Hi” to the girls who are all out running
He empties the bins on the stairs at the corner
Stopping to check out the sun that is rising
He whistles through his teeth as he cleans up the dirt.

See all his tools and gadgets and stuff for cleaning
That all help him clear up the streets and the paths
And he laughs with his friends as they sweep it all up
Every morning, every day – from dawn to dusk.

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Eddie

I’m remembering Eddie so clearly today
It isn’t too hard – the images stay
So clear in my mind of this man, this friend
Whose heart was so full of love till the end.

He never did think of his value, his worth
But only of what he could do on this earth
To help others, to care, to teach and to show
There’s many a skill he helped them to grow.

What sticks in my mind as I sit here and pray
Is the sight of his smile and his shuffle each day
Down to the beach where many he knew
To offer his help, and his wisdom too.

To hear Eddie talk was often a laugh
He knew how to humour the hospital staff
He knew many things indeed did dear Eddie
And at the end of his life he knew he was ready.

You see his faith held him so sure and so fast
Where some faiths faltered Eddie’s did last
He truly believed in his God and those things
That make a soul as rich as any a king.

Faith may be one thing, but there’s much, much more
For Eddie lived life to the full that’s for sure
His actions were so small so humble and true
His good deeds were many though very few knew.

For my part I knew – I saw and I felt
The kindness of Eddie when hardships were dealt
His concern and his care for us and our kin
Words of comfort and warmth when we leant on him.

He was there when you needed him and even when
You never knew what you needed he was there then
With gloves and the weights in the gym, on the beach
Looking out and keen to share and to teach.

He had funny old ways and a very slow walk
It was kinda a shuffle and boy could he talk!
You were never too sure what he would do
Or say for that matter to his keen boxing crew!

His passion for sport and for racing well known
His love of his family and friendships he’d grown
He did have his rants and there were things that he hated
And he never held back when opinions he stated.

Eddie always thought deeply of each person he knew
And what help for charities he might be able to do
Hearing the things he did and he gave
Without doubt a good man right through his life to his grave.

Many will miss him their grief all too new
Eyes brimming with tears, as they sit in their pews
The folk all black-suited fill the church by the sea
There’s a peace and a sadness – a warm energy.

As they carry the coffin with the service now done
And back to their offices the workers do run
They think on the words that they heard the priest say
Of Eddie’s goodness and character –  those memories will stay.

So Eddie lives on, his spirit will last
He can inspire us to do as he did in the past
For there’s always a path, a means and a way
To help others like Eddie did every day.

I think of him now released from all pain
His last years were tough, his health under strain
And think of his family, his friends and then how
He’s touched our lives and he is in heaven now.
RIP Eddie  W. 2014

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The Exam Season

There’s never just four seasons in this day and age,
You feel it in your bones come that first day,
Of exams and tests and standardising standards,
The nauseous buzz, the anxious chatter the butterflies a flutter,
For one and all who’ve ever been through the big exam door.

Now clock is ticking from the moment they awake
The forced-down breakfast, the vitamin pills – not wanting to be late
Double checking pencil cases; final ticks and checks,
And even when on the bus, in the car or walking up-to school,
That feeling of true dread, blank minds it’s a sort of thrill.

Now I’m sitting watching this fine frenzy all go by,
I’m flicking back in my own mind to exams times in the past,
The caffeine shots, the buzzing lights of libraries after dark,
The smell of grass and spring flowers when studying in the park,
The sense of how it all was new and how it always was.

Although I’m glad that I’m not there going through that door,
Or sitting in exams halls or pouring over books,
I’m taken back to a time when life was all so simple,
I knew so much, read so much with so much yet to know,
I know now all at once what I never knew back then.

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Nina

Nina is one big, big smile
A bubble of happiness
A glow of contentment
A vision of joy
She knows what is good
And she tells it quite straight
“Go have fun dearie –
enjoy yourself while you’re young”

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Billy

There’s a flag at half mast over Coogee today
The folks are remembering a friend passed away
He never asked – he wouldn’t know
How much they really loved him so.

There’s a flag at half-mast over Coogee today,
An old lady’s head bows as she wipes a tear away
She’s remembering his smile, his friendly word
All things he told her – the things no-one else heard.

There’s a flag at half-mast over Coogee today,
A bloke sits quietly overlooking the bay
He sighs as he sees his mate in his mind
He was one who looked tough but whose heart was kind.

