Who Speaks? A Valentine Shadow Side

These words were not easy to write. None of us like to be the “kill joy” to others bliss. But as with Mother’s and Father’s Days, Christmas, New Year and so on, Valentine’s Day can be a day of pain for some whom we know. As with those other days, on Valentine’s Day, I’m reminded of the tristesse of those who are widowed, divorced, abused, single and feel isolated and alone. That brings me to the second reason why these words were hard to write. To write them means to see the faces and feel something of the pain of those whom I know and some whom, in my own way, I do actually love. So for them… for those you know…. and for others too… Who speaks?

Who Speaks? A Valentine Shadow Side

Who speaks for

Them who

Visit their valentine in

A sunny graveyard

With memories, sweet memories

Wafting in on the breeze

Across their tear-lined cheeks?

Who speaks for

Those whose valentine

Bolted

Beat or

Cheated

Or still do and

As valentine’s day comes

May feel blue

In heart and flesh?

Who fills the void for

Those who don’t have

A valentine

Didn’t and may not

Feel the presence

Of one

Tomorrow?

Who are their company

On this

Loneliest

Day for them?

Who fills?

Who heals?

Who meets?

The shadow

Of a loving presence

Darkens

Those in absence.

Whence comes the lantern?

Whom shall bear it?

Simon C.J. Falk                   15 February 2021


#WATWB January 2021

It’s almost hard to believe that we are in 2021. As Aussies down South (where I am) are coming through a heatwave, those in the North of our world are playing in the snow. We are all trying to do the best we can to both contain COVID and to keep connected.

The We Are The World Blogfest #WATWB is all about connecting us with good news. For the first month of 2021 our co-hosts are:

Sylvia Grath, Shilpa Garg, Mary J. Giese, Belinda Witzenhausen and yours truly.

Living through the fires of Summer 2019-20 and across COVID into 2021 is itself good news. But this week we celebrated Australians of the Year. ‘Australia Day’ itself is being debated. Which is also good news for free speech as people search for the reasons of who we are and what we stand for.

Source: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/an-aboriginal-activist-and-an-advocate-for-migrant-women-are-among-the-2021-australians-of-the-year?fbclid=IwAR0BP-TnG9x831Dzs49sqkNGMjD0Sk9JK1qJ3R5MgIh7SCPjF5lf77u52fs Accessed 29 January 2021.

In the midst of that I present recipients of Australians of the Year under four categories. These are people who shine a light for the way of humanity.

Senior Australian of the Year:

“Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann, an Aboriginal elder from the Nauiyu community in the Katherine region of the Northern Territory, is an artist, activist, writer and public speaker. “

Young Australian of The Year:

“At the age of 18, Isobel Marshall, from Adelaide, and her school friend Eloise Hall set up a social enterprise to end the stigma around menstruation and improve access to female hygiene products.”

Australian Local hero:

“Kenyan-born Rosemary Kariuki, from Oran Park southwest of Sydney, fled family abuse and violence in her home country in 1999. She became a multicultural community liaison officer with Parramatta Police in 2005, helping migrants fleeing domestic violence.”

Australian of the Year:

“Grace Tame was 15 years old when she was first groomed and raped by her 58-year-old maths teacher, who was later found guilty and jailed for his crimes. But while her abuser was able to speak publicly about the case, Ms Tame was gagged by an archaic law in Tasmania that prevents victims of sexual abuse from identifying themselves. With the help of the #LetHerSpeak campaign, Ms Tame applied to the Supreme Court for the right to publicly self-identify – and won.”

Source and for the full story: An Aboriginal activist and an advocate for migrant women are among the 2021 Australians of the Year (sbs.com.au).


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A COVID Christmas

A COVID Christmas

Boggle, gurgle, woozle fizz!

Professor Fuzz is a science whizz.

You’ll find him in his lab for sure,

Working day and night for a COVID cure.

Cynthia Small wasn’t tall,

But she worked the wards and all,

Nursing COVID patients there.

Many knew her tender care.

Worker Lim was making time,

Manufacturing masks on a production line.

An order came for him from the top.

“Your afternoon is free so you can stop!”

When Cynthia went to her coffee room,

People everywhere dispelled the gloom,

All department stores were there around,

With Christmas Carols providing the sound.

“You cared for our colleagues and grandmas too,

So we brought the shops to you!”

In a place quite far way,

A Son looked down in love upon that day.

Although he seemed so far apart,

Somehow, he’s also in our heart.

He remembered back to a manger and stable,

Where he was born when no inn was able.

That when he had come to birth.

To bring peace to hearts and joy on earth.

Prose addendum: Here’s a fun fact for reader’s. My maternal Grandfather, Patrick Anthony Thomas “Pat” O’Reilly, was known to write verses for his mates at bowls and in the then local newpaper. He died on 1 December in the early 1950s. On 1 December 2020 I woke to the beginnings of this poem rattling around inside me!

