Tag Archives: poetry

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.

Image result for dont

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Judith Wright Poems

Judith Wright was a poet with insights into indigenous people and nature. She told of patterns in life, and in Australia. She and Patrick White both saw patterns. I wonder if they would have got on well together, if anybody could indeed keep White as a friend.

In Five Senses, we see that all five senses are equally important. They create a rhythm, a pattern. Apart, sometimes we can not make sense of what we see, what we hear, or smell or feel. But together they dance. The senses working together create a pattern, which, when followed, can enhance a persons life, make them whole.

Like the world or community. When we are fragmented we are only a part of a whole, incomplete. Sure we can make our own music, but the symphony comes when all instruments work together, playing the same tune.

Judith says :”pattern sprung from nothing-
a rhythm that dances
and is not mine”.  The pattern or Rhythm of life was there before, it was only now that Judith has recognised it for what it is. By saying “It is not mine” acknowledges that the Rhythm comes from outside the body, but is implanted within us, perhaps that Rhythm of life is from God.

Now my five senses
gather into a meaning
all acts, all presences;
and as a lily gathers
the elements together,
in me this dark and shining,
that stillness and that moving,
these shapes that spring from nothing,
become a rhythm that dances,
a pure design.

While I’m in my five senses
they send me spinning
all sounds and silences,
all shape and colour
as thread for that weaver,
whose web within me growing
follows beyond my knowing
some pattern sprung from nothing-
a rhythm that dances
and is not mine.

 

Legend – Poem by Judith Wright

The blacksmith’s boy went out with a rifle
and a black dog running behind.
Cobwebs snatched at his feet,
rivers hindered him,
thorn branches caught at his eyes to make him blind
and the sky turned into an unlucky opal,
but he didn’t mind.
I can break branches, I can swim rivers, I can stare out
any spider I meet,
said he to his dog and his rifle.

The blacksmith’s boy went over the paddocks
with his old black hat on his head.
Mountains jumped in his way,
rocks rolled down on him,
and the old crow cried, You’ll soon be dead.
And the rain came down like mattocks.
But he only said,
I can climb mountains, I can dodge rocks, I can shoot an old crow any day,
and he went on over the paddocks.

When he came to the end of the day, the sun began falling,
Up came the night ready to swallow him,
like the barrel of a gun,
like an old black hat,
like a black dog hungry to follow him.
Then the pigeon, the magpie and the dove began wailing
and the grass lay down to pillow him.
His rifle broke, his hat blew away and his dog was gone and the sun was falling.

But in front of the night, the rainbow stood on the mountain,
just as his heart foretold.
He ran like a hare,
he climbed like a fox;
he caught it in his hands, the colours and the cold –
like a bar of ice, like the column of a fountain,
like a ring of gold.
The pigeon, the magpie and the dove flew up to stare,
and the grass stood up again on the mountain.

The blacksmith’s boy hung the rainbow on his shoulder
instead of his broken gun.
Lizards ran out to see, snakes made way for him,
and the rainbow shone as brightly as the sun.
All the world said, Nobody is braver, nobody is bolder,
nobody else has done
anything equal to it. He went home as easy as could be
with the swinging rainbow on his shoulder.

When I first read this poem, I thought that the Blacksmiths boy was perhaps a gay boy who knew that he could do anything he put his mind to. He could conquer everything put in his way. I got the idea that he was gay from the line “The blacksmith’s boy hung the rainbow on his shoulder”. However, the rainbow wasn’t adopted by the gay community until the late 70’s. Even though it is possible that this poem was written after that period, there is no proof of that. I thought that perhaps putting the rainbow on his shoulder, and the rainbow shone brightly was alluding to gay pride. But equally it could be talking about proud to be an aborigine, proud to be who you are and showing the world. The blacksmiths boy was a violent masculine boy, but he exchanged his gun for a rainbow and became peaceful. Perhaps we all need a little rainbow in our lives.Hmm perhaps this one will take further research and analysis.
Dave
footnote. When searching for an image to go with this poem, I found the one below It makes sense, even in the Judith Wright poem. I wonder if Wright was influenced by this quote by Dickens…definitely needs more research.
Image result for blacksmiths boy

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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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Allen Ginsberg:Transcendentalist?

I have chosen this work to be the best of my critical entries on this subject. I took a real interest in Ginsberg before he and his cohorts were discussed in class. I took an in-depth look at “Howl” and tried for myself to decipher some of the parts, and to give extra commentary on them. Alan Ginsberg is someone whom I would like to study further.

