I’m a retired psychologist and academic who enjoys the outdoors (sailing a 4.3 metre catamaran, long walks in the country and on our nearby beach, gardening), reading, writing poems and, at times, stories. I’m married, have five children and 10 grandchildren and am involved in a number of community groups (sailing club, choir, Show Society and others)
Most parts of Australia are blessed with bird song, though our raucous parrots are not favoured by many. But, two common bird sounds are the warbling (I prefer to call it carolling) of magpies and the ‘hoo ho’ of crested pigeons (which I mistakenly called ‘top knots’ until recently).
Anyway, here are a couple of bird related Haiku that appeared this morning…
The magpies carol A beautiful sound it is – An Ozzie icon
Brian Matthews, 15-2-23
The hoo hoo they make It’s a mournful sound to sing – But ‘who cares?’ they say
Had a phone call today to advise that I would not be doing readings on Happy FM community radio anymore. The Presenter of the segment has fallen out with management and has stepped away from her regular commitments for what sounded to me like very good reasons. So I guess my main avenue for distributing my writing, poetry and thoughts will be this blog.
So, a few poems that I have written recently, posted from Maryborough Victoria (Australia). Apparently, Mark Twain visited here once and described the place as a town attached to a railway station as during the Gold Rush and after, this rural city was the transport hub for this part of the world. The railway station has been maintained and is a beautiful piece of architecture (see photo below)
I did have a fair break in writing for most of January this year, but felt I had to write a poem to celebrate my 23rd wedding anniversary with my beloved Barbara.
A cloudy day dawns The heat hiding again A perfect meal yesterday To celebrate our wedding anniversary.
23 years married today 28 since we shared our lives So much water under the bridge More than our share of damaging debris.
Good times aplenty there’ve been Laughter with friends and family A home made together A community embraced and shared.
There will be good times this year Fun with those we love Hugs and kisses given and received Travel to places unseen.
Life has so many unknowns I’m glad I face these with you Knowing you have my back And a future we can plan together.
What is love? A question often touted Trusting another at its core As I do with you.
Another year we will have Learning more about each other A journey never quite complete But love you I do and always will.
Brian Matthews, 29/1/23
While camping in Corowa (New South Wales) exploring the interesting and recently flooded border river district with the River Murray separating the states of NSW and Victoria, I wrote this poem
A lovely warm day A long way from home But the corellas still here Many different birds though.
The Murray so flooded Signs of high water in the fences Roads so damaged Green grass out of season.
And the mozzies bite Breeding away in the waters Ready for their next offering Another bunch of mammals.
Likely a long time now Before the next big flood Though hard to tell What the future will bring.
40 years since the Murray swelled To the levels recently seen And so much drought since Who knows what will next appear.
Our climate under siege Consumerism so rife Poison pumped into the air And we all share the blame.
One day our descendants will ask Why were we so wasteful? How could we not see The consequences of our actions?
Brian Matthews, 6-2-23
And a few days later I wrote this one:
The birds in the morning Harsh cries of the parrots Carroling of the magpies Sweet songs of smaller birds.
The morning so still Dew still on the ground Before the rising sun Melts it all away.
A very warm day ahead But still cool now Kookaburra laughs resound As I drink my coffee.
A day of touristing ahead To places not seen before The birds doing their thing While we do ours.
Brian Matthews, 8-2-23
And two days later after a phone call to a friend, this poem appeared:
I wish I could cheer up My dear friend far away Words just not cutting it When feeling so unwell.
Maybe if I remind him Of the good times past Or happy events still to come But all seems trite at times like this.
When the body does not work In the ways it should When pain or discomfort dominate Leaving little to enjoy.
Company or conversation May help to ease the soul Though sometimes not Pretending becomes burdensome.
Someone caring may help Though not if this becomes An exercise in making them feel better As it so often does.
Being supportive has some rules Listening rather than telling Opening to the feelings Avoiding unhelpful comparisons.
Worrying about loved ones A part of being human Knowing that all is never Smooth sailing through life.
Feeling helpless a part of this Since magic wands are absent No easy fix for many things Illness and ageing always lurking.
But one thing is certain That we all need our oases Safe places where we’re not judged People who respect our wishes.
Brian Matthews, 10-2-23
And then, watching a man in the distance mowing his lawn, another Haiku appeared:
The man mows his lawn Early, the hot day to come – The hat a big help
As there is a break in my regular poetry readings, I thought I’d put up a few things that I have written with a bit of commentary.
Christmas was a tough time for my family; the first since we lost our beloved Sam, and some of us (including me) got a dose of Covid-19 as an added feature. The first time for me, though most others have had it before. I certainly found it a levelling experience, not as bad as some flus I’ve had in the past but the aching and lack of motivation were debilitating for a time. Not too many respiratory symptoms for me, though a croaky throat still persists.
