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Book 6 2001 Sixth Form to Sixty

A collection of poems written around the world whilst travelling on holiday and business. Many of these poems are included in earlier books but are happily collected in one place.


Chinese Lieutenant dressed in white, drives the Jag to early flight.
Sit in the back with no belt on,
The seats in front have white coats on.
Early at airport, shuttle flight,
The Business Class seems quite all right.
Buy the Australian for news of Oz.
Last Friday's paper, read what WAS!
All ords index going down, GIO sold, going, gone.
Faiz is there, we smile and talk,
find his car, a little walk.
Talking, chatting, smiling, friends,
I have come to make amends.
Khoo and Kang, his partners here,
tiny Board Room, comfy chair.
My pen runs out, the girl runs in, "coffee and refill please Miss Chin."

Twenty questions, twenty more, eager for answers, talk galore.
Chinese Restaurant, car park pit,
climbing stairs to keep us fit.
Eight flights, nine, are done with ease.
Faiz is puffing. " Carlsberg please."
Sharks fin soup and prawns and rice,
chicken and nuts with chilli's nice.
Fire arising from my throat,
Chinese too polite to gloat.
Smiling sweetly, I drown in tea, 
"We don't eat those".  Pathetic me!
Tour of city, Faiz the Guide. Jet lag's killing the pleasant ride.

"Shut your eyes, Mike. I don't mind."  I miss the sights we leave behind.
"Thank you for coming to see us here.
Happy Landings. Back next year?"
On the plane I fall asleep,
forty minutes in the deep.
Land on time and luggage bare,
charge the doorway. Jaguar's there!
Chinese Lieutenant dressed in white,
drives the Jag from speedy flight.
Oriental Hotel a little later,
friend and wife call the waiter.
It's no wonder I'm tired and grey,
going to KL for one day.

"Enjoy your day?" Julia said. "I bought some more antiques instead."



As the treetops nod an answers to the greeting of the wind,
as the moon relieves its commodore ‑ the sun,
as the smell of dying bonfires wafts across the darkened fields,
So the last thin thread of daylight's yarn is spun.

As I wander through the grasses bowing down beneath my tread,
A loud whirring in the air above ‑ then still,
and I raise my eyes to heaven ‑ see a lighter shade of dark,
even's gravestone to the sun beneath the hill.

As the moon with mounting vigour, sends its beams to flood the world
as the mimic pools of water twist its light.
I can bathe in nature's beauty and the friendship she extends,
and absorb the humble grandeur of the night.



In a valley in Sussex, where flows the Rother,
three pairs of wild geese honk through the sky,
out through the sunset and on through the evening
away from the valley, as we say goodbye.

Soon we are leaving to follow the wild geese,
but flying much farther and higher than they,
and we are the third pair, leaving the valley
and leaving the old geese, for lands far away.

The old geese are coming, coming to join us
out through the sunset over woodland and hill
away from the valley they've known all their lifetime
and out to the young geese, and younger geese still.

In a valley in England, where flows the Rother
four pairs of wild geese will never 'gain roam,
but our younger geese, one day, adventurous, curious
will visit the valley and the ancestral home. 



Single bell tolling thru the open sash,
soft Sussex breeze dries roof top wash,
strong Sussex maiden carries one heavy case,
dormer room comfort for weekend base.

Two wheeling gulls, crying like cats,
postage stamp garden courts, welcome mats,
of Laburnum, Poppy, Petuniae,
heart of England green yet dry.

Chip, chip, chip on brick, on tile,
roofers labour for a while.
Stop and look as police cars hurl,
cherry trees sway, racing clouds whirl.

Higgledy, piggledy roofs and gables,
tourist pubs, chairs and tables,
Ginger Tom, Shandy, patrols on the roof,
arrogant, confident, sedate and aloof.

Recycled masonry from times gone by,
Runner Beans, Chinese Lilies, Potatoes close lie,
Floribunda Roses climbing the wall,
since 1570, The George is all.

Man the traveller, seeks for his stop,
peace and tranquillity, food and a drop
of something delicious in ancient bar,
from Sydney, Hong Kong, places afar.

