Posted in Australia, photography

A walk in the nature reserve

SOME PHOTOS FOR MANJA

An online friend, Manja posted some photos of an Australian native tree growing near her house in Italy. https://manjameximexcessive6.wordpress.com/2022/05/09/bottlebrush-progression/ The post caught me by surprise for I see one of these trees every day. It grows right outside my kitchen window. The flowers are finishing right now but the photo below was taken one morning during summer.

Rainbow lorikeet in the bottlebrush

There are many varieties of bottlebrush across Australia but this particular variety is indigenous to the area I live in. Peering through the thicket of trees on my fence line I can just make out one bottlebrush flower still blooming on a tree in the neighbour’s yard.

After a blogging chat with Manja I decided to go to the local nature reserve and see if I could find any bottlebrush still flowering in the bush. It was a misty, late autumn day here today and the bush in the reserve was in a secretive mood. I couldn’t find any bottlebrush flowers hiding in the shadows but my half hour walk did present me with some other bush beauties.

Posted in Australia, photography, poetry

Frog songs

I’m busy this week so my poem in response to this week’s Earthweal challenge – ‘witness to a magnitude’ – is, perversely perhaps, a simple one –
https://earthweal.com/2022/05/09/earthweal-weekly-challenge-witness-to-a-magnitude/

Reflections in the wetlands

A sense of dread
watching the News
then overwhelm –
the end of days is upon us

here, there and everywhere
chaos, mayhem, even madness.
I look closer to home –
people falling apart and

others struggling on,
coping as best they can,
holding up the frail,
guiding those slipping behind.

Alone in my little house
I do a Marie Kondo.
Discarding old outworn things
I open a space for the new.

Going for a walk
I find a moment’s solace,
the breeze in the treetops,
the birds singing and the frogs

bopping in the mud
in unison, a kind of frog song
plays at the wetlands –
pobblebonk, pobblebonk.

With a frog as a totem
cleansing, clearing the mind,
freeing the heart of darkness,
the dance of life goes on.

Youtube video of the Banjo Frogs calling (pobblebonk frogs) by Wild Ambiance – the main bird calls you can hear in the video are the Australian magpie

Youtube video by Wild Ambiance

Where I often sit at the wetlands


Posted in Australia, Climate Change, Haiku, poetry

Spirits of this place

Hiding away from the spirit of progress,
fleeing the bulldozers ripping away the holiday spirit
(old weatherboard houses nestled in the scrub
lazy summer days walking barefoot in the sand)
the ancient spirits hover in remnant bushland,
fenced off, enclosed and hard to access,
(sweet and feminine beside the blue bays,
fae pranksters in the Moonah trees
wise old grandmothers whirling in the grass trees).

Spewing out of the cities
in a rush and roar of conquest
come urban escapees in SUVs.
Cranes line the cliff tops
postmodern pastiches proliferate,
simulacra of the McMansions
the urban escapees spewed out of.

Retreat with us, the old spirits whisper.
Come away with us now
deep into this ancient land.
Feel the strength of it
in distances stretching
on and on into something other.

My heart longs to ride out on the wind
but no, today is not the day
when I take to the roads again.
One day I will let the spirits
carry me out into the soul lands
but now, contained and restricted,
I tramp down a muddy track
to sit where the grass trees grow.

A moment’s reprieve
until,
just as I hear the spirits whispering,
a jogger in lycra pounds by then
an avid birdwatcher dripping cameras
appears. My connection shatters.

Back home in my garden hideaway
the old ash tree loses its autumn leaves.
A species from another land
finding a place here in Oz
bringing in archetypal energies
– the ash tree as the Tree of Life.

The traffic on the highway roars,
the construction next door deafens yet
every night now when they sleep, I hear
the Southern Ocean snarling at the shore.
Behind the postmodern pastiches,
the simulacra of the progress spirit,
another spirit gathers force.
Inexorable and undeniable,
the world shifts on its axis.
The spirit of climate change
gathers momentum.

