Monday, September 2, 2013

Uselessness of Honesty...and razor-wire.



There's a border so near yet so far.
In helmets and vests of Kevlar
we'll chance the sniper fire
that ranges along the border.
Convoyed through the razor-wire
to record this greatest of tragedies
human pain and injuries
silent chemicals beyond the border.

And knowing the deepest truth,
no matter whatever we say
conflict slashes and cuts both ways
just like razor-wire on the border.
Where the uselessness of honesty
carries decisions that twist and sway 
to justify the missile fire
from far beyond the border.

No matter what we write,
truth will be twisted by the lies
to coil like the razor-wire
serpents that guard the border.
To the East the carnival burns
like gasoline in flame and fire
while the West reacts in ire
and remains beyond the borders.

Now we stand as witnesses
and weep as the missiles fire
sharing in the travesty
erupting across the border.
Knowing the uselessness of honesty
should we have told some lies?
Should we have let truth die
on the razor-wire of the borders?




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Thursday, August 8, 2013

There Are Empty Plates...: Biofuel destruction.

There's a hungry lost child
walks a busy Delhi street
family can't afford
another mouth to feed
There's a wrinkled farmer struggling
as he's growing old
can't plough his field
his last donkey's just been sold.

There're empty plates in the state of Rajasthan today
rice is nice but it's twice the price it was yesterday.

There's a farmer in a rich place
maize growing tall
gets a call from Obama-
"Need your crop for ethanol."
he can't believe his luck
more green dollar bills
while a family in Rajasthan
they won't eat all.

There're empty plates in the state of Rajasthan today.
rice was nice but it's twice the price it was yesterday.

There's a Greenie sitting in his car
running on biofuel
believes he's doing all he can
to help save this world
but he's burning elephants
orangutan and all
as forests disappear
in the race for biofuel

There're empty plates....



Read here please-
Biofuel use contributing to world hunger report.
Brazil violence and-forced eviction for biofuel
Amazon rainforest destroyed by biofuels







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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Whale Watching at Kaikoura.

Where mountains in line parade down to the sea,
in blue and white uniforms majestically,
there exists a rich garden of marine fauna and flora:
none ever more so than at Peninsular Kaikoura.

Off shore, Hikurangi Trench saps deep from the north
and Kaikoura Canyon lies submerged to the south
where the cold Southland Front Current disgorges forth
abundant rich plankton for whales' yawing mouth.

We all but delivered whales to extinction's door
when we callously engaged in their bloody slaughter,
but enlightenment today brings a sense of their awe
as we voyeuristically hunt them with digital camera.

I saw Kaikoura town once brought to its knees
with the collapse of the share market in the 1980's.
Stark boarded up store fronts told of grim poverty
but it's amazing how innovation creates prosperity!

Whale Watch tours started: a dream and a boat.
You ever think they could keep that business afloat?
Now we tourists are the great whale hunters today,
our harpoons are the pictures we capture and haul away.


Pictures courtesy Kaikoura Ocean Research Institute.





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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Where the Fairy Tern is winging: Convicts, execution and injustice.

Old Army Barracks, Kingston. These date from the second penal colony, 1825. Picture Jim McIntosh

Much of history's accounts and popular literature perpetuate the myth that Norfolk Island's penal settlements were for the worst type of convict - the recidivist dregs, or the most hardened repeat offender from England's penal colonies in Australia.
Recent analysis of actual convict records disproves this popular misconception. 

Worst_Types_Norfolk_Island_2010.pdf
"The legend tells us that the men detained at Norfolk Island were a particularly dangerous sub-stratum of convicts. Yet the original offence data shows proportionately few explicitly violent crimes. There were thirty cases of murder and manslaughter combined, fewer than twenty rapists, and merely a handful of arsonists and violent thieves. Nearly 70 per cent of offences were non-violent crimes against property, including burglary, picking pockets and highway robbery."
and -
"Explaining why prisoners were detained at Norfolk Island is one of the trickiest aspects of the second settlement’s history. As already noted, the assumption that Norfolk Island convicts were ‘all, or nearly all’ doubly-convicted capital respites is repeated in virtually every work mentioning the Island, yet it is a great misconception."

Most were shipped directly from England to Norfolk Island, via Port Jackson (today's Sydney) or Tasmania's Port Arthur, and few were the repeat offenders from Australian penal colonies as popular belief has it.