There a flag at half-mast over Coogee today
The sun is shining at all the children at play
A mother looks up to see that flag fly
And prays that in peace he may now lie.

There’s a flag at half-mast over Coogee today
Though the world still goes on come whatever may
But for those that know and those that care
They bless Billy’s memory with a quiet prayer.

Billy Sindel RIP

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Mrs T And The Magic Pencil

Ok It’s not truly a “poem” but she is so special she will feature soon in her own book – maybe she will even travel to “Verityville” all the way from her native New Zealand! Yes it’s the one and only Mrs. T!

Not only is Mrs. T And The Magic Pencil a story I love – it is COMPLETELY TRUE! here is the first page…

My favourite teacher was called Mrs. T
Mrs. T every year always taught year 3
Mrs. T loved the kids that come to her class,
And they were all happy to be there at last.

Cos you see it wasn’t just about coming to school
Or counting to ten and learning new rules
The kids they all know right down to the smallest
What made Mrs. T’s class one of the “coolest”.

First there’s the door that was once brown and dowdy
But since Mrs. T came it’s been all fine and dandy
Covered in colourful posters and rhymes
Of how letters are formed and class safety signs.

But the door was never shut it was always open so wide
So when anyone passed they could see what’s happening inside
They could tell it was a busy, bustling room
And was where fun activities and treasures did loom.

If you know Mrs. T (yes all you kiwis in Wellington you know you do!) then you’ll and to read the whole story… it’s on its way!

I was only able to finish it after I went back in November last year and tracked Mrs. T herself down….

Ok, Ok  here’s the ending – I know you shouldn’t but some rules are there to be broken…… and there is always an exception to a rule…

Many years later I went back to the school
To try to find some of the people I knew
As I trudged up the hill and climbed up the stairs
I wondered if Mrs. T would even be there.

“Yes Mrs. T is still here”, the secretary says
“And now teaches the kids in their first school days”
She points to the class at the end of the hall
So I hurry on down excited for she’s here after all.

I get to the class, through the open door walk
The children are on the mat having a talk
With no other than that wonderful teacher
Whose marvellous methods in this story do feature.

She looks up to see me smiling at her
And straight away jumps up hugging me round in a twirl
Our eyes full of happy tears and laughing out loud
To see one another amongst this shy kindy-kid crowd.

But as she stoops to explain who I am to her class
Their shyness is gone – all at once it does pass
And they clamber round me asking questions galore
Wanting to hear all about Mrs. T and know more.

They sit agog and filled all with amazement
Hearing how much to long-gone pupils Mrs. T meant
And how clever she was way back then
And that she taught other kids – now grown women and men!

They turn to this teacher once I’ve finished speaking
With excited chattering eyes searching and seeking
All around their class for what can you guess?
Yes the pencil that’s magic and nothing less!

“Well, well let me see”, laughs a happy Mrs. T
Who loves how the magic is still working in me
For without her and her pencil and her class long ago
Who would have nurtured and cared to make this kid’s mind grow?

So I’m hoping that I can take Mrs. T’s plan
For me to be the best that I can
That my life of good work and deeds will fill
Helped of course with Mrs. T’s magic pencil.

For Mrs T. who has worked a lot of magic through the years – thank you from the bottom of my heart. x

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Where Are The Homeless Tonight? (The Lindt Siege Tribute)

Where are the homeless tonight?
Their usual places deserted
Yet choked up
With mourners sifting through
Clear shimmering
This valley of cellophane tears
Blinking and
All glistening
Each its unique design
Chosen
With varying degrees
Of thought of care of creativity
Yet each expressing
That one and singular sentiment
Of astonished grief
Like a floral chocolate box scattered
These beauties lie peaceful
Guarded and given homage
Their restful state has displaced
The regular sleepers
And where are they?
These night visions
Where are the homeless tonight?
Thousands
Upon ten thousands
And yet more keep coming
To this grotto of human spirit
This building storm
Of emotion
Outcrying
Outreaching
Outraged
In silence all do scream
Their protests
Their love
Their prayers of loss and futility
Hardly bearing to look
Blinded by new tears
Bound with connection
To their fellow men
Yet missing from all this
Are the homeless
Where are they?
Where are the homeless tonight?

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