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Kunama 1971

Collection of Poems

Dianne Snowdon 31

All Alone

He lives all alone
In his weatherboard house.
All alone, except for his two black and whit mongrel dogs,
tied to a makeshift kennel
in the furthest corner of his sorrowful yard.
He asks for no pity
Yet all about him is pitiful.
His house, like him, has seen better years
It's paint is faded and peeling.
The weeds intermingle with the remaining palings
of his verandah rail.
The windows are dusty.
The fence drunkenly droops downward,
The whole place is steeped in a decadent air.

He, too, decadent.
the once bright eyes
Have faded,
Are wrinkled
And half-closed with shortsightedness.
But still in his eyes there is the old gleam
of fierce independence.
Of pride.
His weather-beaten face has strangely, an air
Of serenity
Of peacefulness, tranquillity -
As if he is satisfied with his life.
In his eighty-odd years
He has seen both war and peace,
Has loved and been loved,
Has hated and been hated
He has made few lasting friendships,
His neighbours see little of him -
They do not care for his company,
Nor he for theirs.

And so it came to pass
That one night, one dark moonless night,
His son returned
Came home to his father
In drunken disorder
Demanded the money that had been so carefully saved,
And when refused
Turned violent, beatiing his old weakened father,
Who helped bring him into the world.
Then finding money in an old tin jar,
Caring not for the dying man on the floor.

The night passed, turned into day.
The old man lay dead on the floor.
No-one knew,
No-one cared.
Until the frenzied barking of his two starving dogs
attracted the attention
of the neighbour next door.
Five days and nights had passed.

He was buried simply - as he had lived,
Asking for little, receiving less.
Now he is gone
And will be forgotten by many,
Remembered by but a few
And he will rest in the graveyard,
Under cold stone,
And all alone.

Black Greyhound

When she was a few weeks old,
He brought her home
She was beautiful.
Her coat was black,
Blacker than a moonless night,
But shining black, gleaming.
Her eyes were impish, teasing.
Full of fun and mischief
He loved her like she was his child.

She would play
For hours on end,
Leading over imaginary hurdles,
Chasing her white-tipped tail in vain
round the shrubs in the yard.
She was filled with an endless supply of energy.
He had her
For little more than a year,
When it happened.

She had not yet raced,
But he said her prospects were good.
He would train her on the flat.
She was fast, swift of foot,
Hers was a bright future -
Until one day in uncontrollable excitement
She dashed onto the roadway.
The car hit her: it could not stop in time.
Two legs were broken; the driver said he was sorry...

And so this beautiful creature
Is no more.
He had her put to sleep
It was the only decent thing to do.
He misses her, she was part of him,
And upon her death,
A little of him died too.

The Valley of Plenty

My young one, it is good to be back
In the valley of my youth.
Now I am old and withered,
Once I was young, pretty,
Here in this valley of plenty.
My young one, be my eyes,
For I cannot see.
Tell me, my young one,
Are the flowers of this valley
As beautiful as they were when I was young?
Does the sun throw down her golden light
Onto the lagoon?
Do the fish jump from the water?
Is the platypus family still there,
Or have they moved to a new place?
Do the lilies still decorate the lagoon
With their pretty colours?

My young one, be my ears,
For I hear not too well -
But surely that is the call of a bell-bird
Tinkling down there by the lagoon,
And that must be the waterfall,
Gurgling and laughing over there
In its playful way.
Ah! how beautiful it is -
How I wish that I were still
Young and carefree as the waterfall,
Tumbling down to the lily-decked lagoon,
And as beautiful as the flowers
That grow there,
And as happy as the mother platypus
And her family.
My young one, I am well pleased.
Take me home that I may die in peace.

And so the old grandmother goes away,
Happy with her dream.
Deceitful dream - but how could her grandson tell her
That there were no flowers in her valley
- Only dead, dried out weeds.
That the lagoon was shrivelled,
And no more than a mere trickle of polluted water.
That the fish were all dead,
The platypus, too.
That her tinkling call of the bellbird,
And the laughing, gurgling waterfall
Were the sound of tin cans,
And other rubbish being thrown into the town dump.
Her beautiful valley of plenty!
Man killed it,
Destroyed it for future generations.
How could he tell her that it was not there?
He couldn't.
And so the old grandmother went away,
Happy with her dream.

Not a care

He sits;
Sits and laughs on his yellow blanket
On the grass;
Not a care in the world has he - not a care.
The sun's warm rays catch his sild-soft hair,
Turning it to golden fronds.
He laughs; and tugs at the grass,
Grasps at butterflies flitting past,
Ponders but a moment at the wondrous things about him
And laughs again - the tingling, refreshing laugh of a carefree young child
Not a care in the world has he - not a care.

But it cannot always be so.
One day he will be full-grown - a man.
What will he be like then?
Like so many, so many in this world of ours,
Will he have forgotten how to laugh?
Or will he be like the butterfly -
Flitting from one thing to another?
Who knows -
Only time will tell.
But that is yet to come.
He has the whole world before hiim -
To explore, to discover, to have and to hate.
Now, he has not a care in the world - not a care.

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