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Poems 1985-2021 – Part 1

And Thus Spake God to Scott


Lake Timk, with reflections of Mount Anne, Tasmania. Photographer: Chris Harris

EMPTY

I lie awake under the vast silent sky
The stars stare down unsleeping
Like the bright eyes of yesterday’s Gods
Or the dreaming millions of tomorrow’s spirits

As the false security of sleep creeps forward
Your ethereal body approaches
Moving close on the mists of my dream
You smile, gently, secretly

I reach out my arms to caress your naked body
But as I touch your misty vision
You move away smiling still
Always just beyond reach

I touch only empty space
Where once there was something solid
I wake again in the cold night
Under the bright eyes of the Gods

On the wall your picture hangs
As if taunting my soul
I try and read your mind across the miles
My mind whispers to you gently

“Do not abandon me,”.

© C.H 1985

About this poem: This was written during a trip to Lake Timk. I had a disturbed nights sleep and during the night dreamt about a recent lover. 


Sand Dune, Morocco. Photographer – C. Harris

GRAIN OF SAND

Where the pain produces a pearl
So it is with love, laughter, pain
We hold the pain of sorrow
Of bereavement, of abandonment
The hurt of failed love, fallen hope
Holding them like a kernel in our heart
The kernel of pain brings memory
Of what was and will be again
Shared passion, joy, laughter, love, life
With the pain comes the scarring
Cut deep in each soul
To help us remember the good
To keep us searching for the seed
For new hope, the dawn that never fades
Without pain we are diminished
The compassion, less strong
The hope, less enduring
The pleasure, love, diminished

© C.H 1985

About this poem: I was reflecting on how no experience is quite as profound unless you have experienced the opposite. Love can beget hate, pleasure is more acute if we have experienced pain. Loss makes one value what has even more. So in this sense we should welcome the uncomfortable (at least to a degree) in order to appreciate what we have.


Rapid, Jane River, Tasmania. Photographer – C. Harris

RIVER

Traveling your cold waters
A journey much like life
With no turning back
Just one destination
Journey’s end
Accepting all your moods
Like vagaries of life
Smooth placid reaches
Deep black gorges
Thundering rapids
All through the journey
No escaping contact
Swept along relentlessly
Hit, dumped, damaged
At your whim
And when nerve fails
Faced by brute force
Clinging to the side
Avoiding that slip
To doom
Waiting for better times
So to glide serenely
Enjoying the life force
Immersed in beauty
At ease
Watch the myriad turns
Water slides over rock
Swaying Huon fronds
Timeless dark pools
Fearing only fear
Like the life force itself
The pleasures, pains
Events beyond control
Waiting journey’s end
Later or sooner?
We have so little control
One immutable truth
The journey like life itself
Must end soon.

© C.H 1983

About this poem: I feel this is a rather cliched analogy comparing a river trip with our trip through life. It was written after a trip, accompanied by Peter Robertson, down the Jane River (a tributary of the Franklin River, in Tasmania), in 1983. 


Wategos Beach, Byron Bay. Wind in the casuarinas. Photographer: C. Harris

The WIND

Moving through life like a zephyr
Stirring emotions like eddying leaves
Tantalising, impossible to catch
What driving force moves you on
Stepping close disturbs the calm
Altering the balance between us
And then you’ll disappear again
To rise again elsewhere, more distant
So I keep you at arms length
Measuring the safe distance
Feeling the gusts of your presence
The whirling leaves of emotions
I try catching them gently
Movement makes them fall
It’s dangerous to get too close
Winds, strongest in the centre
Like a cyclone, unpredictable
Is there calm in your storm?
Is it possible to know?
The path to safety not clear
All fates are unknown
But one thing we known
All like to walk in the wind
Feeling your cool breath
Not knowing where you go
Only that like the wind
You will change direction
And pass out of each life
You cannot be held
And so no one will not try
Not knowing the damage
You may leave behind
But when you smile
And you turn your gaze
Then the pain is worthwhile
For a brief moment of warmth

© C. Harris 1984

About this poem: Written during a tempestuous relationship where the object of my affection was one minute keen and the next very distant – an experience fairly common to many people – something that is highly confusing and which create emotions that change like the wind.


