Thursday, 20 March 2014

Lyre Birds.

Well above the boulder-lined mountain creek,
Its tangled profusion of vine and tree,
The spreading glory of the strangler fig,
The remnant cedar’s towering beauty,

In a place where the mountain steeply slopes,
Where the filtered sun casts a dappled light,
Where tall trees grow from the leaf-littered ground,
There stop and stand still in hushed delight.

Two young male lyre birds cavort and display,
Practising for some more urgent future time
Their dance, spread of tail and joy of song
With a beauty far beyond the power of rhyme.

Their tail is two curves of yellow and black,
Enclosing an inside of silver gossamer wisp,
As seemingly delicate and coloured
As dew-filled web or wind-blown sea mist.

This unfolding glory they arch over their back,
Graceful, delicate, curved, surprising long,
Then dancing a quick, little staccato bob
Pour from their throat a liquid miracle of song.

Mimicry of all the diverse forest sounds
In effortless beauty from their little throat pours-
Kookaburra’s laugh, whip bird’s soar and crack,
King parrot, rosella and many unknown more.

Hush! The vault is coloured blue, white and green,
There are ethereal slants of light,
Great supporting buttress columns of trees,
And a choir praising in unrestrained delight.

Walk quietly away from this pure moment
With feelings elevated and sublime,
A heart full of wonder and gratitude,
A sense of a glimpse into some great divine,

For on that on that leaf-littered mountainside
In effortless beauty these small birds raise,
Without tuition or much thumbed page,
A wondrous hymn of beauty and praise.

Monday, 10 March 2014

The Eureka Flag.

In a wooden stockade the flag they raised-
The southern sky with a cross of silver stars-
Declared an egalitarian dream, a new land
Where inheritance would never decree
The measure of any individual’s worth,
And that any child’s opportunity
Should never be limited by wealth or birth.
It was never much more than a dream,
-For sadly there are always the dispossessed
And, for those men, the indigenous and women
Were not amongst the reasons for their unrest-
But dreams are much more than mere seeming.
They set a standard for what we think best.
From the blood spilled for this dreaming
Into the national consciousness came the idea
That this land would not be based on class
And under the cross of stars and southern sun
A new world of equality of opportunity
Could be freely available for everyone.

That flag remains, its vibrance faded,
Its corners ragged, torn and worn by time.
It is still the silver stars on deepest blue
But dream for which it flew
Is shredded beyond tatters.
Base and cunning men in their lust for power
Have laid siege to the stockade,
With low guile infiltrated the ideals,
Besmirched the fragment of justice and fairness
With crass and loathsome things of their invention.
Is “aspirational” now our highest aim?
Is our best a narrow, shallow commercialism,
A smug, mean spirited complacency,
A relentless seeking for personal advantage,
A competitive pursuit of possessions,
The tiny idea of “relaxed and comfortable”
In a new, divided and insular hierarchy where
Worth and opportunity is unequally proportioned
And power and privilege is the real mantra
Behind a sad, diminished and empty “monetocracy”?

But Listen! Listen to this land! It speaks!
Its eucalyptus scent, colour, heat haze,
Its great brilliant blue beauty of sky,
Its star’s glorious evening blaze,
Its distant blue of low mountains,
Its tangle and twist of scrub and tree,
Its rollers crashing upon the coast,
Are crying out for more than mediocrity.
O my country, Wake! Throw off these shackles!
Rebuild your stockade! Dream of great things!
Raise your flag! Let equality of opportunity
Again soar high on justice’s wings!
Reclaim the dream! You have the power,
The vote for which the Eureka Flag flew.
It was institutionalised privilege
Against which they fought and railed.
Demand equality of opportunity
For all children of this great south land.
Raise again their dream and their flag.
Let children grow together under this southern sun,
This evening blue crossed with silver stars.
Let equality of opportunity be for everyone.