We’re Not to Blame

It’s not our fault, we’re not to blame
we’re just trying to maintain our freedom
we mine our dark materials, this is not a game
because there are other poor people who need ‘em

I Don’t Do It For You

I don’t do it for you , so your thoughts can rest easy
as you nod in your pleasant agreement
while you sip on your drink, peculiar and queasy
at my anticipated long due achievement

One Day Closer Every Day

Sheep droop jaw and hooves split in the stumble for the hay,
eager teeth picking at the stubble and the crust
Knees buckle their hollow humble eyes stare down and absorb
what was mud is now unsullied deep red dust

The Sweet Sweet Sound

There’s a sweet sweet sound moving across the settled ground
it whispers in my ear in the morning
like a solitary breeze that whistles through the trees
and summons all the birds to cease their yawning

What Are We Made Of?

What are we made of? asks the child who cries
who just wants a toy she can play with
or to ask most politely before she dies
“is there someone out there I can stay with.”

A Place to Breathe

My, what a lovely place you have, you must be very proud
I love your modern furniture and the space that you’ve allowed
the kitchen is so stylish, are these appliances new?
I’d love one of those in our place, I bet it cost a few

The Lifestyle you Ordered

The lifestyle you ordered is currently out of stock
our warehouse has been stripped of supplies
our people are working around the clock
to ensure you get your hands on the prize

I Remembered Yesterday

I remembered yesterday the times that I have with you
And visions of the grateful days and all that I have wished for you
I’d stand out in the wind and cold and meet you in the rain
and offer no patronising words to beat us up or take away our pain

One Day

There’s a ghost selling memories down by the shore
as a jury decides its fate
there’s a man of religion knocking at my door
I need to lie down, he can wait.

My Own Best Friend

Stooping down and listless still
the rain, the pavement scarried
the men they took my food and oil
and all that I had carried

My Leaning Frame

I have no room on my leaning frame
The seed that’s planted, in the ground
I have no mind for what lays behind
I put no weight on what others find

"It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see."

-Henry David Thoreau

For those who do not feel the need to make sense of the world, it serves them well. For others, the poets, the writers, the artists, they tell their stories in an attempt to make some sense of the world they live in, if only for themselves. This, in small part, explains how art is born.

Find a quiet dark spot and listen to Beethoven’s 14th, the Moonlight Sonata, Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall, or, if ever you’re in Madrid, take a trip to the Museo Reina Sofia and look at Picasso’s Guernica, or pick up a copy of Camus’ The Stranger or Hans Fallada’s The Drinker, any poem by Les Murray, or take in a Leunig sketch to get an idea. They were all composed as the artist was attempting to make sense of the world.

The writer may have come to their craft because they’ve realised that, at heart, they are outsiders, their immediate world is alien to them and they therefore need a method of expressing that alienation. Other endeavours act merely as weigh stations until the realisation hits, too late, that the time has come for them to try and talk themselves out of it.

For although everyone has a story to tell, not everyone has the facility. Sometimes it’s given to others, knowing that the stories must be told, because we need them, subconsciously we know we need them, to sustain us.

What is certain is that while some are busy making the most of the world, there are others trying to make sense of it. What is also certain is that the talent being applied to this effort can overcome almost anything, even encouragement.

Some Poems Worth Penning

The Truck

The truck stops, week in, out, inconvenient in the striving street
regular, if payment is required
to collect the stock piles of baby puke and waste convenience
and plastic worn deliveries, slit and thrown

We’re Not to Blame

It’s not our fault, we’re not to blame
we’re just trying to maintain our freedom
we mine our dark materials, this is not a game
because there are other poor people who need ‘em

I Don’t Do It For You

I don’t do it for you , so your thoughts can rest easy
as you nod in your pleasant agreement
while you sip on your drink, peculiar and queasy
at my anticipated long due achievement

If Not This, Then What?

