Verse, Bad and Worse

Seriously….. and Not

All © 2020 ARF

When I was young and foolish

When I was young and foolish

I lived without a thought

From day to day and play to play

What’s easy comes to naught

When I was young and foolish

I worked where ere I could

My heart was spent, my back was bent

Yet I had done no good

When I was young and foolish

I loved without reserve

I gave and gave, and I received

What I did not deserve

When I was young and foolish

My motives were obscure

The good I did, the bad I hid

Which is which, now, I’m not sure

When I was young and foolish

I often wondered why

What is with me, that I shall be

Young and foolish ‘til I die


To die

Is to forget.

To be forgotten

Is Death.


Is the meaning of life.


Some days

I find myself weeping.

In Self-pity

Sorrow for the things

I should have done

That, now, I shall not do.

Sadness for things I did

I should not have

And cannot undo

Grief for what is

And should not be

But cannot be changed.

I ask forgiveness

Who cannot forgive myself.


No talent blues

I can’t play the guitar

I can’t sing in tune

Well, I can’t play the guitar

I can’t sing in tune

No, I can’t play the guitar

And I can’t sing in tune

I can’t even rhyme words

So I’ll probably give up trying

sometime in the near future.

I got the no-talent blues…

I can’t even do karaoke

I got the no-talent blues

My singin’ sounds all chokey

I got the no-talent blues

When I’m buskin’ in the city

I got the no-talent blues

I get money out of pity

I got the no-talent blues

I got the no-talent blues

I got the no-talent blues

So I’ll probably stop trying

Sometime in the future


Into the Desert

I have gone into the desert

More than forty days and nights

I lay beneath the emu’s form

I watched and saw his lights

Cross the sky from east to west

Wind wisped across my face

And whispered

“this place is the best. This place –

This place is the best of all”

And for a time I thought it so

The moon arising dimmed the galaxy

Despite the evil that they say

She showed me that my sins were small

I should have never run away



Dreams, like tree-thoughts

Unhurried, almost somnolent

Turn from languid green

To lethargic red and olive brown

Whispered woody words, inaudible,

Falling to the forest floor

A tale waiting to be told

A story to nourish spring-sprouting seeds


Unnoticed under litter

Forest misses nothing

It watches

What it cannot see

It hears

Birds tell tales to trees all year

Every tree, attentive, listens

Tells the others

Forest forgets nothing

All stories shared

Stored in structure, root, branch, bole,

Borne in baskets of withes and bark

Forest remembers everything

Burn it, and the smoke will spread the story

Cut it down, and like a hologram

Each branch will bear the whole

Lathe, shake, beam, board, plank, pile and lintel

Cupboard, door and cabinet

Shelves ingrained with histories

Bear witness

To sparrow, snake and spider

Lizard, frog and cicada

Nestling in a knot-hole

Sun and snow and predatory owl

Wind and water and lightning fires

Chainsaw and bulldozer

Mindless grind of mass production

Tools of loving artisans

Who oil and polish stories

Until they shine.

A child, raiding nests

Builds a tree house

Where he can hide.

Child and tree

Share intimately

Their Stories.

I realise now at last

That once upon a time

In a near-forgotten past

My best friend was a tree.

I have forgotten his name.


I know I don’t need to explain

Why I do not like this pain

It comes and goes, and comes again

I really do not like this pain.

Arthritic knees and spondylosis

Are the causes, one supposes

Some say it’s all inside my brain

Whatever. I don’t like this pain.

When I limp down to the dunny

Kids ask “why do you walk funny?”

I say “ mind your manners sonny”

And hit them with my walking stick



The trail leads up a bush-clad mountainside

Singing with birds, redolent with earthy attar

Rustling with hidden afternoon activity.

I catch an occasional glimpse

Of furtive feathered ground dwellers

And fleeing lizards.

The path is rough; rock and root-strewn

I need my stick to steady my steps

The summit touches the sky, above the highest trees

Which are shrouded in evening mist that washes

In slow floating waves as on a time lapse shore

Branches reaching out like dark coral rock

Above the washing white tide

Here at sunset, I made my camp

With one desire;

To sleep, and awake at dawn

To the bellbirds’ famed chorus

The morning came bright

the birdsong sublime under a clear sky echoed.

