Tag Archives: literature

Pacifist?

(written after my course ended but still relevant to the course, so I have included it under the subject of American Writing in the menu,)

Recently I studied Allen Ginsberg, Kerouac and other beatnik poems. Ginsberg called himself a pacifist. I questioned this. I believe I have the same protesting spirit as Ginsberg and others, however I do not call myself a pacifist.

a person who believes in pacifism or is opposed to war or to violence of any kind. 2. a person whose personal belief in pacifism causes him or her to refuse being drafted into military service. Compare conscientious objector.

A passivist is something quite different. It means being submissive in nature, particularly in a sexual situation.

I am not sure which Allen Ginsberg was referring to, I don’t want to think about the second. I do believe he was a lover of peace, however was not a true pacifist in the sense of the word.

My words, writing my mind can be a weapon against an oppressive, corrupt or unjust government, rulers or laws. As a protest poet, I shoot my literary arrow deep into the hearts of leaders, and others who can make a difference, until their hearts bleed empathy. I do not stop until I wound. I am not to kill with my words (as a famous song does), but to heal. Where one was running into battle as an oppressor, he now limps away, with his heart changed and fights for the opposition to the oppressive.A-1678614-1321804331.jpeg

My words, my art and my photos are not meant to leave you comfortable if I am working on a social justice or human rights issue. They will not give you warm and fuzzy feelings. They are meant to make it feel like you are sitting on granite, something hard and uncomfortable enough to make you want to move.

 

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Just Don’t

Don’t touch me

Don’t Touch Me

DON’T TOUCH ME

Don’t look at me

Don’t Look at Me

DON’T LOOK AT ME

Don’t talk to me

Don’t Talk To Me

DON’T TALK TO ME

Don’t use endearing names. Call me nothing but the name I was given.

He is offensive, She is offensive, They doesn’t make sense when talking of one person, but that is preferred.

When I am sad, don’t hug me to comfort me. Let your shoulder to cry on only be metaphorical not actual.

When greeting me, don’t even think to kiss my cheek, don’t offer to shake a hand, it wont be accepted.

We live in a society when anything we do or say can be misconstrued, misinterpreted, misunderstood. Best to do nothing, lest we offend…and get sued.

We are global citizens, superficially connected to many, but attached to nobody. Share the world, share the meme, share the joke, but don’t dare try to share my space.

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My Place

Image result for sally morgan

Go into any backyard in the old parts of Sydney, Blacktown in the west, Earlwood in the south, and Asquith in the north. You will find in these yards a lawn surrounded by a mix of natives and introduced species. But go to a derelict building, and the natives take over again, killing off all the introduced species. It Is the paspaplum and kangaroo grass that survives, growing high, through cracks and crevasses left in crumbling fibro houses. It’s the wattle and the bottlebrush that somehow survive or repropogate in the same spots year after year. These are plant that can be pruned, shaped to fit into a cultivated garden, to look pretty, to keep within the borders.

When the hard times come, it’s the natives that survive. When bushfire ravages the Royal National Park, or the Blue Mountains, It’s the Banksia plants that will come up first. The fire having popped all the seed pods, and the ash covered them into the soil. The Coastal Rosemaries grow up again, and we see new branches appearing from old stumps of the mighty Gum trees. The natives of Australia are resilient.

So too the native people of our land. We as westerners, colonisers, really gave the indigenous population a hard time, from the time we arrived and claimed the land to be ours, right to the present day.

My Place by Sally Morgan is a book that describes lives of indigenous people with the trials and tribulations, the hard times, and the funny ones too. She tells it first in first person narrative, but then switches to narrative after interviewing various characters, REAL PEOPLE, in her book.

Sally has been highlighting abuses and inequality in our country for over 30 years. It is because of Sally, and others like her, that indigenous people have felt comfortable to expose themselves for who they really are. Sally tells primarily indigenous people that they don’t have to be ashamed of who they are any more. If people around you are uncomfortable with that, STIFF, they can get out of the way, cause the natives are here to stay.

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What and incredible lesson for all of us to learn. No matter what culture you belong to, where you come from, it’s important to find out who you are, and be comfortable with who you are. Be ashamed no more.

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A poem after Ginsberg.