Back home in England for a week and a day
then on with the journey of life's survey.

July 1992 



Travelling is good for me. It tends to let my mind go free.
The bedroom's mine for three sole nights,
two twin beds and ancient lights make it seem like I'm at school,
where's my woolly ‑ Canberra's cool.
I've read my papers, up to date. I left the office running late,
panicky, knocked my tea adrift, but the taximan was very swift.
Being Chairman's not too great. All the critics sit and wait.
I know what I want to do, but damned by many, praised by few,
I hesitate wondering.... what is new!

Minutes typed and almost gone,
Finance sheets and strategy done,
Gifford's report. The speaker's notes.
Re-search paper. Budget votes.
Sort out the money! Not too loud,
that desperate land of the long white cloud.
Four new offices, debt free, great.
Don't borrow money! What a state
to let your company flounder in.
Lucky they've us to kick the tin!

Be confident my leader, the singer needs a song.
What really does it matter, if they try to prove you wrong.
The separate individuals, the friendship and the fun,
will build a new relationship if meetings are well run.
Your style is controversial. You don't say what you mean.
Delegate the actions to the younger and the keen.

Let's sprint off in the first year, don't let the action slow.
Enjoy the rites of Chairmanship before your two years go.

Andrew said it for them all.
He didn't want to kick the ball.
"Let the Executive run the show,
and then we needn't even go!"
Then tonight, to end the drama,
on the stairs, the Dalai Lama.
He looked at me and all the while,
had such a lovely, heavenly smile,

President Ott and I just missed the news.
We were drowning our CANBERRA BLUES!



I once asked dear old Harry, if when his race was run
he planned to pass the business to his eldest son.
He mused and smiled and answered no, he'd choose a different way to go.
Twenty years have left us, youth has left us too.
I was asked the other day, what I planned to do.
Was my son a surveyor? I smiled and answered no.
He'd seen what it had made me, chose a different way to go.

Romulus and Remus the founders of our Rome,
have both left us their heritage, one died, one stays at home.
The excitement of the meeting, as you all arrive,
handshakes and charisma, strength and skill and drive.
Half want to change the image, half want it just the same.
We take a vote, nothing gets done. I start to feel ashamed.

If we could only see us, as other people do
we'd be so proud of what we are, and of the future too.
Be careful when expansively the world map you address.
If you've never lived in Asia, such things need much finesse.
The skills we have to offer are nowhere near unique,
so think out what you're going to say, before you start to speak.

You never reach the rainbow, it's always out of feel.
Other people see us successful, great and real.
Remember Stanley's motto, "what will the Clients think?"
It doesn't really matter, if at times we have to shrink.
But keep your eye on your conscience, remember what you learned
Those of you in Rotary, "is it fair to all concerned?"

Business International, offices everywhere.
When our Clients think "overseas",  we know we're almost there.
We can do it with associates, we can do it on our own.
It's cheaper to share with others, especially a loan.
Remember the Honest Broker. It doesn't quite apply
in lands of different culture to those of you and I.

In ten short years, you know it, fifteen of us are done.
We plan to leave our Business to our eldest son.
Not the one from between the sheets, that really wouldn't do.
But the sons we feel have earned it. And that means you and you.



Little Julia, 5'0" tall, looking down upon us all,
from her INDOMITABLE height. She only wants what's right.
Bending us all to her constant will. Where does she get such force?
She only wants things right of course.
And if upset, gets very shrill!
This is the story of Auntie Julia, who started life as a little girl,
and ended it as a customs agent in London Airport.

Flying to New Zealand one day, she curiously opened the wrong door,
on the way to the loo,
"turn left at the end of the gangway" said the hostess,
and Julia, being Julia, turned right,
found the door hard to open, pushed, self‑confidently,
turning the funny looking levers, suck, whoosh, oops.
It's okay, she always has
AN UMBRELLA with her,
and she slowly parachutes to earth
EXCEPT THAT....We're over the sea! Ha! Ha!

