Travelling Light – Writings (poetry) From the Road, 2016

I call these “Scribblings from a Trip”. They are, essentially, thoughts and observations that occurred while travelling around Europe in 2016, by train.

They reflect my thoughts about our the planet, the past or about life, generally, or they reflect on something that I saw or that happened in a specific moment during those hours or days of travel. As such they are written “immediately” unedited and unrevised.

Each “scribble” has a note attached about the context or background.

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

This was written on the train across Serbia. The endless empty factories, the abandoned houses and 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 brought on by hate and greed.


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

Written on the train in Croatia; it reflected the feeling of emptiness created by the wastelands of the ex-Jugoslavia


I watch from a distant hill, 

Turtles swim the azure sea

Landing on the burning beach

Life still beats its wounded heart

These greats beasts of hope

Older than the human soul

Harbingers of a future world

Of a place free from greed

They swim the waters still

On a journey from fear to hope

The human race is dead and gone

But the turtles pay no heed

Their vision is of a former world

Devoid of doom, strife and fire

When albatross bestrode the sky

And tigers still roamed the hills

This is an interpretation of a dream which I had repeatedly for about 20 years, up until about 5 years ago. In that dream which I had several dozen times a year, these giant turtles would swim below. In the dream the turtles themselves imagine a world long ago before mass extinctions bought on by climate change and a future where the world is whole again.


Hopes and dreams
The fading picture
A single drop of hope
Your words pierce my soul
Your hands pierce my skin

Written after a partially unrequited relationship where promises, made at one time, offered me hope only to be later dashed but where, in my memories the thoughts of her hands and words pierced my heart.

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

This reflects my experience of diving on the world’s reefs over a period of 34 years and walking in some of the world’s great forest lands; in which places I viewed the destruction wrought by our species.

Unbroken Heart

I tear my heart from its flimsy perch
I offer it to you to break asunder

A heart unbroken
Is like a life unlived
A futile purity
A spirit that has known no night
Like a blue sky
That never saw the gold of cloud

Reflecting on the need to keep loving no matter how many times our hearts are broken


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.

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 – so that we consign ourselves to be “half-living”

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

About those who have gone – either through death or through the end of a relationship or change of circumstances, such as when work or life separates two people. In reflecting on the lost of our lives, I also reflected on myself and my dreams (harking back to my repeated dreams of turtles and also another repeated dream – of flying)


Blue blue, blue water
Beneath the yellow sun
Fingers of heat sear in
My skin takes it deep
Earth beneath burns me
Body opens and breathes

About the love of sun, of ocean and of the “forbidden” pleasure of lying in the hot sun as it burns into us


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

Written while walking through Berlin – during the day I had visited the remains of the Berlin Wall, the holocaust museum and the Bundestag – all buildings and places which flew the EU flag – so witnessing the transition from a fascist past to the idea of the EU where diverse people share a common future.


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

This was a reflection after spending time in the Balkans, visiting the genocide museum in Sarajevo and snipers alley, as well as the fortress above Dubrovnik, as well as a myriad other 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 deliberate hatreds they strove to arose in the diverse people.

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

Thoughts of home aroused by the sight of an ancient beachside casuarina tree. For me the casuarina is one of the most evocative of Australian species arousing memories of years spent in the Northern Territory.