Image: Photographer unknown

THE STEEL LINE

I travel the steel line
Rhythm beneath like time lost
The wastelands of the mind
Littered with lost hope of youth
The steel whispers to me
Of all the melancholy days
Of the great dying to come
The bitter taste of hate
Survival a matter of mere fate

© C. Harris 2016

About this poem: This was written on the train across the Balkans. The endless empty factories, the abandoned houses and other buildings made me reflect on the wastelands into which we threaten to turn our earth and the “dying” which will arrive in those times. A dying bought on by hate and greed.


Sea turtle from above. Photographer: unknown.

LOOKING DOWN

From a distant hill, turtles swim
Landing on the bleeding beach
Life still beats its wounded heart
These greats beasts of hope
Older than the damaged soul
Harbingers of future worlds
On a journey from fear to hope
The battered cross is bent and rusty
But the turtles pay no heed
Their vision of a former world
Devoid of doom and strife and fire
When holy dragons bestrode the sky
And the striped tiger still rode the hills

© C. Harris 2016

About this poem: This is an interpretation of a dream which I had repeatedly for around 20 years, up to about 5 years ago. In that dream, which I had several times a year, these giant turtles would swim past as I looked down from the cliff above. I could “hear” in the dream the turtles imagining a world long ago before mass extinctions brought on by climate change.


A display in the Jewish Museum of Berlin representing the thousands of Jewish dead. Photographer: C. Harris

BERLIN

A continent’s history
Written on your streets
On your buildings
Like scars across the wrists
The knives of dictators
The swords of emperors
Your arteries of concrete
Your rivers of blood
Bandaged, healed
With a flag of blue and gold
Staunched with an idea
An idea of shared humanity
History’s sins, six million dead
Washed by a million refugees

© C. Harris 2016

About this poem: This was written after walking through Berlin where I had visited the Bundestag (Parliament), The Berlin Jewish Museum, the remains of the Berlin Wall. All these buildings flew the EU flag. For me it symbolised, somehow the ability of people and communities to transform. In this case from a fascist genocidal state to a leading proponent of a pan European ideal which, for all its faults, still somehow represents an idea of how diverse people can share a peaceful and prosperous future – and in the case of Germany, partially erase the sins of the Holocaust by welcoming more than a million refugees during the 21st century.


Melaleuca, Yellow Water, Kakadu. Photographer: C. Harris

A PINE WIND

Beneath the casuarina’s whispered breath
Where the wind speaks of aeons past
On the ancient rocks toppling edge
Above the flooded river plains
Ten thousand cicadas calling out
Cascading their flowing sounds of life
And each random flower is a world itself
Here where distance silences a city’s chatter
Every trouble is small besides the whisper breeze

© C. Harris 2016

About this poem: I spend a lot of my life away from Australia. Thoughts of home and family are aroused mostly by the sights and sounds of Australian trees; Eucalypts, melaleucas, casuarinas. For me, the sound of wind in a casuarina is one of the sounds most evocative of Australia, of nights camped by the beach.


The Grim Reaper. Photographer: unknown

DEATH COMES

I think of you gone
And her
Her bed empty and cold
I see her face in the window
And you
The missing smile
I think of me
I stand still on the edge
And I fly

© C. Harris 2016

About this poem: This is about all those who have gone from our lives, either through death or through the end of a relationship, friendship or when a change of circumstances separates as, such as through work or life separates two people. In reflecting on those lost from our lives, I think we often look inward and reflect on our own lives and the decisions or actions that led to those separations.


Abandoned building in Croatia. Photographer: C. Harris

ABANDONED

Like the detritus of the soul
Abandoned, weeping
In grey Croatian mountains.

Empty windows, lost hopes
Building shells slip past
Today’s reflections of tomorrow
Of the coming fires of hell

The remnants of yesterday
Reminders of our sins
Of our inferno of greed

Our own funeral pyre
A cauldron of the damned
Created by our ignorance
Fanned by winds of hate

© C. Harris 2016

About this poem: Like “The Steel Line” this was written on a train across the Balkans, in this case Croatia. Similarly it reflected the feeling of emptiness created by the wastelands of the ex-Yugoslavia and the sense that the mistakes of past generations continue to be repeated, driven by greed and ignorance.


The ubiquitous barbed wire and razor is a potent symbol of the divisions created by such as Peter Dutton. Photographer: unknown.