So, I wrote the following poem about Covid for Christmas:
An Unwelcome Present
So, Covid for Christmas No joy in that The sniffles and aches Coughing and low energy.
Day 4 now and still The symptoms persist Though managed by pills And enforced rest.
I’ve had worse in the past Or so I think But probably best not to compare Until it’s run its course.
The strangest feeling yet Like a good kick to the crotch Part of the aches and pains All effects very individual.
My wife coughing more And losing her taste While I just doze And self dose for the headaches.
But, marginally better today And hopefully all good soon Thankful that not badly affected As so many have been.
Brian Matthews, 30-12-22
A few days after Christmas we finally had some very hot weather and I had to write about this as the strange weather patterns in Australia persist. In line with recent patterns, summer then disappeared again but has made a few comebacks since and I even got slightly sunburnt yesterday after a few hours at the local beach and inadequate sunscreen application. This doesn’t happen to me often as I have olive skin from some of my Maltese ancestors and I usually carefully apply lots of sunscreen and keep out of the sun at the worst times. But, I usually don’t sit on the beach for hours without a tshirt and so the back, stomach, and shoulders are smarting a little.
Summer’s Finally Here
The temperature in the high 30s The heat creeping in everywhere Not until after Christmas But arriving at last.
Young grandkids on a bouncy castle Able to turn the water on finally Exhausting themselves bouncing Sliding and splashing, of course.
Energy gone after a few hours As the peak of the heat reached Watermelon and drinks not enough The cool of the house sought.
After some lunch, a nap/rest The batteries will recharge The outside sought again And so the cycle goes.
Brian Matthews, 27-12-22
And, as seems to happen with me recently, I had a brief Haiku spurt. one prompted by my 6 year old grandson Jack’s fixation on a new device he received recently and the second from the observation of our old dog, Riley’s, clear disdain for the high level activity of our grandchildren:
Concentration deep Staring at the device’s screen – But still shares his score
The old small dog rests Watching the children askance – When will peace return
I think Riley’s expression and body language says it all
An audio recording of my readings on the Words to Share segment with Jan Potter on Happy FM, https://www.radio901.com.au/ and the details of my readings.
A visit to a gaol That then served as an asylum Barbaric treatment of the vulnerable Not so distant in our past.
When a gaol The destitute sentenced For no real crime Other than their poverty.
When an asylum Those different hidden away And even though attempts at compassion Life so different from others.
Until the very old man freed To be found on the doorstep Where else would I go? That world is strange to me.
So many of these maladies Now curable or treatable But rejecting differences Still deeply ingrained in most.
Brian Matthews, 10-10-22
The sun is shining Bird calls everywhere The flowers bloom Bees buzzing furiously.
Spring well and truly here The cold and wet now memories The heat poised and ready The cycle comes again.
And yet in the East The rain still falls The rivers still swell A flooded Murray imminent.
A country with such extremes Neighbours poised to help Not knowing who is next Nature never still for long.
Hard to remember the long, long droughts Though sure they’ll come again Fairy tale weather cannot last Though enjoyable when it appears.
Brian Matthews, 22/10/22
A family gathers
A family get together A birthday party this time Little Jack’s six already Such a lovely, sweet boy.
The bread and dips scoffed Laughter and drinks consumed Banter around the table Children playing happily.
Some tears inevitably appear But just a little accident And the fun and games reappear Conversations rolling on.
Though an unseasonal wet day The afternoon gently unfolds The company enjoyable Joy an inevitable feature.
The barbecue to top it off Sausages and chicken tasty And so it slowly winds down Guests departing amidst smiles and hugs.
Little events so meaningful Bonds acknowledged and strengthened Tales shared and re-shared Thankful that we will do it again.
Brian Matthews, 25/10/22
A Fashion Parade
A fashion parade Fundraiser at the bowls club Our Choir providing a few songs
Fun had by all Elegant, mature women Strutting their stuff
Designs from the Op Shop Culled from generous donations Giving new life to the previously loved
And so communities act Drawing all together Making events out of the every day.
And people leave with a spring in their steps Relationships re-shaped and re-forged Reminded of the social needs we all share.
Brian Matthews, 25-10-22
Barbara’s Birthday 2022
Another birthday is here To give my darling cheer So, happy birthday is due May it be a joy to you.
A year of turmoil and loss The universe not giving a toss But, fun has certainly been had Not much from me, my bad.
I promise in the year to come This will change if it can be done A time of travel, fun and a laugh Wrapped around you like a scarf.
So, to you I send all my love And my hopes that from above Good times will again rain down Laughter replacing the long frown.
