The Trees

Dedicated to the trees of Callum Brae Nature Reserve, Canberra, Australia which are under threat from a proposed crematorium complex

For me

It’s the trees

The gum trees

They welcomed me

To this land

When no one else did

Where are you from?

What’s that accent?

Go back to where you came from

But where is that
where did I come from

So many places and spaces

And peoples

And struggles

And protests

And learning

And sharing

Go back to where you came from

Embrace them all

And I do

When I stop

And stare at a gum tree

I know you

You know me

I embrace you

I look up to you

I admire you

Your colours your shapes

Each tree unique

Yet grounded in the same soil

Gum trees are elsewhere

Where I’ve lived

California

Seen as a threat

Live through the dry

Can catch fire

Gum trees in California

all look the same

Is it because they were torn

Out of their original home

in Kenya

Gum trees all look the same

But in Australia

Each one different

Orange

Pink

White

Grey

Brown

Black

Shaggy bark

Smooth bark

Scribbly bark

When in doubt

Where you are

Do you belong

Look at a gum tree

Admire their shape

Their tenacity

Their survival through fire

Walk up to the tree

Look up to the tree

Embrace the tree

Then you will know that

You are alive

You belong

You are the tree

One day I will be a tree

Or perhaps I always was

I try to write

To paint

To sketch

A gum tree

Or a forest

I have not yet captured

Their essence

On paper

Sydney Nolan

Captured the essence

Of gum tree forests

Yet he had to have

Ned Kelly

Hiding within

Behind the trees

What is the relationship

Of Ned Kelly to gum trees?

What about the wombat hole

And the dead soldier who fell in

What does this say about the settlers

The colonialists relationship to the land?

Was it Ned Kelly who opposed them?

Was it the land itself

that could not be

Completely conquered?

I see the gum trees daily

I think of them daily

I embrace them daily

This is what keeps me going

When denied by society

The trees are still there

Road Kill

or how to be undepressed

Drive the joyful way

Not the quickest

Notice the dead rabbit

 in the road

Picked at by

a large black raven

Quietly move towards it

in an electric vehicle

Honk the bird

out of the way

Notice

Twelve or more

pink crested galahs on a wire

usually seen on the ground

pecking away

while pushing Eliana’s pram

she’s watching

as am I

as we quietly creep closer

whoosh they fly away

Notice

Old friends

the eucalypts

arching

swaying

more creative

in their shapes

and colours

than my paintings

Drive the joyful way

Notice

Australia Australian Broadcasting Corporation book review Book titles camping Canberra Charles Eugene Purdy Christian Science Dean Koontz E. S. Hutchison Eastern Oklahoma State Mental Hospital family and fiction father fiction Gary Snyder Helen Purdy Kansas Kansas City Kenneth Patchen Kenya Kosciusko National Park Life Expectancy Love Pirate MidWest Missouri Nairobi New South Wales nobody’s a long time novel novels as history Oklahoma Pinch River poetry public library reconciliation title Tracking the Human trees Tulsa Tulsa Daily World USA Vinita W. Lon Hutchison Whales Woody Guthrie

Australia Australian Broadcasting Corporation book review Book titles camping Canberra Charles Eugene Purdy Christian Science Dean Koontz E. S. Hutchison Eastern Oklahoma State Mental Hospital family and fiction father fiction Gary Snyder Helen Purdy Kansas Kansas City Kenneth Patchen Kenya Kosciusko National Park Life Expectancy Love Pirate MidWest Missouri Nairobi New South Wales nobody’s a long time novel novels as history Oklahoma Pinch River poetry public library reconciliation title Tracking the Human trees Tulsa Tulsa Daily World USA Vinita W. Lon Hutchison Whales Woody Guthrie

Australia Australian Broadcasting Corporation book review Book titles camping Canberra Charles Eugene Purdy Christian Science Dean Koontz E. S. Hutchison Eastern Oklahoma State Mental Hospital family and fiction father fiction Gary Snyder Helen Purdy Kansas Kansas City Kenneth Patchen Kenya Kosciusko National Park Life Expectancy Love Pirate MidWest Missouri Nairobi New South Wales nobody’s a long time novel novels as history Oklahoma Pinch River poetry public library reconciliation title Tracking the Human trees Tulsa Tulsa Daily World USA Vinita W. Lon Hutchison Whales Woody Guthrie

Rocky shore

A rocky shore

A place to share

With whales, wallabies, lizards

Not mine alone

Put aside thoughts of control

No limits of rocky shore

Lines of whales

Twisted gum trees

Yellow flower vines

No limits to sharing

Freedom of small children

Gleeful exchange with wallabies

Walking by twos low tide

Colourful hats on beach

Joyful seen from above

The US did this

The US did this

The US did this

The tragedy of Afghanistan

Used the people of Afghanistan

as collateral damage

in their Cold War

against the Russians

The US did this

The pain of a poet

writing about his father

with Alzheimers

Compare the pain

of being born in

a country of Imperialism

A country of

death and destruction

Crisscrossing the world

like an all-powerful global tornado

creating a wide path

of death and destruction

The poet

trying and failing

to get his father

with Alzheimers

to use the toilet

The woman born

in the USA

trying and failing

to get her country

to respect human rights

to give up global hegemony

to give up militarism, war

and nuclear weapons

Watching Afghans trying

to escape the Taliban

created by the US

to attack the Russians

The pain becomes anger

shouting at the television

The US did this

Re-reading the Heart’s Garden

Rereading The Heart’s Garden

The Garden’s Heart

By Kenneth Rexroth

has sustained me

through decades

His words continue

Almost unknown

Almost forgotten

But they are there

And re reading

Tears of recognition

of thanks and also of sorrow

What else have I forgotten

What else have I left behind

What else is there

To think

To do

To write

To paint

To believe

To remember

What happens to the environment

the earth

the forest

the birds

the plants

the animals

encased in layers of concrete

glass and steel

overwhelming the natural

yet doomed to failure

to falling

Thank you Kenneth Rexroth

Clouds and Trees

Looking out the window

through the glass sliding door

Clouds moving across the sky

Grey underbellies

White above

Illuminated by the sun

Blue patches in between

Always moving

Changing shapes

Cloud diversity

 

Tree diversity

Branches straight

Branches convoluted

Branches intertwined

Branches bare

Branches with leaves

Moving with the wind

Trunks stationery

Roots underneath

Out of sight

Pushing earth

Enveloping rocks

Clinging to the side

of eroded stream beds

 

Invisible movement

of trees

Visible movement

of clouds

 

Look up again

 

Sky more blue

Clouds

motionless

Suspended

Swallowed up

One wisp drifts away

Dissolving in the blue

Shapes slowly shifting

Grey and white masses

Silhouette flying across

small black bird

 

How long

How long will I stay

in this expanded space

Walking through life

with increased senses

Aware of nuance

Listening to a talk

about the intelligence of birds

Thinking of a book

Thinking of a friend

Thinking of family

Thinking of life

Advising a friend

to write a fictionalized

story of her family history

To put her father in the world

To respect his life

Not to honour or elevate

That’s what I’ve done

with my father

Immersed in Finland

Immersed in Finland

although I’ve never been

and probably never will go

Finnish films have taken me

into humanity

Skiing though snowy forests

Cutting through ice

A cold cold land

bathed in the warmth of humanity

Why did it take so long

to feel connected

Sleep walking through life

Awake and not aware

Tears of being human

Wanting everyone everywhere

to feel the depth

of their own lives

%d bloggers like this: