Death is Peace. Life is Love

Skulls

 

Beneath the garlanded stamps, invisible if you don’t stop to see, are the skulls. Long dead. Dinosaurs. Witnessed only through the absence they make, catching an eye, so you must stop. And see.

~ Di Esmond

Having just completed a course of Identifying the Dead and currently reading Forensics by Val MDermid, the word ‘skulls’ sent my mind to thoughts of death.

~ Lorraine Heyes

Requiem

The breakers pound against the rocks
‘Neath grassy slopes, white horses play
And I will steer by Southern Star
As shadows lengthen at close of day.

Beyond the dawn of spangled skies,
Through the mists of death’s dark veil
By moonlight I will come to you
On ghostly ship with silver sail.

Without the mists and moods of time
I feel you wait with ice cold breath
And watch me toss on troubled seas
With steel blue eyes in pools of death.

But there’s a time outside of time
Where death is peace and life is love
And though Hades gate should bar the way
Someday my soul will soar above

Mysterious Way of the Spirit

Retablo

Coyote speaks to Mary#3

Virginia Maria Romero’s devotional retablos feature a person with the footprint of a wolf on their throat in one, and a person with a wolf beside them in another. To me they speak of the connection with the land and the animals that we once had, but many have lost.

When I first discovered the retablos my mind linked to the word wolf. Although I soon discovered the animal was a coyote, I felt strongly about the wolf, and so I stayed true to my initial impression of the retablos and wrote Brother Wolf.

~ Laree Chapman

Brother Wolf

We were brothers together, fur and tooth
At home in the red desert sand.
We tracked the prints of truth, of truth
Shared its scent, my brother, my wolf, my wolf

Our slow lope ate the miles away
We bayed as we hunted tomorrow.
We fled the pain of yesterday
And its turquoise tears of sorrow.

But I left the desert, the blood we shared,
For lights and a city’s desires.
Now the trail is cold, the red sand bare
As I scry in the man made fires.

Where was the truth, brother? Where was the truth?
Was it there in the lay of the land?
Or the moments between the heartbeats we shared
And the pulse of the hot red sand?

I know the truth, brother. I know the truth.
Too young to understand
I lost my friend, my brother, my wolf,
For a life in an alien land.
And the ripped blue sky as it tumbles down
Leaves me chilled and trembling still
Yet I find his tracks in the sand ahead
And at midnight I hear his call.

At midnight I hear my brother’s call.
Yes, at midnight I answer his call.

Some people thrive at boarding school. I did not. I felt I had been wrenched from my family, my farm and the animals I loved most, our sheep dogs. To a child once free to roam across thousands of acres alongside two or three dogs, the convent school’s tightly packed dormitories and concrete borders seemed like a jail on foreign soil. I returned home on holidays to find school friends saw me as different to them. They were secure in the knowledge that they would be there forever; I would always be leaving. It left me in a void. And so I had one foot in the past and one foot in the present. But always, my loving sheepdogs were my connection.

On seeing an art work

And then I stop and stare.

There is a painting above the old fireplace. I don’t know what it is but it seems to be something made especially for me. It is a muted landscape and at the top is a shining gold sun. Some of the gold seems to have worn off, giving the sun a distressed look. The sun is poking into the border of the painting, which isn’t framed.

coymoonI stand and stare.

There is a good chance that my mouth is gaping wide open. I’m having trouble breathing and my heart is thumping hugely. I keep standing there staring.

After a while I look around and realize that everyone is nearby too busy eating drinking and talking to pay much attention to me. That’s fortunate because I must look really dumb.
I look away from the painting. I look back. I can’t help it. I seem to need to keep looking at this beautiful thing. I understand it. It is speaking to me. I have no idea what it is saying but still I understand it. This is really stupid, but I can’t stop looking.
I feel someone standing close beside me. I look and it’s Avril.

“You seem to be enjoying the art,” she says.
At first my voice doesn’t work. I close my open mouth and I open it again in an attempt to speak like some demented goldfish. “That painting, it’s beautiful.”
“Yes, it’s only small, but I like it too. It’s made by painting with beeswax, with the color in the wax.”
“Small but perfect. It’s amazing. I need to buy it. How do I buy it?”

This painting could not be expressed in poetry. I have never found that to be the case before. I ventured into the scary (for me) area of prose and plotting and it became the inspiration for a novel. Girl meets boy artist, who is a Las Cruces nice guy over here as part of the exchange — not the actual artist, Susan Hutton, as I have taken some licence with the facts. 

~ Jan Sullivan

 

Blue Sky Talkin’

   #Blueskytalkin'FB copy CRUSH FESTIVAL FINALE

During the final days of CRUSH, club members were privileged to be given an opportunity to stand back and really look at the place we call home.

Thanks to the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery, we had our own little part to play in their Wide Bay High Desert II Exhibition, an international exchange project between two countries involving twelve artists responding to the unique culture and landscapes of the Wide Bay in Queensland and the High Deserts of New Mexico.

Club members added an extra dimension with their words, and a little music.

First words to Vance Palmer

Back in the day, one of Australia’s most respected wordsmiths, Vance Palmer, was born (1885) in Bundaberg. He spent his early years here before being educated in small towns across Queensland – his father was a teacher. After that, Vance travelled the world learning his writing craft. He’s known for his poetry and essays, and for his journalism, but wasn’t against writing pot-boilers (eighty-one during a nine month stint in London), serials and music-hall sketches.