I have chosen this as my best  creative post for the subject American Literature. I have written freely, from my mind and heart. There are some things in this poem that have been burdening me for some time. Writing a “Ginsberesque” poem has allowed me to use my creative skills to vent a bit about those issues.

 

I had a thought, an idea, it was a poem waiting to be told, but had funny rhymes, a funny rhythm. Ginsberg and other beatnik poets have given my licence to write in their style. I said and subconsciously wrote. I digitally put pen to paper. I used the Ginsberg breath method. My breathing is erratic though, being an asthmatic. Read a sentence completely in one breath, then breathe after the sentence. That is important.  Enjoy the poem below, called:

The Hierarchy of Power

I wrote a letter to the queen and said hi, how have you been. He said fine, how are you. How am I, you ask? I will tell you how I am. I am disillusioned by the politicians of today the statesmen and leaders of the past, they seem to make rules and never obey, then they call us the fools. They think we don’t know what’s going on in their tiny minds having selfish thoughts, caring not for others but raising super and pensions for sitting members. We are doing such a good job saving the taxpayer millions we deserve to give the money saved to ourselves, and those who have come before, who nobody remembers.

Politicians make the hard decisions to send someone to their certain death, fighting wars that are none of our business, meddling in the affairs of states, who were doing just fine without us, or at least keeping the cruelty within a set of borders. Put up a fence! a wall! keep them out and keep us from seeing them at all. Ignorance is bliss. We don’t have to put up with this. They make the decision to raise the pensions of the elite while the hungry are still hungry, the poor poorer still and the sick die of disease. If the sick die there is less strain on the health system. If we move the homeless we can deny there is a problem. Statistics are manipulated, leaders are too. Donations to the party are used to campaign, not to benefit me or you.

Green is the colour of the grass anchored in one spot, restricted movements by fences and walls, plants and walls used to hide atrocities. Blue is the sky that rules over all, it is free to travel where it will. No restrictions placed on it; on the cruelty it can rain down upon the grass beneath. If grass is restricted all its life, it will forget how to grow. A mower is taken to it, those with aspirations and dreams are cut down. Don’t think like that, you can’t do it. Look at where you are. Once a grass behind the fence, grass you will always be. Never a daisy. Blue sky suppresses the green but is in turn governed by the suits of grey, with the red or blue ties, which are above us all, beyond being free, governing what is free. If you get too close to freedom the rules and boundaries will change. Unattainable, unreachable, dreams will remain dreams, there is nothing to gain.

Work your ass off in capitalist society, or even in the new rich communist socialist regimes. Everyone continues to have dreams. Own your own home, burden yourself with debt, be shackled to the desk for thirty years or more. When will you truly be free. THINGS ARE NOT WHERE ITS AT. Keep up with the Joneses? The Joneses are trying to keep up with you. You drive your flashy cars, live in your fancy houses. 2 cars in the driveway but nothing in the fridge. On the outside everything is new. The inside filled with preloved and now dumped stuff. Accumulation of junk, when is enough enough?

The good old days glitter with gold. Gold plate covers the rust underneath. Again, the outside sparkles but the inside is as rotten as your teeth. Dental care, health care, funeral costs. No-one can afford to live but you can’t afford to die either. How am I, you ask? I’m fine because…

 

Above all there is God. Beyond reach. Never changes. Looks down. Cries. I will make it right. Watch this space, coming soon.

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Sally Morgan’s Nan and bush remedies

The chapter entitled “Growing Up”  in Sally Morgan’s biography, “My Place” explains how Sally’s Nan places half onions around the house in order to keep away germs and disease. Sally comes home from High school one day telling her Nan that the science teacher said it was just an old wives tale, and that raw onions don’t do anything to keep disease away.

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I decided to research this. It seems that this remedy goes back as far as the 1500’s when many where dying from influenza and the plague. A doctor was doing the rounds of town and each household had members of the family affected by illness…except one. The doctor asked the farmer and his wife what they did differently. The farmers wife explained that she placed onions in the rooms of the house to absorb the germs. When the doctor checked the onions under the microscope, it was found that the onions did in fact absorb the influenza virus. I was amazed.

