ordsflow is a group of people who love to write, living in or near Pottsville Beach, northern New South Wales, Australia. We meet at the Pottsville Beach Neighbourhood Centre on Friday afternoons during NSW school term, from 1 to 3.30 pm. Contact can be made through the facilitator, Rosemary Nissen-Wade, on (02) 6676 0874. http://wordsflowwriters.blogspot.com ***** For this anthology, members of the group were asked to submit one or two pieces of their choice which could be either a short story or a poem. All pieces were edited by Rosemary Nissen-Wade and Eddie Blatt. ***** Important Notice: some pieces use high-level coarse language and have adult themes that may not be suitable for children. ***** This anthology is copyright and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission except for legitimate purposes of study and review. Individual stories and poems remain the property of the authors concerned, who also assert their moral rights in their work. Published by WordsFlow, PO Box 54, Pottsville Beach, 2009 ÂŠ WordsFlow 2009 2
The Fall From Grace The Interview
The Seeker Winter Beach
A Life, Ironic - Chapter 1
Esmayâ€™s Crochet Buttons
The Other Side of His Story
On the Somme
Maggie Cunningham Webb
Woman of Fashion Retirement Nomads
Nembutsu David Nembutsu Monte
Writers Bio .......................................... 3
THE FALL FROM GRACE By Nan Doyle The old man made his way to the park bench with the aid of a gnarled walking stick. His long silver hair shone in the bright sunlight and a feeling of tenderness welled up in his heart when he saw his old sparring partner of many years. ―Luke?‖ he asked. ―How‘s it going Joe? It‘s been a long time.‖ ―Too long, Luke. Too long.‖ He sat and observed the picnickers, the lovers, and the children at play with dogs and families. ―This place is a bloody mess, isn‘t it! Doesn‘t anyone pick up after themselves around here?‖ ―This is the least of your worries, Joe. Everywhere is a mess.‖ Joe smiled sadly. ―Chaotic would be a better description, and things would be even worse if anyone knew that we were meeting like this.‖ He sighed. ―All I ever wanted was for things to be perfect.‖ Luke grimaced as he rubbed his crippled legs. ―Things were perfect until you decided that there had to be more. You couldn‘t leave well alone. You were a master designer and we had it all, then you decided to create someone in your own image and put him into the most beautiful garden the world has ever known.‖ He ran his black hand, fingers bent and broken, through his hair. ―Then like that wasn‘t enough, you had to have more and created Whatsername.‖ Joe stretched his long legs and linked his hands together at the back of his head. ―And that‘s where the trouble started.‖ ―You betcha sweet bippy that‘s where it started. Two beings cre4
ated in your own image with minds of their bloody own and you wanted to stay in control. Fat chance there was of that. And then when I try to tell you to give the kids a break, you kick me up the coit and I fall from grace…as those romanticists like to say. What would they bloody know about it anyway? They weren‘t even there! Then when somebody does a bloody biography about it, you would think you‘d done the whole bloody lot all by yourself.‖ ―I‘m sorry, Luke. I loved you and I was angry.‖ ―Yeah, well look at me. All warped and twisted, inside and out. And I had to have my wings amputated.‖ He reached and rubbed the hump on his back. ―I still get phantom pain from that and I‘ve never felt the same without them. But back to this Adam and Whatsername thing. You gave her a set of tits and she thought she was a princess. And I‘ll tell you what. Nothing‘s changed in ten million years. The ones with tits still want to be princesses and the others, the Adam‘s, want to be camel drivers or astronauts, except now the ones with tits want it all. They should never have been put together in the first place.‖ ―It was a bad mistake on my behalf, Luke.‖ Joe touched the crippled black hand beside him. There was an electrical hissing, crunching, stretching sound. Luke held his left hand, fingers long and strong and flexible, in front of his eyes. ―Holy crap! You haven‘t lost your touch!‖ Joe smiled. ―The thing is, Luke, what are we going to do about it all? The world is out of control. My son has wiped his hands of the whole business and I don‘t blame him. My creations caused the havoc and the human race is running amok. Can you do anything with your lot?‖ ―Not much. It‘s all gone too far and to be quite frank, Joe, your mob is outweighed by numbers. The bad guys don‘t give a shit and 5
all get around rootin‘ like rabbits, and the few good guys that there are hardly get a root at all. You kicked that pair of kids out of The Garden where they would have been safe, into the barren world to procreate. And that was a bloody crap thing to do to poor little Whatsername. But that‘s all in the past and there isn‘t anything we can do about it now. Anyway, my forces organized the mobs and gangs and all the rest of them, all over the world. Now there are factions that are so confused and anxious to get into Heaven, that they don‘t even know they‘re the bad guys! What‘s more, I‘m not in control any more, so basically, we‘re fucked.‖ Joe leant back and scratched his neck. He dragged his hand around and rubbed his jaw. ―So what do you reckon?‖ ―Fuck ‗em! That‘s what I say. Neither of us thought we‘d ever get old and tired. We might be around for another ten million years, but personally I reckon it won‘t be long before we disappear into the gaseous elements that brought us here in the first place.‖ ―Right,‖ said Joe. ―I feel the same way. So do you want to come home, or do you want to stay?‖ ―Well, what would you think?‖ ―Come on then, Luke. Let‘s go home.‖ Joe helped his old adversary to his feet and embraced him. The thunder roared and the lightning cracked and the air filled with a blinding white light. Luke stood tall, no longer bent and crippled. He flexed his shoulders and flashed teeth whiter than the Pearly Gates. ―Thanks, Joe,‖ he said. A small voice piped from across the park. ―Look Mummy! It‘s a fairy! A great big fairy!‖ Luke glowered. ―I‘ll deck the next one that calls me a fuckin‘ fairy,‖ he growled and together they walked into the mist that had suddenly rolled in. 6
