Poetry

THREE
Three years old
Running in circles
Childish glee
Daddy, Daddy, Daddy
Yes, my child?
No answer except
More circles run
It is enough
Daddy has let her be free

JEMcL feb1977

FOUR
From a height of four winters
With the whole world wonderful
Life has yet to give splinters
No bruises or broken bones
To cause distrust of people
Discords are musical tones

From her the words, “I love you.”
Come from the heart with no fear.
Take this gift for it is true;
Not to be taken lightly
From older ones you’ll not hear
The sames words said so prettily.

J.E. McL jul1977

And now she has her own – where did the time go, the growing up, the living???? She is still my little girl.

ICEBERGS

Icebergs seperating
From the primeval glacier mouth
Lonely, cold, trapped
By currents moving south.
Lifelessly, thoughtlessly, drifting.

We are bodily torn
Screaming into the pitiless silence
forever alone now.
Beginning a fruitless dance
To death from our mother’s womb.

Icebergs melting down
Releasing moisture to the world
Raining, slaking, mingling.
No current has us enfurled.
How and when will we melt?

J.E.McL jun1977

Thoughts at the Marriage of Christian Friends
(A part of the Service)

Our community is like a woven carpet
Formed from the warp of God’s law
Interwoven with the multicoloured weft
Spun from the fibres of our lives
And all the intermingled, continuous patterns
Are but two dimensional views of our Lord’s design.

Let us now rejoice that a new pattern is begun
Begun in previous patterns and itself
The beginning of patterns still to be woven
And the continuing theme remains love
For God is love and we are created in His image.

Love is the greatest of all the gifts of God
Although everything great has its dangers
And the enemy of God has chosen this gift as his especial target
For by damaging the bonds within the fabric
Our community is weakened and the Creator’s design is marred
So beware of false pride which leads us to impose
Our own presumptuous patterning upon the weave

Trust instead in God’s leading and follow Jesus’ command
To love your neighbour as yourself
And as we strengthen others with our love
So shall we be strengthened by God’s love
For love is more than just a colour within the carpet
Love is the luminescence which quickens and fills
All the fibres with glorious sparkling life

We are now at this beginning with love
Love surrounds us, love is within us, and love is before us
For God’s love is always with us
As is that Brotherly, Motherly, Sisterly, Fatherly love
We each have for each other
And we are witnessing a declaration
Of that love which is the bond between a man and a woman.
JEMcL Jan 1977

TIME

As we slide down the slope
from was to will be
The dark and featureless future
Crosses the bright knife edge
of the evanescent present
Rushing unheedingly into
the dim half light of the past

J.E.McL oct 1981

CLICHES
All I can use are cliches
Overused
Like breakfast dishes
Coloured in Chinese Willow
Beauty debased by familiarity
All the words were used
Long before we met
By others, to whom a muse
granted a ready tongue, yet
For the first time I love you
A new love and no new phrases
All I can use are cliches.
J.E.McL jun 1977

STRANDS
Our strands of life
Touch
In places.
May I anticipate
The next moment when
You and I
Momentarily meet?
J.E.McL – feb 1977

SUNSETS
Refractions burned red through suspended soot
Blood dripping from the upper reaches of Hades
Pollutant mingling with pollutant –
In such things men may see beauty

Pale reflection of hereafter
Mystical vision nightly repeated
Showing hope of the morrow
Pure light bent through molecules of rarified gas
A further retinal bending
And men see beauty.

J.E.Mcl jul 1973

MINUTES
The minutes click over
Digital clockface
Another prepackaged meal
Untouched by human hands
Long lonely stairway
Lonely flat lonely night
Polyestercold sheets ghostly touch
upon skin
polythene wrapped soul
Human hearts, human touch
Unknown
J.E.McL may 1979
(for a friend lost in the mists of time)

THE PAST
Revisiting the past,
Kristofferson and Coffee, Diamond and Dreams.
The minstrels who limned our past with music

And the words of powerLike eager moths
Up we flew to their lighted visions
Till the gravity of the everyday dragged us down
With our wings singed

But sometimes by chance
A late night rehearing after a day like everyday
Reminds us we once had that power:
False memories!

For we were weaker
Than those who sang to our ambitious youth;
Our visions were reflected, not ours from within:
And so we walk.

