John Falzon |
13 November 2016
I live in the remains of an old castle
Lost to the world
And next to the sea
Virtually in the sea
Like an inexplicable vigil
By the deathbed of one who has already died
In a life that has gone before us
And if I were not writing this poem
In the old lost castle too close to the sea
I would still be in the caves and caverns
Drinking up the dust
I likely came from.
I was thirteen I think
Or nearly thirteen
When Salvador Allende told me
I had to be absolutely serious
If I was to follow the calling
Already I had a notebook going
Along with whatever I was reading
No different really to how I am today
Some forty years later
But when Salvador Allende told me I had to be serious
Or else I should stop trying to be a poet
Well that was a turning point
That was when I stopped trying to be a poet
And just turned my face to the poem
And since then I have never turned away
I have never turned away
I've gone down so many strange alley ways
So many canals
Tunnels even especially underneath the hospitals
Unused wings in overused buildings
Superseded suburbs that have lost their names
In countries no longer on any map
Places outside the zones
Not in any programmes
All lovable predictable familiar desired
So much the thread of my one poor poem
I've been nowhere too
But even then I did not turn away from the poem
I talked to no one
Let no one catch on
Never got wet in the sea
Or from the sea in the sky
I did nothing wrong
But even so
I never turned away from the poem
Even when I shaved off little bits
To sharpen my sense of the poem
Or the unseen warfare
In the world.
Dr John Falzon is an advocate for social justice. He is the author of The language of the unheard and has had long experience in political analysis and activism. He has worked in academia, in community development and in research. He has been the Chief Executive of the St Vincent Paul Society National Council of Australia since 2006 and a poet since 1973. He has written and spoken widely in the public arena on the structural causes of inequality in Australia.
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15 November 2016
This is very beautiful and thoughtful. It is what I imagine people do when they meditate. But why is it called poetry?
15 November 2016
John, stay with the day job. Sounds like S.V.P. Needs people like you. Dreamer, Meditator, heart and soul and a bit of a head too. God Bless.
15 November 2016
Beautiful, John Falzon ...
15 November 2016
Good question, Frank.
17 November 2016
Memories of what came before are washing out to sea in John's poems. In recent memory, we created a feeling of certainty through sharing our compassion and lives with others. This solidarity built homes, community spaces and green suburbs where people had a name, a sense of place, an identity and a summer sprinkler! Uncertainty and competition retracts that which binds the spaces between us all. It washes our sense of self to sea where who we are is lost and forgotten. John's poems are a reminder not to forget that which was built before us. To hold on. To ride the sharp waves that threaten to pull us apart. To cling together and to not let go of all that was good in 'what came before' to pursue all that could be in the 'what is the next'. Sometimes a rock can speak simply by being there. John's vivid 'not' poetry is a reminder of this simple protest. Thank you John for your encouragement and kind student mentor-ship at Vinnies N.C.
Catherine Marshall | 11 November 2016
One minute you're escorting your five-year-old daughter to the school gate, the next you're popping a bottle of Veuve Cliquot and wondering where the last 17 years went. My grandmother told me children age you. I thought she meant they wore you down, put grey hairs on your head. But I understood after I'd become a parent myself. Children are hour glasses that cannot be laid on their sides for even a moment, but must be turned over as soon as the last grain of sand has fallen through the flue.
John Cranmer | 07 November 2016
Have you ever noticed the way that book and reality sometimes entwine and become essentially one? It's happening here and now as we contemplate these few hot days in Hawker and the Flinders. Anita Desai's The Zigzag Way creates a context for living here at this particular ephemeral moment. Altiplano Mexico in all it's barren frugality integrates with these hot and marginal plains hemmed in by the cragginess of surrounding scarplands with their many strong stories
Mary Manning | 09 November 2016
'Pull the levers, scoop the coffee, flatten it, steam fragrant liquid into white cups. My lever-pulling right arm has huge muscles from my coffee ballet. Around me: the buzz of conversations about people's plans for their day. No one knows I am lonely.' Short story by former Eureka Street editorial assistant Mary Manning, who died on Tuesday 8 November 2016.
Brian Doyle | 24 October 2016
This is what I saw at a funeral, on a bright brilliant crystal spring day which the late lamented would most surely have called a great day for golf: His grandson, age smallish, dandling the deceased's favourite club on the lawn outside the church, as all the mourners stood around chatting. The boy whirled it like a baton, and balanced it on a finger, and finally leaned insouciantly on the club, exactly as his grandfather had so very many times before. It seemed very much to be a prayer, somehow.
Chris Wallace-Crabbe | 17 October 2016
When I was a kid, I certainly knew, that a cassowary in Tinbuctoo, was able to eat a missionary, cassock, bands and hymn-book, too. Because it rhymed, it had to be true. But what on earth were those bands doing? Nothing musical, I'll be bound, And a cassock, what sort of jigger was that?