Beyond the Sunset


Published 1992



Comments about earlier books of poetry

The best of them are very good indeed, saying interesting things in a senuous yet precise way.

Kevin Crossley  -  Holland


I find these poems intensely polished and accomplished.....I very much like at times the unexpected vocabulary which, like the language of primitive poetry, synthesizes various levels of experience in one shaft of expression which means and causes meaning on a complex of planes.

Michael Schmidt


The poetry is vital, with clear images and it has an insight into its subject matter that all modern poets could emulate and learn from.

Rod McKuen


From Frontispiece:

'You have released from wood a form of vibrant life
That gathers every rhythm into its dancing flight.
A balance of movement, your art is focused to delight
And understand the spheres still out of sight.'

from Manitou Springs, Colorado, 
For Sophie, artist and wood carver.

Beyond the Sunset,  pages 61-2

Figure Carving:  Sophie





Woman's Refuge
2nd September
Little Sister
Christmas Eve
And still the guns on Salisbury Plain
The Gulf War


Woman's Refuge

Easter Day 1986, Brisbane

Easter Day and I am greeted
By women who look defeated,
Male-mocked into this place.
Eggs are being given, shared.
Some thing familiar, one I take with care,
A gift to hold as round me women speak.

She knitting near me - seven months pregnant -
Has come three thousand miles
Fleeing from a husband who would kill her and child.
"We'll take you to a bus. Get to Brisbane"
Policemen calmly said, as through Perth they sped.
"He might not find you there".

She - nineteen - with hair of sunset fire
Fights to stop the drug addiction
That last week kicked a sister.
And she - sitting by the window - turns her head
To hide the scars that last month bled
After a drunken client knifed her.

She - close to the door - talks of an alcoholic
Her husband who with silence crippled joy.
"He's not a drunk it's a disease like diabetics.
For sixteen years I did not know
Yet doctors, priests, men, now tell me that I lie
Drinkers themselves their fear would let him die".

She - in the shadows - whispers of suicide
That agony of failure as strangers for her sake
Revived her and an endless childhood rape.
And she - fourteen - never knowing a father
Desperate to attract some mean as lover,
Shoplifts for cheap jewellery to wear.

The women talk, I break my egg and eat,
Who has been defeated?  My sanity is safe.
We, potent irritants in an impotent world
Unlike our sisters smug outside
Will not be robed wives of deceit
Or giggling dolls. This refuge is our Retreat.

We social outcasts hallow Easter Day
Broken so by families who can not care,
Trapped by male essence into self - centred shells
Enmeshed within their own infertile yokes,
Their ignorance has forced us to revoke
Kinship of blood which now is stopping growth.

Here Christ is waiting to guide me
To freedom beyond humanity.
His spirit now will be my kin
For he as victim knowing sin
Gave pride up to proudly be
Energy that will explode into reality.

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2nd  September
"For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation."

I am drowning, as you stand there
So close, so far away.
I cannot see
Cannot feel
You the heart of me.

Choked out the tongue
Lips gone.
No time
No air.
Love has fragmented me.

Torn by you, from you
Blood of my blood
Strength gone.
Woman weak-bodied
Flotsam around you.

Long dead
Grief arouses passion
Into pain.
No one can master
The torrent.

Energetic terror,
Ancestral control

Holds thralldom
Smashing me
Against rocks of madness.

Love used
To trap us,
I struggle impotent.
Only fingers left
Seeking you.

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Lingers the lash in each circle of river
As it fingers it way through slime,
Figures arise with faces of sweat
As blood-tickled bodies quiver.

Clang, clink, clunk, clang,
Up goes the pick
Down goes the whip
Streets live through another chain gang.

Moving in darkness, each convict bright
With the Lie that is law of the land
Justice forgotten, pity spewed out
Men twitch through noon heat, through night.

When a man falls by-passers gloat,
In kicks the hobnailed boot.
Who has courage to speak for his brother,
Help another scapegoat.

Clang, clink, clunk, clank,
Up goes the pick
Down goes the whip
Streets cripple all sight with chain gang.

Shriek of a parrot breaks in the creek
Where men are graved in mangrove,
Betrayed by their own, silenced and mocked
Each spirit unloved, waits release.

Heat-splashed pavements have cafes by corners
Where summer swirls out its dust
Of crouching ghost forms.
Time has mangled the dead into mourners.

Clang, clink, clunk, clang,
Up goes the pick
Down goes the whip
Streets starve by the shaded chain gang.

Lingers the lash through each circled year
Brisbane is locked into iron.
Her heirs possessed - who can be free -
To love with out triangled fear.