J.E.McL sometime in the late eighties or very early nineties
With a Sunday Morning Coming Down,
after too much Red Red Wine the night before!
And only Cracklin’ Rosy to Help Me Make it Through the Night

DEAF

Shadows lengthening at the end of the day
The magpies stop warbling and fly down to feed
and they listen
For the faint sounds of their hidden meals
Which when heard become a feast
as I listen
For the faint sounds of your hidden thoughts
Which I can never hear or feast upon.

J.E.McL feb 1999

THE WASHING MACHINE
Standing against the wall,
Waiting to be fed again.
Demanding its daily dose
Of fabric once lovingly pressed
Only to be worn for a while
Then carelessly tossed aside

Its hungry maw will close
And wash and rinse and spin.

I will then do the ironing,
They will do the wearing
and the careless throwing.
I will feed it and start
Our shared and endless cycles
Again and tomorrow and the day after.

J.E.McL dec 1989

WORDS
If only I could call back the words
Which took you from ecstasy to anger
And me from smugness to blackest despair
I would do it
The pain is unbearable
Although I love you

And the words will not be forgotten
We’ll use the word ‘forgiven” until
The next time we need to wound each other
Because we dared
And came to close
We’ll spew these words again

Made more ugly by festering in darkness
And slowly we will begin to hate
These words will hide what we really want
Although I love you
And want to hug you
And have you love me!
J.E.McL. feb 1999

I write a lot of limericks!
Normally they are rude, crude and indecent as most limericks are.
But sometimes the form carries me off to other fields

THE BEACH
I went to the beach on this day
Was hoping for waves come to play
But the sea was all lumpy
I think it was grumpy
And the sky was a little bit gray.

So I only walked on the shore
For miles, and a little bit more
But when I came back
I had lost my track,
The waves all had wiped out my spoor!

And thinking of Omah again,
(He’s all that is keeping me sane)
We once pass this way,
A very short day,
And then we’re erased once again.

So when I am gone from this shore
I’ll ask this one little thing more,
(In red wine, I think)
For me have a drink,
Rejoice, for this life is not poor!

For I have had books, and some bread,
And you there ‘neath boughs over head.
For life is to live,
Take what it will give
And leave it while you’re fully fed.

That grumpy and lumpy sad sea
Must answer for saddening me
But life can’t be smooth
In one single groove
No lows would mean highs couldn’t be!
JEMcL – Aug 1998

IT”S NOT MY PROBLEM

Looking at the world through television
Seeing the images of gloss and glitter
Complacent in my cocoon of civilization
Somalia still starves

Listening to the radio gurus
Debating our run-down economy
Blaming bosses and workers and pollies
Bosnians still die

Reading the words in todays newspaper
Telling me what to buy and also
About scandals and sport and powerful men
The Kurds have no home.

Leafing through the newest glossy weekly
Chronicling all the latest escapades
Of people who say they are important
Khmer fields are still mined

Yelling at the football – carn the Eagles
It’s a pity the umpires are so biased
My team will win and I’m a winner too
But Hani lies dead

My jobs gone with no chance of another
I’ll get the dole so my family can eat
While I sit and complain and have a beer
East Timor’s not free

Going to the movies, a good night out
Boy gets girl or the other way round
For we must be politically sound
Nazi’s are marching again

A television documentary
A silly waste of time, about a war
or starving or suffering foreigners
Its not my problem

J.E.McL. Early in the nineties

MY SWEETEST LOVER

My life before was dull and quiet,
You offered love, I thought I’d try it.
And now each day I celebrate
The ending of my long long wait

Although I wondered should I dare
I offered you a ring to wear.
You never thought it was in fun,
By your acceptance, made us one.

Sad yesterdays all now are gone
And all of our todays are one.
Our love will last until the third
Day after Times’ end has occurred.

JEMcL 1999

FOREVER LOVE

This world is seldom fair to us who love.
The Fates and Gods and Norns just like to play
With fools and laugh at us from seats above,
While we below don’t know the price we pay.

Small loves are not the kind they chose for sport,
But large and deep and those beyond this life.
And choosing these they know that they can thwart,
The near-true loves and bring to all some strife.

