the colour of our lives

poetry • celebration • faith • nature • humanity • imperfections • glory

Archive for the tag “society”

the driver

The driver hated
us this morning; standing
hard on the brakes, bus
lurching around each corner.
Getting off, we roll our eyes.

The bus, proxy for
argument lost with his wife,
a bullying boss?
In fuming economy
of words, he masters his day

while we, the passive,
are content, simply, to arrive
intact. We accept
out of respect, selfishness,
perhaps self-recognition.




leviathanthis is our normal way of living.
slowly, we built it, this god we thought
that we could control. It would do
justice in the world, reward with wealth and
comfort the strong and resourceful, the driven
and the inventive, the diligent and the lucky.
It would punish the indolent and the weak,
the unfortunate and the outcast, while
teasing them with the incentives of the good.
And it was ours; within our power to tame
and destroy. In our greed we began to question
and resent our own control; our dragon would
more willingly concede its store of gold unshackled
and, having won its freedom, our monster
flourished. Untamed, its acts became increasingly
random; the blessed were triply so, the accursed
received their due in poverty and squalor.
Slowly, in an ironic and obscene revolution,
the beast could again be reined by those
whom it had rewarded; power built power,
ignoring the destruction and death
visited upon the weak.

Everywhere in our world,
this is our normal way of living.


strange, no, that we place such high
significance on maximising a maybe, a
possible future, something we will never
know we have found until we’re there and
not be sure even then. Human potential is
not measurable in aggregate, on average;
set limits, and someone will prove us wrong,
reach beyond the humanly possible. We
burden our children with this immeasurable
ideal, vaguer for an individual even than for
the collective, and there are ten billion
directions, more or less, in which to reach;
in the span of each modern life we have one
quarter of a second to seek each single path,
so each human child must choose, or have
chosen for them, one or two at most. The
margin for error is large, left to chance
or coercion; we reap the consequences: a
natural musician excels in medicine, the
perfect athlete makes a sensible choice in
the building trade. And we pay, subtly but
dearly, for realising the wrong potential;
the dull, inexplicable hunger in moments of
true reflection; for some for whom the
choice was more conscious, the recurrent
sting of regret. The cure for guesswork
or obligation, of course, is passion, but to
let Love or Desire make our choice requires
us to relinquish control, to release our
selves and daughters and sons to still,
small voices and violent rushing winds.

or not to work


spy colleague
the other way

social net

scoop coffee
water: blissful


In Praise of Kiwiana

The New Zealand accent is distinct from its Australian counterpart. Some New Zealanders claim Australians say “feesh and cheeps” for fish and chips while some Australians counter that New Zealanders say “fush and chups”.

Kangaroo and kiwiHere in the muddle
of nowhere, on the coast
beyond the mud-west,
my Polynesian mountain homeland
beckons, drawing me back to
loyalty to my formative speech.

In the land of Maui’s fish
and canoe, living sounds
more like loving to the western ear.
As is fitting, the sharp ends of
the better jokes are puns; every
little but on the glass’s edge is rum,
and the locals are very careful when
saying “fickle”.

twenty-first century blues (version 2)

Just for fun. Version 1 was written about ten years ago.

got weary feet and an aching back
lost my sleep and it’s not comin’ back
not good at shakin’ them sad, heavy shoes
moanin’ ‘bout twenty-first century blues

espressocan’t kick the coffee, too fond of the booze
too many addictions gettin’ too hard to lose
too many decisions, can’t possibly choose
sufferin’ from twenty-first century blues

long nights are hot and there is no rain
and nothin’s ever gonna be the same
world’s goin’ crazy – hate watchin’ the news
cryin’ ‘bout twenty-first century blues

algorithm for non-conversation

first if
should someone share information or
emotion you

– well, while we’re on that topic . . .
– that’s nothing . . .
– here’s what you need to do . . .
– oh, really? when that happened to me . . .
– now let me tell you . . .

if no initial gambit is
if several of the previous type
have been successfully implemented
start discussing

the weather
any topic on which you have strong
non-negotiable opinions

you will have good chance of never having
the authenticity or connection you were
avoiding in the first place

or else
you may need to resort to


that should do it

cycle path, Kings Park

the bush disguises the edges
of this concrete scar; its strong-billed
parrots soften the edges with banksia
cones, and the trees themselves
drop spent leaves in a tangled mat
where neither feet tread nor narrow wheels roll

in most seasons, forest-subtle greens
are interrupted by points of different
colours; vivid wildflowers, and the
assorted litter of civilisation. Summer’s
heat is noisy; sprinting lizards crackle
treeward in sunparched leaf-fall, and
spring’s loaded pods de-stress in random
pops and moist metastability

the scarline’s made for the civilised
ones; workbound walker’s daydreams
fanned into rude consciousness in
cyclists’ manic slipstreams; sweaty
joggers in loose, conversational packs;
wandering handheld couples, and
street weary mothers pushing prams


Australia Day at the local hardware store
and I conspire with a gush of grim faces
making their purchase in pursuit of the
Home Beautiful

the only smile I see is unrelated to the
improvement of our solid houses as a
mother entices her toddling son across
the shop floor

at the checkout I pass a small television-
shaped plastic tag and agree to a small
debt as the manager decides she will
need four counters open today

I ride home past an elegant address and
a poor immigrant father and son stop as
the small boy lingers in the driveway like
he wants to live there instead

9 October 2001 #2

Three nights running now and I’ve never dreamed like that before:
twice, strangers falling out of my sight and out of possible survival;
the third, real rain on the roof, in anxious imagination,
was distant artillery, and waking in a strange room.

Nearly a month since the towers burned, and
they’re returning fire and bread from the sky.
In between moments of sugary jazz, selling us furniture, we watch
live footage of the war zone.

A Christmas Verse

There are gifts and non-gifts.

Any exchange bearing a taste of entitlement, or obligation, or commerce is non-gift; true gifts are always surprising, ultimately desirable and given freely.

The receiver will ask, “How can this be for me?”, or say, “This is incomprehensibly generous.”

The giver will say, “I could have only given this to you”, and, “This is the very least that I could have done”.

Any more, or less, is non-gift.

The first such Gift: Life itself.

The second: Freedom.

The third: Redemption.

We deserve none of these; to refuse them is Death.

All other true gifts carry an echo of these three; true giving touches the hearts of giver and receiver and, if only for a moment, they connect two humans at their core, place their hands in God’s, and peel away the inner being’s rusty armour.

on the edge of cool

morning on the frayed edge of cool fashionable hopes
well-placed behind the plain red-brick façade looming
halls still resonating with American preacher and hints of
upper middle trousers on plastic stacking chairs / all the
usual requirements are met bewildering advertising
outside the door no menu just worship words and a
mission statement like the council two doors down and
definitely no promise of espresso / life as God intends for
a few hundred elect mostly not from around here anyway
who’d want to live on a busy street like this the Saturday
nights would be unbearable / walking past the two closed
sets of double doors Sunday in January a jingling of faint
gospel pop fades to the natural chatter of pedestrian
crossings, chocolatiers and tanned grey-haired couples
sipping herbal teas across newspapers / downhill
aerodynamic railway station roofline arches glass and
grey metal over pigeons nodding sharply away from
skater chicks and the Thai family with two boxes of
vegetables / and the bearded middle aged guy locks his
bicycle to a street post squints at the sun over the
market checks his pocket and walks inside into the crowd

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