The island below me a taonga of poenamo

Set in lapiz: Around my camp

Came curious weka

enquiring after crumbs from breakfast.

On my descent I followed no path.

I had set my course on line of sight

Towards the green and black lakes

And beyond, to the obsidian cliffs

My second objective.

Though taking the obsidian is forbidden

I had set my heart on finding a piece

Suitable to nap a knife.

The going was slow. The bush impeding

I came upon a place of silence

No birdsong, no rustling in the undergrowth

Eerie. The nape of my neck tingled

I fell into a hole

Unhurt I climbed out

And saw the overgrown hole was regular, square

And there were more; many more, man made

It was a place where people had once dwelt.

Lived and died.

I moved on as swiftly as I could

One lake was black, one algal green

I cooled myself but did not drink

I had a feeling as if Lethe might live within

At the foot of the cliffs I found

Tumbled shards of shining atramentous

The volcanic glass I coveted.

I took some; perhaps there and then

Began the curse that follows me yet.

I cannot return the tuhua; I no longer have it

I left it somewhere, some time, I don’t recall.

It is lost. It does not matter.


Derogation Row

I’m collecting all the useless words and then I’ll knock them down

The streets are full of epigrams, there’s discomfort in the town

The constable is pacing slow, he’s trying not to dance

The drunkard knows he can walk a line if he only had a chance

The cheerleaders are goose stepping, they need somewhere to go

They took the evening off to visit Derogation Row


The single mother is wondering. There’s something she should know

She forgot her baby in the bank not too long ago

Then she saw the epigrams as they began to bleed

Like pesky pigeons in the park, pecking poisoned seed

She saw the space between her hands where something ought to go

And ran to find her baby back on Derogation Row


Now the moon must get a mention and the stars are quoted too

The prognosticators all predict, because that’s what they do

They seek an obscure biblical reference or even three or more

The Walrus and a carpenter were staggering out the door

They’d laboured hard for seven years with nothing much to show

They ended in the gutter down on Derogation Row


Shakespeare’s words were rounded up; ,they all felt so afraid

They were accused of coinage when the charges had been laid

Portia donned her mantle and her mercy was not strained

She argued very strongly that all words should be unchained

A Noun, a Verb, an Adjective would not Decline to go

Where every word is equal, down on Derogation Row


Einstein can’t believe that quantum physics is a thing

His Universe is infinite, it’s not shaped like a ring

His sage advice to Schrödinger that he should get a pet

Was just ignored, without a word, he doesn’t have one yet

He thought he had one in a box, which only goes to show

Life’s just a thought experiment on Derogation Row


The word has gone around the world. And all across the planet

They dance the time warp in the nude, and pray to Brad and Janet

The songs are getting sillier, Bob Dylan’s clearly mad

Now I’m quoting Richard O’Brien, there is little more to add

Nothing beats the madness of the Rocky Horror Show

Not even all the references on Derogation Row


You have to be a gentle soul to like Bob Dylan’s verse

It seems to me that you can see this parody’s no worse

I could go on, and show you all the talent that I’ve got

I could go on but you’ll be cheered to hear that I will not

So for your sake I’ll finish now, because I’ve come to know.

When it’s time to end the song of Derogation Row.



Regrets. I’ve had a few

And there are some I’d like to mention

I didn’t always think things through

I didn’t always pay attention

I never joined the rodeo

Even though I was invited

I never ran away to sea

Though ships get me excited

I loved and lost, and did not learn

I never could forget

Then, at last, I started running

And I am running yet.

It has been said – I know it’s true

We regret most what we didn’t do


I Did My Best

I did my Best

Not good enough

I played the game

but it got rough

I need to rest

I’m not so tough

It’s all the same

not good enough

not good enough

not good enough

I did my best

Not good enough.


