Old Photographs

Every now and then photographs of my life that I have never seen before surface.

This one is of my highschool year 10 formal.

Elena, Richard, me, someone else I can’t remember her name, Leif, Caleb are in this row.

I remember my friend Justin said, let’s go as friends, and his Dad drove us both there.  He brought me a corsage.

I always thought of him like a brother.

Justin  was his name. At first it seems he is not in this picture.

Actually he is behind me.

Justin passed away at nineteen.  He drowned at a place called the Gorge.

I heard this news on the radio.

The dress I am wearing looks white, but it is actually lemon.

The heel on my shoes broke dancing that night.

They were happy times, and also challenging times.

Justin was there for me at many special times.

He treated me like a sister.

I have always wanted to write some stories based on highschool experiences, both challenging, and great.

But most of all to honour those friends who were like my brothers and sisters, and didn’t ever judge me for the colour of my skin.

Photographs like this inspire poems.

I will think about a poem for this photo !



That Day

That day when we ran into
watch tv
the black and white of
Sesame St
now full colour

was jump up and down on the couch

That day when someone looked at
me and said
you can’t talk to me
you are not my friend

was tears.

That day when my friend
made a necklace for me out
of fimo and it was frangipanis

the past was lost
and part of me was healed.

That day when someone tried
to break into our house
and our friends arrived
before the police did
and stayed to make us tea
when the intruder was taken away

was scarier than a cyclone
and preparation.

That day when I found out
I could write and research
the rest of a history story
I had been waiting to do so for
twenty years

was a story saying
I bless you
to share me.

That day I told my story
about Yasi
to help others
I began to let it go.

(c) June Perkins

Be Ready – Memory Poem Step 1.

To find my poems, as well as studying art, going for a walk, and remembering, I write from things that happen.  For the next few posts I thought I would share the creation of a poem from an event that we attended and demonstrate how I take something like this and then translate it into something more creative.


STEP 1: Free Write – Journaling the event.

Gary is not seen before the concert.
He’s in the green room.

People wait in their seats
at the Baha’i Centre in Milton
unless they see someone they know
and get up to talk
and hug and kiss on both cheeks
and many of them speak in Persian
we see friends from years ago in Cairns
they saw Gary earlier today
in a market
and now they are beside us waiting
for the concert too.

And then it begins
but he is not on the stage
instead it is a video of a song
introducing the concert
and it is Gary singing with
others Be Ready

The audience are ready and
now Gary walks through the audience
to the front of house
wearing a sparkling jacket
and the audience cheer.

Gary Sterling is in town
and he is talking to us
and waving at people he knows
and ready to sing.

This is a collection of favourites
Lean on Me, Let it Be,
This is Gospel
This is Baha’i Gospel
This is Red Grammar classic
I think your wonderful

We sing along
We question and answer
We are coached with the words
One young man sings loud and strong
soon he is on stage with Gary
standing on a chair
with a microphone
a duet just like that.

There is a song for his gone
to a better place mum.
He is happy for her, and he
sings for her.
Be not sad, you know she is in the place
of Glory.

And the entertainer
sings us stories
tells us stories with a song chorus
tells us a story about
being stranded in Melbourne
and using the time to write a song

And William is the sound man,
and puts on the music.
Gary is performing with his portable
in a recording band.

He is building up soul,
and some songs have a heart
and a place
and invite us to arise in song.

Music is the upbeat
music is the left and the right wing
of the soul that wants to

Gary has a surprise
he will sing a whole song in Persian
for the audience members
exiled from their homeland because of persecution
and right now I am thinking of also
what is happening in Yemen.
so weird to persecute people because they are

And also I am thinking of
the diversity of all the Baha’is
and how we are all one family
and we come from so many backgrounds

Gary is singing of Krishna, and Jesus
and he is a Baha’i Gospel
singer and my daughter later says how cool it
was to hear that style
applied to a song about
Baha’u’llah and progressive revelation
I watch her smiling
she has seen the diversity of expression
that can go hand in hand
with unity.

We don’t all have to be the same
to be part of the common ground.
I hope she will sing strong and loud
for it is her way to Praise the Glory.

And all too soon the concert is over.
The entertainer has given his all.
Now it’s time to purchase CDS
which well help him fly the next leg
of this journey.

The songs live on, after we are gone
and the spirit of this concert
lives on in us.

Self critique

This first journal type free write is very narrative driven.
Can I do more to build the audience atmosphere and Gary’s personality?
How can I use the spirit of the songs to also build this piece?
What do I want the creative piece to be about?
Is there more than one poem here?

(c) June Perkins

Rainbow Writers of Gumburu


I found this piece in my archives. It is about a writer’s retreat.  It conjured some curious memories.


We are the rainbow writers arriving on Mount Spec

Merry, animated and adventurous will be our days.

We’re rational and petulant in our devotion to our craft.

We do not want to linger under procrastination’s spell.


A few of us will gather in the belfry

Our morning’s meditations will sing

Mountain’s muse with us come and dwell.


Hark to the days and nights where we yarn

Pumpkin competitions gone oh so very wrong,

Ugly sheep wearing sunglasses,

Woman losing bikini in the flowing tide,

Chivalrous friends protecting the dignity of those

With bladder problems

Upturned tin canoes –

Fun and perilous depending on your perspective

Police escorts to writer’s meetings

When lost in a maze called Brisbane

A legend of a man and a wheelbarrow

And a husband reads to his dear one sitting in the room.


I am sorry I have no embarrassing moments to share

Only poignant ones that might dampen

The laughter of evening’s cheer.


Zealous in unpacking prejudice from many angles

We see the bulldozer sweep away racism’s walls

And in the clearing is a lady with multi-coloured family

Not just a part of her landscape for

She is Australia’s growing tide.