With you my love, I choose to laugh at them
For we have loved for life before this life
We’ll love again, this love they cannot stem
One year or life again you’ll be my wife.
JEMcL 1999

FOOLISH LABELS
I don’t care whether you like me or love me,
I just want to be important to you.
To be part of your life, for part of the time;
To be worth sharing your thoughts with.

For I don’t care whether I like you or love you,
It’s just that you are important to me.
You are part of my life, for part of the time;
And you are worth sharing my thoughts with.

J.E.McL. April 1999

MORNINGS
Make myself an orange juice
Load last nights dishes in the sink
Collect the scattered clothes
Let the Dog out
Oh! Turn on the sprinklers
Wash the cutlery
Load the washing machine
“Wake up, you kids. You’ll be late”
Wash the dishes
Start the washing machine
Let the Dog in
“You will wear your uniform today!”
Dry the cutlery
Hang out the washing
“Eat a decent breakfast before you go!”
Let the Dog in! . . . ???
Dry the dishes
Put on the kettle
“Have you got your busfare?”
Let the Dog out
Make a cup of tea
“All right. I’ll make your lunches!”
Let the Dog in
“Hurry up, you’ll miss your bus!”
“No! I don’t know where your bus pass is!”
Let the Dog out
Pour cold tea down sink.

J.E.McL dec 1989
And the Dog (Kimba – a big white Samoyd-Labrador cross) passed on three years later aged 17 (the kids teethed on his ears)

CLEANING OUT
We cleaned out our wardrobes today
All the old stuff must go,
With all good intentions,
If it’s no use it can’t stay!

If I wore this old dress, it’d burst!
It’ll never fit again
I wore it to that dance
The one where I met you first!

And this scruffy old coat was from then –
The days before we had met
When . . . . but never mind that.
If I lose some weight it may fit me again.

Those old football boots are cracked and dry.
You’ll never play again
And you weren’t very good
But how I loved to watch you try.

Oh look – here is that T-shirt you wore
When we took that trip away.
That and my sapphires
Are the mementos from Singapore.

And this long velvet dress – Matron of Honour, I was,
At your brother’s wedding.
We, all four, are now such true friends.
I might keep it this time, just because.

Look – lets leave this chore today
The lawn must be mowed
And the ironing done
And most of this stuff here can stay!

JE McL – April 1999

MY FRIEND

Where does the time go
When I am with you?
I know it’s not wasted
But what do we do?

We talk about life
And living each day,
And things that we do,
And things that we say.

We share our desires
Along with our fears,
And sometimes, I know,
We wipe away tears.

We laugh and we play
And sometimes we fight.
(I say something wrong
And give you a fright.)

But most of the time
Oh, how we chatter;
Of day to day things
We simply natter.

You are my net friend
And closer to me
Than most that I know,
Of those that I see.

The time spent with you
It fills up my soul.
In making me glad,
It makes my day whole.

JEMcL Abt 2001

In the city the stars are shy.
They whisper celestial secrets
Only amongst themselves
And to a passing moon

They hide behind the haze of overcrowding.
They make a compact with all who live there.
The small stars will not look down.
Big people will not look up.

At night here in the desert
I hear the stars shouting
In the west Venus yells, “I am here!”
From the east, the Martian counterpoint.

The growing half moon joins in
With the span of the Milky Way
Where small men look to
The blatant glory of the stars.

JEMcL 2005

EARLY MORNING CHICKEN SOUNDS

The early morning chicken sounds
Mix gently with my coffee grounds
So ears and tastebuds waken while
My face breaks open with a smile

I have survived another night
And now can glory in the sight
Of growing trees and flowing stream
Now knowing life is not a dream.

One day I know I will not wake
Yet from this life I know I’ll take
The early morning chicken sounds
Mixed gently with some coffee grounds.

Sometimes my limericks and poetry (Yes, Virginia, I do know the difference) fail to ramble to my desired conclusion. Yet this verse, in setting out to be a celebration of life, perhaps realises in itself that a celebration is something that comes at an ending. We cannot celebrate a victory until the race is won.

JEMcL Sept, 2006

Elegy for April-Dawn

“Do not go gentle into that good night.”
So we are told by those who do not fight
But bodies grow so weary in the strife
Where cruelly mutant cells are growing rife

And after all that could be done was done
A month or two of fam’ly, friends and sun
But nature gives and takes remorselessly
And listens not to any family’s plea.