Once, with lofty purpose, I set out

Of a mind, and with a will, to conquer

I saw the world with scientific eyes

And shunned the superstition and the lies

That I learned from the pulpit and the cassock.

In the real world that I found awaiting

The simplest task was fraught with ignorance

Of those whose fears and faiths, irrational

Denied the possibilities of science

Demanding asservation of the unknowable.

Unprovable tales; Insane conspiracy

Demands that I Believe a Prayer

Offered to some omniscient being

Who until that moment unaware

Of my desires, might choose

To grant or deny, by chance alone, at whim.

And yet ignore the needs of millions.

Thus, and thusly, I cannot feel reverent

To your Lord of superstitions and of lies.

Vonnegut was right

The God of the Utterly Indifferent

Has no interest in his creation.


I shall fare forth, my future for to find

Though I am old, my future most behind

The little left remains for me to see

The how and where of what is left of me

To join with all the waters of the sea

It’s there that I shall see eternity.


Living Love

I believed I knew what love is

I tried to show you

By being Love

By living Love

With you

But our wires were crossed?

You wanted more than I could give

But could not tell me what that was

I didn’t know,

But did you know?

And only one of us was living Love

Until you told me you would go

Leaving me

Living Love


Now you should know

I never stopped

Living Love.

Even after all these years

I never shall.


I notice.

A couple, middle aged, on holiday

He orders the parmigiana,
She the shrimp salad with pink dressing

They always order that, away

Another couple with a noisy child
The most interesting person in the room
Who does not want the mashed potato
Because it contains something strange

They order the same things they eat at home
And marvel that the vegetables include broccolini
And artichoke in the Pommes Purée

Who would have thought of that?

An old couple, he taciturn and grim, she loquacious,
Eat in respective misery and chatter
A complacent lifetime in their pockets
Neither connecting with each other or the food

A young man and the girl to impress

“We’ll have the escallop de veau”
He’s disappointed when it comes

“Where are the scallops?”
She’s trying not to smile.

I’m not.

At the corner tables sit the regulars,

talking loudly into each other’s hearing aid
Old men from the camp, who cannot cook
And even now, alone, won’t take the time to learn
They order steaks well done, with chips and salad

And apple crumble with whipped cream.

The waiter, young and earnest, recites the specials
They don’t seem that, so much

And I, I realise I’d rather be at the Punjabi
Where smiling Sikhs serve fragrant food

But I order chilli and nachos

And a Coronita

They put lemon in the bottle neck, not lime.

And very little chilli in the chilli

I smile at the noisy youngster
Demanding ice cream
though he hasn’t eaten his mash.


My need to be alone

is balanced by my fear

of what will happen when

I enter the huge empty silence.


My aching bumb

Hello, hello, hello

I see that you are wincing again

I see you limping as you go

Could it be you’re still in pain?

Come on now

Just swallow these pills down

They will numb your darkling brain

Help you face the day again

Give up (give up, give up…)

There’s just no point in going on

You could down them all with booze

That’s the road that you should choose

There is no road, no destination

No home awaits beyond the horizon

I am travelling alone

The place I live is not my home

I call for help and no one comes

No one seems to understand

This is not what I had planned

I’ve had enough,

I cannot go on.

When I was young I was so hopeful

I thought I had a world to gain

But all the good times came to nothing

Now my heart is lost in pain

I’ve had enough

I cannot go on.

How and why did it go wrong?

It was my fault all along

To be Good you must be strong

I’ve had enough

I cannot go on.



No spite, no hate,

No anger nor vituperation;

No communication.

The antonym of love

Is indifference

And the punishment

for love that failed

Is silence

And oblivion


Everything I’ve written

Is the absolute truth

And a complete lie

I have strutted and fretted

My hour is up.

The Queen is dead

The woods are walking

Nor tarrying, nor flying, now

I’m done with talking.


On my mind

It was all so long ago

I forgot the things I used to know

But I think about you now and then

And I can still remember when

Only you was on my mind

I’m hoping that the man you see

When you wake is better than me

I’m hoping that he treats you right

Loves you gentle, holds you tight

And keeps you on his mind.

