25 November 2014


Because the good stuff is inside.

This birth-beaten body is mine.
These walk-weary bones and these stockingbag stones.
This inching, unflinching decline.
These blear-bordered eyes and this puckered disguise.
This creaking contortion of dust.
These pin-pestered nerves and these destitute curves.
This spot-stippled, care-furrowed crust.
These grease-battered clots and these gristle-bound knots.
This birth-beaten body is mine.

This animate archive is me.
Each pain-peppered leaf and each entry of grief,
Each morsel of mental debris,
Each flame-frosted cake and each paper-plate wake,
Each fizzing ignition of bliss,
Each love-lousy ode and each moral bestowed,
Each gamble, each gut punch, each kiss,
Each appetite stirred and each page-guzzled word,
This animate archive is me.

24 November 2014

For Jack

Because good blokes don't live forever.

He made time for you, Jack did. 
As if he had buckets of the stuff,
Balanced on his handlebars.

Such a small thing, really.
A wave, a nod, a wink.
It didn't have to be done. 

That fire, that warmth. 
You can't ration that.
But breath is different.

Jack was a bloke at my gym. That in itself is unremarkable. But everyone knew Jack. You'd know he was there,by his bicycle parked just outside the door. You'd hear his name bursting like popcorn from around the room. "Hello, Jack!" "G'day Jack!" You had to shout a bit. 

I only knew Jack for about five years - a long time after he played first-grade Rugby League, after he had a family and retired. He was about 88 when he first introduced himself with that tidy smile. I'd see him once or twice a week, just getting on with things. I don't remember ever hearing him complain.

Jack would always, always say hello, but never goodbye. It was always "good onya". 

He died last week. 

Good onya, Jack. You set the bar for human decency a bit high, mate

30 October 2014


Because it never hurts to ask.

Dear universe, excite me
with the secrets that you hold.

Dear humankind, invite me,
as I am, into your fold.

Dear planet Earth, outlive me;
feed the ones I leave behind.

Dear progeny, forgive me
for a future undermined.

Dear ancestors, instruct me;
let my errors be forestalled.

Dear history, induct me;
let my triumphs be recalled.

Dear circumstance, select me
for the fortune you dispense.

Dear fortitude, protect me;
persevere in my defence.

Dear prejudice, unbind me;
let my view be unobscured.

Dear privilege, remind me
of the comfort I’ve secured.

Dear intellect, escort me;
stay forever by my side.

Dear skin and bones, support me
‘til I take my final stride.

17 October 2014

Christopher Pyne's Lament

Because the Good Old Days were so nice.

Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne is upset. Our schools' curricula aren't doing their job. They're not currently teaching Australia's children The Things That Christopher Pyne Likes, which are (as he suggests in this interview) "history, literacy, numeracy, science", "Western civilisation" and "our Judeo-Christian heritage". Something MUST BE DONE.

Leaving aside the extreme wibbly-wobbliness of the not-quite-accurate "Judeo-Christian" claim (see the gaping holes in the term exposed by Tony Taylor here and by Chrys Stevenson here),  Mr Pyne wants to return to the Good Old Days, when children had phonics and times tables whacked into them with a cane, when nobody argued about what Australia Day means, and when multiculturalism was just a fancy way of saying "Look! There's spaghetti in the shops now!".

Maybe I'm not explaining what Christopher Pyne wants very well. Maybe Christopher Pyne needs to explain it himself, in rhyming couplets. Take it away, ChrisPy:

We must learn about Judeo-Christian conquerors and kings!
And Judeo-Christian history! And Judeo-Christian things!
And Judeo-Christian English! And Judeo-Christian science!
And Judeo-Christian punishment for wilful non-compliance!

Non-Judeo-Christian education simply shan’t be had.
It makes fine, upright, Judeo-Christian citizens look bad!
If a lesson fails to make Judeo-Christian people proud,
Then it’s simply (by Judeo-Christian standards) not allowed.

