Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Guests that stay too long

Still they come to this barren land
From teeming cities, swamp and sand
Their desire for freedom so intense
Despite the dangers and expense

Their worries far outweigh the dangers
Despite our history of bushrangers
They come to leave behind war and strife
And of course to seek a better life

But with welcome here they do not get
High seas and navy patrols see them met
Then to remote internment camps are sent
In this land compassion is quite absent

There is a far better way and wiser
To arrive by plane with a temporary visa
To work or even take a blissful holiday
Overstay your welcome, you might be okay

Image fro,

Monday, September 29, 2014

At the Station

              A restored locomotive of that era

When I was boy not yet in my teens our family moved to a small market town in Hampshire, England. The war was over but not the privation of those dreadful years. The town we moved to could with all honesty be said to be at the end of the line for it was the terminus for the electric trains that ran regularly from London, The trains on reaching the settlement not quite 50 miles away looked around and horrified rushed quickly back to the metropolis again.

I am lying of course which is what storytellers do best!

Being a market town it held a market every week on a Tuesday to market things that were not available in the shops, such as live sheep and cattle and pigs from the farms nearby together with feathered friends too. In school holidays it was a major attraction for boys my age to walk around the pens and view the weighing of the stock on the weighbridge and run and laugh with glee when a when pig or cow or best of all a bull somehow escaped from his handler and chose to go home by himself to avoid being taken to the nearest slaughterhouse. Usually they avoided the street and chose the narrow lanes and walkways to terrify the town’s inhabitants. Us boys thought that was even better than going to the movies.

In those days there was not much of anything in the shops, rationing continued in Britain for a few years. Everything too was still in black and white. There was a cinema in the town, given a name exactly opposite to its character it was of course the Palace!  With no television our great pleasure was to pay a visit twice a week on grey Wednesday and Friday evenings to watch a mostly grey film in that grey town in a very grey country in our grey times.

However all was not bad for boys as the station where the electric trains terminated was also the terminus for two little branch line railways that headed off into the country to find their way to meet other mainlines at Winchester and Havant. These single track systems were of great interest to young boys because the trains were pulled by steam locomotives.

After school each day and at weekends much time was spent at the station or by the side of the track, or on the track, or under a bridge or placing pennies on the track for the train’s wheels to make them bigger while we hid in the bushes so the engine driver couldn't see us. Not that that mattered as he couldn't stop his engine just to chase after us and in those days hardly anybody had phones or portable radios, let alone mobile (cell) phones which wouldn't make their appearance for at least another 30 years.

Not all stations had turntables for engines to turn around before making a return journey so a special provision was made for the engine at it’s country terminus to uncouple from its carriages and on an adjacent siding would go to the other end of the waiting carriages and re-couple with them there to take the train back to its original starting point. However, now the engine was facing the wrong way for the return trip to pull the train home. Some improvement was made to this method by having the rear carriage fitted with a communication device with the engine and the guard would every few seconds indicate to the driver at the back of the train that the track was clear in front as it was pushed backwards. The engine of course was travelling in reverse and without gears could travel forward or back at the same speed.

Sadly those branch lines are now closed to the public and I wonder what adventures boys of today have without them. Oh yes, I remember they have an iPad for a friend.  

Saturday, September 27, 2014

My City

The filth and squalor of the city is my home
Its raucous shouts and sounds
Where hope dies fast
And all struggle to last
Perhaps to see another morn

The taxi driver’s sneer, the smell of beer
The vomit in the gutter
The call girl’s smirk
As bag snatchers lurk
For all this I think I was born

For all the music, the shouts and screams
The hopeless vagrants stagger
The flashing signs are a drug
A street light attracts every bug
A lone stranger looks forlorn

Early morning now the screams have gone
Street sweepers takes their place
I wend my way back to my pad
This hectic life is not so bad
Except the glare of honest dawn

Image from

On wooing a girl

How to express love
When the flames of desire burn
Just what are the rules?

A hard lot to bear
For youth has no discernment
A new game to learn

Fear of failure is
The enemy of success
Joy turns to ashes

Sometimes it’s simple
A posy of bright flowers
and selfless warm words

Identify the goal
Polarize her in your mind
In your spring of life

Image from

The girl with tangerine lips

I stood in the street
Watching the city pass by
Kaleidoscope dreams

The bright lights flashing
The sad song of traffic noise
The scent of decay

I was quite alone
Stranger among the thousands
Until I saw her

She cocked her cute head
The girl with the tangerine lips
Her timeless question
Why did she choose me?
How could I tell her story?
Whose daughter was she?

Image from

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Over the Hill

Hands worn
Legs bowed
Eyes dim
My grandmother sat quite still

I smiled
And she
Did say
“I’m not quite over the hill”

We laughed
And kissed
I knew
She was in me, good and ill

So firm
And true
Each goodbye a bitter pill

Would I
Be strong
Like her
When deaths call came shrill

Image from

The visitor

“I don’t want him in here” she said as she saw him edge along the street heading for our home.

She was talking about old Jim. I say old Jim but he was my age; we went to school together so many years ago. Now he had found out where we lived.

“He’s always on the scrounge,” she continued, “He’s a parasite; I don’t know why you don’t send him packing.”

I could see she was getting explosive about him and I could see her point of view. Jim was a mate from my school years who had turned into a shifty, lying cheating ne'er do well and was not the friend you would want constantly pestering you for a handout.

“Give him a few dollars and tell him I don’t want him back here any more. I don’t want the kids to see him.” Even angry she was beautiful…but dangerous.

So I went out the front door and walked up to Jim as he approached the front gate intending to steer him down the nearby park so she wouldn't let fly at him if they came face to face.
He looked searchingly at the house to see if anyone was inside but luckily Sue was not at the window. The last time he came she had actually screamed at him.

I think he understood as I steered him across the road and sat him on a seat by the swings and the slide.
“She is still cross with me is she?” I nodded and chatted with him for a bit and slipped him a couple of twenty dollar notes.

“Is that adequate?” I asked while he stuffed them in pocket and nodded glumly. He then looked up and asked “Got any smokes?”

I shook my head, “Neither of us smokes any more Jim…because of the kids.” He nodded glumly, “Yeah, I knew that but I still ask don’t I?”

We chatted for a bit then he sadly went on his way. I slowly walked back to the house, let myself in and went back to my study.

I heard the door open and Sue sidled in and said “Well?” She was beautiful even when cross and she continued “How much did you give him this time?”

“Forty bucks.”

“Is that all?” She spoke with a small quiet voice.

“Why don’t you speak to him Sue, he is your brother for heaven’s sake.”

It was then she cried, quietly, sadly. She knew, as I did, that we had only met each other because Jim was my friend at school.

“You’re too soft on him” she whispered, "but I am glad you are", and she placed a loving hand on my cheek.