I think of what was good we had

The day we met still makes me glad

But now I’m in the darkest night

And when I go into the light

I’ll have you on my mind.

(Fucking doggerel)



I am a broken man

There is no repair

No Mr. Fixit for my soul

No glue, no screw, no tinker’s rivet

For my frame



There’s a hole in the ocean

In the shape of a boat

It’s displacement in cash

Is what keeps it afloat

A boat is a folly one never should buy

Unless one is leaving

And I’ll tell you why.

A boat is for travel and so you should know

Before you invest you need somewhere to go

I’m going nowhere, and I know the heading

Nowhere is vast, the sea is my steading.


Not with a bang, nor a whimper

But a sneeze, Mr Eliot

Or gushing of bowels, or of vomit

Or of blood from every aperture

With our children asking “Why?”


We are born to die.

There is no finer end

than one chosen,

Without despair or self pity

Knowing the time is come.

What is left uncompleted

is no longer important,

or perhaps, not possible.

What is done, is done

For good or ill;

It has been interesting.

What lies ahead is unwelcome…

And unnecessary.


So, these days, I’m always sad

My life it seems is going bad

I’ve lost the best things that I had

Why that is, I don’t know

Everything is rust and dust

There’s no one left that I can trust

I’m hanging on, but only just

I’ve nowhere left to go

I live a life of constant pain

I’ll never walk the hills again

And there is no one to explain

Why this must be so.

Ive reached the end, or so it seems

There’s nothing left of all my dreams

Don’t sell me all those ‘worthwhile’ themes

It’s time now to let go.

I don’t think I could use a noose

Perhaps a simple overdose

Or a watery ending I might choose

And end up deep below.

I’ve always been at home at sea

On, in, or near, is where to be

I love her, and she loves me

That is where I’ll go.


My Poem

First draft

I rewrote my poem;

It was mine to rewrite.

I gave it a happy ending,

As all stories should have,

Because life is too short

Not to have a happy ending.

When I go for my final swim

I shall be happy.

Know this. And do not mourn.

I have weighed it up without despair.

The only thing I’m not prepared to lose

Is Control



I do not look forward to tomorrow

All my thoughts are in my yesterdays

I don’t want to get old

I don’t want to live like this

Any longer.

My time is past

I have nothing left to contribute

I drain the dwindling resources of a drowning planet.

I could point to some few things I’ve done

Which should have earned me my place

Which brought something good into the world

“But”, says the Earth

“What have you done for me lately?”

Now I feel only guilt

For things I should have done

Things I should not

Things I still do not understand

How do I know it’s time?

Nothing matters any more.


In the morning bright and and early, I awakened tired and surly

From a dream of surreal memories of a happier time before

While I nodded, almost dozing, around my heart I felt claws closing

As if some raptor was exposing half forgotten pain of yore

With bitter cruel manaiacal laughter from the trees outside my door

“Tis a kookaburra, nothing more”



And now, for your edification and delight, a traditional sea shanty.

Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish Lobsters

Farewell and adieu whether entree or main

We look forward to when you are back on the menu

For we all would like to eat lobster again

We’re all very fond of a fine Spanish Lobster

Grilled on the barbie or in a mornay

But here in Australia your name was a failure

Here you are just known as Bugs- Moreton Bay

So farewell and adieu to you all Moreton Bay Bugs

Farewell and adieu to you Bugs Moreton Bay

We’ll lose all reason when you’re back in season

And line up in droves for high prices to pay.


I talk to the birds;

None but one stay

To hear.

Only Crow listens

He Carries my words away.

He is wise and he knows

A word is a seed,

and a seed grows.

Into the forest

He takes it

To bury it deep

by the roots of The Hazel Tree.

He takes my words

to plant for me

Where they might flourish.


Little tiny bloody fly

How is it you do not die?

I flood the van with pyrethroid

Which you, you bastard, just avoid

I choke and cough while you fly free

To double back and attack me.

That bloody itching spot you made

Right there on my shoulder blade

Where I can’t reach to put some lotion

Or some anaesthetic potion.