THE INTERVIEW By Nan Doyle Esther appraised the young man critically as he was ushered into the room. He was tall, and the modern baggy clothing that he wore disguised his frame. He was olive skinned and his light blue eyes were a startling contrast to his complexion. His long dark lashes were the type that any girl would willingly have killed for. His hair had been carefully contrived to achieve that stick-up messy look and the five oâ€˜clock shadow was beginning to appear on his square chin. "Wont you sit down?" Esther requested, indicating to the maid that afternoon tea should be served. "Jeremy Atkins?" she asked. He nodded. "I have conducted quite a few interviews and have found none of them to be suitable. May I see your credentials?" He passed a folder to her across the table. She studied the contents quietly. "You have been highly recommended to me." she said. "Now before we talk business, we'll have tea and I shall tell you about myself." She poured the tea from the silver pot into fine china cups. "I have an affliction that has been with me for the past five years. I cannot bear to leave the house. I am overcome with fear and nausea. I panic at the very thought of going outside." She fingered the pearls surrounding her scrawny neck. "At the beginning I missed the hurly burly of everyday living. I felt quite desolate for a while. But do you know what, Jeremy Atkins? I'm not sure that I need to leave the house any more. I am quite content with my own company and occasional visits from faithful friends. I hold bridge parties once a week and I do see the people that mean something to me. I have led a full and varied life. World travel. The whole box and dice." 7
She smiled slyly. "I don't miss the invitations to all those fund raising functions, where everyone is far more interested in my money than my company. I don't miss the dinner parties where I have rubbed shoulders with every conceivable bore on the planet; and I don't miss the catty, name-dropping socialites. There is only one thing I miss, Jeremy, and you already know what that is." She raised diamond-encrusted fingers to her wrinkled cheeks. "Jeremy, I am seventy-two years of age. I have a hunger and lust for passion. I'll pay you well. In return, I require your presence for an hour each week. I expect you to be punctual, reliable and trustworthy. Is that understood?" He nodded, rose, walked across to the carved mantleshelf and ran his fingers over the fine porcelain of a shepherdess. "Dresden," Esther said absently. "I am a vain and selfish woman. You see, I want to hold a young body. A young body whose skin doesn't feel like it is going to peel off in my hands. A young body with firm muscles. I want to look into bright young eyes. I want to see a head of thick healthy hair. Nobody knows just how much I have tired of bald shiny pates, bad toupees and oily combovers. And teeth! I can't abide the way old men whistle through their dentures. One old codger who applied had a set of false teeth that rattled like castanets. Can you imagine that? Can you assimilate passion and fire with clacking dentures? Tell me that!" Jeremy laughed as he wandered along to the old radiogram in the corner and sifted through the records. "May I?" he asked. "Yes, yes, yes! By all means." She spoke impatiently. He placed the record on the turntable, discarded his coat and loosely knotted tie. "Jeremy. Can you accommodate my needs?" Her voice was urgent as he stepped onto the walking machine that stood by the window. Damn those pale eyes, she thought. They tell me nothing. Blue ice, that's what they are. She watched as he fiddled with knobs. "I'm thirty-two." he said. 8
Esther raised her eyebrows. "So?" "Well, I'm not all that young." "Thirty-two is young enough, believe me! But tell me, Jeremy. Are you passionate?" "I believe so." he replied. Her sigh of relief was almost audible. "When can you begin?" she asked. He glanced at his watch. "I have an hour up my sleeve right now. My wife needs the car at four to take the kids to gymnastics, but if you want to begin now, then that's fine with me." He approached, hand extended towards her. She stood, her movements lithe and loose for a woman of her years. She looked into his eyes and saw the fire and passion that she craved. They stood stiffly together before lunging into the opening steps of the tango. "Oh yes," breathed Esther inwardly. "Oh yes!" as they danced on, finally collapsing together, exhilarated and laughing, onto the lounge. Esther tucked a fifty dollar note into his pocket. "So, Jeremy," she asked. "Do I have myself a dancing partner?" He smiled as he consulted his little black book. "Next Wednesday at three," he replied.
The Seeker by Rosemary Nissen-Wade
For Camille She longs for a song to fall in love with and finds the song of paint, the tunes in the colours, the music she can make in shapes and arrangements, the intense shades and the grace-notes. Then she seeks the tones of words, their patterns and styles, their rhythms and hues, and the way that suddenly bells explode on the air and paint it with sound while she sings and listens. She finds dance and the language of fire, the chords of the firesticks twirling at night, the extended arias her arms trace on the dark, and the rills and riffs of her singing feet. At last comes the music in men, their thrilling arpeggios, the dance of their rainbow movements: light and shadow playing across a mouth, or an eyelid's indication of songs yet unheard.
Winter Beach by Rosemary Nissen-Wade The sea is deep green darkening further out on an indigo horizon, frothing in whirlpools of white where it laps the sand coming in close to the cliff. Above the cliff-top trees a small hawk sails over in one long glide of still wings, so close that I look up and see the dark beak and eye red throat and golden belly. Itâ€˜s long since I inquired what messages the natural world would speak into my mind. Today there is nothing. I watch the ocean roll and the hawk pass magnificently indifferent.