Brian Matthews 27/10/22
Below is a poem a friend (Mark Reimers) wrote:
I wrote this for the occasion of Jason’s 40th birthday.
I first met Jason when he was a young child approximately 40 years ago.
Lying there like a Moonah tree, on the shore of Swan Lake, your twisted limbs confronted me…
lying there needing assistance to reposition and move I intuit your discomfort…
Lying there unable to speak your eyes communicate more than words ever could…
Lying there you look at me ,you REALLY look at me, and in your eyes there are questions
Lying there your look invites connection, free from the conventions of words rather than asking and the usual banter of where do you live?What do you do? And Implied questioning of your net worth, do you own your home are you renting? Are you married?what do you do?
Rather than that, your look asks…
Do you see me?
Are you vulnerable enough to connect with me?
Will you commune with me?
Can you sit with me?
And as I process this inquisitive intent, communicated in a single, complex look of expectation you beam at me and I am drawn in to your world
I connect, but I am aware that others reject you, and you have taught me to accept rejection with such good grace as you continue to, with each new encounter, invite connection
Being with you, and bathing in your full bodied smile always delights
Thanks for being my teacher about connection and relationships
Happy Birthday to you Jason
Mark Reimers 2022
My Sister’s Birthday
I got it wrong Phoning my sister the day before But we had a good chat And it reduced the traffic on the day.
Sibling relationships important Though commonly fraught With baggage from the past Some things difficult to change.
Sometimes growing apart over time Memories of the past obscuring The relationship in the present Gnawing old, old bones.
But value her I do Though apart for lengthy periods Work and family limiting contact But there for each other when needed.
Acceptance of difference critical Joining in support of our Mother Leaning on each other In her slow and painful decline.
Knowing that she was there for me During the illness and death of my Son Accepting her sincere prayers Though faithless myself.
It is such a shame That these connections Do not always survive Life’s confusion and misread intentions.
But accept this we must And rejoice in that which remains The love and support of another Whose knowledge of you is unique.
What we can control in life Is our love freely given And to Margy I offer this With best wishes for her special day.
Brian Matthews, 1/11/22
Reflections on the verandah
Sitting on the verandah The spring day warming Bird life in full song Thinking of the weekend past.
Heart warming voices of grandchildren Splashing in the water While Pop drifts on the sea A lovely day for all else.
The sailors congregate on the shore Welcome activity after a long break Sorting out minor challenges Hopeful the wind will lift.
Alas, it does not Just enough puff there To complete two races Then relax a while on the beach.
And the corellas squawk by Reminding of the season Stating, we are here again To feed and breed.
Cars pass by, tires swooshing The hum of a mower blending in The smell of so many flowers Has Spring sprung this time?
Brian Matthews, 7/11/22
The Sky opens
Thought Spring had sprung Then clouds loomed again And water sheeted from the sky Gutters not coping anymore.
Photos and videos appear Of areas swamped Buckets and mops in use A rare person with no incursion.
Hours spent cleaning up And normality achieved Then another day brings more Downpour after downpour.
Such unusual weather here The long dry so prominent Old timers scratch their heads Few having seen the likes of this.
Easing off it surely must And eventually just showers But more grief for many Counting the storms’ cost.
Wishing again for milder times Sunshine and lighter showers Plants bursting forth Water both friend and enemy.
Brian Matthews, 13/11/22
He would have been 39 Such a force of nature Wrapped in a quiet cloak.
All who loved him Today will grieve Reality strikes yet again.
The roller coaster of emotion Continuing still unabated His face still smiling.
Our dear Sam still lives In the hearts of so many Leaves a deep, deep hole.
Today I remember him As every day I do Sending love to the stars.
Brian Matthews 21-11-22
Quotation from a recently read book
“There is this quote from Caesar that speaks to me,” he said, and then, looking into Sanya’s eyes, he said softly, “What we wish, we readily believe, and what we ourselves think, we imagine others think also.”
This piece was written for the Six Sentence Challenge, with the prompt word of ‘structure’. What the hell it means I have no idea. 😉
To describe what Jerry had built as a ‘structure’ strained the definition to breaking point and made Escher’s multi-dimensional fantasies seem like a housing project blueprint in comparison.
The foundations, to the extent that they existed at all, consisted of a tissue of lies laid haphazardly on top of the quicksand of his adolescent fantasies of transcending his mundane suburban origins.
The walls seemed like Japanese-style internal sliders but were made of little more than recycled pizza boxes covered in a decoupage of graduation certificates, attendance records, little athletics participation ribbons and degrees purchased from the Oxbridge Online University.
The floors (or, more correctly, flaws) comprised remaindered books rescued from a rubbish skip, including ‘The Wit and Wisdom of Donald Trump’, ‘1001 Ways With…