It’s not the Masses, not the torments, not the nightmares of our longing
Not the grasslands, not the homelands, not the roads to our belonging
Not the mortgage, not the storage where our things are kept for later
Not the governed, not the owners, not a Priest to set us straighter

One Day Closer Every Day

Sheep droop jaw and hooves split in the stumble for the hay,
eager teeth picking at the stubble and the crust
Knees buckle their hollow humble eyes stare down and absorb
what was mud is now unsullied deep red dust

The Sweet Sweet Sound

There’s a sweet sweet sound moving across the settled ground
it whispers in my ear in the morning
like a solitary breeze that whistles through the trees
and summons all the birds to cease their yawning

What Are We Made Of?

What are we made of? asks the child who cries
who just wants a toy she can play with
or to ask most politely before she dies
“is there someone out there I can stay with.”

A Place to Breathe

My, what a lovely place you have, you must be very proud
I love your modern furniture and the space that you’ve allowed
the kitchen is so stylish, are these appliances new?
I’d love one of those in our place, I bet it cost a few

The Lifestyle you Ordered

The lifestyle you ordered is currently out of stock
our warehouse has been stripped of supplies
our people are working around the clock
to ensure you get your hands on the prize

I Remembered Yesterday

I remembered yesterday the times that I have with you
And visions of the grateful days and all that I have wished for you
I’d stand out in the wind and cold and meet you in the rain
and offer no patronising words to beat us up or take away our pain

One Day

There’s a ghost selling memories down by the shore
as a jury decides its fate
there’s a man of religion knocking at my door
I need to lie down, he can wait.

My Own Best Friend

Stooping down and listless still
the rain, the pavement scarried
the men they took my food and oil
and all that I had carried

Bleed for Mary

It’s a recurring theme invading my senses
I’m lining up images all in a row
They’re blowing up bridges and cutting down fences
But I keep on moving but my moving is slow

Silenced by the Sight

You have 10 minutes in which to write something using a randomly chosen line from a randomly chosen page from a randomly chosen book… “standing between earth and sky, we are silenced by the sight.”

Thoreau was Right

Am I happy? It doesn’t matter, it’s not relevant, I accept my fate. Thoreau was right, the mass of men really do lead lives of quiet desperation

When I’m Gone

When all is conquered said and done
When all the races have been run
I’m hoping for a place that I call home
I hope I meet my saviour there
I hope that he will judge me fair
When I’m gone

My Leaning Frame

I have no room on my leaning frame
The seed that’s planted, in the ground
I have no mind for what lays behind
I put no weight on what others find

There’ll be no Peace in the Middle East

I met an old man down in lebanon
been walking the streets since the day he was born
told me the story of palestine and the jews
most of it was old, all of it was in the news

I Found You

Princes priests and diplomats
are trying to explain
The times that we are living in
the rumbling in my brain

Songs from the Quelled Rebellion

Having said all there is to say about songs from the one remaining soul
from the lost days of last centuries quelled rebellion and poetic wonder
recorded these songs in a fit of junkyard passion

God Knows Where

My mother she left me I don’t know where she went
perhaps she never arrived
I left home when I was four years old
I had to survive

Wisdom Cries in the Street

Wisdom cries in the street
The humble rise to their feet
to kick their shoes off
before they hit the road

No One Mentions Her Name

All sorts of things thoughts tied like lengths of strings
Run through my mind.
Like winding anxiety waiting on her fate at the watch of hope I wait
From one day to next always the same
Not one mention of her name.

Writing on the Wall

There’s a sign in the window saying the stores are closed
The doors are barricaded and the pipes they froze
They say that pride it comes before a fall
I think it’s got something to do with the writing on the wall

(Someone’s Gonna Have to Give Me Back) All Those Wasted Years

I used to be blind, But now I see

Because a man named Jesus, Spat on me

I don’t know what happened, I looked away

I saw the sun set, over the bay

all the blindness, all the tears

Someone’s gonna have to give me back the wasted years.