A LIFE, IRONIC By Cheryl Brown
Chapter Oneâ€”Conception The child was the product of the woman and one of the twelve men who had just finished raping her. The woman was lying, naked and covered in dirt and spit and semen, too exhausted and defeated to attempt any movement except to continue breathing. Her eyes were closed - and in that small part of her mind that had continued to function, she wished she might keep them closed forever. The men, little older than her, certainly none of them more than eighteen, had come across her in the park like a pack of hunting wolves. They had taunted her with sexual innuendo, and she, being sixteen and thinking herself wise in the way of the world this January of 1956, responded in kind. Predictably, the wolves had turned rabid. She was often told that she was not a particularly intelligent girl - her parents, her teachers, even her minister told her so all the time. And from them she also knew that she would never amount to much, and should look to finding a husband sooner rather than later. Had she been smarter perhaps she would not have responded as she did, or perhaps she was after all, â€•just a bad lot". But when they had said she was pretty, and had great tits, great big ones, and told her how much they'd like to get a look at those, she had felt strangely validated and yes, a little excited. When the first of the boys came over and playfully tried to touch her, she had giggled with him and shared the game for a moment, dodging his playful grabs at her, and giggling, giggling all the while. She knew him, he went to her school, she liked him and after all, what harm could be done? He had laughed and called the other boys over. They sur12
rounded her and asked, ―Give us a touch… or better still, give us a look.‖ ―Go on, give us a gander. I bet they're soft, ooooh, I'd like to give them a squeeze,‖ they said, and then one of them stepped forward and grabbed her tits in his big hands and squeezed hard enough to hurt, and when she'd cried out in pain and surprise and stepped backwards out of his way, she ran straight into one of the other boys. "Give us a go," he said, suddenly emboldened by his friend. He spun her around to face him and then stood, hands out, unable to take his eyes from her tits. He reached out tentatively, to cop his first feel of a real live tit, and touched one and then the other gently, and as a lover might feel the wonder of that first touch, he gave them a gentle exploratory squeeze, and then he dropped his hands and just looked at her. There was a moment of stillness and the boys stopped jostling. A moment of quiet and collectively held breath. She looked into his face and saw that his eyes were unfocussed and far away - he had moved on to a different place, and she felt truly afraid for the first time. And then they began. The last one to have a turn stood over her and hurriedly tried to pull up the zipper on his pants but his semi flaccid penis refused to go home. As he fiddled with it, he looked down at the girl's tearstreaked face for the first time, and as if drawn, she made eye contact with him, and in that moment she knew that he was deeply and irreparably ashamed. The pack was now running on overused heightened nervous energy. But the boys were quieting, looking a little stunned. They had taken on the enemy and had won, but like most warfare the final victory seemed a hollow one. "Hurry up, Dave" and "Whatcha, going again?" and "Shake a leg", and "Someone'll spring us". But Dave simply couldn't look away, and when he did, it was to look down and see for the first time the dirt and the bodily fluids 13
that covered her. He realised that some of them were his, and his stomach rose bitterly into the back of his throat and burned there and fought to escape. He turned and retched beside her and in that moment he hated the girl for what she had made him do, and the last of the bile turned to spit, and he let fly in a great gob onto the girls stomach. "Tramp!" he muttered through clenched teeth as he turned to his friends. "Let's go, before anyone comes." And suddenly, free again to ride the forest and the winds as was their right, the pack took off and, laughing and taunting, disappeared into the distance. In time, she tried to sit up and looked around for her blouse. She found it a few feet to her left, reached out and dragged it toward her, clutching it to her chest for a long time before finally trying to force deadened limbs into armhole sockets. When she did finally manage to get her arms under control, she pulled the edges together at the front and started to button them up. It was then that she discovered there were several buttons missing, and this struck her as the saddest thing she had ever come across, an amazing loss that would never be repaired or recaptured, and she wept for those buttons for a very long time. As she wept, brokenly, a barrage of young healthy sperm assaulted an egg with similar single-mindedness until finally, one of them was a clear victor. The child, of course, knew nothing of these events until many years later.
within by jan busch am quarter visible three quarters hidden still stored away locked unleashed within shouting broken held a prisoner am a tree against the clear blue sky of night moving not waiting to be released by morning light am tree in wilderness of bigotry culinary soul salutation the gust of acceptance am a tree that wafts by authors love encouraging emergent am a free tree within without
THE PARTY a true account by Eddie Blatt My friend Milton was the kind of guy who kept on going when everyone else was already gone. He was a tall man, around 6-foot four, with an intense gaze and a large head that resembled his namesake, the friendly cartoon character Milton the Monster. He had a passion for marijuana and would continue smoking joints well after the rest of us were incapable of even standing up. He would then swallow a couple of Mandrax capsules or down a packet of car-sickness tablets to get higher. His tolerance for excess seemed boundless. Milton's father had pulled him out of school at an early age so he could work in one of his exclusive menswear shops in the Melbourne CBD. We'd smoke pot in the back of the shop, scoff down chocolate Tim Tams and laugh ourselves silly at nothing while peeping at customers through a hole in the fitting room. Milton would straighten his tie, slick down his straight black hair, then go out and convince the unsuspecting customer to buy a suit. Milton was a legend. Strewn around the backroom floor of the shop was a collection of Playboy magazines. I vividly recall the excitement on Miltonâ€˜s face back in 1973 when he produced a copy containing the Playboy Playmate of the Year. Her centrefold layout was the first one to display full frontal nudity. Our tongues hung out, salivating over the voluptuous brunette baring it all in the glossy magazine, seemingly for our exclusive viewing. A year or two later Milton fell in love and, at the age of twentytwo, announced he was getting married. He decided to give himself a big send-off by holding a bachelor party in a mutual friend's small one-bedroom unit in an inner suburb of Melbourne. I had never been to a buck's night before, and although I was in a new relationship I decided I would join in. I had a cool image to maintain. The party was in full swing as I entered the bachelor pad, dressed in my all-American stars and stripes outfit. The heavy beat 16