Now wearied of the constant battle strain
So tired of being tired and all the pain
Rest now with loving family at your bed
Where mem’ry stays, though your loved soul has fled.

JEMcL Jan, 2007

FOR MEGAN

Sharing our passion
You lightly touch me
Stressing your words
Impressing my mind

Deep in discussion
We missed the moment
Where strangeness left
And friendship began

JEMcL, Apr, 2009


I AM THE FORK IN THE ROAD

If people crammed chest to back
Two thousand people to the kilometre
I am half a million people from town

Totally alone in the startling silence
Too far for anyone to hear my cooee
Small in horizon spanning immensity

Yet here there is only one road
I can go forward or I can go back
Or I can stay here and find myself

JEMcL, May 2009

Shifty Eyes

Shifty Eyes, Oh, those shifty eyes
Dead give aways, those shifty eyes

I went out this morning, bright-eyed
Now that vase is busted and smashed?
Oh Pussy, you just want to hide
Tell me please, can I trust you again?

Shifty Eyes, Oh, those shifty eyes
Dead give aways, those shifty eyes

The loungeroom is smelly and foul
There’s a pile that’s steaming and rank
Oh Spot there’s no use in your cower
Tell me please, can I trust you again?

Shifty Eyes, Oh, those shifty eyes
Dead give aways, those shifty eyes

The scribbles all over the wall
In crayons that will not wash clean
Oh, Stop with the crying and all
Tell me please, can I trust you again?

Shifty Eyes, Oh, those shifty eyes
Dead give aways, those shifty eyes

You work so hard, always so late
Your office girl rang me today
So trite but I should have seen it
Tell me please, can I trust you again?

Shifty Eyes, Oh, those shifty eyes
Dead give aways, those shifty eyes

JEMcL Mar 2012

Written after a twitter exchange with Rosalind Chia

A land bloated in faith
Lost its Bravery
And Its Freedom
Becoming the evil it fought
And its own worst enemy.

JEMcL11th Aug 2013

We knew the ethics of right
Placing flowers in the barrels of guns
Despite all our efforts
The Age of Aquarius died aborning

JEMcL 11th Aug 2013

Thought on Trust

Newborn we learn to trust our elders
Then forever look for others to trust
Never learning to trust ourselves

JEMcL 11th Aug 2013

SHADES

If only life was simple
And all was black and white
But I have learned
There are many shades of wrong
And just as many right

JEMcL 14th Aug 2013

 

AS DEMOCRACY DIES

As democracy dies
I’ll stand my ground
And do what the Left
Have always done
And done so well

I’ll stand and sing with my mates
Raising our voices to the sky
So even in their tallest towers
The Bosses will hear and fear.

The bosses may think
They’ve won the war
But without our work
And our skilled hands
They have nothing

I’ll stand and sing with my mates
Raising our voices to the sky
So even in their tallest towers
The Bosses will hear and fear.

If the factories
All stand idle
If all labour is
Withdrawn, withheld
Their power’s broken

I’ll stand and sing with my mates
Raising our voices to the sky
So even in their tallest towers
Bosses will hear and fear.

So grow your own
Enough for you
And your loved ones all
On your small plot
Refuse their bribes.

I’ll stand and sing with my mates
Raising our voices to the sky
So even in their tallest towers
Bosses will shake with fear.

JEMcL 5th Sept 2013

12 responses to “Poetry

  1. I like your poetry too. Especially the one about the Washing Machine. Mine gets fed, it is always ravenous. And the morning poem: Let the dog in, let the dog out. Only here it is the CAT. Smokey believes no opened door should go unused. Unfortunately, this means that often he is on the other side of a door which is not where he really wanted to be. So he turns around, sits and glares: “Open this door. Immediately.”

    This is what poetry does: it is evocative, it brings memories, it makes us think.

    With all the poetry that exists, why is it that it is the most difficult form of literature to make a living writing?