And as for all the dough I spent

On feckin’ useless repellent!

I can’t seem to apply enough

To protect myself and fend you off.


There are things I wish i had said

Where the power of my words might have swayed

Your faltering heart

And you might have stayed

But when I searched for them they fled

Over my distress

I saw yours

The pain and the yearning for a freedom

I believed was not from me

But from some dreaded destiny

A future drear and empty

That I cannot fill, no matter

How much I love.

Youthful Dilettante, you explored

An oeuvre of expression,

Love and marriage

Then, unfulfilled, moved on

Without me.


The Wild Remittance Man”

There was a wild remittance man

Earnest Bradshaw was his name

And he was born in Lancashire

Of tasty hot-pot fame

He was his father’s son it’s said

Though that was never proved

And his sister was his cousin,

Though several times removed.

He wasn’t a good scholar

And he was a rowdy youth

He did a bit of petty theft

And never told the truth

His behaviour was disruptive

And caused his family embarrassment

So then it was decided to

The colonies he’d be sent

They sent him to Australia

Where society’s dregs all come

They gave him fifteen guineas

Which was then a princely sum

They bad him stay in the antipodes

We don’t care where you roam

As long as you stay over there

And don’t try to come home

He bought a little tract of land

To settle down for life

And soon enough he had a son

And later on, a wife

He farmed his land and raised his sheep

He made a bit of money

He was the first in Queensland to

Install an inside dunny

And that is how he lived his life

Though not for very long

In ‘ninety two he died of flu’

And that’s the end of my song.



Forgotten by family

Bereft of friends by distance and death

We are all alone when we die

We die when we are all alone.

To die is to forget

And death is to be forgotten.

So. I am dead.



I have lived among the broken people

They sent me there

Repairman for their faults

As if good will

A football and a meal

Might mend generations of pain.

Murder still in memory

Birthright and right denied

Who can soothe such wounds?

And though I tried, god knows I tried,

I too ended broken.

I have lived among the broken people

They sent me there

Repairman for their faults

As if good will

A football and a meal

Might mend many generations of pain.

Massacre and Murder still in memory

Birthright and right denied

Who can soothe such wounds

With just a token?

And though I tried, god knows I tried,

I, too, ended broken.

I truly tried my wage to earn

I could not help them, merely learn.

They cannot help, who once betrayed

And raised a debt that can’t be paid.



We are born to die.

There is no finer end

than one chosen,

Without despair or self pity

Knowing the time is come.

What is left uncompleted

is no longer important,

or perhaps, not possible.

What is done, is done

For good or ill;

It has been interesting.

What lies ahead if I should stay

is unwelcome…

And unnecessary.



I have no time for patriots who venerate real estate over principles.



If it were to be done

It must be done with clarity


Not on a day when the black dog grips the throat

For logical reasons and sound sense

Not despair.

Yet from despair stems every sound reason.

Every choice leads back

To despair.



No spite, no hate,

No anger nor vituperation;

No communication.

The antonym of love

Is indifference

And the punishment

for love that failed

Is silence

And oblivion



I took out a lens wipe

The moistened towelette type

And cleaned away the greasy cataracts

On my multifocal lenses. The clouds

Thinned but undispersed let me see through

But still not clearly

I wish the wipes would work on eyes.

I was warned. But it’s too soon

Not yet. Not yet.

Mayhap the Queensland sun

Is not content with gifting melanoma.



Don’t feel sorry for me, Eketahuna.

The truth is, I caught the bus home.

I left the party, and my car keys

And staggered to the bus stop

With just enough sense to know

Which bus to catch, and where to go

I always drink too much at parties

Because I go alone and there I know

How alone I am. Amidst a crowd

We see the solitary truth of who we are.


All my thoughts, in order










And that’s about it.



Your smile. Is.

Sausages, sizzling in a skillet

Sounds like sage leaves singing sadly

From the botulum of their hearts

While the parsley and potato purr

The yellow of the egg yolks hurts my ears

Avocado. Avocadenza