of ZZ-Top's La Grange blared out of the speakers as about twenty guys, most of whom I knew well, milled around the downstairs section of the two-storey unit. The familiar smell of Sumatran grass wafted through the pad and I could just see Milton through the throng, laughing heartily while rolling a cone. I envied him his ability to produce cones of such large size and quality. I took a few tokes of a joint going by, grabbed a drink from a table in front of a sofa, and started chatting with some of my friends. There was an air of anticipation, although it was unclear for what exactly. Not that it really mattered. The usual banter and sidesplitting laughter was more than enough to keep me happily entrenched in the mood of the evening, as too was the music which raced through the neurons of my brain much to the delight of the rest of my body. Twenty minutes after I had arrived, and the volume of the music had decreased to accommodate the lateness of the evening, there was a knock at the door. Richard, the guy who rented the apartment, opened it and let in a sleazy-looking character in a leather jacket, followed by three girls in fur coats and high-heeled shoes. The girls took off their coats, placed them on the sofa and started mingling with the guys in the room. They were heavily made up with bright red lipstick, thick mascara on extended eye-lashes, and skimpy clothes that revealed much of what lay underneath. The scent of perfume radiating from their young bodies made for an explosive sensory cocktail of smells that was both thrilling and frightening. Milton immediately approached the tallest one, a mousy blonde with scraggly hair and long legs, and led her up a staircase. My good friend Stephan then approached the shorter of the two remaining girls, took her hand and followed the pair up the staircase. The third girl, a buxom brunette with long straight hair and brown eyes, continued to mingle downstairs. She sipped on a Southern Comfort and smoked joints that were being passed around. I looked at her from the safety of a spot on the other side of the living room. The effects of the dope mixed with the alcohol height17
ened a strong attraction I immediately felt for her. But I also felt a pang of guilt, and a fear that, should I take the plunge and actually go with her, the budding relationship with my new girlfriend would be at risk. A few minutes later Stephan ambled down the stairs with a look of immense satisfaction on his face, guiding the girl in front of him. He handed the pimp a $20 note then joined the rest of us as we excitedly began talking about his exploits upstairs â€“ all except for Richard, who quickly jumped out of his seat, went up to the girl and led her back up the staircase. The brunette still mingled amongst us downstairs, looking rather irritated at the lack of an approach by any of the guys in the room. I have a particular attraction towards brunettes, especially if they have long, straight hair, and was surprised no-one had approached her. So I walked over to where she was standing and began idle conversation. "Oh come on," she responded as she snatched my hand. "Let's go." I looked at the contours of her ass underneath a black leather mini-skirt and g-string as she led me up the stairs, while shivers of excitement coursed through my body. When we got to the top I saw three beds placed next to each other with two screens separating them. Milton was sitting half-dressed on the right-most bed with a look of glee on his face. I guessed he was done and was simply savoring the moment before having to confront the guys downstairs. Richard was still in the midst of sexual activity with the short girl, in the bed that had been placed in the middle of the two others. The brunette and I moved to the bed positioned on the lefthand-side of the room and took our clothes off. When we were both naked she lay down with her back on the bed, lifted her knees and motioned me to get on top. The thrill of the moment was inflamed by the perfumed aroma and her soft and voluptuous body. I entered her with a firm thrust. As my mouth met hers I could feel the familiar rush of hot energy pulsating up through my testicles and coalescing at the base of my penis. She rocked her hips, evi18
dently hoping I would come quickly, but I wanted to delight in the thrill for as long as I could. "Let's be fair to the others," she said after a few minutes had elapsed. "How about letting it all go now?" I didn't think about it for very long. A few seconds later I spasmed violently inside her for what seemed like eternity, with an intensity greatly heightened by the mixture of drugs and alcohol. When it was over I basked in the mother of all afterglows. I was in love. "Nice work," she finally said, awakening me from my reverie. She got up, collected her clothes and walked past the middle bed towards the en-suite bathroom. I had visions of my sperm dripping down her legs while she prepared for the next session. When she came out, she was once again meticulously dressed in her sexy clothes, looking as if nothing had happened. We moved slowly down the stairs and back into the music and the boisterous conversation. The pimp was nowhere to be seen so I calmly mingled with the guys for a few minutes before inconspicuously leaving the party. My girl-friend was awaiting me in a dorm of the college we both attended, and I was keen to unburden myself of feelings of guilt. As I drove along the empty roads thinking of how I would communicate the eveningâ€˜s events, I hoped she would not let a foolish evening's activities end our relationship. *** I never did get to pay for that evening with the voluptuous brunette at The Party â€“ not in monetary terms anyway, but pay for it I did. My girlfriend and I had sex that very night after I had arrived in her dorm-room and confessed my deeds. The attraction we felt for each other outweighed any sense of outrage she must have felt. The next morning we were itchy all over and our bodies were covered in blisters. I soon discovered that we had both contracted scabies â€“ from the brunette to me and from me to my girlfriend. The cure we had to undertake was worse than the symptoms. We survived that event and eventually married, only to divorce five 19
years later. Milton went on to experience severe psychological trauma and depression. He and his wife split up a year or two after The Party. He eventually shot himself. I haven't thought of Milton or The Party for many years now. I wonder if Milton would still be with us had he not smoked so much dope. He seemed such a happy-go-lucky guy, and for years I questioned if there was something wrong with me because I could not indulge as excessively as he and my other friends could. I had no idea at the time that Milton was engulfed in such despair. And I had no idea of the dangers of smoking dope. That is, until I ended up in a psychiatric hospital myself some time later. As Henry David Thoreau wrote: 'Most men live lives of quiet desperation.'
Esmay’s Crochet by Margaret Purcell When Esmay found she‘d time to spare She wondered, should she really dare To try something completely new Although birthdays – she‘d had a few. Then as the Daily News she read She saw an article that said There was to be an open day For all to learn about croquet. She thought, ―Now crochet‘s what I need Something of interest, yes indeed To keep my fingers working well And then my work on stalls could sell. She phoned to see what she should take Like patterns for something to make. They said, ―You only need a hat And comfy shoes with soles quite flat.‖ When Esmay did at last arrive She got a really big surprise To find she‘d gone to learn croquet And not the fine art of crochet. So Esmay learnt to play the game And said, ―I am so glad I came As there is quite a lot to learn. I cannot wait for my next turn.‖ Now Esmay has no time to spare. Where croquet is you‘ll find her there Enjoying the outdoors with friends A pastime that she recommends. 21
Buttons by Margaret Purcell
I have a classic rusty tin That I keep in my sideboard drawer. It holds so many memories That will stay forevermore. It was a present to my mum From my dad when he was her beau And it was filled with fancy chocolates So many years ago. When I first saw this chocolate tin It glittered red, green and gold Which attracted my attention When I was three years old. But what I found most interesting Were the stories my mum would tell About the tiny coloured buttons Then in the tin did dwell. There were unusual coloured buttons Cut from an old coat of my dadâ€˜s And the smaller ones from baby clothes And many fashion fads. I often played with them for hours And put them in coloured groups Because they were my toy soldiers Or fairies in dance troupes. 22
Sometimes I made a winding snake That started in the hall Went under chairs in the dining room And finished by the wall. The other week when my grandson came To spend some time with me I noticed how the games have changed Since I was also three. How he was being entertained Was with buttons â€“ not like mine. Playing with his computer buttons Was how he spent his time. These buttons are just worlds apart From the games I used to play With my motherâ€—s tin of coloured buttons And the games children play today.