"Hallo Mr Fusherman", she calls to the Maori man catching fish.
"Have you any fush for tea? 1 large bucket of assorted fush please.
Have you any CALAMARI? I love to have it deep fried,
with a very cold glass of CLOUDY F BAY."
Bemused but polite, the Maori fisherman steers his boat
under the lady with the PARACHUTE UMBRELLA
and pushes back his sailor's cap to stroke his four day growth of beard.

"Hallo Muss. The fush us frish. You can buy some whin we git to HOKITIKA".

"HOKITIKA!" she screeched at full gale force volume, enthusiastically.
"I used to go to the WRISTLING THEAH with DED."
The number two fisherman was on the roof of the cabin.
"Come down off the roof and TALK TO ME," she told him.
Later driving with the two fushermin over the Alps to Christchurch,
talking all the way, the two Maoris are pleased to drop her off
at Merivale shopping centre, where she changed some Ozzie money
for LOTS MORE KIWI MONEY! Kiwi money is bitter. There's more of ET.

Julia got a taxi to her sister PIN'S house
and saw the two boys BINJIMIN AND PETRICK. "Hallo Pin" she called,
"I've got a bucket of assorted FUSH for tea including some CALAMARI.
Hev you got any very cold CLOUDY F BAY?"
"No Hessels" says sister PIN, and they all sat down to tea
except for Daddy, who was at CRUCKET.



Two smart girls
one crinkle waved yellow hair, thick but short,
like an Elizabethan ruff over the collar.

The other, longer fairer hair,
glossy, newly washed.

Two black blazers, short dark skirts,
one plain, one pleated organza over skirt
with underslip below....

2" margin of see-through thigh,
slight decolletage neckline
as she stoops to drop her Opera House seat.

Sheer black stockings encase adult youthful legs
above the elegant evening shoes.

For me the ballet already has begun.



Two fit young sports,
with short cropped hair,
perfect skulls,
clean complexions, smiles, and shorts.

Tall, slim unbellied
lifting our cases from the car
"Good Morning Sir, Good morning Mam.
Have you come far?"

North Queensland courtesy
international politeness for Germans, Japanese,
Canadians, us.
Un-Australian deference, minimum of fuss,
muscles rippling, short sleeved, tanned arms show.

My young wife smiles speculatively,
I'm getting old, and she knows I know.



Beautifully typed, erroneous, reports!

Endemic confused nation
endemic confused business community
lack of motion
in all proceedings.
Cannot find the right paper...
fumble, look for it,
wink, nod,
"It's here,
somewhere.... thought I'd brought it."

"Get back to you. "

Postpone the decision,
postpone the day,
deeper, deeper down.
Unconsciously, unwittingly, drowning
in confusion,
pain, hysteria
drowning in bluff,
in naivety.

Driving with diminishing style and confidence
over the close approaching cliff.

"Don't know.
Repeat the question?"
nod, wink,
"Haven't seen THEM yet."

Someone needs to be the schoolmaster
and tell the boys what to do.

The previous one has died, and
had he got it right anyway?

Out of control, to doomsday.



The sweeting smell of pines, unlocks the hidden door of memory:
And once again, I wander down the leafy paths of Whippendell.

Proud magpie stalks, handsome in his very ugliness.
Sarcastic, arrogant, disdainful of his tame domain.
He seems to scorn this thin veneer and temperatures of Hell.

Australia, a cruel word for Northerners
who wilt and redden in the face.
An ancient land of deserts, gums, and sky
and least sophisticate of race.

Nomad wandering from hell to hell, his all unseeing vision
tortured by the servants of his face,
or so it seems to my untutored European eye.
Longing for my verdant Whippendell.

Magpie, one emblem of Australia,
Confident, virile, stark, combative, fierce.

But could this bird evolve,
when water softens the unmitigating heat,
plays lover to the passion of the sun,
and mother to the hard and cracking earth.

Australia, come flourish, green up
and welcome irrigation's second birth.

Stunted gums and ironbarks give way to pines and palms,
and willows line the contour dam.

Perhaps one day the Magpie may appear in subtler clothes
Like Kookaburra, Lorikeet,
Australia become a second Whippendell.

Nagoora, resting place of last desires,
the Currawongs await.

The dams all fill from inter-mittent rain.
My Hunter Whippendell and Fate.