Any subjects that appease the God of Abraham are apt;
But the other, more barbaric ones should probably be scrapped.
Asian neighbours, the Indigenous and other foreign stuff
Are all well and good, but not Judeo-Christian-y enough.

Sure, for forty thousand years there’s been some people here, but look:
Nothing worthwhile really happened ‘til they met with Captain Cook.
Since that day, our nation’s greatness simply cannot be denied.
Our curriculum needs cleaning up, so here’s a simple guide:

If it’s nice and white and clean and mentions ANZAC Day, it’s IN.
If it dares to bad-mouth God or Jesus, CHUCK IT IN THE BIN!
If it’s yellow, brown or – worst of all – a shade of Green, NO WAY.
If it’s Western and it’s civilised and likes the Queen, then YAY!

Soon, Judeo-Christian schoolkids with Judeo-Christian knowledge,
Will bring shiny, Western thoughts to their Judeo-Christian college.
Their Judeo-Christian books will line Judeo-Christian shelves
While they frown upon those less Judeo-Christian than themselves.

16 October 2014


Because everyone has one.

You can’t tell by looking.
She makes lustrous forests from stones and wire.
He teaches French horn in the afternoons.
She draws cartoons.
He’s raising his daughter’s kids.
She cooks for her neighbour.
He slept in a shed last night.
She hasn’t used today, but she might.
A battery maintains his heart.
It’s months since she enjoyed a meal.
His knees aren’t real.
She lost her baby.
He lost his wife.
Her tattoo hides the tale of a knife.
You can’t tell by looking.

11 September 2014

Needle vs Haystack

Because one in a million isn't always good.

You went searching for a schism in the study of autism,
‘Cause you’re certain vaccines cause it, and that needs to be explored.
And for every tract or lecture in support of your conjecture,
You found many more against, which you summarily ignored.

All the scientists conforming to the norm of global warming
Are, in your opinion, wrong, or at the very least misled;
Since an expert crunched some figures, showing human-centric triggers
Are a load of crap, so never mind what other experts said.

You’ve heard claims that every fossil ever found makes a colossal
Case for evolution here on Earth, including humankind.
But you noticed an omission in the record of transition
From bacterium to human, so you’re sure we’ve been designed.

You could search the world all over for a tiny four-leaf clover;
Or a hidden ukulele in a pile of violins;
For a prickle in a thicket, or a lucky golden ticket,
Or a silver needle buried in a haystack full of pins.

You’ll find papers reinforcing the position you’re endorsing,
So hooray for you, you clever sausage! Everybody cheer!
But the confirmation bias of statistical outliers
Doesn’t make the weight of evidence against you disappear.

29 August 2014

How to be a Christian

He’s the champion of the poor, the lost, the meek and dispossessed;
He invites all creeds and colours to his parish to be blessed;
He believes in being human, and in peaceable protest;
He loves Jesus, and he calls himself a Christian.

They’re a loving, married couple with a huge and loyal flock;
Spreading news of God through microphones and family-friendly rock;
They already know the getting-into-heaven secret knock;
Praise the Lord! Ch-ching! They call each other Christian.

He attends the sick and needy, if he gets the flights for free;
He tells lies and sells his arse to gain election victory;
He’ll support a wealthy mogul, but turn back a refugee;
He’s not quite a priest, but calls himself a Christian.

He’s ensconced within the Vatican, with wine and jewels and prayer;
He condones the rape of children by the men charged with their care;
He’ll protect the church’s name, but not those families in despair;
He’s a cardinal, and calls himself a Christian.

Now, I’ve read the Holy Bible, but I’m still a bit confused;
About what a “Christian” says and does, and how the word is used;
Which behaviour’s unforgivable, and which can be excused?
By what standards can one call oneself a Christian?

When I look to Christian leaders, their example isn’t plain;
Some are good and meek and giving, some destructive, cruel and vain;
But there is a single common thread, a prevalent refrain:
Someone’s Christian if they call themselves a Christian.