Going Home by Caroline Taylor Home is where Round river rocks and red callistemon Show the places our dogs lie buried. (The cats are in unmarked graves.) Mum sits at her loom Muttering ―Jesus, this looks terrible‖ While we reassure: ―It‘s beautiful.‖ I go home often. The smell of yeast baking draws me, Lemon-scented gums in the early morning, Geraniums bobbing in the sun. A warm lap, Someone stroking my head As I snuffle my way to sleep, The blood clotting on my knee. Tensions abide there too And dreams not followed. Persisting, through the embers. The bedroom door Muffles baby-making noises And bitter indifference. Stop! We mouth to the wood. We have had enough! It‘s going to take years For us to grow up and out of here. 24
The split cane tells a story in red Across my little sisterâ€˜s legs. I am guilty for letting it happen. The fires engulfed the living-room â€Ś Where someone strokes my hair. Geraniums shrivelled in advance, The scented gums exploded. Roaring flames incinerated the bedroom door. Smoking desolation. Warm buns and ginger beer, Our dogs lazing on their backs Smiling up at me. In a flash, I am very little, and Mum and Dad are laughing in the sun. I go home often.
THE OTHER SIDE OF HIS STORY by Marie Hefferan There was consternation in the Monastery of St Didymus. Old Brother Joseph was dying. Some predicted he would meet the Lord before the sun set. Old Brother William sat in the corner of the dying man‘s cell and shook his head. ‗He is waiting for the moment when our Lord will call him.‘ He continued to count his Aves and Pater Nosters while Brother Joseph lay back on his couch, smiled and closed his eyes against the sunlight streaming through the narrow windows. Oh, what wonderful memories he had – memories of kindness and selfishness, courage and cowardice, love and hate – not all good memories. Yet perhaps, he reflected, there had to be some evil in the world or we poor humans could not recognize what was truly good. It was all a matter of balance in life – enjoying happy times and putting up with the bad times. As the hours passed, anxiety within the monastic walls increased. Brother Joseph did not worry, nor did old Brother William praying his rosaries for his friend; but, from the youngest Brother to the holy Abbot himself, there was concern. Brother Joseph had not made his final Confession. He had gently refused the urgings of the holy monks and the Abbot. He did not tell them, but he was waiting for Father Martin, the Provincial of the Order, to arrive. Through Father Martin he would speak his last words of confession and repentance and then seek forgiveness from a just God. At the evening meal, gloom descended upon the gathering of these good-hearted men. They voiced their concerns. ―Have you heard about Brother Joseph?‖ ―Yes, he has only a little time left.‖ ―So he has, and he will not make his final Confession.‖ ―What! Not to any of the holy priests in our community?‖ ―No.‖ ―Not to the Abbot?‖ 26
―Not even to the Abbot.‖ ―Oh dear Lord, what are we to do?‖ ―Pray. Brother Joseph is in need of our prayers.‖ ―Brother Joseph is such a humble man. I cannot understand him.‖ One and all they shook their heads, those godly monks. Brother Joseph was well liked, even loved. That was understandable. He never lost his temper. ―Because he dodged conflict,‖ mumbled someone. ―When he should have been telling his students what was evil and that it must be stamped out or avoided, he held discussions with them so they could make ‗informed decisions‘.‖ ―I agree. Put fear into boys when they‘re young and they won‘t even think bad thoughts or tell grubby stories – let alone follow their evil inclinations.‖ This was a successful teaching method Brother Brendan espoused. A few of his fellow teachers nodded their heads in agreement. There were other memories of Brother Joseph‘s teaching methods. He never caned a boy. He said he could not hit a child. When a few of his fellow teachers had asked, ―What about spare the rod and spoil the child?‖ he replied, ―That was the old way and it scarcely ever worked.‖ In his defence the monks admitted, ―He seldom had discipline problems in his classes. The boys loved him.‖ ―But what about the wine cellars?‖ Ah yes! The wine cellars. Brother Joseph was in charge of the wine cellars after he retired from teaching. ―Our profits certainly rose with Brother Joseph in charge. Of course he did a great deal of sampling – tasting he called it. His knowledge of wine and its history was admirable. Our wine became much sought after by wine connoisseurs.‖ ―True, people came from everywhere to buy our wine.‖ ―And still do!‖ Brother Felix was very proud of his tasting prowess and fine wine knowledge. He credited Brother Joseph with teaching him everything he now knew and appreciated about the 27
wine produced in the monastery vineyard. ―What a character Brother Joseph has been!‖ ―All the more reason to pray for him.‖ United, they trooped to the chapel to pray for their ailing brother who, according to old Brother William, would still be with them in the morning because Heaven was not yet ready for him. Then exhausted, but confident of God‘s protection, they drifted to their solitary cells and slept. Old Brother William slept deepest of all while Brother Joseph waited. The new day dawned peacefully for Brother Joseph as the monastery awoke. While he submitted himself to the ministrations of old Brother William and young Brother Peter, he listened to the morning sounds he knew so well - the farm coming to life, the chanting of psalms and the singing of hymns in the chapel, the early birds‘ songs and the rustle of leaves in the trees outside his windows through which beams of sunlight brightened his cell. ‗The world is a beautiful place,‘ he thought. ‗I can wait a little longer.‘ Breakfast in the monastery was a hasty meal for, though the drama of life and death was unfolding in that holy place, there were household chores and farm duties to attend to. Fortunately, the students were home on school holidays, but there was the winery. Today several busloads of tourists were expected. They would be unaware of the impending death of the legendary wine taster and educator. Old Brother William continued to care for his friend all morning, leaving only when his human nature made it necessary. Unlike his fellow monks he had no anxiety about Brother Joseph‘s eternal fate. The midday meal was usually one of camaraderie when the monks discussed morning activities, news from the outside world and announcements made by the Abbot - such as the surprise visit of the Provincial Father Martin, who had expressed a desire to see Brother Joseph once more. Father Martin had been one of the boys Brother Joseph had taught and the Abbot said, ―He has a great af28