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Little Sister

Little sister sitting there,
Content in the playpen
Watching her elder sister.

Jumpity, hoppity, skip
Teddy's got his head
Out, out of the cot.

Elder sister, once only child
Now plays at times with sister,
Her cuddly baby sister.

Important elder sister
Holding baby's hand,
Her power will be unquestioned.

Hoppity, skippity, jump
Bears bounce high for fun
Learning comes in playtime.

Little sister is careless
Of any competition.
Always she's had a sister.

So grand is her big sister
Tall back, far, far ahead,
She can only follow.

Skippity, jumpity, hop
The long rope turns, teddy flops,
Daughters are not born equal.

Elder sister growing up
Shadows little sister
Playing in the sun.

Younger sister cannot grow
For she must obey
All the elder's wishes.

Jumpity, hoppity, skip
The nursery knows tears,
Teddy's eyes are torn.

Both are women now
Still the elder sister
Mocks her trusting sister.

Skippity, hoppity, jump
There is teddy's head -
Push it into the cot!

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Christmas Eve

Prayer for a drinking alcoholic

That Love might find you,
Give you rest
Allow your soul such ease
That sitting careless
You will find
The Christ child on your knee
And then may know without a thought
That you, Man, puny, weak,
Can ever cradle at your will
The fountain head of Life
And your intoxicated mind -
Swift wild thing of such terror
Running in circled fear -
Will tire and give you peace.

Then may you smile and understand
Touch warm flesh as your own
Lose your intellect in God's
Wonder at your conceit,
Take Calvary's blood up to your lips
Quaff deep our Savour's grace
Submit, and then be free.

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And still the guns on Salisbury Plain

And still the guns on Salisbury Plain groan night away from words.

Full sixty years and more ago
A young man, my father, stood
Out there on Salisbury Plain,
One gunner amongst so many men
Who from Australia came.
Behind the guns he stood, he fired,
Toy soldier in real war.
And now out there on Salisbury Plain
Young men still stand and fire
By sane instruction taught
To split sanity from speech.

Distance rolls a century
Out from the guns tonight
Eaten by evil the oozing hordes,
Tongues twisted, glad of death
That ends all torture,
Crowd close my chair.
And from those wordless figures
One shadow grows to shape
The slouched hat of my breed
My father too had heard the guns
And knows from where they roar.

For England he fought, for 'England',
That word which meant to him
All ideals of all worlds.
Beside the hearth he stand now, smiles,
Red firelight on red hair.
Australian born, yet proud to be
Victor of battle, England's man,
No soldier of defeat.
Yet he was trapped by tyranny
And as he fought he did destroy
The world he sought to save.

The firelight soars to shadows
My father turns his head
Gun speaks to gunner still.
Strippling youth of England
Your innocence did drench
All Europe with the blood
Of enemy within.
Then, now, perhaps forever,
Will young men behind guns,
Tricked of their rightful knowledge
Hear only shattered words.

Tonight the guns on Salisbury Plain
Throb with a thump of blood
Humanity enthralled.
Used, the mates my father loved
Who one by one around him fell -
The smell of gum
The sound of surf
So far, so far away.
As he who from the shadows smiles
Was used by those who used 'England'
One word to whip all words.

A whipping word that horses knew
As thrashing hooves were forced
To carry forward guns
Designed to kill and maim.
My father rides the furies now
Within the fire-flames heat.
The gunner from Australia was totally betrayed.
Charges wild, unbroken, that no one else could tame
The Australian horsemen rode.
And in the mud of all they loved
Their bodies skilled defeat.

Flares rise, leap up to show
The blackened grate of England
Wherein the word is grieving.
Silent the dark prison,
Silent the chained limb,
Broken century.
Row upon row, rank piled on rank,
Children, men and women -
Humanity in terror.
One word, torn from its root,
Spikes Mankind to the gun.

And still the guns on Salisbury Plain are groaning, groaning, groaning.

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The Gulf War

Must Jesus weep once more and wait
As his people in such fear
Use guns instead of tongues,
Pretending pain to be
His word, His thought.
He whose only weapon
Was a love so sure
It could give choice.

After a century
Wiped away with blood
Bombed out of bodies
By careful planning
And crippling arrogance,
Can no leader now command
The grace to see
No lie will help humanity.

His people have so much -
Food from abundant harvests
Shores open to rich seas
And cities of uncensored books -
Yet now they fight
Fists tight, eyes glazed,
Punching hate into less favoured faces,
Lost within their power to dominate.

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