    Like

  2. Thank you for your kind comments. I think poetry is different for different people. To some it is a sort of memnonic way of remembering events, to some it is a form of rhythm and rhyme which can carry you along in both images and action. To me it is an evocation of a feelng, not in music or pictures, but in words and associations. I doubt my poetry will ever be collected by the poetic powers but it satisfies me, and if it resonates with someone else, I am satisfied. I think we are all poets and so only a select few are chosen as being representative of a generation. Ahhh – Bob Dylan, Rod McKuen – – –

    Like

  3. I have been delighting and indulging again in your blog as one does decadent chocolate and, of course, can’t keep my mouth shut. So being slightly book oriented thought you might enjoy James Kavanaugh’s view of narrow minded people.

    THE BOOK BURNERS
    Well the book burners are out in force these days,
    Not too much worried about Darwin and Freud –who
    must be chagrined to be old hat so soon,
    But worrying instead about Steinbeck, Merchant
    of Venice, and wily old Huckleberry Finn,
    Attacking indecent language and racial slurs,
    Unmindful that most healthy people speak indecent
    language on important occasions like love
    and hate and varying shades of exuberance or
    surprise,
    Unaware that racial and sexual slurs are still a
    significant part of every culture and aren’t
    ` eradicated by burning books that reflect the
    way things are.
    But I suppose Dante must go with his biased
    assignments to heaven and hell
    Only to be certainly followed by Menchen, Shaw,
    Nietzche, Voltaire and, of course, a
    revilification of Ulysses and Henry Miller.
    Assuredly the bible must not be overlooked with
    Josue’s sadism and David’s adultery, not to
    mention Paul’s attitude toward Jews,
    Corinthians, homosexuals and women.
    And Christ’s own blatant anarchy and attacks on the
    moral majority.
    I presume Little Women is safe, although it does portray
    feminine stereotypes, while even Tom Sawyer
    supports laziness and lies and noxious attitudes
    towards Indians.
    The Little Engine That Could is a direct attack on
    railroads,
    And Dickens’ Christmas Carol makes the rich seem
    heartless and greedy.
    Mother Goose is probably pornographic, Br’er Rabbit
    is racist, and Aesop is unquestionably a
    Communist.
    I presume Dr. Seuss is not yet seen as subversive and
    Chaucer will survive because the censors can’t
    understand him.
    Nixon’s memoirs are safe and Harlequin
    Romances sell like cereal.
    But meanwhile I’m rewriting Little Black Sambo so
    that a white kid discovers a psychotic tiger, takes
    him to the zoo, and shares his pancakes made
    from all natural ingredients, thus rendering him
    a harmless pussycat.
    So far the censors have not attacked me — nor the
    nutritionists – nor even the animal lovers – not
    to mention the book burnersl
    The problem is: I just can’t get the damn boring thing
    published!
    ~~James Kavanaugh

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  4. What a pleasant surprise to find you here, Ann. Thank you for the Kavanaugh. It is even more appropriate today that when it was written about twenty years ago. I look forward to your comments in the main section of this poor blog. (looking around for a cockroach)

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  5. June Marshall

    My husband Peter knew a gentleman who used to recite a poem about Speewah Station. He is not too clear on the title but the first two lines read thus:

    I had a relation
    On Speewah Station
    And he told me what he seen there.

    Not too sure whether “seen” was the true word used or if it was “saw”.
    Peter would dearly love to find the words of this poem and he also believes it had at least 10 verses. If you can assist he would be very grateful.
    With thanks June amrshall

    Like

  6. June, I’m sorry but I cannot find that poem. I seem to remember hearing it some years ago. Now it has totally leaked out of my brain and Google is of no help.

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  7. Trying to be a ‘promethesque’ in reading is no easy effort; words in themelves are impressed; figures dressed; i try to absorb the ‘media-pulated’ entities, and i also try to understand the child vs archetype and its alter-ego; you sure are -the President in your poetry and traveling too, Air -force one, doing a little bit, sure in the mighty world entity-persona-collu-confabulaions.

    Like

  8. anand, thank you for the compliments. In what part of Indonesia are you?

    Like

  9. if part of the art of poetry is selfportraiture ironic, you are fine swinging poet, cool, thanks for the read.

    Like

  10. What a wonderful collectionof poems…..
    loved the dog in …dog out…
    and where does the time go.. 🙂
    peace to you on Remembrance Day 🙂

    Like

  11. Laketrees, Thank you for those kind words. Poetry can be such a lonely experience, it is great to know someone else enjoys it.

    And Peace to you also on this Remembrance Day.

    Like

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