Inside out

Some poems and reflections on life

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Going home

If I had it all over again, what would I do?

I stand in front on the house where I played,
My older, future self looking in
How could I ever have imagined my life to be,
way back then?

I remember a time that I cannot return to.

Lying on the floor listening to records
Riding my bike across to the next town
Mucking around in Dad’s workshop.

I struggle to remember what once was.

The main street is now paved with brick
Chewing gum covered asphalt is gone
So too the seat where we ate hot chips after school.

Some things still remain, frozen in time.

The paint on the old church peels away at exactly the same spots
The town hall remains unchanged but no longer shows movies
The school, the park, the pool are just like when I left

And yet it has all changed

New shops, cafes on the high street
Houses fill in the paddocks I once crossed to school
The pub, where fathers got drunk on a Friday night,
is now a boutique hotel.

If I had it all over again, what would I do?
Would anything really be different?


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Jaipur 1991

Recollection of a conversation at a backpacker’s hotel in Jaipur in 1991.  Delhi to Agra to Jaipur is ‘tourist central’ in India, which bring with it large numbers of people constantly approaching and selling to tourists. This can be an overwhelming experience for the traveler (to say the least). It is where the clash between tourist and local can be felt the hardest. It wasn’t just being confronted by the poor and the lame begging on the streets. The really frustrated part were well educated young men seeking to make an easy living from scamming tourists.

I have traveled twice to India and developed a huge respect for the people and country. This poem gives voice to just one view of the experience of being a traveler in one part of the country.

“I am prey to be taken …
I am bait in a trap …
A wallet to be scammed.

“I thought I knew
this place I can’t stay
I thought I knew
these people don’t make sense
I thought I knew
but nothing is right”

“I am prey to be taken …
I am bait in a trap …
A wallet to be scammed.

“Every time I
walk out the door they call me
Every time I
go down the street they sell me
Every time I
see a face I second guess

“I am prey to be taken …
I am bait in a trap …
A wallet to be scammed.

“I no longer
I want
to be safe
I want
a holiday”

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Cotton wool break down

Wriggling, squirming, waiting to escape
to see the outside once more
locked in a life that traps
and dulls the senses
blunts the vision
dims the touch
darkens the taste
like cotton-wool bandages
prevents me from seeing the
rough ugly truth of the world
wherein lies beauty.

I take it on myself to stand
to make a stand on behalf of myself
to shake off my own oppression
of self-limiting thoughts
and beliefs
To reach out beyond my limits of time and space
to be what I had never once imagined.

Don’t limit me to the nonfunctional existence
Locked up in the nicety of life without true feeling
Hiding the depths of my anger
with words

We shout and rave and raise our voices
Insults fly like knives cutting
across the arms and face
But stop when first blood is drawn
A hug and handshake
Cleaned and purged – renewed

One random moment in time
Stretches to eternity as every
detail is examined
again and again

Wondering “why?”


(I found this one in my note book left untouched after some time. I think I may have meant it to be two separate poems. But I think they flow well together).

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Burying the dead

Memories of how it was
Are just memories of how it was
Floating in time and not in space
In mind and not in place

Shaping me here and now
Connected and real

I am still
That frightened boy
Cowering before the bully

I am still
That triumphant hero
Conquering my first mountain

I am still
That wondering student
Learning my first lesson

All these things
Weave and create
The tapestry
Marvellous multicoloured
Chaotic interplay of knots
That is me and my life

But there is nothing but
Here and now

Memories of how it was
Are just memories of how it was
Floating in time in and not in space
In mind and not in place

It is time to bury the dead
And move on

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It takes one

Sitting on the porch
In the evening sun
First day back in Hong Kong

Discussing news with Father Murray
On the hill overlooking the New City
At the house of St Francis
Up the road from Tao Fung Shan

“tell me” he asks “how did it start?”
“it started” I say “with one”
“one kitchen, one hall, one church, one school”

“gradually it grew
“the ones joined
“they joined up and linked
“we started to see suburbs and then towns
then a few cities and regions”

“eventually more than half the country

“it was only a matter of time
“before the government had to say “no”

“but it started with “one”

“one kitchen – no nuclear weapons in my kitchen
“thank you very much

“I know that sounds strange and futile
“but if enough people say it and
“say it together
“things happen
“and they did

“That is how NZ became nuclear free.”

And thinking back now,
As I fly over Hong Kong again
Maybe, just maybe, that is why
We don’t live in a
Nuclear winter.

What one will you change in your kitchen today?

Picture of moon landing on old black and white TV. Has YouTube logo in bottom right corner of TV picture.

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Space odyssey

He fell from space at 200 miles per hour
Our moon landing, the young folks said

No, we had the real moon landing
Sitting in dining room on a Sunday morning
A 14 inch
Black and white
We knew which channel to turn to
There was only one

Grainy pictures beamed from space

A tiny module circles
A cold dark world
A man in a clumsy suit climbs
Awkwardly down a ladder

A step, small but giant
Stirring up dust that has
Laid for eons and hangs
In the air

The world cheers

It was real
It was our achievement
No conspiracy or fakery there

We went on and built a space station
We would colonise the moon
When we partied like it was 1999
We would be waiting for the moon to
Take off into deep space

But it didn’t – because the Doctor saved us.