2003 2002 2001 2000 1999

 

2003

1st

MARALINGA DAWN

Maralinga morning when the sand turned gold
No late whispered warning when the world grew old
Maralinga morning, Maralinga dawn
No late whispered warning when the new suns were born

Hunters gathered there where the game began
Where the parrots flew, where the lizards ran,
Where the dawn chased stars, where the seasons turned,
Where new suns where born when the land was burned

Maralinga nightfall when the sand turned black
Only private death-calls, Dreamtime down the track
Maralinga nightfall, Maralinga night
Only private death calls with the fading light

Children wandered there where the darkness grew,
Where the moonlight bled, where the fallout blew
Where the womens cries carried time away
Like the ash-grey dust on the wind that day

Maralinga morning, now the deserts clean
Only cautious land-rights where the dust has been,
Maralinga morning, Maralinga dawn
Bureaucratic bargain since the new suns were born

Kangaroos crouch there where wild flowers grow
Where the tourists pause, where the hot winds blow
Where the birds fly high, where the sand flows free,
Where new fungi bloom like the mushroom tree

Maralinga days when the world grew old.

© Jan Turner-Jones

 

2nd

CUTTIN CANE

By the field a mud-brown river snakes its way along
See a small bent figure as he cuts with arms so strong
Images of other worlds flash by in a murmered song
And all the time hes cuttin…
Cuttin cane

Overhead the suns a fire and the glares so hard and bright
But little rest for the man till he beds down late tonight
Old eyes fix on the ceiling and then he shuts out the light
And even in dreams he’s cuttin…
Cuttin cane

(Chorus)
Heavy trucks are rollin down the highway
He stops to watch and feels a drop of rain
He dreams of other days as the trucks vanish ‘round the bend
Of cutting bark and making colours flow again
Instead of always cuttin…
Always, always cuttin…
Always, always cuttin…
Cuttin cane

(Solo)
Black hand holds the blade, stained red by Mother Earth
Once it painted native culture in his place of birth
“Long ago, he tells himself, “and what is culture worth”?
When it seems hes always cuttin…
Always, always cuttin…
Seems hes always cuttin…
Cuttin cane

(Bridge)
A heart that lies on the open plain
Not in these fields so green
From endless miles to endless pain
He thinks of things that might have been
But bends his back to cuttin
Cuttin cane

Pretty soon hell hitch up north to work another property
Idle dreams and the open road are his only company
His eyes look to the west, further than the eyes can see
But hell wind up cuttin…
Always, always cuttin…
Always, always cuttin…
Cuttin cane

© Tony McCall

 

3rd

TOMATO CREEK WAY

Smoke is risin
So much: so strange
Turns the sky grey.

Smoke is risin
At the other mob’s land
So strange: so dark
Can’t understand

(Chorus)
Our mob’s movin out
To see what’s at play
Walkin the distance
Down Tomato Creek way.

Smoke is risin
Along whitey’s run.
So dark: so wrong.
Blocks out the sun.

(Chorus)
Our mob’s movin out
To see whats at play
Walkin the distance
Down Tomato Creek way.

(Bridge)
Shot in cold blood;
Lost in the flame;
Treated like rats
In a white fellas game.
Flames run fast
All through the day,
Blackenin Spinifex
Down Tomato Creek way

Smoke is risin
Gunfiren bloodshed.
So wrong: so evil.
They’re burning our dead.

(Chorus)
Our mob’s movin out
To see whats at play
Walkin the distance
Down Tomato Creek way.

© Julie Tawse

 

2002

1st

TELL ME NOW

Tell me now when you look into my eyes
Do you see the signs of a life hard lived?
Do you see the pain behind the lines
That mark where I have smiled?

My father fought in the dust and the mud
And he died a long way from home.
But his name don’t appear on the memorial here
Because his skin was not as white as his bones.

So the only thing I ask of you
Is that you don’t judge me hard, you judge me true.
‘Cause I have lived my life all at sea
In a land that wouldn’t own me.

My mother lived in a far flung town
Where the cotton spray now veils the streets.
And she kept a loving eye on us as we grew
But she couldn’t stop them from taking us away.

So the only thing I ask of you
Is that you don’t judge me hard, you judge me true.
‘Cause I have lived my life all at sea
In a land that wouldn’t own me.

Oh I have watched as the rivers slowly die
Seen the scrub go under the plough.
And as the dust clouds blow the land’s soul away
I’ve learned to close my heart.

So the only thing I ask of you
Is that you don’t judge me hard, you judge me true.
‘Cause I have lived my life all at sea
In a land that wouldn’t own me.

© Anthony English

 

2nd

SHACKLETON

He sailed from Plymouth Harbour as the First World War began
His mighty ship endurance and twenty-six brave men
To cross the frozen continent by foot and then return
The greatest of survivors in that icy southern land
Was Shackleton

As they docked at Buenos Aires a young man stowed away
In search of rich adventure but what a price he’d pay
To travel to Antarctica this ship would not return
The only grace in that cold place a man they called the Boss
Was Shackleton

From the island of South Georgia to the pack ice of the flow
A thousand miles of fighting with a hundred left to go
When ice entrapped endurance and held her in its arms
Its tight embrace began a race to test the very crew
Of Shackleton

(Chorus)
I heard the story years ago and with the passing of the years I know
I’ve never heard it told an epic quite as bold
To survive a frozen hell and tell the tale.

Entombed the pack ice drifted for a thousand miles alone
Till it crushed her like an eggshell and sank her like a stone
So they camped with steely patience till they heard the thaw begin
Wrote Shackleton

Then they dragged the tiny lifeboats each weighed about a ton
Across the frozen wasteland till the waters edge was won
And they headed north in raging seas and bailed all day and night
And struck a course for seven days and prayed their bearings right
Oh Shackleton

And through the icy blackness as the gale grasped at their sails
They were stalked in silent terror by a pack of killer whales
Till they struck a stony outcrop, a tiny speck of land
On the beach were ice and boulders in the place of golden sand
Stood Shackleton

(Chorus)
But he knew no one would visit in this god-forsaken place
So he prepared the largest lifeboat for another deadly race
Eight hundred miles in winter storms the Southern Ocean’s hell
He chose his band of five brave hands and they would do it well
For Shackleton

McNish and Johnny Vincent a fishing trawler’s mate
And a Kiwi called Frank Worsley his job to navigate
Tom Crean a hardened Irishman who’d sailed before with Scott
The fifth was Tom McCarthy a lad who shamed the lot
Save Shackleton

(Chorus)
At last they struck South Georgia but her mountains blocked their way
So Crean and Worsley and the Boss once more unto the fray
Three days they climbed until at last they heard a whistle sound
The whaling station just below and those once lost were found
By Shackleton

Two years had passed, the war raged on and no one came to cheer
The story of survival or the men that gathered there
But those who knew the journey and saw the race he ran
They stood there all together and cheered him to a man
Their Shackleton.

© Angus Gibson

 

3rd

COFFEE BREAK

You were the froth on my cappuccino
bubbly, light and white
exotic supreme

flat one moment, solid the next
your transient form
had me perplexed

you’d frequently waver
but had plenty of pluck
unafraid to storm in my proverbial cup

snowy peaks on my bitter brew
sugar? yes – I take two
you stirred me like none other could do

you poured out your soul
you had recommendations
several ticks from the heart foundation

you stayed on the surface
you kept things level
almost an angel, not quite a devil

the realisation when it came at last
that in truth you lack substance
I knew there could be no last chance

now that you’ve gone, I’ve seen the light
next time I’ll order
A flat white

© Kristy Hillery

 