LAMENT FOR THE LOST
(Ode to the political class/Peter Dutton)

The blood of putrefied corpses
Running deep red upon our soils
Your dread ambition’s deadly end.
Grasping hands reach for power
Tearing live fibres from our being
The camps, your cruel legacy
Where the persecuted lie dying
Abandoned for power’s pursuit
Bloodied hands grasp your razor wire
Death heaped on your hard black heart
The stench of your lies pervades us
Your career’s million stories
Each told by a dead Arab’s corpse

© C. Harris 2016

About this poem: This was written after spending time in the Balkans and visiting the genocide museum in Sarajevo, snipers alley in the same city and the fortress above Dubrovnik. Each held a myriad reminders of the wars and genocides that flowed back and forth across these beautiful lands – and across the Middle East – all largely driven by the ambitions of politicians and the hatreds they strive to arouse. Regardless of where we live these hatreds are stoked by individuals such as, in Australia’s case, Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton, and are aimed to divide us and so maintain the grip on power of the elite.


Turtle, Maldives. Photographer: C. Harris

The Great Empty

When the great fish no longer swim
The steely blue oceans now empty
The Forests dead, dying grey brown
Speak of a life long ago gone
I swim the white reefs, now lifeless
The shadows of sharks long absent
The presence of the great turtles
Now just memories of the past
You can walk the trails you walked
Where giant eucalypts once lived
Before the climate fires took them
Now just the charred stumps stand
Pointing lifeless to the blue sky
Like accusing fingers of scorn
You can stand on the eastern point
But the leaping whales leap no more
Since acid waters took the krill
Just celluloid memories left
And the bitter tears run freely

© C. Harris 2016

About this poem: This reflects my experience diving on some of the world’s great reefs over a period of 35 years and walking in some of the great forest lands; in which places I viewed the destruction wrought by humans.


Woman with head in hands. Photographer: unknown.

HIDDEN

Every second soul carries its secret
Hidden behind the mask
The smile hides the grimace
Lips forming “I’m fine”
As the soul’s jagged edges rips;
We walk among the half-living.

© C. Harris 2016

About this poem: This is about our propensity to be in pain, to be sad, to be angry or bitter but to hide those emotions beneath a false smile and to reject the offers of comfort or help and, in doing so, to consign ourselves to continue to live in pain, to continue to pretend. As a result,  we continue living a half life in a grey world.


Devil Image. Photographer/creator: Alessio Zaccaria

THUS SPAKE GOD TO SCOTT

All my works are gone to waste
All the beauty that I placed
The music of the waves on sand
The setting sun across the land

You destroyed that wondrous beauty
Failing in your basic duty
Taking more without the need
Every day you drove that deed

Scott Morrison “prays” Photographer: unknown

You say you serve me every day

But you deny me in every way

When you move your lips you lie
And the famous idiot wind does fly

The fires of hell now above
Burning the very things I love
Forests now black and dead
Everywhere this land has bled

The rivers are running dry
The great fish gasp and die
Killed by the Devil’s crops
Taking the river’s very last drops

I see you wave your arms
You talk of the placing of palms
But every decision is the devil’s works
And In every false prayer your evil lurks

You imprison my sons, my daughters
Those who fled the deadly slaughters
Who sought your compassionate decision
But you gave them only endless prison

Your murder of the wild places
Brought the plague of many faces
You don’t even pretend to care
Leaving even your own over there

Your hateful black black soul
As black as the devil’s coal
Part of your hateful cult
Adding injury to insult

Don’t give me your devil’s eyes
Your twisted Devil’s lies
Your sanctimonious devil’s work
Your hypocrites devilish smirk

You talk of social media sin
You say the devil lurks within
Its posts corrupt our very soul
Just the same as does the dole

Look then in the mirror
And see its very real terror
You are the Devil walking the Earth
You are the very Devil on my Earth

About this poem: I sometimes reflect on what it takes genuinely evil: a lack of compassion, a deliberate policy to do harm, a lack of care, greed. A desire to cheat, lie and mislead; base corruption. The Morrison Government, in Australia, has all of these in spades. It’s a corrupt kleptocracy that is evil to its bootstraps, a fact it tries to hide behind the faux Christianity of its Hillsong cult.

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