I looked up other remedies to see what else was being said.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar is a product that has recently come under the spotlight as having benefits beyond just being added to salads and other culinary delights. It has been known to have healing properties since as far back as 5,oooBC, The Egyptians were using it as an antiseptic and a weight loss method that long ago.Hippocrates in ancient Greece told his students to prescribe Oxymel, which was a combination of vinegar and honey, to bring up phlegm and make breathing easier. Vinegar is often used as a preservative, It was also used for sterilising wounds and instruments, Apple Cider Vinegar is said to have its healing properties because of its high alkaline properties. Also this product can be used as a preventative. Apple Cider Vinegar is made from fermenting apples, to produce the Cider, then fermenting again to produce the Vinegar. It retains all the nutritional properties of apples themselves, so is packed with vitamins and lots of other good chemicals.

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Gum Leaves

Gum leaves are said to have healing properties when crushed in a bowl and boiling water is used to fill the bowl. Put your head over it, with the obligatory tea towel to keep in the vapors and inhale.

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While we are on Aussie cures and deterrents, it is said that Detol in a spray bottle can kill Cane Toads. Give it a try Queensland!

Other Bush Remedies

In Warrabri, the Northern territory the cure for earache is squeezing the fatty part of a witchetty grub into the sore ear. While in Uluru, the cure is squeezing rabbit urine into the ear.

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Emu bush leaves, which were used by Northern Territory Aboriginal tribes to sterilise sores and cuts. The leaves are now being considered by Australian scientists as a viable steriliser for implants.

Tea tree oil is used for many things including an antiseptic and a mouth wash, it can also be used as a tea to soothe sore throats.

Eucalyptus leaves can be infused for body pains and fevers and chills. Today the oil is used commercially in mouthwash, throat lozenges and cough suppressants.

The list goes on and on. While scientists have found that some of these remedies to be false, many have been adopted into modern day civilisations. Its funny, if we just look back into history, we can find that a lot of what was said and done to be true, but its like when the discovery is made by modern man, we seem to claim it as the latest new thing.

Aboriginals like Sally Morgans Nanna used a great many things for the physical healing, but were aware that its not just the body that needs healing. They place a great emphasis in making sure the whole person is well, including emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Dance and song play an important part in the health of a person and of equal importance to having a good diet and exercise.

So people, don’t forget to dance.

further reading on aboriginal cures:  http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/history-culture/2011/02/top-10-aboriginal-bush-medicines/

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Relating to Francis Webb

I can relate to the poetry and the life of Francis Webb. He was a poet who was plagued with mental illness, just as I am. He wrote through his depression to produce some amazing work. I too write, and paint, and take photos when I can break through the darkness enough, and get motivated.

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this bird felt as miserable as I did the day I took this.

This is a story I wrote when I was having some anxious moments on the bus. I am not so bad now, thanks to google maps. I can track my trip the whole way.

THOUGHTS OF A PARANOID PERSON

© Dave McGettigan 19 October 2012

I tried to get a seat facing the front, but there were none available. So now I have to face the back of the bus and I can’t see where we are of if my stop is coming up. It’s ok. Don’t panic. You are getting off at the last stop. The bus won’t go any further than the shopping centre. I relax a little.

Why is that woman looking at me?

She can’t know… can she?

No. Dr Stewart told me that nobody would know if I didn’t tell them.

Then why is she looking at me?

She is reaching for her phone. Is she calling the police? Perhaps she is calling Dr Stewart to tell him I am catching the bus by myself. No escort for me this morning.

She is talking in hushed tones on the phone.

Oh god, now she is laughing! What is she laughing at? I combed my hair. I made sure I washed my face after breakfast. I look down and make sure I had buttoned my shirt correctly and that my tie is straight. My fly is up, so it isn’t that. I don’t know why she is laughing.

She has finished her phone call, put her phone away and now she is looking at me again.

She smiled.

Perhaps she likes me. I sit straighter in the seat at the thought. Perhaps she wants to go out with me. No! She wouldn’t have been laughing at me if she likes me.

Maybe she knew me before…before I got sick; before I did those things to that man. I didn’t mean to do it! She must know… I have to tell her. I didn’t mean to do it lady. I was sick. But I’m better now. I can’t tell her that. She won’t understand. Nobody does. They all think I would do something like that again. But I won’t. I couldn’t do something like that if I take my pills. I am good when I take them. But one day of missing them and BAM! I could change so quickly. I touch my shirt pocket to assure myself that the pack is still in my pocket. I breathe a bit easier.