Moonah trees behind a fence blocking an old track to the shore

prompt: https://earthweal.com/2022/05/02/earthweal-weekly-challenge-spirits-of-place-2/
For this week’s challenge, write about the spirit(s) of place where you live and have your being in. What is the biological description of your home? How does living in a biogregion change the contours and boundaries of your day? In what places is the spirit of place most resonant for you, and where it is most faint? What is the deep voice of assurance it offers? Can it be channeled in an earth poem? And how do we carry the spirit of place forward into a drastically changing Earth?”

Posted in Australia, Fiction, peace, poetry, The Journey

Common ground

I’ve heard it said
the war in the world
mirrors the war in the self
or is it the other way round?

The warring factions of self
waking me at 3am.
Why did I make that choice thirty years ago?
It was totally the wrong thing to do
and I compiled the problem by doing it
again and again and again.

Then again, the war inside the self plays out
every day in my current reality.
If this happened I could do that
but I can’t do that because I can’t
make this happen. I’m stuck
here in this reality arguing with myself.

Seeking solace I go for a walk in the park.
The commons you might call it
but it’s been a long time since
the aboriginal people called it
the corroboree ground, the common land
where the tribes gathered for ceremony.

It’s peaceful enough if I ignore the traffic.
If I take the public paths it’s pleasant.
If I venture closer to the lake shores
I run the risk of coming across dead carp
– an introduced fish the fisherman discard,
or even the decaying carcass of a rabbit
decomposing after the last year’s 1080 poisoning
by the council. Rabbits are a pest in Australia.

Then of course, no matter which way I walk,
there is the Macca’s refuse, the bottle tops,
the odd soft drink can and the chocolate bar wrappers.

Ignoring all these signs of desecration
I attempt to lighten my mood.
focusing on beauty I develop a blinkered vision.
Some birds sing while the egrets croak.
The breeze is gentle in the tree tops.
Soft white clouds scatter across the sky.
Maybe finding the common ground,
the place where all people are part of nature,
could take us all to a more a peaceful place.

A corroboree ground near where I live:- A local cemetery and lakes around it were once the corroboree ground of the Wauthaurong people, the traditional owners of this land.

prompt: https://earthweal.com/2022/04/25/earthweal-weekly-challenge-the-commons/
For this challenge, write about THE COMMONS. How would you describe that half-wild, half-human habitat of sharing and sustenance in your locale?

from my novel The Journey:-

Raven looked out at the wasteland beyond the waterhole. The country had an uncanny feel to it as if it was haunted by times far older than the world of Terran’s photos. The lay of the land suggested to him that it had once been a meeting place for the tribes of long ago. People would have gathered here for ceremony and song. Fish would have been plentiful and the foraging would have been good. He imagined children swimming in the shallow waters as their parents caught up with the news; who’d had a baby, which old people had passed on during the cold winter months and the stuff of daily life. The images flowed into his mind like an internal slide show. It was as if the long continuity of such meetings had imprinted themselves onto the earth itself. The parties and picnics of the folks in the huge vehicles were an empty echo of those earlier, more sacred, times.

Posted in Australia, Haibun, Haiku, peace

The World Peace Bell

In a dusty country town out in central west NSW, Australia a large peace bell hangs in a pavilion in the town square.   Just how it came to be there is a strange tale of war and peace.

Related image
image from https://visitcowra.com.au/astralias-world-peace-bell

During WW2 Japanese men living in Australia suddenly found themselves arrested and sent to an internment camp at Cowra, NSW.  Although the men were treated fairly under the international law they were naturally very unhappy about their internment.   Around breakfast time on the morning of August 5, 1944 they staged a breakout.   Armed with baseball bats and sharpened kitchen knives they rushed out across the barbed wire surrounding the camp and into the firing line of the Vickers machine guns set up around the perimeter. Tragically  231 Japanese men lost their lives along with 4 Australian soldiers.  A later enquiry decided many of the Japanese had suicided rather than face the ignominy of re-capture.

The  event and its tragic outcome left a deep mark on Cowra. Soldiers returning home after the war took it upon themselves to clean up the graves of the Japanese who died at the camp. The graveyard was later expanded to include the graves of other Japanese who had died in Australia during the war. It is still the only Japanese War Cemetery in the world.

