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Bedtime Stories #3

Got the old shack up for sale … years ago, back in around 1980 … we (the family / brother, sister and the old folks) chipped in a few hundred quid each and bought this block of land on the peninsula and I built a holiday shack there … sure an it was built on the dirt cheap, out of bits of sticky-tape and bent wire sort of, but it was great for the kids to get away from the city and we’d go fishing, crabbing, that sort of thing …

You’d get there and the first thing is you’d run to claim a bed and throw your clobber in one of the two big rooms with four beds in each, grab a crab-rake or fishing rod from the corner and make for the beach … the shack … and it really was a shack … was just to flop in for the night … cook the tucker in and watch the fire burn and crackle before you hit the sack … it was effing great when the kids were growing up ..

You’d go for a walk in the calm, balmy evenings down to show your body to the ocean … all was well there when on holiday …

A Summer Evening Walk

A melodious whistle serenades the Summer evening air,

A gentler light falls tonight upon the buildings where

I walk a solitary walk down the empty street,

In company to the tune I whistle, my foot falls to the beat.

And I murmur simple flattery to the prism of the sky,

It’s strata’d colours ascending in layered symmetry.

My eye is caught by a flutter of geraniums upon a wall,

A host of colour trembling, a sight to be enthralled!

A woman appears, a laughing toss of golden, long-tressed hair,

Her laughter balanced the moment caught,

… I stop whistling to admire.

You know … treasures can be stolen from life’s relentless drudge,

That would sweep our eyes, our ears, our heart ever over its fidgeting edge.

Then … I continue my melodious whistle serenading the evening Summer air,

A gentler light … I feel … falls tonight,

Upon these buildings here.

But now, the old shack is up for sale, I am getting too old to maintain it … and after the recent hernia operation ( I’ll tell you about it someday!) … it’s all getting a bit too much for me … The kids have grown up into Gen Y adults … and are no longer interested in “crab island” or “cockle cove” or “starfish rock” … the shallow flats are “smelly” now … and just who wants to gut and clean their own fish anymore? … indeed … who wants to even go fishing anymore … and the old place has that “old smell” and look … it never was pretty … the old shack … not like the brand-spanking new McMansions popping up all around the little enclave … and NO-WAY will anyone be using the “out-the-back” dunny … even if it is a flush toilet … the spiders? the dark!? And the rainwater in the old tank … is it safe to drink? … doesn’t everyone nowadays have an ensuite?

And those retirees who came here to getaway from the city … and brought the city expectations with them, expect there to be ; services, no fire risk … and that grey-water run-off from the kitchen and the shower that goes under the trees to keep them watered in the long hot summers … is that a health risk, is it legal? … and if there is a bush fire, those trees around your shack could “catch on fire and send it onto my house … I’m going to ring the council” … But the birds, the animals, you protest … the delicate native lilies and such? … Poison the lot … not a blade of grass … not a hint of verdant cover shall tarnish the scoria and gravel expanse ..

The Ant

The ant, in silence, goes about

It’s ordered business,

It builds nests,

And it knows.

The worm, in depths of dark, damp Earth,

Tunnels and turns,

In silence,

And it knows.

Humanity, goes about its intent,

With all the noise and rancour

Of accrued wisdom,

But it knows not.

It’s the school holidays … and there are no kids fishing … not even an adult walking the beach … nor at the wharf at Pt. Vincent … no kids, no people even to watch the crayfish boat sidle up to the wharf and unload it’s catch … not a curious soul … what has happened … is this a kind of Brave New World of hideaway people … is there no wonder in nature anymore? … no cry of children in a discovery of delight … Do not the parents delight in showing and explaining even with a touch of bullshit those strange shells and twists of sea-worm casings … to tell lurid tales of the goings on there just around the next cliff of “smugglers cove” … of dark nights and pirates and booty and good lord knows what else to see the wide-eyed wonder in their eyes as they fall to sleep snuggled in your lap by the fire in the old shack …

The Little Things

Bodkins and bobbins and little things you need,

Hatpins and napkin rings or whatever you please.

Boxed and tied with ribbons and bows,

Tho’ whatever for these days, God only knows.

For that world has passed such need to sew,

Socks and pinafores, aprons … ricrac in rows.

“Where the remote!?” is now the cry ..

“Where the laptop? … Where the phone named “i”?

The day is gone where a passage of quiet,

Would presage not unease, but a healthy diet

Of patience … music or meditation on life,

And wine, friend or lover in company with thy,

Neither gone nor forgotten from the sight of eye,

Ever our company … ever our thoughts occupy.

The shack is up for sale now … and I was there to cut the grass and tidy the place up a tad so it’ll look good … But really, it is only being sold for land-value … to be honest … no-one wants a shack anymore … you see … everyone now has an ensuite … the kids their ipads or smart-phones … But you know, as we were walking on the cliff-top road down to the jetty there … for just a moment … be it the wind-blown smell of the mallee trees in flower, or the cry of a gull surfing the air … for just that one short inhale of breath, I was back in that time with the kids and our arms full of fishing gear and buckets and a crab-net and we were all laughing and heading to the jetty and my little boy was saying that he bet he will catch a big, big squid … for just that one short moment …

Time has stolen the years from me , and I could bloody well weep.

The Final Fall of Delphi

“Tell the king …
The fair wrought hall is fallen,
No more hut, nor prophetic laurel,

Its waters murmur, sigh and sorrow,
The spring of eloquence is quenched … ”

Tell the folk:
Delphi; the house of Apollo is fallen.
The Oracle speaks it’s last,
In stuttering tongue, before dusk,
And cometh now an age of gilded lust.

Tell the people:
The Gods are gone, their whispered scent
From spring and bough wisdom sent
Is barren now … rubble strewn,
Where once was beauty marble hewn.

Tell them all:
The temple walls are forlorn and broken!
The paths of herb and steps awry,
Beast debased, their perfumes descry,
Man’s heart’s desire … now a banker’s token.

Yes! … Go! … Tell the Kings of the world :
Of the thousands who have homaged Delphi,
Now … only two of us stand on the Sibylline Rock
… in the pouring rain …
Two stand; the merchant and the poet …
… but only one of us is crying.

But it’s no use crying over spilt milk … as they say .. and anyway, it’s getting late and this old bloke needs his beauty sleep now more than ever … so It’s goodnight from me … Carly Simon: “That’s the way I always heard it should be.”


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