I have changed a lot physically since then anyway. It’s been ten years after all. I have gotten taller, grown whiskers on my face and filled out; so Nurse Stevens tells me. I don’t think she knows me. Besides, that all happened in Adelaide. This is Sydney.

Perhaps I remind her of someone. I hope that is a good thing. Perhaps the person I remind her of brings back some bad memories. But I think the opposite is true. I think I bring back happy memories. That’s why she laughed on the phone. That’s why she smiled at me.

My god, why won’t she stop looking at me! She looks at her watch, which in turn causes me to look at mine. Are we running late? Nope… right on time. But she looked worried.

Maybe she is worried that the police won’t arrive quick enough to grab me when the bus arrives at the shopping centre. No! You have been through all that. She did not call the police or Dr Stewart. She doesn’t know me, nor do I remind her of somebody. She is looking at me because I am facing the back.

Damn. I wish I could have gotten a seat facing the front. Then at least if people were looking at me I wouldn’t even know about it.

She is standing up. She is walking towards me! What is she going to say? Am I going to be ridiculed in front of all these people? I clench my fists in anticipation of the confrontation.

“I like your tie,” she says “My husband has one just like it.”

“Oh…he he,” I give a nervous laugh “Thanks.” I say as she walks past me to exit the bus.

I realise that we have reached the shopping centre and now I can lose myself in the crowd. I alight from the bus and walk the short distance to the entrance of the centre.

Why is that man looking at me…?



I too have been in a mental facility, following a suicide attempt and not able to leave by my own terms. My term was short, but I think that perhaps if I were unwell at the time of Francis Webb, I may have never known freedom again.

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Francis Webb had a spiritual connection and held onto his faith during the time of his suffering.  Many of his poems are prayers; crying out for others to be aware of the suffering, and to provide comfort and relief. Jussi Bjorling provided comfort and relief for Francis Webb with his singing of Nessun Dorma.

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As I lay dying: Faulkner

“the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself … alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat” ?

As I lay dying, wracked in pain  upon my bed, I wonder who I can give my advise to. I have no heirs, no pupils who hang on my every word. Is wisdom, My Wisdom to die with me?

I have written. My words are not written with the graphite of a pencil, that can be erased easily or written over. My words are not written on parchment or paper, which can easily be torn, or wrinkled and thrown in the fire…to warm ones toes. My words however can be lost in the annals of time, on some hard drive, or some cloud, where who knows who will read them in the future.

I am guessing that those who catalog, those archaeologists in the future, will dig down deep into our version of the present, might not, i hope not, just record my ramblings but read what is written and say as we do of Plato, or Blake… “How Profound”.

Has my ego got the better of me in my disease of age? I think not. I think we all desire to leave a legacy. We all desire to be remembered and thought well of. We all desire that someone will use the wisdom that we have discovered, unearthed, perhaps uncovered in dusty books in a dark damp cave of a library.

Some writers, as Faulkner has said, concentrate on matters of the heart, Love is illogical. If you ask someone why they love a person, true love can give no answer, as it is illogical. “the human heart is in conflict with itself”, it knows not which way to go. it has no logic. The heart needs to work in tandem with the head. One beats while the brain thinks. Logic itself, or love itself are somewhat useless. One must use both.

The body cannot do without the brain, and the human brain cannot do without the body. The body is the vessel in which the brain must operate. Artificial intelligence is not yet possible because logic without heart is useless. What good is brains without the body, other than to be food for dogs. What good is a body without a brain, except to follow the instructions of someone with a brain.

Do what you will with my body. Although I do wish you inter and bury me quickly. I have tried not to cause offence when living. I wish to cause no offence (by my smell) when dead.  I do not wish to cause trouble to those who must dispose of my body. Throw it to the fishes. Let the sharks feast on me instead of one still living. Give my body, complete with brain and heart to science, so they may study, and see how the three are connected.

Image result for a dying man

When everything else is stripped away, these three remain… faith, hope and love. When a person is on the way to the heaven he has faith in, then there is no need of hope, as the head has made him confident of where he is going. Faith is the head and heart working in tandem. The heart loves with an illogial love, the head says that it is the only thing to do..love, and believe. So the greatest of these is love.

Here endeth the lesson.

 

 

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