2001

1st

BIG WIGS AND BEGGARS

A Big Wig corporate heavyweight goes dashing through the foyer
He trips upon a brief case of his very well paid lawyer
As the ruthless teeth of gravity bite calmly on his sole
The cleaner stands firmly, feels conversely; in control
The courier is happy having made his last delivery
The goldfish and the salesman feel predictable and shivery
Yet even they are jolted from their semi-painted stare
As the Big Wig corporate heavyweight goes flying through the air

There’s no time for the fireman to get to his trampoline
So he hides behind a pot plant hoping not to cause a scene
Now the paranoid receptionists is on her mobile phone
Telling all her close associates in panic stricken tones
That currently, her boss is falling quickly to the floor
Not suprisingly, she’s worried her job will be no more
The pigeons overhear her on the building’s marble summit
The breeze conveys their whisper and the shares of Big Wig plummet

It triggers off a landslide in the land of buy or sell
Investors wait on window ledges thinking ‘What the hell’
Pavement sweepers grab their hats anticipating rain
The gutter rat is unconcerned and crawls off down the drain
But through a duct of air conditioning connected to that foyer
It hears the screams of loved ones and it smells the paranoia
So it scurries to an air vent just to witness what will be
On his back, another spectator – his friend, the common flea

The Big Wig corporate heavyweight is bracing for a splat
But just before his landing, he makes contact with the rat
Their eyes lock for a second – nothing else is intervening
For the first time in their hurried lives, they understand its meaning
A breakthrough soon forgotten in the peril of his sprawl
Impact fast approaches but a beggar breaks his fall
When he rises from the tangled gasp with just a bleeding ear
Religious workers cross themselves and ceiling-painters cheer

As police inspectors rope the site and journos ask for clearance
The Big Wig seems familiar with the beggar’s sad appearance
When told that he’s the office clerk that Big Wig sacked last week
The huge contingent hushes to allow them both to speak
Microphones are thrust at them while TV cameras roll
Like family dogs, we eat it up then madly lick the bowl
The Big Wig asks his savior’s name- he answers Max McGregor
And humankind expects that he will reinstate the beggar
But he bends to pick up the briefcase up that tripped him in the foyer
He hands the tramp a dollar and instead, he sacks his lawyer

© Jason McCall

 

2nd

MRS BROWN

That same old humble lady
Still sits by the door down the stair
Her face has many more lines these days
Framed by her wispy grey hair
And I wonder if she really knows
How much her world has touched mine
More likely she sees her lonely life
As a journey of wasted time

(Chorus)
But that’s not right
You were always there when I needed a hand to hold
You gave me the gifts of comfort
When the rest of the world seemed so cold
You taught me life
When nobody else had a moment to spare
So Mrs Brown I want to thankyou
For taking the time to care

Her eyes take top priority
As she sits by the door down the stair
She cleans her glasses on her Tuesday apron
Then slips the clips from the side from the side of her hair
Hello dear she calls out to me
Looks like we might be in for some rain
And though she smiles again with her gentle smile
I see it masking lonely pain

(Chorus)

What can I do to help you
I want to blow your sadness away
I wish I could search and find the words
I know you’d like to hear me say

Mrs Brown its not quite half past eight
And as long as I leave by nine
I won’t get into the office too late
And I’m sorry to take up your time
But I need you to put the kettle on
And set a place for me
You see I need some more of your wisdom
To help me save my dignity

(Chorus – first line: ‘Cause it’s not right)

And for a while her face looked younger
And her pain had disappeared
I smiled knowingly I had helped her
By lending a friendly ear
I’d only given back what she’d given me
So many, many times
Mrs Brown I want to thank you
For letting me share your life

You taught me life
When nobody else
Could ever find a moment to spare
So Mrs Brown I want to thank you
For taking the time to care

© Catherine Bell Fallico

 