Creative souls gathering on the mountain

Have chosen many pathways to the Great Spirit,

Christian, Buddhist, Baha’i, Spiritualist,

Lovers of the environment and perhaps even

The words of Don Mclean’s American Pie.


Who is scared of the Spirit man

Watching at the window?

Quick I say, ‘breathe out any negative thoughts on this spirit

For methinks our words have beckoned him.

He is a muse listening to word weavings

A character waiting for us to breathe life into him.’

I wonder if he’s my Bubu

Behold there’s his daughter, my mother

swallowing the dreaming lights.


I came here as a stranger, a poet and a mother

I left  with a new song about the cane fields

And the thick web of writer’s and actors words of wisdom

To delicately remember

In all the hues of the rainbows on the mountain.


(c) June Perkins aka gumbootspearlz




Walgett 1993

We drive past
two large churches

round cement

red slates with apple green
wood walls

run down
caravans with tin shed

a naked child
drinking juice

dogs everywhere.

Now we stop.

We’re at Nellie’s house
full to the brim of

Nellie smiles
hugs us
and as if she has read
our thoughts on what we have seen
she says:

‘These people await houses
I adopted three children …’

She takes us to visit
the neighbourhood
including her mother who is
a 103

She is calmness
cadence circles

21 November 1993

Reading through the journal entry accompanying this fragment I am struck by the the story of Nellie. We went with another family, the Tais, to meet her. Now I travel back in time and meet her at her front door. In my journal account she emerges as the backbone of her community. She is ‘calmness cadence circles.’ She cares for the sick, avoids bingo, loves fishing, and knows and loves her community.

She had just become a Baha’i and we were visiting her to see what kind of support she needed , and came home so impressed by her family and extended family. We discovered a true world citizen, in a tiny town on the so called ‘fringes of Australian society, ‘ and what’s more she could teach many about the abundance of human spirit, patience, generosity and forbearance.

I find myself wondering what became of the people we met on that trip as shortly after we moved and we never met them again. Yet, they are in my heart and I hope that their lives went well. Walgett, for me will always be somehow spoken through the spirit of Nellie.

(c) June Perkins

Cyclamen Still Life

I could take a picture of the pink cyclamen
that I bought, because
it was on special at the supermarket
as Mother’s day had passed,
and show it to you;
so carefully placed in front of an open window, looking out
onto backyards, where
the ibis, cockatoo and bush turkeys play.

I could draw a picture and
you’d glance at the pink curtain above it;
rolled up and pegged, with
the white lace curtain showing
just a little.

This still life has more,
when you pan back and see
the cream bench top paint that is peeling away to reveal
a pink layer underneath.
This house we live in is old and was in the same family for generations
until someone began to buy the old houses side by side
one by one to rent them out.
The neighbours tell us the old man who once lived here was kind.
We still receive his mail and return to sender.
Has he returned to his sender.

The silver bowl next to the cyclamen has a few mandarins, but they
disappear so fast as my youngest eats them hour by hour
so if I want to capture a bowl full I must photograph it
in the first hours of the bring home of groceries
– today there are four mandarins.

I could take that picture
in just a few moments and avoid the uncertainty
of words and metaphors;
the artistic pain of creating an attempt at the depiction
of still life that underneath it has a layer
of moving life.

Or I could continue to dissect and hypothesise,
look for connections between still and moving life,
and somewhere in there find mindfulness
in a metaphor to extend the cyclamen petals into
the morning light of epiphany.

I layer my cyclamen still life
with poetry of memory
to see Nance’s window sill of cyclamens;
they might have been pink and maybe red.
Near her house was a Quaker Cottage
and inside the house was a visitor’s book
full of stories of city dwellers,
who had left Sydney to
recharge away from the movement of the city.

Seeking their still life.

(c)June Perkins




For Phillip Hughes

No personal memories have I
only the memory of my son loving watching your games
on television.

He knows all your stats
and history as young Aussie cricketers tend to do.
On the day you passed the storms came suddenly
and hailstone the size of cricket balls
fell in the city that we lived.

I waited for my family to return
safely from abandoned cricket training
and mourned for your mother, father, brother and sister.

My memory of hospital waiting rooms
and intensive care still vivid after all these years.

My brother who loved sport
spent years in recovery
from head injuries
went from wheel chair to walking
from no speech to talking
I could sense what might lie ahead for your family
but your’s was a different fate.

The tributes for you flow
from cricketers the world over
young and old
England to India
captains to team mates
to junior cricketers
And beyond

Rugby to AFL and Tennis
politicians and more.

Parents of young cricketers everywhere
feel your parents loss
and like them celebrate their children’s joy of cricket.

Small consolation
you were doing what you loved
and that it could never have been any other way.

The flag’s at half mast at Lords
while celebrations of character not just sporting ability are posted in your honour.
Who can tell why the good are suddenly taken.

So we #putoutourbats
say 63 never out
for he who plays in heaven’s eleven.

One day people might ask
‘What where you doing the day
Phillip Hughes went to the eternal cricket ground
in the sky?’

Many young cricketers everywhere might dedicate
their first 63’s to you.

(c) June Perkins

A special tribute to Phillip Hughes can be found HERE.

Rainbow Gaze

Frog in recovery – June Perkins

A day of rainbows
Everywhere I look

Frog recovering
And put into a mini hospital
Made by caring children
Perched on glass above a kite

Children dancing in playgrounds
Climbing high to the rainbow filtered sky
Wearing hats of technicolour

Rainbow shade cover- June Perkins

Walls down narrow streets
Tagged and painted to chase
Away boredom with art

Rainbow gaze
day ablaze

With colours

(c) June Perkins

Hats – by June Perkins

Down Under Wall – Cairns – June Perkins