fection for his old teacher.‖ The conversation switched to Brother Joseph. There was little change from the previous day according to old Brother William. ―He is waiting for Father Martin,‖ he said. ―Speaking of Brother Joseph – what was the story of the milk maidens?‖ The voice was querulous; but a few joined in. ―You must mean the village girls who used to come during the school terms to milk the cows when the teaching monks were too busy to help with farm chores.‖ ―That hasn‘t happened for some years now.‖ The Abbot frowned as the old gossip surfaced. It was news to some of the monks present. ―Remember Rosie?‖ whispered someone behind his hand. ―Do I remember Rosie? What a looker she was. I remember when…‖ The sentence froze midstream as the Abbot stood up and glared at the last speaker whose face, as he slumped in his chair, turned a shade redder than the wine in his glass. ―My brothers,‖ said the Abbot quietly, ―those of us who were here then remember those helpful young ladies from the village, including Rosie who found a true friend in Brother Joseph. He listened to her when she needed a confidante. Brother Joseph helped her and many others, including some at this table, through difficult times in their lives.‖ The Abbot sat down. Young Brother Peter jumped up. ―Yes, dear Father Abbot, Brother Joseph helped me when I felt I might lose my precious faith. Brother Joseph always said God created a truly beautiful world. It‘s just that we humans are hell-bent on mucking it up. He said we should praise God for all of creation including beautiful women. He said they deserve our respect and admiration. He said his mother was a beautiful woman and only God could make her so. He said that…‖ ―Thank you Brother Peter. We know of your admiration for Brother Joseph. Let us continue to pray for him.‖ The Abbot had 29
spoken. Silence reigned during the remainder of the meal. In mid-afternoon the Provincial, Father Martin, arrived without ceremony and hurried to Brother Joseph‘s bedside. The dying teacher smiled at the great man, whose eyes filled with tears as he bent over to greet him. ―Will you hear my last confession, Father Martin?‖ Old Brother William crept from the room and joined his brothers in the chapel where they prayed for Brother Joseph, for one another and for the world of which they were a part. As daylight was dimming, Father Martin asked them to come and bid goodbye to their friend. One by one they came in sorrow and left in peace. The Abbot was last. ―Goodbye my dear, good friend. But, tell me why you are so unconcerned about dying when the greatest saints fear the judgment of God?‖ ―Ah Father Abbot have you forgotten? Our dear Lord said, ‗Judge not and you will not be judged;‘ and in my long life I have not judged anyone.‖ The Provincial and the Abbot knelt by the bedside of the wise monk, who smiled as he left them to go home to God.
ON THE SOMME (A RE-BIRTHING EXPERIENCE)
by Andrew Wade Rebirthing is a process in which, under the guidance of a trained rebirther, you are guided to breathe deeply and continually, oxygenating your brain, reviving memories that have long been buried in the subconscious and, in this case, to surface unconscious fears. It was like a bad dream and I'll never forget it. I'd decided to have a rebirth to get to the heart of some of the things that were affecting me. My father was one of them. My relationship with him had been traumatic. I was with Jenny Blackie, a trained rebirther, lying on a mattress on the floor while she sat on a chair looking down at me, and I'd started breathing – deeply. ―What are you feeling?‖ she asked. ―I'm vibrating,‖ I said. Then, as I breathed, I got a sharp pain like a stitch in my right side. ―What shape is it?‖ What a ridiculous question. But then I had an insight. ―It's vertical.‖ ―What colour?‖ Colour? How could a pain have a colour? But then I saw it. It was black! ―Ask it what it represents!‖ Ask it? Seems crazy. I concentrated. Then the thought came up – my father. ―What about him?‖ ―I saw him and he looked lost.‖ ―Why wasn't he stronger?‖ ―Why?‖ I puzzled over that. Then the answer came. ―Then I would have been!‖ ―Why wasn't he strong?‖ I saw his older sister, a big woman, 31
standing over him. ―He was dominated by his older sister.‖ ―So!‖ ―He was weak.‖ I kept breathing. Then I saw Dad in a bunker on the Somme. I didn't want to talk about it. But, well, there it was. ―I see Dad. He's on the Somme in World War 1. He's in the RAMC.‖ [Royal Army Medical Corps.] Suddenly the emotion welled up inside me. I could see him in a bunker, huddled, terrified. I began to feel his terror. Then I was there, with him, hugging him to me. ―Dad! Dad! Don't be frightened. I'm here with you.‘ I was sobbing uncontrollably. He was a little boy and I had the strength. The shells were coming fast and exploding all around outside. There was no-one else there. We were alone. My whole body shook! ―CHRIST!‖ I cried out. ―It's terrifying!‖ The tears were pouring from me as my body was wracked with sobs for the man I was holding – the terrified man who was my father. ―I want to stop, Jenny! I can't stand it!‖ ―You can't stop, Andrew. You're having this experience to heal you! Stay with it,‖ she pleaded. It was so real. My Dad, there in my arms. My tears. They were real enough. ―I want him to go over the top. Do you know what I mean? Out of the trench toward the enemy.‖ I knew he had to do this. ―Dad! C'mon Dad! Pull yourself together! You must go!‖ I kept urging him on. He got up, moved toward the ladder, looked back, then disappeared over the top carrying a stretcher. I collapsed into a corner of the bunker, feeling on the one hand elated that I had made a man of him, but also feeling guilty that I 32
had sent him to his death. I was still sobbing and completely exhausted. Jenny wiped the tears from my eyes. My nasal passages were all blocked up and I was choking with emotion. Then he came back. He was dressed in a white uniform as he had been when he left. He came down the ladder and sat with his back to me. I felt disconnected from him and completely free of his influence. I was still crying, and desperate to go to the toilet. But I was shaking and had difficulty in standing up. In the toilet … pain in my back, but not as bad as before. Back on the bed, I couldn't stop crying. ―Breathe Andrew!‖ Jenny said.