3rd

IT’S A PC 2001 NEW MILLENNIUM ROMANTIC ARRANGEMENT

We met through a mutual friend
And we confirmed our mutual political favour
When it came to evening’s end
We programmed each other’s phones with a daytime number
Neither of us called for four days
When we did both of us pretended like it really didn’t matter
Then we agreed that we should have a drink to see
If there were feelings to explore under all the idle chatter
We sat in a non-smoking section of the pub
And we spaced our drinks with softies and water
Checked that we were free of all social diseases
And neither of us had a little son or a daughter
Did a quick check on the X’s
Make sure they were all buried in the past and not the closet
It seemed that the terms were agreeable
So we signed for a one month trial because

It’s a PC 2001 new millennium romantic arrangement
If you wanna be with someone this is how it’s done

Second date, we went to an out door film
With a bottle of wine and a plate of cheeses
I remarked on the cinematography
And she compared the story to the plight of Jesus
Nobody mentioned the bare breast action
Or the characters shaggin’ like minx in reason
We went for coffee but we both had tea
And we talked about the human capacity for reason
She drove her car and I drove mine
So we said goodnight in the car park freezing
I gave her a little kiss on the corner of her lips
It was dry and simple and most appropriately pleasing
We set it up for Saturday to meet my friends
And I have to say that it’s the part that I’d been fearing
But we had a very civilised picnic
So I got big ticks – we were “all clear” and we’re in a

PC 2001 new millennium romantic arrangement
If you wanna be with someone this is how it’s done

We told other people we were seeing each other
Said girl/boy friend but not quite partner
I didn’t call her the ball and chain
And she never called me her other half
We bought each other gifts for under 50 bucks
And I always cleaned the toilet before she came over
When we went to dinner we always went dutch
And if we went with the parents, we always stayed sober
Hit twelve months and we had to make decisions
So we went to IKEA and moved in together
Found all the habits that we never knew existed
But we still bought a cat like this was forever
Saw so many weddings that we wanted one too
So we got a lot of money and we bought ouselves a better one
Gave friends a gift list coz that’s whatcha do
It was the party of the year and we’ll be paying it off forever

It’s a PC 2001 new millennium romantic arrangement
If you wanna be with someone this is how it’s done

The sex dropped off halfway through the honeymoon
But we still had a little baby called Blythe
Bought the best pram and clothes that the money could
The nursery was painted gender non-specific white
We sent our child to the best of schools
Only six years old, dressed like a bank manager
Two nights a week we went out dancing
It was her turn Tuesday, I went Saturday
We took separate holidays and both had affairs
And we mostly talked by text and email
Soon I was sleeping on the couch downstairs
I guess you could say that the love train derailed
All of our friends were getting divorced
And the messier it was the better conversation centrepiece
We were not to be out done of course
So now Blythe’s on a roster and the cat’s in therapy
One day we’ll get married again
And we’ll smile and say it is forever like the first time
Then I’ll go to men’s groups, she’ll read SARk
And we might become enlightened vegetarians for a short time
Mostly we’ll be miserable pretending that we’re not
And we’ll miserable pretending that we’re not
And we’ll think good superannuation is the answer
It’s sadly inevitable that everything we got
Was not exactly what we wanted but exactly what we asked for

It’s a PC 2001 new millennium romantic arrangement
If you wanna be with someone this is how it’s done

© Andrew Horabin

 

2000

1st

(I’D REALLY) FATHER NOT

I’ve been reading this book about manhood
And it says a lot of things about boys
Pages and pages on the sorrows of parenting
Not so much about the joys

If my girl got a bun in the oven
I’d be outta there, gone like a shot
If you gave me the choice to be the father of boys
I can tell ya that I’d really father not.