With memories of the Scottish uprising in 1745 still somewhat fresh, rebellion in America a devastating loss and an example of what the masses could achieve, and unrest among the Continent's poor, England's fearful aristocratic ruling class took extreme measures to ensure their continued control over the common person. Sentences were disproportionately long and unjustifiably harsh by any standards today. 

Overflowing gaols, full floating hulks, and the loss of her American colonies set England seeking new solutions of where to send her potentially rebellious poor, so The First Fleet's 11 ships set sail for Australia's Botany Bay carrying 789 convicts, including 193 convict's wives and their 14 children. 2 ships continued on to Norfolk Island to found the First Penal Settlement there in 1778.

There's an humanity and respect that needs to be reconciled to those once imprisoned on Norfolk Island. 

We should see them in the light of an oppressed poor within a system that administered harsh 'justice' to ensure the protection of the status of the ruling class. If so, were these convictions fair?

Hash brutalisation drives desperate men to desperate ends!

"I welcome death as a friend ... I have been treated more like a beast than a man." So spoke William Westwood, prior to execution for his part in the convict mutiny on 13th October, 1846. 13 convicts were hanged and denied burial within consecrated grounds and their bodies thrown into a disused pit, now known as Murderer's Mound just outside the cemetery. 


This is the only marker for those buried in  'Murderers' Mound' in 1846. Picture Jim McIntosh.

History's records of an earlier convict uprising show how brutal conditions were:
"Following a convict mutiny in 1834, Father William UllathorneVicar general of Sydney, visited Norfolk Island to comfort the mutineers due for execution. He found it “the most heartrending scene that I ever witnessed”. Having the duty of informing the prisoners as to who was reprieved and who was to die, he was shocked to record as “a literal fact that each man who heard his reprieve wept bitterly, and that each man who heard of his condemnation to death went down on his knees with dry eyes, and thanked God." 
Wikipedia History of Norfolk Island


I had an hour to sit atop a small rise overlooking the old part of Kingston's cemetery, which has burials from 1778 to the present within the fenced and consecrated ground.
Many visitors could miss the mound just outside the oldest part and close to the surf. Here is the mass grave of 13 convicts, who were denied burial in hallowed ground.

I was struck with the deep impression of the sheer unjustified harshness of the social conditions that bound these ordinary men to be caught in a system they had no voice in, the conditions of severe treatment that dehumanised them and drove them to futile mutiny resulting in their punishment of hanging, and the subsequent denial of simple Christian burial and headstone.

Above me the island's fairy terns were flying. 
What thoughts filled the minds of an exhausted, brutalised convict in chains, as he looked up to see the fairy terns soaring above him?  

The fairy tern. Picture by Jim McIntosh.

Where the Fairy Tern is winging: Convicts, mutiny and injustice.


There's a grave that lies unmarked beyond consecrated ground
Here we lie - the executed: relief we finally have found
Above, a Fairy Tern is winging: pines swaying stately fro
Gentle surf is singing where we sleep so long below.

When I was once a young lad, just barely seventeen
To feed my starving family I took the rich man's bread
But the Peelers captured me, they beat me to my knees
The judge cast me down forever; hard labour is what he said.

And these rocks are crushing me
I'm desperate to be free
Where the Fairy Tern is winging
My soul longs there to be.

Our ship sailed out from Plymouth, I could bid not a fond farewell
Friends and family lost forever, on Norfolk now I dwell
Where rocks are sharp and crushing, these chains still have me bound
I have built my own stone prison and all these walls around.

And the cat is flailing me, cutting deep this worn body
But finally we have risen against this harsh brutality
Mutiny may prove futile: no one will weep for me
But I will seek my freedom where the Fairy Tern flies free.

Now I welcome this reprieve
Where the rope's awaiting me
Soon, no chains will hold me captive
Where the Fairy Tern flies free.


The fairy tern spends its breeding season at Norfolk Island laying one egg and raising its chick on a horizontal branch of the stately, and rather grandiose Norfolk Pine. These dainty white sea birds soar above the coastline in great numbers.


Pic courtesy http://www.worldheritagenorfolkisland.com/   
Someday, justice may be served and those buried in that mass grave be accorded a Christian blessing in consecrated ground. Maybe the fenceline be adjusted to bring them within the company of their companions.

Murderer's Mound is in the centre of the pic on the left side of the cemetery fence and marked by the little signboard at the gateway.


Perhaps a Christian blessing of Murderers' Mound is long overdue?




