It’s my first poetry festival and I’m about to take a risk and read a rebel poem about a fight with Mum, can I do it? What will Mum do?
I had to read it. Fourteen summers of discontent as the big sister came over me.
It was my first poetry festival. Mr Kidd, my English teacher had encouraged me to share some work.
The garden of faces looking back at me included: my short Mekeo Mum and tall Australian Dad, fellow poets looking kind of poetical, people who I assumed liked listening to poetry as well as a few of the town’s local English teachers.
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Each clump of bark upon this tree is like a phone line to the past,
just place a piece against your ear. Oh! Wouldn’t that be such a blast?
What could this ancient gum reveal, where many tribes once freely walked,
I’d hear about the dreamtime age and learn from elders while they talked.
Then every scene I would relive just with the closing of my eyes,
and view our dreamtime animals beneath Australia’s clear skies.
I’d hear about the Ooyan man how, as a curlew why he cries,
or young Wayamba, changing to a turtle still with roving eyes.
Then, lands our young mate Captain Cook who claims our land as England’s own,
he raised old ‘Jack’ on virgin shore, a site where Sydney has now grown.
Our past was built on convict stock, for minor crimes they all were sent
to penal sites along our coast where life was cruel and years were spent.
I hold another piece of bark and hear new stories that were told,
about Eureka’s failed stockade or those caught in the search for gold.
Then learned about young Robert Burke who joined by Wills went to explore,
and perished on that trip to be the first to reach the northern shore.
I dream that there are rows of trees that store our history so clear,
and all one really has to do is hold some bark against one’s ear.
We have our heroes from the past, there’s been so many through the years
who forged their way on dusty tracks, and left behind their loved ones tears.
These grand trees from our vast outback or giants on our sprawling coast
have lived our growing history, I’m sure they’d keep us all engrossed.
I’m startled by a barking owl just as the campfire starts to fade,
now tucked inside my battered swag, I lie where once some tribes had stayed.
So as my eyes begin to close and, sheltered by this old gum tree,
I thank my lucky stars for my own time of wandering so free.
And wonder how my life would be, without the need of coin or quid
to travel through our changing land, and walk like pioneers once did.
(Courtesy) David Delaney
David is an award winning poet resident in North Queensland. He has published three books of poems.
A big thanks for sharing his poetry here.
You can find out more about him at the following links: