I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world, to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

22 October 2014

Moments / Years

We danced a sudden jig
among more sedate dancers
at the kindergarten parents’
end-of-year party.
Who was it slipped us
the whispered news
in that conservative gathering?
I can’t remember, but I do recall
whispering too, unable to contain
extreme jubilation: ‘Labour’s won!
Labour’s won! Labour’s won!’
We signalled our friends.
The after-party at our place,
on into early morning,
was a talkfest of delight.
That was in 1972.

And we were right to be glad
as rapid reform began.
Three years later
my best friend phoned.
‘The Government’s been dismissed!’
Half the country, of course,
had been listening to Parliament,
glued to our radios
as the crisis appeared to stalemate.
But at that point it was hard
to credit what we heard.
‘Profound division in the country,’
a commentator remarks.
Ah yes, they were fierce days.
Like many (though not the man himself)
I can still find the rage.

Today, in 2014, I read his death on facebook
over my morning coffee. Parliament
suspends all standing orders, spends all day
(both sides of politics equally)
honouring this man
who seemed eternal
but has finally left us.
'Great leader, great Australian,
great friend, mentor to many.’
‘He changed the nation.
There was before Whitlam and after.’
His list of achievements is long:
the arts, indigenous affairs,
the status of women …
‘A giant’, people are saying.
Let me say, Colossus.

31 Poems in 31 Days (Poewar / Writer's Resource Center). PromptWrite a three stanza poem that shows a progression with each stanza. The three stanzas should serve as a beginning, middle and end respectively.

Also submitted for dVerse Poetics — Good News, Bad News, Your News!


  1. Lovely job capturing those events in verse. (If this is a repeat comment, I apologize. I'm not getting any indication as to whether my comment is posting or not.)

    1. Thanks, Mad. No, it's not a repeat, and is in fact the first comment on this poem. :)

  2. We all have those memories of things that changed our respective nations.. maybe the one I remember most was the murder of our prime minister almost 30 years ago..

    1. And we know so little of other nations (except the ubiquitous USA). I was quite unaware of what you refer to.

  3. It's been proved that it was not for nothing that the talkfest was a delight...the touch of reverence is very moving...

  4. again with the losing...is this the same person as the first verse?
    we have lost a few leaders as well...pretty much what i said on the other
    as to content, though it is nice to have leaders that the people would
    actually mourn, if they passed...

    1. Yes, same person. His death at 98 was hardly unexpected, but he was such an extraordinary figure, and greatly loved. Also, as one commentator suggested, I think we are also mourning what we once were in a more optimistic and caring era.

  5. Sometimes a person comes along, that really makes a difference.

  6. Yet another great tribute. Well done.

  7. How wonderful to have had a leader like that, inspiring and well loved and admired. Sigh. Well done, Rosemary.

    1. We didn't have him as leader very long, though he achieved great things in that short time, but we did have him as an elder statesman and contributor to the life of the nation for many years.

  8. I like your capture of history in this poem that also serves as tribute to a man who represents what a nation could be.

    1. History as we lived it! And yes, we are mourning not only the man but what he represented.

  9. What a tribute Rosemary, awesome in detail, personal and otherwise. You do him proud.