This is a re-vised version of my article that was first posted here- Around the world in eighty years.com/norfolk-island/

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Waltzing in Vienna: The imagined newly-independent traveller's lament.

I want to dance a Strauss waltz in Vienna
An der Schonen Blauen Donau
but the band I can't hear,
and I'm stuck right where
I can't take a step without you.

I could climb the Eiffel Tower in Paris
way up top to admire the view
but I'd be so scared
'cause it would be weird
to look down so far without you.

I would go climb high mountains in South America
or hike solo to Machu Pichu
but I'd trip and fall
no trouble at all
if I could not lean upon you.

I could drive a rental car to the Highlands
sample a dram of single malt, or two
but whisky gets me frisky
and then I'd get tipsy
and cry in my drink over you.

I should safari in wildest Tanzania
for the migration of zebra and gnu
but that bull elephant
would make me mess my pants
and there's no-one would wash them but you.

I can dream of going walkabout in Australia
and sunset gazing upon Uluru
but the Dreamtime is mine
for this little rhyme
and I would only be dreaming of you.

So I can go for a camel ride in Morocco
and solo trekking in Sierra Leone
I can do all I want
and be independent
but I can't dance a Strauss waltz alone.

Nope, we haven't split up. We're tight.
The above comes about because on the train ride last month from Frankfurt to Rudesheim, a very historic and beautiful city on the Rhine River, we passed the time talking about some of our travels to exotic places. And I thanked my wife for being a great travel partner. Times and places would not have been as enjoyable, nor would we have gone to so many destinations had we not spurred each other on.
So I scribbled a few verses on a German Language newspaper shanghaied from the seat opposite and had Kay chuckling while reading my trite poem.

I don't ever want to dance a Strauss waltz alone.

Rudeshiem.



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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Say A Prayer For The Rhino.




Photo by Ayesha Cantor.
Say a prayer for the rhino: it's coming again,
evil is stalking, seeking its prey.
Full moon silhouette giving her away.
Say a prayer for the rhino that she may evade.
With the night so long and the moon so bright
she's aware of the sounds, footsteps so light.
She senses a demon stalking her ground
closing so slowly, there's danger inbound.
Hide the horn, burying her face.
Look around: there's no hiding place!

Where is little one?
Scared, running around,
taps against belly once mum is found.
The fright, the scurry, the loudness, the sound!
Run baby, run!
Make your feet pound the ground.

So she'll bolt and she'll plunge in a headlong charge
at the upright two-legged predators at large.
And in the moment of loss and the panic of flight
acacia will break, more sounds in the night.
Fright empowered feet imprinting the clay,
each small step gives her path away
for the evil following her with its gun sight this night
may bring to an end this rhino's might.

Where is little one?
Scared, running around,
taps against belly once mum is found.
The fright, the scurry, the loudness, the sound!
Run baby, run!
Make your feet pound the ground.

As the Roller bird ceases singing its song
and the Ox-pecker flies screeching alarm
he binds himself to his mother's speed
as she seeks the cover they desperately need.
They've gone into the shadows,
they've gone into the night,
avoiding the expanse of the open savanna
they find cover and silence their fright.
Say a prayer for the rhino:
alive...for one more night.

Written in collaboration with Guy P Murdock, a friend on Facebook.
You'll find the above also published on Fight For Rhinos

We were both intent on using our skills to highlight the appalling decimation of rhinoceros numbers because of escalating poaching. Poaching of rhino in Africa and Asia threatens to exceed 1,000 this year. 476 kills so far in South Africa alone.
My contributions of verses 1, 3 and 5 are inspired by Leonard Cohen's song "Ballad of a runaway horse", brilliantly covered by Emmylou Harris. I loved how the lyrics described the scene so imaginatively, and so that style I have tried to emulate hoping to paint a picture of the bush scene.



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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Dragon at the Red Heart: Oh Africa, Beware!

Picture by Jim McIntosh.


Oh, the Eastern Dragon seduced us
Sucked us in and coiled around
We accepted the inducements
While the Dragon drew us down
Now ivory and horn is ripped away
And all our earth stripped back to clay
Where once the Red Heart beat the strongest
Now all our country shredded bare
Where? Where do we go from here?
Oh Africa, beware!
Oh Africa, beware!