Warning: The videos, and some of the text may be considered obscene:

Image result for allen ginsbergAllen Ginsberg was a poet who bared his mind in the 1950’s. His poem Howl, made him famous, or infamous for it’s somewhat candid and sometimes obscene language and content.

Image result for howl definition

In Part II of Howl, Ginsberg equates capitalist society with the God Moloch, who was a God that the early Hebrews and others sacrificed their children.

“What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?” Ginsberg is saying here that cities, society has taken away any chance of those who inhabit them, of having imagination, of being able to think for themselves,

“Moloch, Moloch, Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! skeleton treasures! blind capitals! demonic industries!spectral nations! invincible madhouses!granite cocks! Monstorous bombs!” Everything is the same with houses, there is no imagination in design. These spaces are there not to be beautiful, but to have a purpose; to fit as many bodies in as little as space as possible. The treasures we build for ourselves and for our companies in this world of corporate greed, do not come without a cost, Many lives are lost, wasted with empty heads, empty brains unable to think for themselves. Invincible madhouses, are invincible because once someone is labelled as mad, that label follows them around, and nothing they say is taken serious from then on, People are defeated. Granite Cocks are the monolithic phallic symbols. Skyscrapers really are a phallic symbol, corporations saying, look how big and powerful am I. And Monstorous bombs refers to actual bombs, nuclear or otherwise that have the capability of destroying millions of lives in one push of a red button.

Why did Ginsberg call his poem Howl? A howl is defined as a mournful cry of perhaps a dog or other animal. Ginsberg may have thought himself a dog, but the emphasis should be placed on the sound, not what makes it. Howl is a mournful cry. Sometimes the cry is made in anger, sometimes in pain, but mostly in a sadness that eats you right to the bones. Ginsberg was expressing the sadness he feels when he think of the world that has lost it’s way. Of a world that has forgotten nature.

Ginsberg reflects on friends left behind, in particular, Carl Solomon, whom he met in a mental asylum and whom remained there as Ginsberg was released. He mentions over and again Rockland, which is a mental asylum but not the one in which Ginsberg met Solomon.

in Footnote, Ginsberg reflects on people and places and things which have influenced his life and his writing. He calls these “Holy”. To him, the people that Ginsberg met and received understanding from, and had an influence in his life, were sacred. People to be revered or idolised.

This is one work that deals with the emotions in such a diverse way. It is a spiritual moment. Once heard, one can never unhear the words in the poem. Once heard, this poem will surely affect your view on socialism, capitalism and what is important to you, and the world.

I have called Ginsberg a modern day transcendentalist. I think that is accurate. Here is a man who walks his own path, one less traveled. Here is a man who has rejected society and become the utter non-conformist. Here is a man who is self reliant, poor he may be but self reliant in terms of not accepting another’s thoughts or ideas without first discovering and telling his own.

Genius or madman? Don’t let me or anyone else sway your judgement. Make up your own mind. Its what a true transcendentalist would do.

 

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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.

IMG_2132

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.

Image result for straight jacket

 

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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Bailed Up by Tom Roberts

This was one of the paintings that was looked at by my class as they wandered the great halls of the NSW Art Gallery last week.

This painting entitled “Bailed Up”, by Tom Roberts, has been a favorite of mine since 5th grade in primary school. It hung on the white wall outside the deputy principal’s office. I remember sitting there waiting to see him and looking at the painting and wondering about the lives of the people in the painting.

The painting was done ‘plein air ‘ in Inverell in 1895. Tom Roberts used people from the nearby township to act as models so he could paint it. The painting depicted a Cobb and Co stagecoach being held up by Captain Thunderbolt, a local bushranger.  One of the models was an actual stagecoach driver by the name of ‘Silent’ Bob Bates.  This stagecoach driver had actually been held up by Captain Thunderbolt 30 years earlier. One could speculate that Tom Roberts shared a billy of tea with Silent Bob, and asked him about that experience before setting the scene to paint it.

The coach in the painting was typical of the Concord coaches used by Cobb & Co. These were made in America. The suspension used was a belt type, which made long distance travel more comfortable for passengers. The coaches were made for the west in America and were built for rough terrain and high speeds which were needed to avoid raids by Indians and outlaws.

One can see the Royal Mail logo on the side of the coach in the painting. Cobb & Co had the contract for the mail from the 1860’s through to the end of the first world war.