He was in France when the First World War broke out, and came back to Queensland. He said of the country: 

Beyond the horizon, or even the knowledge, of the cities along the coast, a great, creative impulse is at work — the only thing, after all, that gives this continent meaning and a guarantee of the future. Every Australian ought to climb up here, once in a way, and glimpse the various, manifold life of which he is a part.

And of Bundaberg:

By night Bundaberg reminds one of a coastal town in the Southern States of America, the wide streets, with their heavy foliaged trees the smell of tropical fruit in the air, the sense of open doors and windows-all these things suggest Carolina.

There is a faint restlessness abroad. Voices echo dimly from shadowy verandas and balconies and there are the thousand little sounds and movements that speak of heat.

So what is it about Bundaberg and the Wide Bay…

Lizard1FB

A curved stick in the middle of the road moves to become a live being. In another time the goanna could have been king on his world without any fear.

Red sand blowing creates new
blue haze laying above the tree tops
sand scraping against itself
leaves rustling into gullies.
The scent of sandy wind meets the aromas of the bush.

~ Jenny Addicoat


RiverFBThe slow, deep, muddy river approaches the city from the west, widening into a respectable, significant waterway traversed by long, important, busy bridges – both rail and road.

It skirts the CBD, refuge for fishing boats and pleasure craft, moving on past the mill – ever-widening as it reaches the port, the large bulk sugar ships and over-crowded marina.

Ever widening, still muddy, on it goes until at last the river merges, disappears, in the vast South Pacific Ocean.

~ Angus Gresham


Coral seaFB
The soft breeze coming off the Coral Sea whispers through the leaves of the majestic she-oaks.

A turtle raises its head and takes a gulp of air, letting out a whoosihng sound that seems to reply to the oaks, and then disappears beneath the clear waters of the Baffle.

It’s calm waters gather momentum as the Baffle reaches out through the estuary mouth and tumbles headlong into the mighty ocean.

~ Lorraine Heyes


Cane green against a blue sky. PalmsFB

Perfect tips flop, carefree in the gentle breeze, and thrash, wilding, in the wind.

I succumb, like an addict, to the freedom it promises.

Skimming. Ducking. Diving. I glide inside my imagination.

I see across the breadth of the earth, feeling the desert heat before the sea envelopes me in its coolness.

~ JenLi

The Writing in Art

Way back in September our club meet moved to the local gallery to take in some of their collaborative exhibition with Las Cruces, New Mexico. Unfortunately, our web site wasn’t all she could be at the time but now, after some remedial action, she’s getting back to action. 


 

Writers can be nervous when invited to put aside their prose and, having engaged with an art exhibition, come up with some short and sharp words, rich with glorious, vigorous and from-the-heart meaning.

Bundaberg Writers’ Club asked precisely that of members. Let’s be honest here, some people needed convincing. So we dragged those few along to BRAG and to WBHDII, and you know, it wasn’t so bad!

Man, can those artworks speak.

And one writer was heard to comment, with a little squeak in the voice, how much galleries had changed.

Bonus.

Since responding to art is an exercise in seeing through another’s point of view, here’s a few words from a member/traveller who sees Bundaberg daily from a different angle; he lives on the river, just downwater from BRAG.

John Regan has sailed the world a time or two and is well familiar with Woody Island, and the light. His immediate connection, and reaction, was to Trevor Spohr’s piece.

Central section Woody Island Girl

Central section
Woody Island Girl

 

Woody Island Girl

Woody Island Girl
a beacon in the dark
passage through the shallows
history leaves its mark

sailing through the strait by night
we keep a lookout for the light
eased the sheets, now running free
her bowsprit plunging through the sea

 

 

 

 

You can just about hear the swash and buckle. And taste the salt on your lips.

If you’re wondering what it’s really like ‘messing about in boats’ on the Burnett, then wonder no longer. Here’s a quick picture of life on the river from John Regan…

 

 

pelican‘Pelicans are the paddle boats on the Burnett River. Despite their absurd beaks and big round eyes they have an air of dignity as they cruise through the shallows. The beak plunges like a sword into the water and comes up with its prey struggling inside the pouch like a hyperactive Adam’s apple. Two or three gulps and the hapless fish is swallowed whole and the pelican continues on its sedate way.

As the tide falls, a tribe of pelicans come to rest on a mudbank near my boat, always on the lookout for prey. They have much better manners than seagulls and rarely squabble among themselves. They even tolerate the presence of shags on their territory but seagulls appear to be intimidated by the beak and sheer bulk of a pelican.

A family of seahawks that nests in the nearby mangroves present the only real competition for pelicans although they tend to keep their distance. While the pelican fishes in the shallows the hawk circles high in the air and dive-bombs his prey.

Then there are the ibis, curlews, willy wagtails and magpies trying to make a living on the riverbank. Considering all this competition among species, life on the river is remarkably harmonious unless you happen to be a fish, a crab or a worm. Crocodiles have not been seen in the river for many years although a large one inhabits the Mary River, not far away. The only real pest as far as humans are concerned is a little bird that looks like a cross between a sparrow and a swallow. Their unpleasant habit is to perch on the guardrails of my yacht and shit on my deck.’

River