The Dragon subtly beguiled us
Treasures plenty spread around
But only for our leaders
To ensure their eyes turned to the ground
While ivory and horn is ripped away
And all our earth stripped back to clay
Where once the Red Heart beat the strongest
Now all the country shredded bare
Where? Where do we go from here?
Oh Africa, beware!
Oh Africa, beware!

When this land has long since lost its glory
In all of this tragic false ballet
And wild beasts are mere children's story
Will we remember what we sold away?
Where? Where do we go from here?
Oh Africa, beware!
Where? Where do we go from here?
Oh Africa, beware!
Oh Africa, beware.

The Eastern Dragon's thirst cannot be slaked
Its talons clutch our beating Red Heart
And now to tear this beast out from our breast
We'll only tear ourselves apart.
Where? Where do we go from here?
Oh Africa, beware!
Where? Where do we go from here?
Oh Africa, beware!
Oh Africa, beware!




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Monday, February 11, 2013

There Lies a Mortally Wounded Tui.

This post was written last year, but out of respect for abuse-survivors involved in a sad case in our community, it was not published then. 


Tui sculpture picture www.stuff.co nz
This steel artwork once graced our Paraparaumu Beach gateway. 

There lies a mortally wounded tui
and we consigned it to dark obscurity.
Society laid the blame on its shimmering frame
now lying in the dark we can't see.

In the sunlight our tui would sing.
Did you appreciate the song it would bring?
A tui needs to fly, just like you and I
we all need sunshine on our wings.

There lies a mortally wounded tui
and its fallen from grace from that tree.
It doesn't deserve to be an abuse casualty
it just wanted to sing and be free.

Broken glass can cut deep and hard
and it can leave us so badly scarred.
A wound cannot heal if fragments we still feel,
we need to dig out all the shards.

There lies a mortally wounded tui
now it lies there where no-one can see.
Pierced by arrows of blame, burnt by our shame,
will it rise like a Phoenix from the flame?

Tui picture ex Wikipedia.
The above steel sculpture, commissioned by Kapiti Coast District Council at a $20,000 cost to ratepayers, now lies rusting away in our KCDC storage sheds, if not already despatched to the scrap metal dealers.
A renowned steel-art sculptor created the stylised Tui in flight, and it was installed on public display in our community. Subsequently, the shocking and tragic case, reported here- Second-sex-offender-sculpture-to-be-removed, resulted in the Council removing this magnificent public work of art.

Naturally we should be mindful of the victims' feelings in this situation, such a crime being of the worst, with consequences far-reaching and devastating for victim and family.

Council's decision to tear it down was based on it being seen as a constant reminder to the victims. Much argument was made for it to be temporarily removed out of respect, but apparently it has gone permanently.
Maybe it has been mortally wounded?

Should we tear down, destroy, or burn art when we find that the artist is guilty of great crime

The artistic quality of the artwork stands on its own merit.
The Tui bird it represents is beautiful, probably our favourite native bird, and certainly should not be tainted by this crime.

I was hoping for an outcome where the tui could be adopted as a symbol for all programs against child abuse, meaning all physical abuse, not just sexual. There's a need for all these crimes to be brought out into the open, and fly in the face of society, and not be concealed for whatever reason.
The victims should not carry the shame. They should be encouraged to speak out, and shame the perpetrators. Victim and family should feel safe in our community to speak out. The cloak of anonymity should be denied the offenders.

Our iconic Tui bird is itself a survivor of all the abuse thrown at it over the past 200 years of colonisation, with the degradation of its home environment and being preyed upon by introduced predators. And yet, it is making a comeback as a songbird in our forests. It is resurgent and triumphing over adversity, adapting to our suburbs as we realise the importance of planting nectar-producing trees and flaxes. Without those, there are no Tuis. The Tui represents our enlightenment these days about healthy eco-systems.

 Maybe, in an enlightened society, it could have been a more positive outcome for the tui sculpture to have been re-dedicated to all survivors, and placed on public display again, as a way of having a permanent reminder that survivors will sing, and predators will be exposed?


 Tui on flax, or harakeke, by Matt Binns


Sadly, the tui statue disappears into the darkness, and predators still stalk our children.

Dark Shadow.

There's a dark shadow walking
in the brightest light of day.
The blackest figure stalking
it's stealing innocence away. 
How do we expose this unseen beast
from its secret camouflage?
Perhaps on the day those silent screams
become brave cries of loud outrage.