Woman of Fashion by Maggie Cunningham Webb My mother was ‗in fashion,‘ She left school at fourteen To serve her time as a tailoress And learn to ‗sew a fine seam.‘ She worked her fingers to the bone As she got to know her trade, Sewing buckram, twist and buttonholes Learning how a suit was made. Because of this, her style was shaped, She always dressed with flair, Designing for herself and us, Impeccable was her care. When we grew up, we followed suit, And fashioned clothes with ease, In kaftans and with mini skirts We dressed just how we pleased. We altered, mix and matched and then, Embroidered our flared jeans, A corduroy theatrical cape, Once sewn on a toy machine. For wearing to the office, Or a Rock-Fest at weekends, The garb we wore was always geared To fit in with the trends. My daughters, when just little ones, Were dressed in matching style, 34
Much better than designer gear, Far cheaper, by a mile. My girls are all young women now, ‗Fashionistas‘ in every way, Individuals, all beautifully Well dressed to suit to-day. ―Anything goes,‖ is what they say, One shines in true sophistication, Another dons her student ‗glam‘, The third, her own creations. Down through the ages, when a woman wore Clothes which were in fashion, She showed the world her inner self, Gave a glimpse into her passion. Each generation takes a fashion stance, When parading who we are. Outfits we wear, say something about Our choices in life, so far. And what we wear, when we are young, Before conventions take a hold, Reflects our views, our boots and shoes, Reveal, as our stories unfold.
Retirement Nomads by Maggie Cunningham Webb Australians travel widely We go all around the earth, Backpacking on trains and planes, Often booking a ship‘s berth. But no matter where we visit Or the wondrous sites we see, We‘re always anxious to return, Happy to homeward be. Yes, Egypt is spectacular, As is Canada in the snow, The Eiffel tower, Niagara Falls, By all means, you should go. But, when retirement‘s looming There‘s a great big Aussie dream, Buy a superannuation rig And set off to let off steam. You can spot them on the highways With their four by fours and van, Their tinnies on the roof racks And they‘re grinning, ‗cause they can. They‘ve got fishing rods and mopeds And their call signs for CBs Printed neatly on their wagons, As in groups, they ‗shoot the breeze.‘ You can see them stopped in lay-bys ‗Cause they don‘t pay any fees For using long drop dunnies, 36
While they camp up in the trees. They‘ll tell a Ranger, who happens by, To take them all to task, ‗Road rules insist that we rest up. So we‘re doing what they ask.‘ They drive around the costal rim, Loving everything they see, Eating Bowls Club grub at lunchtime And then beans on toast for tea. They‘ll hear it on the grapevine, ‗Bout what campsites are the best But, when they find a freebee camp, They‘re sure to stop and rest. In Longreach round a log fire, They‘ll hear bush poems by the score. Grey Nomads take their ‗Eskys,‘ And cask wine to 'happy hour.‘ The van park costs keeps going up, They‘ve got you by the jugular, They‘ll sell you prunes and ‗Senokot,‘ With ‗All-bran‘ to keep you regular. There‘ll be bucket loads of ‗tailor,‘ Mate, what fish they‘re going to land, At Eighty-Mile Beach, south of Broome, As they camp up in the sand. For ‗yellow belly‘ at Cooper‘s Creek They need patience as they search, Until the car fridge, filled right up Will make their pensions stretch. Each time they stop at leisure parks When they set up their campsites, 37
The air is blue with swear words, And it sometimes leads to fights. Quite soon the blokes get expert When they‘re backing vans, of course, Or their women, who have had enough, May threaten with divorce. They try fossicking along the way, Gems and fool‘s gold they‘ve found But at Coober Pedy‘s opal fields Some are living underground. In spring time, on the move again They slowly make their way, To view the great spectacular Wild flowers of W.A. You can see them in their thousands, Smiles and joking as they go, They say they‘ll never go back home, ―Should have done this years ago.‖ They‘re looking ten years younger, The romance is coming back, The freedom they‘re enjoying now Is an aphrodisiac. Their children think them old farts, The truckies hate their pace, They will drive along in convoys As adventure they embrace. They‘ve been christened The Grey Nomads, Who have worked hard all their days, Now they want to see this ‗great wide land‘ So, they travel its highways.
We just can‘t wait to join them We are jealous of their fun, South Australians and Victorians Heading north to feel the sun. So bring on our retirement, We have finally seen the light ‗Cause there‘s no place like Australia, We‘ll explore it with delight.
Nembutsu David by Aileen Hayward Here you bend on a dusty floor, encouraging us to search for a vast ecological change. Your voice is charged With expectation, ―This change might last.‖ ‗A sense of place‘ we establish now as you spin your tales in an ancient craft for us on the grass, with your gentle voice Beguiling each soul like a soothing draft. ‗Action research‘ is full of power if we are to believe everything you say. And we are enthused, ―There‘s no first or last‖ Is your promise, ―Just learn to enjoy the day.‖ Eloise, Abelard, unknown to me Until I am placed right inside their skins, You bring them alive thru your skilful play. We are they and we weep for our loves and sins. Now I am humble, my heart more aware Of the green ants, migration, the bush wisdom law. ―Think globally,‖ you encourage your group ‗But still, act locally, just like before.‖ David, my Dean, when the sad time came to Pack up and leave, your advice on site Was to rewire our brains and to celebrate every attempt. Nothing wrong, nothing right. 40
―You‘re flying‖ you said, and my salt tears flowed. ―I don‘t want to leave – it‘s so safe with you.‖ ―No, wouldn‘t work.‖ You tousled my hair. ―Get out in the world now, and present what‘s new.‖ David, my Dean, as you are to all, I visited you many years down the track. I sat in your classroom – sat out on the porch And savoured this bitter-sweet reaching back. You remembered my name and you welcomed me in And we sat and discussed how I might return, This time to study the Buddha and Jung. Your words caused my passionate hope to burn. But David my Dean, you‘re so gifted with light You live in a dimension no one knows. And ‗HAWKESBURY‘S ADMIN.‘ was not impressed With your method of entry for me proposed. ―You ‗Social Ecologists‘ have no sense at all of correct procedures concerned. Doctor David Russell‘s consent to enrol you thus is hereby denied. Your papers returned.‖ I read their terse message with some regret But now, a fringe dweller, defused their power to quell my spirit, for I was free. As a social ecologist this was my hour. For shifting focus, the sky didn‘t fall, my dog now my teacher, and each river bend Presents the next lesson as we wander on And I say the Nembutsu for you, my dear friend. 41
Nembutsu Monte by Aileen Hayward I learned to live in this park weâ€˜ve found Wide shining river with ripples of gold. We stand and muse on the rustic bridge Of thick solid timbers, weathered and old. I thrill now, my ears become tuned to song From birds that are hid in their shaded bowers Never before have I felt as one As I now do, gazing for secret flowers. My feet are caressed by the cooling grass Curving beneath me in dips and mounds Where the breezes laugh as they kiss my skin And pleasure me with their whispering sounds. My Darling runs to the glistening rocks And deftly he jumps, all four legs with joy. My heart turns over to feel the power Of nature, enthusing this tiny boy. I wonder, to share all these precious hours Of freedom and peace in this Austral glade With a human, perhaps I could hold his hand And we would remember sweet vows we made. But no, I am made of much stranger clay, Warped and misshapen along the years. I entered love through a broken door And shared my body with sighs and tears. 42
Then Monte arrived, flailing body and legs Great fear in his eyes and a timid heart. His carer had gone and his future was bleak. One touch and I knew we would never part. Weâ€˜re caught in creationâ€˜s extending web With cyclic creatures that breathe and live. He is my love in this wondrous round, This fragile world that can take and give. I cannot change and I do not know Of mystic futures, of spirit or soul But I am redeemed with this loving heart He gifted me; he has made me whole.
