Saturday, 20 December 2014


Maureen Clifford © The Scribbly Bark Poet

Just as they did in days long gone they crossed the desert hot
and dry,  treeless and flat as well – an earthbound living hell
bordered by oceans mighty waves that beat against the cliffs
relentlessly with no respite as history does tell.
It seems that every day there is a pilgrimage of sorts
 but rare to see an Afghan cameleer to Mecca pray.
Two long grey snakes crawl side by side across the dark red sands,
grey nomads in their hundreds on the track –vans bounce and  sway.

 Their journeys end is very far from here, on this big plain
the road,  by headlights lit sometimes – the night sky lit by star.
They’ve no need of a stable or a place to rest their heads
but a roadhouse lights are welcome and a cold beer at the bar.
In shadows ‘neath the towering cliffs and powerful ocean waves
below, in waters frothed with cream a whale hoves into sight
to frolic with the seals that cluster all along the shore
she’s come back to her birthing place to birth, this Southern  Right .

And from the north Anangu came across Yalata land
to camp high on the Bunda Cliffs as they had always done
to honour the dream serpent and to give praise to the Mother
for her blessings and her bounty and her gifts shared with each one.
Above the southern skies put on a beautiful display,
bright nebulae mere wisps of light – star nurseries in the sky,
a band of light in darkness shining bright – The Milky Way.
Below, the Right whale birthed her calf – the oceans heard her cry.

Friday, 19 December 2014


The last 12 months have just flown by and the magazine has continued to grow albeit with a few ups and downs along the way - but taken overall it has been positive.  

This is our Christmas issue and it is full of some good reading from our Australian and overseas poets....Enjoy 



Maureen Clifford © The Scribbly Bark Poet 

He wore a black Akubra jammed down hard on his head,
and left big boot tracks in the dust and wore a flanno – red.
His face was tanned and rugged; his eyes were brown and mellow
'twas obvious he'd Asian blood, for his skin tone was yellow.

We sat a while and rolled a smoke, the billy on the coals
came to the boil, he threw tea in and this story he told.
He said he came from Vietnam. Came here in seventy four
to seek peace for the family. Far far away from war.
He'd very little family now; he'd lost his Mum and Dad.
Two sisters died whilst on the boat...yes it was pretty sad.

His mum it seemed had coloured blood, Americans at war
were oft involved with local girls before they left those shores.
And seems his dad was English born, but back before they fled,
his Dad got sick from too much booze and he alas was dead.
I looked this young bloke in the eye and said to him “Well mate
it seems you're now an Aussie, how did you integrate?
Was it hard to fit in, did you at times feel ostracized
or did you just get on with it and give it your best try?”

He said his English wasn't good when to our shores he came
and some folks wouldn't talk to him they couldn't say his name.
They thought the food he ate was strange, though these days no one did
and since he'd been here he had wed and now he had two kids.

His lady was a local lass, taught at the local school
They'd saved and bought a property not too far from Thangool.
Her Mum was Aboriginal and her father a Scot.
His own two kids were Aussies. Yes he loved this place a lot.
He thought that he was lucky, for at least he was employed.
and working on a property was work that he enjoyed.

His name was Thamn he told me but he was known as Tom.
He stood and offered me his hand. It was time to move on.
I thanked him for the chance to yarn, and thanked him for the brew
and wished him well in all he did, and then I too shot through.
But as I traveled down the track a thought occurred to me.
That here's two Aussies who are both as different as can be. 
And that I think is just the thing that now defines this nation
For people of the world now blend and make the new Australian.


Thursday, 18 December 2014


    Maureen Clifford ©The Scribbly Bark Poet

Old Tom was a known killer...A Judas of the sea,
who hunted out of Eden, with complete impunity.
Backed by a gang of cut throats, who were always seen in black
he drove his victims to their death and never once looked back.

A fearless fighter, he was known for his cunning and guile,
entrapping victims in his net, dispatching them with style.
The dirty work was not for him, let others do the deed.
Taking the victims breath away, dispatching them with speed.

At Twofold Bay, autumn appeared his favorite time to kill.
Killers of Eden struck out then for their vicarious thrills.
Old Tom was undisputed leader of this wretched pack.
He died in 1930 and the others came not back.