Father not if you’re not gonna promise that you’ll love em
Even if they turn into fags
Father not if you’re only gonna tell em that all women are
Bitches or sluts or slags

Father not if you want them to box
If you’re gonna hang your head when they wet their bed
Because they’re terrors and they’re baddies
And they get it from their daddies
I can tell you that I’d really father not

Well, listen to a true life story
I had a mate who knew a bloke who had a kid
He said, dear son don’t do what I’ve done
But he copied every bloody thing he did

Pretty soon he was a carbon copy
The language, the baggage, the lot
Do I want to see a little copy of me?
I can tell ya that I’d really father not

>Father not if you’re only gonna stop with the huggin when
They get a little pubic hair
Father not if you’re only gonna teach em that emotion
Is the very last thing you share

Father not if you just can’t watch
If they have a little cry when the hero dies
Because they’re terrors and they’re baddies
And they get it from their daddies
I can tell you that I’d really father not

(Instrumental Solo)

Father not if our idea of bonding is to get ’em
Paralytic in a topless bar
Father not if they’re legends if they’re good with a footy
And pathetic if they can’t fix cars

Father not if they’ve gotta pick a job
Where they use their hands and they’re not allowed to dance
Because they’re terrors and they’re baddies
And they get it from their daddies
I can tell you that I’d really father not

Because they’re silent or they’re violent
And they’re prone to suicide
Yeah, I can tell you that I’d really father not

Because they’re terrors and they’re baddies
And they get it from their daddies
I can tell you that I’d really father not.

© Andrew Horabin

 

2nd

CHECKMATE

When we started there were many
Guarding Queen and King
Now our fortune fails us
Each move another sting

Goodbye to brave bishops
And to knights already gone,
So I’m just a pawn in love
But she knows I’ll soldier on.

Castled were her chances
She did not get away,
And now I’m fighting for my Queen
With every move I play

Alone and unprotected
My worst fear then came true,
A knight appeared from nowhere
As in love they often do

Checkmate I can do it
There always is the chance
Driven by my reasons
With a longing for romance.

I know they’re out to get me
Before I reach the end
And they know that if I make it
It’s for her that I will send

If her freedom’s over
Then mine surely will be too
But I will lose still trying
If it’s the last thing that I do.

© Ruth Arthur

 

3rd

THE STORYTELLER

Hands curled and cracked
From a labouring life
Face of old leather
But eyes blue and bright
A taste for the whiskey
To temper the pain
From a lifetime of toil
And the scars that remain

And he’d paint me a picture
Through his eyes I could see
The barbed wire and trenches
Or the bush, wild and free
And he told many tales
of when he was young
told the pain the the memories
of a war still not won.

A bushman, a horseman
He walked tall with pride
And the stories he told me
Brought old memories alive
The wide that he’d buried
The land that he loved
The tales told it clearly
But memories weren’t enough

And he’d paint me a picture
Through his words I could see
The story-teller lives
In the tales he gave to me.

© Helen Pollock

 

1999

1st

In Kuranda

She was working at the market selling flow’rs and little trinkets
Where the mountains meet the sky.
She would look out from the ranges, and she’d whisper to a passing cloud
“I love him.”

And the mountain heard.
Then the wind became a sigh and cloud began to cry
And her song was heard in ev’ry drop of rain;

That until the season changes
She will wait up on the ranges
In Kuranda

He was working at the skyrail selling tickets to the tourists
Where the mountains meet the cane.
And he heard the cable humming as it turned around the drum and said
“I love her.”

And the mountains heard.
Then the cable heard his song and it carried it along
While the cable cars kept time to his refrain;That until the season changes
She would wait up on the ranges
In Kuranda

Slow the seasons turn, while young lovers yearn,
And he couldn’t wait to see his love again.
Though the mountain road was closed, he would take the old bush road
To Kuranda.

But he never heard how the mountain stirred,
And you can’t ignore the warning of the rain;
For the torrent was a flood that destroyed the old bush road
And then      (fx: cry of loss/vocal or pedal steel)

You’ll still find her at the market, selling flow’rs and little trinkets
Where the mountains meet the sky.
She will look out from the ranges and she’ll whisper to a passing cloud,
And the mountain hears.

Then a beam of golden light makes the mountain top seem bright,
And its glory lends a softness to her pain;

So until the season changes
She will wait up on the ranges
In Kuranda.

Yes until the season changes,
She will wait up on the ranges
In Kuranda.

© Kathleen V. McLennan