There's a dark shadow preying
on the innocence of our young kin.
You can't block its entrance
it's already there within. 
For those it attempts to envelop
with its snuffing cloak of guilt and shame,
stand up and throw it off.
Reach out: re-ignite that brilliant flame.


As a footnote to this story of child abuse in our community-
Reports and many letters to the editors of our local newspapers discussed the case. I had this very short verse to one editor published.

 Perhaps the tui should have stayed in our midst
A constant reminder of all our children at risk
And as the sun strikes this tui and its plumage glows
Its beauty can forever remind and reveal
The loss of innocence an adult may steal.

I subsequently received an email from a person involved with one of the families concerned, and was very touched by this person's comments.
"....
, that the small time you took (if it was you) to write such a heartfelt letter, really touched us, all of us."
 and "...but your few words spoke to me more than any other. Thank you so much, I didn't know where or how to start my new life, but now I do. From the ashes of the old comes a new flame. Thank you."

The last line of "Dark Shadow" poem above was written for that person.

Sometimes poetry speaks volumes more than is written.


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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Beyond the sum of all his fears: The Rhino War.



Poached rhino picture courtesy Facebook Rhino groups.


An ageing soldier crying softly, beside a body on the ground
Sheds a tear for his young slain friend
He never thought this would come down.
He'd thrown away all his bush gear, camo paint and forage cap
Spent his life forgetting firefights in dark shadows
Without a thought that he'd go back.


Life has dreams from hard foundations, memories with no shed tears
Struck with the heart ache of our creations
In the invulnerability of our young years
From the vat of our maturation brews a spirit of adventure
That spills towards our next generation
Whom we protect beyond our fears.

The young soldier survived the bush war, threw his life into his dreams
Played a part in the creation
Of an Eden ... or so it seems.
Raised a calf from its lost mum, fed it every day by hand

Grew to love his lost young orphan
Sanctuary for all became the plan.

It is such a sweet temptation for us to simply turn away

To ignore the wildlife decimation
That supplies the Asian trade.
The ineptitude of our nations, the impotence of governments
Sends a message to all caring people
To care a damn is a piece of shit.

Aching heart beside his slain friend, new resolve and a pledge is made

To seek the killers of his now lost brother
The one he'd raised in his sanctuary
But old soldiers know the danger, the blood and all the fears
Never rush to don the camo 
Never want to wear the gear.

Now there's a deeper call of duty, calling way beyond his fears.

He heads along the faint new pathway
Tracking two legged predators
Seeks his quarry in long shadows, where deadly ambushes are laid
Amongst flashing memories of firefights
A last patrol for his young compadre.


Life has dreams from hard foundations, memories of old despairs

Struck with the heart ache of our creations
Amidst the anger and the tears
A deadly shot strikes its target: he never wanted to kill again
But he'll protect his new generation
Beyond the sum of all his fears.


"Slaap sag, rustig ou grote. Slaap sag."
"Rest in peace, old friend. Rest in peace."

South African musician, David Easthouse, has adapted the above to his latest music masterpiece. Check it out here-
David Easthouse- Beyond the sum of all his fears.



Members of the Pilanesberg National Park Anti-Poaching Unit (APU) stand guard as conservationists and police investigate the scene of a rhino poaching incident April 19, 2012. — Reuters pic


The Rhino poaching war escalates. 668 rhino were slaughtered in 2012 in South Africa. This year is off to an equally depressing start: 393 as at end of April! At this rate, 2015 may see over 1500 killed, and that figure is just for South Africa.
This is extermination of a species.



Many reserve owners, who in their youth may have been involved in the wars for independence in Southern Africa, are now - in what should be today's peace - having to take up arms and fight a new battle, this time with the survival of rhino at stake.

Dreams to create wildlife sanctuaries on their land are being crushed. Lives are being lost. Rhino being driven to extinction to supply Asian demand for rhino horn.



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Monday, February 4, 2013

Nature's Symphony.

Practising my yodelling at Lake Grassmere, Lakes District, UK. 


Nature's Symphony.


There's a song flows through the mountains
There's a rhythm in every stream
There's a tune that soars with the eagles
Over every prairie green.

In frozen wastes rhythms vibrate
When crystals ring in high frequency
And in desert sands wind's whispering hand
Creates soft notes of harmony.

While some ignore or will not listen

Or just hear cacophony
There are those who'll join in chorus
And sing Nature's Symphony.
There's a song flows through the mountains
There's a rhythm in every stream
Will you join in Nature's chorus
Or will you chant her requiem?