Sitting on the front verandah, with a screen of shrubs in pots,
I watched the evening spring sky go from blue to white to red,
like a defiant English flag,
to thumb its nose at our Prime Minister's republican intent.

Chill drifted from the water's edge.
The two girls from next door were still riding their bikes round and round.
The birds were in the final stages of night nesting.
The last planes landing, were in black silhouette against the luminous sky.

Saturday evening, and we were off to Le Petit Savoyard
with Graham and Margaret for an evening meal.

I looked down feeling a nip.
A large mosquito was having its evening meal at my place.
Outdoor cooking smells of sausage, chips, onion and sauces
drifted through the tranquil evening.

Up on the TV aerial across the road, the large crested pigeon circled,
but uncomfortable on the high trapeze, flew off into a nearby tree to sleep.

Who needed the TV news to hear about the miseries of the world?
Oz was peaceful just at this moment,
like the peace that descends upon your home
when the three little ones are bathed and fed,
and angelically climb into bed in their winceyette jamies
and clutching teddy or dog and blanket,
and fingers finding the moist night-time mouth,
they slip off to recharge their batteries for tomorrow's devilry.

So it is with life.

A big Qantas thundered slowly down,
the engines revving and the whine lifting
as the flaps changed on the geometric slope into Mascot.

I sipped my Robson Muscat.

Choral singing from the new neighbour's radio next door
added the blessing to the rounded end of day.




Trickle stream beneath the road
reticulates the whingeing toad
hiding in the pipe below.
Roofs of tin expand and groan
magpie calls out all alone

- whoodly dorkel, dorkelly whoop.
Learning pilots circle, loop.

Above the Cessnock strip.

Two small brown birds, Binalong's creek,
in the grass ... play hide and seek,
eating breakfast, freeze for me
as I walk up, stealthly,
whistling birdsong to them. Quail?

A dog's compounded, what is up?

- The bitch is on. Too young to pup.

The boy dogs, flag pole tails erect.

- They can't get in. And I suspect,
(and Dennis smiles) the subtlety.

- Yeah, he says, laughing.

Merlot's planted, without a wire,
phosphate leaches never tire
fertile grass within my drain
getting thicker once again. Bother.

Red black mini birds, what are they?
Darting in and out. The day
is waking up.

I left at six and now it's eight,
a good long walk for a healthy state.
Last night's dinner, wine was chilled.
Sue's low neckline amply filled.
I'm reading in the dining nook
The Economist, my favourite book!



Two tortoise shell cats sat back to back
grooming themselves ostentatiously
as if in a Roman Beauty Parlour.
The third cat looked on, impassively, aloof, like me,
then the two kittens danced apart,
taking up new positions in their feline ballet.
Two gentle fronds of honeysuckle
reached out into my space, lonely,
seeking to touch me, someone, something;
anything for solace, teasing or for sport,
caringly beautiful, like model girls.
Cynically I knew their critical retort: "All you are to me
is a means of self advancement and support."
Two geraniums and one straggly rose
survive in a forgotten box, blossoming,
their faces turned in red embrace:
purple, pink and scarlet, rose.
Like impassioned adjectives desiring self expression
in poetry, in portraiture or prose,
as artist Peter Kilby knows. I am hungry,
lunch-less and impatient, reaching out;
I am lonely and abstemious, tired.
I am older. I am sad and I am missing you.



Planted in the soil, one upthrusting stem
procreates an ejaculation of urgent flowers,
blossoming, withering, falling, in sweet succession,
giving way to coming sequences of life. In winter
the ancient Frangipane is a handsome frame
of beggar's fingers, pointing outward, feeling upward,
in rude gesticulation of obscenity and derision,
or impotent last frieze of supplication. Oh God.
Then comes the Spring. The beggar's bowl is full.
God has heard his cry: "Give me one more spring,
perhaps a summer too." And the whole lattice of the tree,
a green canopy promising a harvest
of yellow, orange pink or white
flowerlets, like a bridesmaid;
Like a jewel in the little princess crown.
From surging, passionate mono limbed youth,
lusty and insatiable, to passive patriarchy.
Frangipane is the symbol of my life.