Since then cultural exchanges and a student exchange program have consolidated peaceful relationships between Cowra and Japan. A Japanese garden has been established and a Cherry Blossom Festival is held every year. 

In 1992 the Australian World Peace Bell was awarded to Cowra for its contribution to world peace. The World Peace Bell is usually placed in capital cities but Cowra was given the honour because of its long standing commitment to peaceful international relations.

The inscription on the front of the bell reads:-

The Bell Is A Replica Of The Original World Peace Bell Which Is Located In The Inner Court Of The United Nations Headquarters In New York.

Like The Original, This Bell Is Cast From Melted Down Coins And Medals Of Member Countries Of The United Nations In The Hope That World Peace Will Be Realised.

Cowra Was Chosen By The Australian Government As The Site For The Australian World Peace Bell In Recognition Of Its Unique Contribution
To International Understanding, Promotion Of Peace And As A Centre Of World Friendship.

I visited Cowra on a sleepy summer afternoon some years ago.   Not much moved in the heat.   A few visitors milled around the Visitor Centre reading the plagues that told tragic story that had led to the town’s deep and abiding desire to promote peace. That peace seemed to have settled over the town like a mantle.  I didn’t take any photos.  It didn’t seem appropriate somehow.

Recalling my visit to Cowra and writing this post has re-affirmed my belief that peace can be built between nations and between people even when the foundations of that peace are mired in tragedy.

World peace bells
ringing out their message
– love is the answer

Looking back over old blog posts for https://fivedotoh.com/2022/03/18/fandangos-flashback-friday-march-18th/ I discovered a post I wrote on my old blog ‘Being in Nature’ on March 18, 2019. It seems such a fitting post for these times I am also linking to https://earthweal.com/2022/03/18/earthweal-open-link-weekend-110/ and https://dversepoets.com/2022/03/17/open-link-311-march-live-edition/

Posted in Australia, Climate Change, poetry

Seeking Shelter

I talked to my son in the flood zone on the phone:-

Up in the rainforest where the hippies live
the rain bomb caused landslides down the mountains.
Houses were destroyed, people were injured.
For days no one came to the rescue.
People say hippies are lazy, useless,
but the community came to help.
They carried people out on homemade stretchers.
They hired private helicopter rescue teams.
Mountain climbers came and saved babies.

And still the government didn’t come.
The Defence Force turned up – eventually.
They help a bit with cleaning out houses.
All the furniture, clothes, toys, mementos –
all ruined. Piled up in the streets.
Single mums with autistic children
homeless.
Across two States, thousands of houses
uninhabitable.

In an inland town fourteen feet of water
everywhere
homes, shops, everything flooded.
My son’s landlady’s house got flooded.
He’s waiting for her to call and say,
I’m so sorry, I need my farmhouse back.
I ask, where would you go if that happens?
To the caravan park, he says. Bleak reality.

The rents everywhere are sky high,
Twenty percent increases in places
as the pandemic city dwellers left
they came to regions in their droves.
here, there and everywhere.

Rent hikes, rising fuel costs,
groceries going up every week.
Will all low income earners end up in caravan parks?
But then, down here in my State,
they’ve legislated to stop long term living in them.
Will we see single mums with kids with autism
sleeping under bridges?

Meanwhile, in the Ukraine,
bombs destroying the homes of the townsfolk,
people fleeing on trains. Millions homeless.

– makes our troubles here in Oz seem petty.

Sheltering in the muse,
in stories that ramble
through the storm.
Sheltering in meditation
seeking solace in the light
tuning into frequency
the heart becomes the home.

prompt: https://earthweal.com/2022/03/14/shelter/

For this week’s challenge, write of SHELTER.