What’s Required of Me

Sip my coffee and I read the news
Reading about society’s views
Call my broker and do some lunch
Make a million on the back of a hunch…

Some Stories Worth Telling

The Power of Self Belief and Self Care; and the Scourge of Anxiety

A couple of months ago, I was invited to be part of a panel discussion on the Power of Self Belief and Self Care.

The Patient’s Wife

It commanded my attention searing its way through my chest, its steady rhythm building to an ominous crescendo, the reverberation ricocheting between my ears as it clutched my throat in a vice like grip.

There’s a Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow

This week, no fewer than 8 people have said to me, “it’s been a really tough year”, and then gone onto say, “and I know it’s been an especially difficult one for you”.

Some Journies Worth Taking

The Failing Science

At university I studied Economics, known, for good reason, as the dismal science. My tutor once asked the class for our definition of the subject we had enrolled in.

Dignity

My Father taught me a few things, without of course, knowing that he was teaching me in the process. One of them involved my first post university job, or the attempt at landing one.

I Turn Out the Lights and Listen to the Pain

There is a place I go, a not necessarily pleasant place but it is, all the same, necessary that I go there. It’s also, ironically enough, a place of solace.

Lost

When we are young our spirit is to make our own way, to turn our backs on whatever it is that society entreats of us, to collectively thumb our nose and to carry rebellion as a badge of honour, or at least is was back in the day.

The Greek word for Sadness

The doctor had called about some news he needed to discuss with her, it was better if she came in he said, better that the news be delivered face to face. A cold shiver went down her spine, she didn’t have the courage to ask for a straight answer…

The Patient’s Wife

It commanded my attention searing its way through my chest, its steady rhythm building to an ominous crescendo, the reverberation ricocheting between my ears as it clutched my throat in a vice like grip.

I’m Tired of Being Tired

It’s been two years and I haven’t been able to write. A combination of factors has contributed to this creative inertia, summarised, in general terms, by the existence and subsequent evacuation of a brain tumour and by the summary afflictions that comprise recovery of same.

Can I give you a lift?

I gave a friend a lift home from our support group meeting. He doesn’t drive, recovering as he is from his brain surgery. It was a good opportunity to catch up with him, hear news of treatment, of recovery progress, to share the odd anecdote, and complain about the traffic.

When the Brain Tumour Screams

There are times, when viewed in the rear view mirror, when those moments of temporary crisis are upon us, when thought strings are tangled, when things spiral, when all we want is some small semblance of control.

We live in a Political World

We live in a political world and as much as we might like to turn a blind eye to that fact, we can’t avoid it. You may wonder then, what has led me down this rabbit hole and enquire as to what politics has to do with having a brain tumour.

The Common Thread of Loneliness

It’s a touchy subject war, and that one day of the year when we’re confronted with the futility of it has again rolled around. I should also add, that, tenuous as it may seem, I am making a link to my own brain tumour journey.

Err on the side of Kindness

You might be wondering who I’m quoting here. A clergyman perhaps? Or clergywoman? if you can find one. A nurse? An artist?

The Virtue of Not Knowing Too Much

“Sometimes you’re better off not knowing,” I said to a good friend as we sat outside sipping coffee. He nodded in tacit agreement, without completely understanding what I was trying to say.

Whirly Gigs, Pliés and Other Tricks and Obstacles

Things are somewhat difficult just at present. I stumble, almost falling backwards and all I’m doing is making lunch, a toasted sandwich. It’s the price I’m paying for having the brain tumour removed and the subsequent and ongoing recovery of same.

Between the Black & the White

Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
“Rip down all hate,” I screamed
Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull. I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

A Question of Balance

Before I go on, I should preface my comments by saying that my intended audience for this missive is not the brain tumour community, they may read this and remark “tell me something I don’t already know”. It’s for anyone who may know a brain tumour survivor, or has met one, and who wonders what the fuss is about.