The Cobb & Co coaches were faster than other coaches. Because of that speed, horses had to be changed regularly, and so a whole industry was built around the transport of people and parcels. The horses were bred especially for Cobb &Co. Coach houses were built every 200 miles or so for a quick change of horses and a meal for travelers. Some of the coach houses had accommodation for overnight travelers.

The Cobb & Co coaches became synonymous for a strong willed spirit that kept going through the hard times. Cobb & Co was immortalised through the Tom Roberts painting as well as in literature through poems by Henry Lawson.

The Lights of Cobb & Co

FIRE LIGHTED, on the table a meal for sleepy men,
A lantern in the stable, a jingle now and then;
The mail coach looming darkly by light of moon and star,
The growl of sleepy voices — a candle in the bar.
A stumble in the passage of folk with wits abroad;
A swear-word from a bedroom — the shout of ‘ All aboard!’
‘Tchk-tchk! Git-up!’ ‘Hold fast, there!’ and down the range we go;
Five hundred miles of scattered camps will watch for Cobb and Co.

Old coaching towns already ‘ decaying for their sins,’
Uncounted ‘Half-Way Houses,’ and scores of ‘Ten Mile Inns;’
The riders from the stations by lonely granite peaks;
The black-boy for the shepherds on sheep and cattle creeks;
The roaring camps of Gulgong, and many a ‘Digger’s Rest;’
The diggers on the Lachlan; the huts of Farthest West;
Some twenty thousand exiles who sailed for weal or woe;
The bravest hearts of twenty lands will wait for Cobb and Co.

The morning star has vanished, the frost and fog are gone,
In one of those grand mornings which but on mountains dawn;
A flask of friendly whisky — each other’s hopes we share —
And throw our top-coats open to drink the mountain air.
The roads are rare to travel, and life seems all complete;
The grind of wheels on gravel, the trot of horses’ feet,
The trot, trot, trot and canter, as down the spur we go —
The green sweeps to horizons blue that call for Cobb and Co.

We take a bright girl actress through western dust and damps,
To bear the home-world message, and sing for sinful camps,
To wake the hearts and break them, wild hearts that hope and ache —
(Ah! when she thinks of those days her own must nearly break!)
Five miles this side the gold-field, a loud, triumphant shout:
Five hundred cheering diggers have snatched the horses out:
With ‘Auld Lang Syne’ in chorus through roaring camps they go —
That cheer for her, and cheer for Home, and cheer for Cobb and Co.

Three lamps above the ridges and gorges dark and deep,
A flash on sandstone cuttings where sheer the sidings sweep,
A flash on shrouded waggons, on water ghastly white;
Weird bush and scattered remnants of rushes in the night
Across the swollen river a flash beyond the ford:
‘Ride hard to warn the driver! He’s drunk or mad, good Lord!’
But on the bank to westward a broad, triumphant glow —
A hundred miles shall see to-night the lights of Cobb and Co.!

Swift scramble up the siding where teams climb inch by inch;
Pause, bird-like, on the summit — then breakneck down the pinch
Past haunted half-way houses — where convicts made the bricks —
Scrub-yards and new bark shanties, we dash with five and six —
By clear, ridge-country rivers, and gaps where tracks run high,
Where waits the lonely horseman, cut clear against the sky;
Through stringy-bark and blue-gum, and box and pine we go;
New camps are stretching ‘cross the plains the routes of Cobb and Co.

*****

Throw down the reins, old driver — there’s no one left to shout;
The ruined inn’s survivor must take the horses out.
A poor old coach hereafter! — we’re lost to all such things —
No bursts of songs or laughter shall shake your leathern springs
When creeping in unnoticed by railway sidings drear,
Or left in yards for lumber, decaying with the year —
Oh, who’ll think how in those days when distant fields were broad
You raced across the Lachlan side with twenty-five on board.

Not all the ships that sail away since Roaring Days are done —
Not all the boats that steam from port, nor all the trains that run,
Shall take such hopes and loyal hearts — for men shall never know
Such days as when the Royal Mail was run by Cobb and Co.
The ‘greyhounds’ race across the sea, the ‘special’ cleaves the haze,
But these seem dull and slow to me compared with Roaring Days!
The eyes that watched are dim with age, and souls are weak and slow,
The hearts are dust or hardened now that broke for Cobb and Co.

Dave

References used for this blog
https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/833/
http://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/cobb-and-co
https://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/lawson-henry/the-lights-of-cobb-and-co-0022012

 

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