YOUNG LOVE by Bron Trathen They lived in a small coastal town where the red land met the blue sea, and the white fishing boats dotted the harbour. The cold wind blew dust down the main street in winter, and in summer the heat melted the tar on the roads. Tom was skinny with thick black hair. He had a mischievous smile and intense blue eyes. Chrissie had long thick ringlets and freckles. He called her ‗freckle face‘ and she smiled shyly. He loved to tease her and play tricks. Often, on their way home from school after the autumn rains, he would run past her and jump in the puddles, splashing dirty water all over her. She never got angry, just smiled. One day in class he tied her long flame ringlets to her chair. When she got up the chair went with her and the whole class burst out laughing. She turned to him and smiled. Reverend Soames would take them for religion. He came once a week on a Thursday, and everyone would cram into one classroom. There were only enough chairs for half the class, so Tom sat on the floor in front of Chrissie. She sat neatly at a desk. Bored with the lesson, Tom tied Chrissie‘s shoelaces together. Everyone knew what he had done, and they waited restlessly. At the end of the lesson when Chrissie tried to get up to leave, she fell. When she realised what had happened, she laughed along with the others. Reverend Soames was not pleased. Outside after class Chrissie looked at Tom and smiled - the smile Tom waited for. At the end of primary Chrissie left. Her father was the mine manager in town. They said he was ambitious and had found a better job in the city. Tom‘s mother was worried about her son. He‘d changed. When she mentioned this to her neighbour, the neighbour said it was just his age. So it was never talked about again. But every afternoon after school Tom would walk the long way home along Maple Street 44
past her house. It was the big two-storey place with the green door. He would stand on the opposite side of the road and remember her playing in the front garden with her little sister. He longed to see her smile. Years passed and Tom worked hard, and did well in his final year. His dad, the Maths teacher at the Catholic school on the hill, was pleased with his son who was going to study Engineering. Tom dreamt of building bridges and roads in the big city. Heâ€˜d grown tall and had filled out. He looked good except for his bad skin. At university in the city, Tom enjoyed walking through the 19th Century sandstone cloisters of the old building surrounding the main quadrangle. In the centre was an old oak with a seat under it where students would sit and dream. Tom had spent many hours on that seat. One day he was walking across the quadrangle on his way to the first class of the day. As he passed the old tree he saw her. Chrissie was sitting neatly on the seat absorbed in a book. He caught his breath: she was so beautiful. He stood and watched her for a while: her thick red hair fell forward over her small firm breasts; her skin was like cream and he could see her freckles. He took a few steps towards her. He saw the familiar curl at the edge of her mouth, and he wanted to see her smile. Suddenly, he became self-conscious and turned away. She was too beautiful for him and she would recoil when she saw his acnepitted face. He walked on to class without looking back. The girl under the tree continued reading, oblivious of that moment.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS Nan Doyle writes for pleasure and enjoys being in the company of people with like minds. She enjoys writing short stories and is an avid letter writer. Tasmanian-born Rosemary Nissen-Wade, after many years in Victoria, came to far northern NSW in 1994. She is a widely published performance poet, an editor, creative writing teacher and enthusiastic blogger. Cheryl Brown has a B.A. in Performing Arts and has appeared professionally on stage in Sydney, Melbourne and Queensland singing, directing and acting - as well as in TV and film. She's had several of her plays produced. Jan Busch Lismore a lass, ex Riverina region resident. Recently retired returned to her roots. A Far North Coast devotee will continue to write poetry, prose, delight in life and enjoy. As a scientist, Eddie Blatt had over 30 papers and articles published in scientific journals. He has also worked as a web designer and a teacher, and has performed in concert as a classical guitarist. He is now writing a memoir. Margaret Purcell was an active member of the Redcliffe and Pine Rivers Poetsâ€˜ Societies before moving to Pottsville. Her works have appeared in several anthologies and have been performed as far west as Quilpie. She has written several childrenâ€˜s stories in verse. Now a retired ballroom dance teacher, she spends her leisure time playing croquet. 46
Caroline Taylor has, like many people of fifty, had numerous jobs, diverse relationships and myriad places of residence. She is currently enjoying settled stability in all three. At age eight, Marie Hefferan knew her favourite school subjects were writing and reading. Decades later, writing and reading are her favourite pastimes. Andrew Wade worked in TV for 12 years including Homicide and the international production of Riptide; was publisher and editor of Lumiere magazine, and has self-published the children's book Jorell. He is now writing a memoir and a novel on Vietnam. Irish born Maggie Cunningham Webb taught English for seventeen years before retiring to the coast. Since then she has written poetry, adult and children's short stories and an unpublished novel. Aileen Hayward, generally nervous, bemused and bewildered by life, has resilience, ambition and, accompanied by Monte, is still planning at 83. Their future appears to be manifesting a Zen-like abode at Hastings Point, a true blessing indeed. Bron Trathen started creative writing one year ago. She enjoys the creative process and since joining 'Wordsflow' has tried her hand at poetry, short stories and plays.
Linking People and Strengthening Our Community
This project was supported by the Pottsville Beach Neighbourhood Centre 12a Elizabeth Street PO Box 54 Pottsville Beach NSW 2489 (02) 6676 4555
Book design by Eddie Blatt