Simon C.J. Falk  1 December 2020

#WATWB November 2020 – Social Media Mental Health and Racism

Well I’m off to a late start again! My biggest good news this week was being able to see a really wonderful friend – and in person too! However, we aren’t here for that purpose.

Our latest #WATWB co-hosts are

Lizbeth Hartz, Inderpreet Uppal, Shilpa Garg, Damyanti Biswas, and Roshan Radhakrishnan.

Please hop on over to their pages.

I have long been interested in people and culture. We have such a vast array of them in our world. At times our “otherness” can lead to competition and conflict. At others we enrich each other in our variety.

Image from ABC News – ABC Life November 2020

So when I saw that the Australian ABC had this story on their ABC Life list, I had to have a look. It can be used for other aspects of social media but they have applied to racism.

There are four suggestions. I’ll provide a taster quote for each one and you can go to the link yourselves at your leisure.

Suggestion One: Setting Firm Boundaries for Yourself

“This can include your engagement on social media, who you deal with and how you deal with them,” says Naarm-based counsellor Tigist Kebede.

She has some simple advice to start with.

“Log off. Especially in times of distress or where you feel overwhelmed, having contained periods where you use social media can be life-changing.” For more.

Suggestion Two: Connection is Key

Whether it’s spending more time with (biological or chosen) family, finding a mentor in your workplace or seeking out online communities, prioritise connections with people who share a base-level understanding of what you’re going through.

“Connection — whether it’s to community, to an individual, to others — is about finding your people,” Ms Kebede says.

“It’s not just because they’re the same colour but because they understand your experiences that you can share the load with them.” More on connection.

Suggestion Three: Give Yourself Space to Feel

Experiencing racism can overwhelm us with anger, anxiety and pain. It can impact us in many ways: mentally, physically and spiritually.

Rather than bury your feelings, “check in with yourself” is Ms Kebede’s advice.

“It’s about holding space, compassion and empathy for yourself and for your needs. If you feel you want more.

Suggestion Four: Reclaim the Narrative

In Professor Carlson’s experience, it’s Indigenous peoples’ ability to see the funny side that often helps them deal with the repetitive trauma of “another day in the colony”, to quote Dr Chelsea Bond.

Deploying humour has become a powerful tool for Indigenous social media users to speak back to racist and non-factual online commentary.

“That’s something I love about our mob, being able to see the irony. You get people saying ‘Australia was colonised peacefully’ — well, you can show just how laughable that is by turning it into a meme like [the Facebook page] Blackfulla Revolution does so well.” More on reclaiming.

There is more to the article than what I have gratuitously cut and paste from ABC Life. The link is in each quote.

As I was preparing this post some other words were forming. Below is an excerpt and link.

Not Just Some Other

I am black

I am white

In restful dark

And shining light.

I am yellow

I am red

I am hard at work

And resting in bed.

More here.


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Not Just Some Other

Not Just Some Other

I am black

I am white

In restful dark

And shining light.

I am yellow

I am red

I am hard at work

And resting in bed.

I am albino

I am brown

I am in grief

I am a clown.

I am in tropic

Or on the tundra

Even in the Land Down Under.

I am in lush forest

And on arid land

I have an open

And a closed hand.

I am a child

I am old

Sometimes I tell stories

Other times I am told.

I am you

And you are me

Together we can all be free.

You are my sister and my brother

Together we are persons

Not just some “Other”.

Simon C.J. Falk 29 November 2020

A Cornish Turn: Charles Causley

Cornish Coast at Lands End, c.2012.

I’m very grateful to Polly at Rocks and Bones for drawing my attention to Charles Causley, a poet from Cornwall. Raised from humble beginnings, this sailor, teacher and poet is quite a chap. We began chatting about Welsh poets. Then, turning to Cornwall, I asked about Cornish poets and Polly sent me Charles Causley’s very fine poem Timothy Winters. It is dreadfully sad and you can find excerpts of Timothy Winters at wikipedia.

Here is a fun one called Colonel Fazackerley Butterworth-Toast.

Colonel Fazackerley Butterworth-Toast
Bought an old castle complete with a ghost,
But someone or other forgot to declare
To Colonel Fazak that the spectre was there.

On the very first evening, while waiting to dine,
The Colonel was taking a fine sherry wine,
When the ghost, with a furious flash and a flare,
Shot out of the chimney and shivered, ‘Beware!’

For the remainder of the poem you can read, listen to, or both, at Poem Hunter. As is often the case, writers become acquainted with other writers. As we see from wikipedia

He was corresponded with well-acquainted with such writers as Siegfried SassoonA. L. RowseSusan HillJack Clemo and Ted Hughes (his closest friend) — and a host of other figures from the literary, publishing and wider cultural spheres around the world, as well the southwest region. In addition to Causley’s poetry dealing with issues of faith, folklore, memory, his wartime experience and its later impact, landscape, travel, friends and family, his poems for children were and remain very popular. He used to say that he could have lived comfortably on the fees paid for the reproduction of ‘Timothy Winters’.

Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath would be known to other poetry fans and I have mentioned Plath before.

It is wonderful to be taken on a poetic pilgrimage to new poets from other lands.

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The Emperor Had No Clothes Then No Mask

The Emperor Had No Clothes Then No Mask

The emperor had no clothes, then

No mask.

Bare necessities

Or not

So it seems.

Strutting stridently

On his

Self-styled stage.

Emperor or jester?

Which side

Of the coin?

Simon C.J. Falk 11 October 2020

#WATWB September 2020 – Cathy Freeman Foundation

Welcome to the #WATWB blogfest for September 2020. Our fabulous co-hosts are:

Eric Lahti, Peter Nena Shilpa Garg, Roshan Radhakrishnan, and  Sylvia Stein.

Interview with Christine Anu on ABC News Australia.

Picture: ABC News Australia YouTube channel.

Being a 1970s child was quite an experience. But it just dawned on me that I shared being born in the early 70s with Cathy Freeman. For those of us in Australia Cathy Freeman is a household name. Cathy represented Australia in athletics and, during the opening ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, she lit the Olympic Cauldron.

This year is 20 years since Cathy played such a significant role in those Olympic Games. But that is not the reason for the post this time around. What I would like to highlight, given it’s more particular focus on WATWB matters, is the work of the Cathy Freeman foundation. This foundation gives an opportunity for young indigenous people to access educational and vocational opportunities. This is especially significant for those geographically remote locations.

Some would be aware, some would not, that Cathy Freeman is an Australian indigenous woman. She represents the aboriginal and therefore First Nations people of Australia. Part of the work of her foundation is creating opportunities for young indigenous women and men to find their way in life. In an interview on Friday, 25 September 2020, Eastern Australian time, ABC News journalist, Christine Anu, interviews Cathy Freeman on her life during and after the Olympic Games and also her life with the Cathy Freeman foundation.

I have included the link and hope you enjoy the interview between Christine and Cathy. Although not an indigenous Australian myself, I was both deeply moved by Cathy‘s presence in the 2000 Olympic Games and also to hear of the great work in her foundation.

Perhaps some of you reading this may also be moved or even inspired.

Also, don’t forget to have a look at any other posts who are tagged with WATWB. Thank you for supporting our work to promote good news stories.


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Hay Fever Muses

Hay Fever Muses

For all those who know who you are!

Achoo! Achoo!

It’s a sneeze for me and a sneeze for you.

Achoo! Achoo!

No, it isn’t COVID too!

Hay fever, hay fever.

With a sneeze and a wheeze

And a drippy nose

As red as a rose!

Itchy! Itchy!

Eyes and nose and the

Scratching goes all over!

It’s Spring! It’s Spring!

The blossoms bloom

The birds will sing.

And hay fever.

We love our Spring

But our ears do ring

Our eyes then run

When we’re having fun

Achooooo!

Simon C.J. Falk       13 September 2020

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Late Allusions Among Frost and Others

This post is an apology to those who have written splendid comments, thoughtful phrases and lovely sentiments on my blog posts in recent weeks. So sorry to have not replied sooner!

I am very grateful to you all and hope that I have replied to each one. Life has been rather full of late and I was not able to give them the attention they deserve.

Speaking of late, there have been some fabulous poems written that include the theme “late” or something similar. Thanks to poemhunter.com for the excerpts and links.

Here is a excerpt from one of Robert Frost‘s – A Late Walk

I end not far from my going forth
By picking the faded blue
Of the last remaining aster flower
To carry again to you.

Full poem here. Frost is often remembered for A Road Not Taken and Birches. But A Late Walk is splendid too, as is the poem!

Here is a fun one from Rebecca Ryan – I Am Always Late For School

I am always late for school;
The reason why is obvious.
I am always in the pool,
So much, it is obnoxious.

When I don’t get there on time,
The teachers there get mad.
But if I could read and rhyme,
Surely they’d be glad.

The late and great Carl Sandburg wrote some as Poems Done On A Late Night Car. This one is powerful.
NB: it may trigger painful thoughts and feelings for some.

II. USED UP

Lines based on certain regrets that come with rumination
upon the painted faces of women on
North Clark Street, Chicago

Roses,
Red roses,
Crushed
In the rain and wind
Like mouths of women
Beaten by the fists of
Men using them.
O little roses
And broken leaves
And petal wisps:
You that so flung your crimson
To the sun
Only yesterday.

Mary Havran writes of Late Of Love

Love came late
Not shouting
Not leaping
Not looking to move mountains
Only tapping softly on my shoulder
As I tapped away
at my keyboard

Love came late
But bringing with it all
Love ever had to offer
Asking only
For my open heart.

There is much to dwell on “late”. Perhaps it could even be a writing prompt?

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