Posted in Australia, Climate Change, Haibun, poetry

The wild heart

(external events lead me back to blogging sooner than I expected)

This week on Earthweal Sherry asks: – Where does your wild heart take you? Follow it, and bring us back your poem. https://earthweal.com/2022/02/28/earthweal-weekly-challenge-wild-hearts-cant-be-broken/

my wild self – acrylic on card

My heart is wild with outrage.
The invasion of Ukraine,
the situation in Afghanistan.
I pray world leaders find compassion,
that border guards let in the refugees.

My heart is wild with fear.
Nuclear war terrifies me.
I check the news each day.
Have the Russians annihilated Kviv?
Perhaps I should detach.
It’s all a world away.

then –

My son texts
He’s surrounded by floods.
He has no power or internet.
Sometimes he gets a text out.
It’ll be days before he gets to town,
landslides block the road,
and town is underwater anyway.
The levee had been breached.
Water laps at roofs.

Across north east Australia
towns I’ve lived in,
places I’ve loved
all underwater.
The worst flood in a century
and more rain coming.
Climate change laps at doors.

My heart is wild with anguish.
A howl echoes through my dreams.
What next? What ever next?
Despair is a wild bedfellow.

Beneath it all
another pulse beats.
Herne the Hunter sounds his horn,
the wild heart stirs.

In the invisible realms,
the ancient gods and goddesses,
the legions of the fae.
all crying with a wild refrain,
hold on, hold on to the light.
This grasping for worldly power
hastens the demise of the old.
The flood gates have opened.
Do not be swept under.
The future is upon us.

and
A MESSAGE FROM NATURE – a haibun

I have a string of Tibetan prayer flags outside my kitchen window It is a compact space and one flag often gets caught by the sword like leaves of a yucca plant. It has shredded as a result.

These past three days when I’ve been sitting drinking tea a bird has come and tugged at the shredded threads. When it has collected a beak full it flies off, presumably to build a nest – an odd urge for a bird in southern Australia in February with autumn approaching.

a nest of prayers,
an optimistic endeavour
– a deepening faith

Posted in Australia, Haibun, photography

Remembering my Wild Side

This weekend Brendan of Earthweal invites us to ‘link a poem that speaks to whatever wild center you are roaming in. Share a new poem or something glittery with age from the well.’ https://earthweal.com/2022/02/11/earthweal-open-link-weekend-105/

I wrote the following haibun some years ago when I lived in a place that was much closer to wild nature. The photos are of that place.

Walking on the cliff tops as a storm front approaches the wind blows in cold off the
Southern Ocean. At the base of the cliffs the sea churns wild and fierce. There is no one else around and I realise that with one misstep I could fall to my death. It is a raw, instinctual thought.

I move away from the edge and walk a narrow track where tangled tree roots and jagged rocks protrude from the earth. My toes catch on a root and I stumble. This is an environment that demands my full attention – my complete participation.

The cold wind whips my hair across my face and the sea birds screech. In my cotton/polyester coat and with my digital camera dangling from my wrist I am a person of my times yet I could be a person from any time, any culture. The natural world doesn’t judge me on my age, race, class or body type. Out here none of those things matter. All that matters is being aware of where I am – being present in the moment.

Walking meditation
alone on the cliff tops
words blow away

Posted in Australia, Climate Change, Haiku, photography

la Nina Summer

For the second year in a row we are experiencing a la Nina summer in Australia. This occurs when the water in the central Pacific Ocean cools. In the part of Australia I live in this generally means cooler summer weather and more rain. This year the weather pattern has been further complicated by intense monsoonal weather patterns across northern Australia. These have been so big we have been affected by them here in the far south of the continent.

After a week of excessive heat, monsoonal rain and high humidity under dense grey cloud cover the weather shifts to cold winds off the Southern Ocean and slashing rains under dense grey cloud cover.

After driving my grandson to school these past two mornings I learn he tested positive for Covid overnight.

la Nina Summer –
covid in the family
– I retreat indoors.

prompt: https://dversepoets.com/2022/02/01/dverse-poetics-one-of-seventy-two-seasons/

Your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to create your own major season and then a micro-season, or kō within it using the format above.  Create one based on the season you find yourself in. If possible include images, artwork, drawings, photos, etc. from your community to help bring it into three dimensions.