His bones remain.  A grisly sight put out there on display.
Poetic justice some would think, for he showed no dismay
when luring others to their feast on shared delights.
A cannibalistic banquet, consumed at dead of night.

The victims tongue and lips were sought, though not for love or passion
but rather as a delicacy, consumed in mordant fashion.
The carcass then was cast aside...left to decomposition.
A floating, rotting, stinking corpse, requiring no mortician.

But how pray tell did Tom escape the justice and the law?
His deeds were seen by many and told of by many more.
The Black Killer of Eden appeared often defended
by men who worked  alongside him, men whom he had befriended.

This Eden was no paradise, just a small fishing town
upon the coast of New South Wales, it's one place of renown
was Twofold Bay.  Humpbacks and Southern Rights would pass its door.
Killers of Eden would dart out and herd them into shore.

Then whaling boats, with steel harpoons would dart into the fray.
Blue water whipped to bright pink foam as whale blood tinged the bay.
Their cries unheard by human ears, echoed o’er ocean floor,
as Flukes beat helpless, helpless, helpless, till they beat no more.

Yes Old Tom was an Orca, and he hunted in a pack
of other killer whales, a kind of whale sheepdog attack.
His human friends rewarded him with victim’s tongues and cheeks
and seems that was payment enough, the price Old Tom did seek.

Survival of the fittest or intelligence at its best?
Whilst  Tom was helping others, for his body they'd not quest.
He lived, he swam, 
he ate, he played......
a mutual collusion.
Perhaps this was his plan...who knows...
What would be your conclusion?

Saturday, 13 December 2014


Maureen Clifford © The Scribbly Bark Poet

A darkened fading photograph hung on his granny’s wall
full of a dozen people that he didn’t know at all.
Taken somewhere in Queensland where the flies and midday heat
made the clothes they wore still more bizarre as they stood on the street
in the noonday sun outside the pub – one sensed their expectation
as they waited for the billy goats to run – to stipulation.

The route was fairly simple, round the pub and up Hay Street;
sharp right, then right again on Bell and back to ‘Diggers Meet’
The first child who could make it back would win a silver cup
plus a penn’orth of boiled lollies . Thing was goats could all act up
and head to points south, east and west without much hesitation,
but this was a just a billy goat race – it wouldn’t stop the nation.

A picture stood beside her bed – a child with smiling face
held cradled in its mother’s arms beside the old sheep race.
Above, a pepperina tree spread cooling dappled shade
and sheep dotted the hillside - in the distance small lambs played.
The child wore just a singlet and a nappy in the heat
but he didn’t look much different to the kids on that old street.

Look close and you would note the resemblance around the eyes
with the boy standing beside his goat and one just might surmise
they were related and indeed they were, the young boy with the goat
was the babe in arms Great Grandfather. A country bloke of note,
who had gone to war to fight for king and country in his time
believing it was worthwhile. Wanting freedom not a crime.


The babe cradled in mother’s arms had freedom sure enough.
Freedom to do whatever and he chose to do bad stuff.
He had no time for country life ‘twas city lights he craved
he ran away from Mothers arm and chose a life depraved.
He lived in squats, he drank and smoked and never had a job
and sold himself on Sydney streets – for drugs he’d even rob.

He turned his back on family and turned his back on home
and broke his Mothers heart – he was invisible – alone,
although known to the boys in blue, a ‘rent boy’ was his tag.
a prostitute, drug user, dealer, trouble maker, fag.
And one day in an alley on a mattress stained and torn
they found him – dead and overdosed – with needles still adorned.

They held a service in the town, the townsfolk came to pray
for the young, red haired ranga they recalled from yesterday.
The kid who everyone had liked, with a good family gene,
who played footy on Sundays and was in the cricket team.
Hard to believe he’d ended thus. They shook their heads in sorrow
and rallied round the family – better days come tomorrow. 

The cortege left – went up Hay Street then circled back to Bell
to drive past all the mourners gathered to wish him farewell.
Then slow and stately carried on to the town cemetery
for a graveside interment ‘neath a pepperina tree,
beside his Gran and Great Grandpa – in the old family plot.
The feral goats grazed close nearby and God the day was hot.