Absolutely Nothing

Clive James, in answering a question about his writing life, a question about the writing process, answered thus, “I get up in the morning, make myself a cup of coffee, walk up the stairs to my office, stare out the window and do what all great writers must do…”

A Profound Change

For most of us, dare I say all of us, our lives are filled with the mundane. I’m sorry to break it to you this way, it may come as a shock. With the profound on the other hand, where an insight of emotional depth and intensity is revealed, we often, as individuals, as a society, flick pass it and shake our heads in wonder

Something Worth Writing

Following the 15 hour surgery on my brain 12 months ago, the whole left side of my body was left paralysed. There is still some way to go. My left hand still experiences constant pins & needles. It has about half of its required strength and dexterity. The neuro pathways, the synapse, from the brain to the hand still has obstacles.

Walking into Walls

A short video montage, mainly walking, of progress since my surgery.

Appearances can be Deceptive

Appearances can be deceptive, as they are with most people. On the surface I appear to be quite normal, a functioning human being doing what functioning human beings do. “You’re looking good” is what people say.

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

An article written for the May 2017 Brain Tumour Alliance Australia magazine.

The Struggle

Six months on from surgery and my life is still a struggle. I still feel useless, although I do try and make myself useful. I have perhaps 40% use of my left arm, gripping and holding things is the main problem, I still have double vision in my right eye and I am unstable on my feet.

There’s a Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow

This week, no fewer than 8 people have said to me, “it’s been a really tough year”, and then gone onto say, “and I know it’s been an especially difficult one for you”.

It’s been a Tough Week

I didn’t think I’d be so physically incapacitated. Or put another way, sometimes it’s better not to have full knowledge of the consequences of major surgery, it can lead to pre and post-operative despondency.

A Love Story

I rode my bike for half an hour this morning. Previously, that is, pre-surgery, a half hour bike ride would not have registered at all on Katrina’s radar, but today she was ecstatic because my current normal makes thirty minutes of intense exercise monumental.

Brain Tumour ~ the Journey Begins

There is no guide book for surviving a brain tumour. I have no idea how long it might take me to get back to a normal life, if there is one.

Some Places Worth Visiting

Giftland

It should be pointed out, before the story of Giftland, Lokta paper and the generosity of my Nepali hosts is mentioned, that some things are done differently in Nepal. We in the West could learn a thing or two from them.

Kathmandu Orphanage

My final day of visiting people affected by the April 25th earthquake made for an uneasy embrace of what it means to be denied a Western middle class upbringing. I had one, these delightful children have an upbringing only in the sense that they are not living on the street.

Barahbise (Nepal)

The village of Barabesie, in the region of Sindapowlchuk, north east of the capital Kathmandu, was at the epicentre of the April 2015 earthquake. The village was flattened, almost destroyed. It’s people are resilient, they are rebuilding.

Post Earthquake Art Therapy

Kailash is an artist. When you are introduced to him he will say “hello, my name is Kailash, I am an artist.” You are left in no doubt. An artist he most certainly is, in demeanour, in the passion with which he talks about teaching others, creating works that speak to people and about letting the world know that Art can help change it.

Bungamati & Shanku (Nepal)

A medieval village popular with tourists flattened by the April 2015 earthquake.

The first thing that springs to mind when one sees devastation like this is how hopeless the task of rebuilding appears to be. It’s not just the homes and the temples, it’s the lives, particularly in light of the knowledge that there is no one to help, no insurance and a mere token of government assistance. It’s left to those around you, your neighbours, your relatives, your village folk. In other words, your community.

Jay Nepal

Jay Nepal, which means “Victory Nepal”, is a motley arrangement of Nepalis and foreign backpackers who have banded together to help rebuild, or more correctly, in the first instance anyway, demolish Nepal.

Some Songs Worth Singing

Letter You Wrote

by Stephen Newman | The Lifestyle You Ordered

Great Australian Dream

by Stephen Newman | The Lifestyle You Ordered

Guess I'm Doing Fine

by Stephen Newman | The Lifestyle You Ordered