There's rhythm as seas crash and thunder
As waves break upon rocky shores
Falling leaves of Autumn rustle
There's a song in there and more.

When a robin sings with pleasure
His song as Spring bursts forth
Released from chill grasp of Winter
Daffodils will trumpet their worth.

For those who enjoy Earth's treasures
There's a song that you will hear
You'll do your part to share your heart
And spread her music everywhere.

Can you hear sweet Nature singing
Her symphony so clear and strong?
Some will never hear her singing
While others gently sing along.
There's a song flows through the mountains
There's a rhythm in every stream
Will you join in Nature's chorus
Or will you chant her requiem?

There's a song flows through the mountains
There's a rhythm in every stream
I will join you in the chorus
I'll not sing her requiem.


Wellington Harbour looking from track between Eastbourne and Pencarrow. By Jim McIntosh.


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Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Cage: Carole's song.


How far are you prepared to go to achieve rights for all animals?



When you read your local paper to see what's going down
entertainment notice, a circus come to town
frustration gets you checking out
eyes calling to your soul
animals in their confining cage
you see their despair
you feel the rage!

As you're sitting in the restaurant, feeling all done in
long day of animal rights demonstration
you read it on the menu
up top of the page
shark fin soup chef special
feel the despair
feel the rage!

It's coming round again,
all the rage
you're going down again
the rampage
of your soul again
lost in despair
that there's no justice
anywhere.

And you're sweating through 6 miles, feeling almost beat
looking for respite from all your heart breaking
you see a fur coat walking on
the wrong two kind of feet
you hit her with that red spray can
use your despair
use your rage!

Then you get to score a seat at the latest fashion release
watching them all clapping the skeletons up on stage
you see her come out strutting
wearing all that exotic skin
so you jump up on the catwalk
she feels your despair
she feels your rage.

It's coming round again,
all the rage
The judge is looking down again
your rampage
for animal rights again
lost in despair
that there's no justice
anywhere.


You see it on your Facebook wall, another rhino down
the photos get to be too much, so many going round
but you'll rampage again
for their pain
there's no justice anywhere
so don't despair
but keep the rage!


When the bars are shadow patterning across your pasty face
you're feeling low and frightened at this restricted space
you knew the choice would bring some pain
it ain't so easy, this Vegan way,
but you'll do it all again
use your despair
to fuel your rage.











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Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Smell of Affection: Wet dogs and my neighbourhood.

Kapiti Island lies off our beach. Picture by Jim McIntosh.

That smell is in the air again, sweet and greenstalkish, the residue of the usual neighbours' Saturday afternoon subjugation of Nature, with scything line trimmers and charging raucous mowers.


Selonie is cooking curry. That cloying, pungent sweetness spelling the worst of gas attacks in trench warfare. I look forward to her morning cup of aromatic Gujarati chai though.

Ray's beheaded his captive golden-tressed  damsels of racked roses, their glorious crowns no longer complimenting his terracotta-tiled keep. The best sight and perfumes are last month's siege.

Rudayna, at Unit 10, has already prepared her week's Weightwatchers salad in bulk. That sugary-acid smell of pickled cucumbers hits me. 10 jars covered her table last time I collected the rent.

No 7 is well camouflaged behind rampant 'camo' gear of purple Ake-ake and variegated green and yellow Lemon-wood. I crush a tender leaf and draw in deeply.

5 has trimmed his ranks of eucalypt soldiers to attention. Those volatile oils offer a ketonic nasal assault, clearing any remnant unseen lurkers in my olfactory bunkers.

Lorna, at 3, has tied back her sweet smelling carnations, and put her hollyhocks to the stake. Rampant in colours of white, reds and purples and heady in perfume. Just a whiff gets to me.

Joe is having fresh-picked tomatoes for evening salad. Chives and mint scents waft out his door. I'd add basil and half a chopped chili.


We reach the beach, no exhaust fumes, it's clear of day-invaders with just locals on R and R.  Who wouldn't be, on such a glorious Summer's early evening? Ambushed by pungent smokey-lamb mixed with garlic and rosemary nostril openers, the barbecue is so entrapping. Kids charge from their beach landing-craft in waves, as mum yells like a Beachmaster "It's ready!"

Sand, gritty and chafing in sandalled water-softened feet. Tua Tua and Pipi shells crunching, fragments flicked up and catching between straps, daggering tender skin.