Tuesday, 9 December 2014


I really love the cover on the latest TAT Poetry Magazine which was supplied John Abbott, a photographer from Hervey Bay in Queensland  Australia.  My poetry friends have as always shared some great work for me to include in this issue - the world is full of generous people who are willing to share.  Why not take a  few moments to sit and immerse yourself in some of the beautiful words and images you will find within ... you are sure to find something of interest.

Thursday, 27 November 2014


Maureen Clifford © The Scribbly Bark Poet

An old shearing shed built from mismatched grey iron,
corrugations now reddened with rust,
its race made from flitches and Cobb and Co. twitches,
 yellowed grass well coated with dust.
A snake lurks beneath the shed, red belly, sleeping
  coiled  up on a bearer well worn.
All’s quiet inside, no Sunbeams, no shearers.
 The two thousand head have been shorn.
But hang about, inside some people are gathering,
 the reason will soon become clear,
this shed’s got the best floor for dancing which is
 why folks travel miles to dance here.
A slab of red ironbark  - rough sawn is the bar,
 which they’ve set up out-back near the race.
  Alongside the wool press the string band holds sway
 with the fiddler setting the pace.

Matilda, come let me waltz you round the floor.
Dance with me Matilda.
Dance with me.

You just look so cute in your pink pinafore.
Sweet Matilda... come waltzing with me.

The bloke on the fiddle plays with heart and soul;
 he is cheeky and raunchy and bold.
The Ladies are glowing; the breezes are warm,
 the beer though is icy and cold.
Two young blades play banjo and both strum along
and they match the fiddler note for note
the bloke on the lagerphone calls out the steps
 and it seems he has learnt them by rote.
“Come on boys and girls take your partner’s hands
 and let us see those ladies swing.
Now step to the middle, and boys bow, girls’ curtsy,
 then promenade round in a ring.
Now twirl your girl, twirl your girl, twirl her again
then waltz her quickly round the floor.
Then gentlemen, bow, pass your lady along
 and all promenade around once more.”

Matilda, come let me waltz you round once more.
Dance with me Matilda.
Dance with me.

For you know you’re the only girl I adore
Sweet Matilda… come waltzing with me.

Those folks who are too old to dance sit and watch,
 tapping feet, clapping hands, calling ‘More!’
The young folks and others all join in the dance
there is scarcely room left on the floor.
Some young blokes are gathered shyly at the bar,
 each one of them scrubbed up and neat,
all watching as young Jack twirls  Matty around,
 spinning her, swinging her off her feet.
The loud noise and laughter echoes round the shed,
escaping from under the roof.
Five long trestles tables groan with the home cooking
 awaiting those good on the tooth.
The local ladies all came bearing a plate –
submitting their cuisine to share.
Delicious, fresh, nutritious homemade and grown
local produce.  The best country fare.

Matilda, lets dance here closer to the door.
Dance with me Matilda.
Dance with me.

I might steal a kiss and hope you ask for more.
Sweet Matilda… come waltzing with me.

All soft drinks lay nestled in ice laden tubs
and big eskies dispense golden ale.
Young babies lay cradled in fine micron nests
 of wool that has not yet been baled.
The young children race around noisy and loud
 with their frantic feet kicking up dust,
As ewes, just off shears,  from dry paddocks look on –
 gentle white faces full of distrust.
The band has played ‘Nellie Gray’, ‘Duelling Banjos’
and the favourite - 'Click go the Shears'
still coming in fast are many requests –
 ‘Danny Boy’ is music to their ears.
Around the clock face metal hands progress slowly,
  the last tune one all loved to hear,
traditionally the last song of the night.
  The young bloke whispers soft in her ear.

Matilda, Matilda let’s waltz round once more.
Dance with me Matilda.
Dance with me.

For you know you’re my love, you’re the girl I adore
So Matilda... won't you come waltzing?

Do you know Matilda we’ll marry one day?
And then all night long in my arms you will stay.
So come with me now girl, dance the night away.