Wave-scalloped, rippled sand patches, and we are walking like giants flattening Namibia's desert dunes. It's a gentle violence though.

Seagulls wheeling, and squealing their alarm above terriers, boxers and mutts chasing nothing in frenzied, unleashed excitement managing to avoid the dive-bombing Stukas' aim. Wet dogs sure smell. How come they always want to jump up on you when they're wet? Or shake the water off and give you a car-wash? Our Lilly is particularly pongy now.  

Salt, seaweed, and decomposing wave-ground detritus aromas mixing like the best Islay single malt nose. The 10 year old Laphroaig, Geoff and I broached last night, will be a consummate pleasure of truce talks after our evening reconnaissance.

We return through reserve land smothered in blackberry and fennel: nothing nicer for apple pie. Blood-red stained hand releases a clutch of juicy Rubus blasted with the overpowering concentrated-coriander smell of squashed vegetable-stinkbug. I wonder if they could flavour Chinese dishes?

In our street, that lingering tangy, sweet cut-grass smell still permeates the evening air, surrounding our patrol's end. It signals the end of conflict now.
It's the smell of love, or the sweet scented signal of caring, the aroma of pride that neighbours have for our beach side community. You hear it first, you see it and then you can smell it.
I surrender to the smell of affection.

For Lilly. 
Our street. Raumati South, New Zealand. Picture by Jim McIntosh.

.................................................................................................................................................................
This little story has sat in unfinished files for too long. I had always wanted to write about our walks, with our dog Lilly, around our neighbourhood.  The evening walks along our beach have always been a simple but immensely enjoyable pleasure for us, more so with a big, smelly mutt for a great enthusiastic companion.
Last Monday on a writing forum, another author posted a topic which spurred me to reply, and I then felt compelled to complete this. I finished it last Tuesday, and uploaded 
it to my writing course blogsite. 
That night Lilly died suddenly. After our glorious evening walk she suffered a twisted stomach, and a late night rush to a vet failed to stop her demise.
The loss makes you realise how much your life can revolve
around a dog. That smell of wet dog is very sadly missed.





   

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Rivers and bridges: knowledge and understanding.

 Chobe waterfront, Botswana. Picture by Jim McIntosh.

There are these rivers that flow wide between us.
There are these oceans of knowledge unknown.
If we could converse would you join with us
replanting the damaging seeds you have sown?


An orangutan mother comforts her baby, dazed at the loss of her jungle homeland, destroyed for palm oil plantations.

It could start as a trickle, like a mountain stream flowing
until understanding is falling like Spring's gentle rain.
There may be chasms and canyons between us
but knowledge spills over like waterfalls of champagne.


 The whaling industry nearly wiped out many whale specie. Picture courtesy Norfolk Museum.
It could start when these rivers have bridges across them
and torrents of knowledge flow to the sea.
When you bridge this water we'll show you the ocean
of blood from the slaughter of the disappeared specie.



Research advances into unlocking the secrets of animal communication. Some researches say within 5 years we will talk with elephants. When we finally do, will we be able to accept what they will tell us? 

If we could build bridges and walk this land together
we'll show you where beauty and rhythm abounds.
And across these wide rivers, across these wild seas
there''ll be no more conflict between man and we beasts.








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Monday, January 14, 2013

They killed them all-

How many elephants died so a rich jerk could swank around in this ivory covered car?








They shot them all- the elephant.
How could we be so ignorant?
Just for trinkets of ivory
we destroyed a whole specie.




Elephants in Chad are being wiped out so their ivory can fund weapons. Picture courtesy SOS Elephants of Chad.
They killed them all- the mighty lion
so their bones could rot in wine.
What a weird Asian belief 
rotting bones can bring relief?


They shot them all- the tall giraffe
bows and arrows while they laugh
macho pics decorate Facebook walls
while trophy heads adorn their walls.



They killed them all- the proud leopard

It wasn't all so really hard
Just a poacher's wire snare
and a gin-trap hidden there.



They shot them all - the rhinoceros

now there is no more for us
to admire- now we mourn
all because of their bloody horn!


Photo courtesy Facebook rhino groups.

So they killed them all- the Big Five ( and a few more...)
now no more are alive
They followed the examples set
of leaders plundering our natural assets!

So we now ask the President

why would anyone frequent
Africa so empty and bare
with no more Big Five living there?

We wrote them all- the letters sent

to the esteemed President
We begged his intervention for
how could he completely ignore?






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