Come Waltzing Matilda.
Waltz with me.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014


BIMBLEBOX reserve is under threat from Clive Palmer in his search for coal.  This reserve was land donated for a wildlife refuge and is home to many rare and endangered species of bird ... writers and poets are being asked to get on board to help the cause and raise public awareness ....

I chose to write about the Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Acanthagenys rufogularis.  Their call is described as : Liquid gurgling notes. ‘Give-the-boy-a-go’ repeated ending in a single abrupt note.  

 Maureen Clifford ©  The Scribbly Bark Poet

A pink blush stained the maiden’s cheeks, she turned her head away
a little pirouette she gave beneath the blossoms gay,
the male was a good looking bloke -  vociferous and loud
and she could hear him calling out even when in a crowd.

Give the boy a go just give the boy a go
I’ll build a love nest for you if you give the boy a go.
I’ll line it with the softest wool and build it there below
together we’ll raise little chicks -  just give the boy a  go.

They foraged through the shrubs and trees and foraged on the ground
sharing the little delicacies between them that they found
Both feasted on the quandong and the juicy mistletoe
and he would serenade her – calling – give the boy a go.
These little birds had no idea their home was under siege
they spent each day contented  ‘neath Bimblebox forest leaves
Coal was not on their diet and this pair had not a clue
all could be lost if mans greed was allowed to follow through.

Their lovely desert upland with its rich diversity
of flora and animal species headed for catastrophe
by a mining group who only saw the wealth that lay beneath
and to reach the coal they would destroy the precious woodland heath.

A nature refuge under siege would well describe their home
a sanctuary for many years – donated land and loam
Red tailed black cockatoo lived there and Yellow Thornbill too
our Spiny-cheeked honeyeaters part of a motley crew.
Were they aware of what they’d lose a protest would be raised
by all the birds whose home was there and leading the parade
would be a honeyeater with a spiny cheek aglow
and you would hear him calling out – give the birds a go.

Give the birds a go Clive – give the birds a go
we’re part of the ecology, don’t say you didn’t know.
Destroy our homes and we are gone – it’s pretty hard you know
to find a safe green habitat – Give the birds a go.

But animals don’t have a voice – they must rely on us
to stop the carnage and the rape because it is unjust.
This land was once donated as a habitat for all
and nowhere was it mentioned then it would be dug for coal.

Thursday, 20 November 2014


Drying Stockmen
Maureen Clifford © The Scribbly Bark Poet

Have we strung them on the fences all along the northern track
where the hot sun desiccates them and slow turns their skin to black?
Should we package and then stack them, load them in the four by four?
To rejuvenate just add beer – and they’ll last for evermore.

Do we send them to the cities, turn them loose on crowded streets
where they linger on park benches and in bars?  They meet and greet
new arrivals with a handshake and a gruff macho display
of resettling their Akubras, hitching jeans, saying G’day.

They are like fish out of water these dried desiccated men.
In the city they all flounder and the cities don’t get them.
They need distant horizons for their gaze to rest upon.
City skylines are tall towers and they quite lose their aplomb.

You can take men from the country, but it’s always in their hearts,
they ain’t easy in the city  merely pushing shopping carts,
they rest easy in the saddle with some kelpies at their feet
pushing stock ‘cross country paddocks in the blazing Aussie heat.

Here the country corrugations criss- cross round a million eyes.
The time honoured Aussie salute still dispels a million flies.
These men hang out in the outback and drive red dirt country roads
and we’d best enjoy them whilst we can before the lot implodes.

They’re our sun bronzed Aussie farmers; they’re widespread across our land
growing food to grace our table and right now some need a hand.
They’ve been ravaged by the fires, flood and drought – enough’s enough
but they haven’t given up yet ‘cause they’re built of sterner stuff.

But there’s some with health now failing and there’s some just getting old
and there’s some who are in deep despair beneath the bankers hold.
Should we turn our backs upon them?  Should we comment - ‘Well life’s tough
and if those blokes cannot hack it -  it’s no good cutting up rough.’

Should we just turn a cold shoulder?  Or will we give them a hand
up to help them do what they do best ? Help keep them on the land.
Or string them on the fences and leave them out there to dry?
Lose our farmers, lose our country, close the door and wave goodbye.