Monday, 26 January 2015

WILD & FREE ... a cinquain

This is my first attempt at writing a Cinquain - which is basically just another poetry form that follows a prescribed format.  Cinquains are 5 lines long with 2 syllables in the first line, 4 in the 2nd line, 6 in the 3rd line , 8 in the 4th line and 2 in the last line.

Sound easy doesn't it - well like Haiku, they actually have a degree of difficulty.  They can rhyme or not. 

              Maureen Clifford © The Scribbly Bark Poet

running wild hear
the choppers coming near.
Head for the treeline – dodge the blast
of bullets.

One mare
big bellied, slow,
gut shot, now writhes below
in red dirt – stained a deeper hue
with blood.

She cries
her calls unheard
but one bird spreads the word.
In a gum tree, Kookaburra
mourns her.

Old Sol
retreats at last
the mare’s agony passed
she died, along with unborn foal.
So cruel.

Their goal
the ones who rule -
to remove feral pest
These horses gave to us their best
in war.

But now
we’ve changed.  It seems
they’ve no place in our dreams
expendable and out of place.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


Maureen Clifford © The Scribbly Bark Poet

An open paddock miles from ‘Nowhere’. 
A picket fence in disrepair.
Red dirt road winding through low hills.
All around I feel despair. 
Old slab hut with timbers crumbling,
sagging roof and rusted tank.
Fence post’s down and wires broken.
Another victim of the bank.

Withered flowers brown and crumbling
lie limp and faded all alone.
I wonder why? And who would leave them?
Brush off the dust..a child's tombstone.

Roughly carved, not made of marble
 just humble sandstone from the creek,
with a name, a date, and ' love you',
all inscribed.  The words that seek
to depict a Mothers anguish
and reflect Fathers despair.
How their hearts must have been broken
when they were forced to leave her there.

Brush off the dust and pick fresh flowers.
Wattle, Bottlebrush and Thyme.
Place them gently on the headstone
just as I would if she were mine.

Monday, 19 January 2015


A modern day take on the old sea shanty with a picture taken by my son in Moreton Bay Queensland - up until the 1960's there was a whaling station based at Tangalooma - The operation seriously decimated the east coast population of humpback whales to less than 500 individuals from the original population, which was estimated at 15,000.  In 1965 humpback whales were placed on the Protected Species list.   after it closed in 1962 it took nearly 30 years before the whales returned to Moreton Bay.  Whales share their stories down through generations and the y have long memories.


 Maureen Clifford © The Scribbly Bark Poet

In the spring of 1896 there was ice upon the sea
and we both went a- whaling – young Billy Bob and me.
We sailed the night till daybreak, plenty of whales there be
 enough to make a fortune for young Billy Bob and me.
We let them live, for the sea rose and waves broke ‘cross our boat
it was a miracle at all that we were still afloat.
We lost an oar and rudder we were adrift on the sea
beneath dark scudding clouds and scared – young Billy Bob and me.

I’ve sailed the seven seas before, been twice around the Horn
but never yet have I once met the sight we saw that morn.
Afloat just off our starboard bow a mother and her calf,
her throat gave out a mournful note which would have made me laugh
were I not scared by her sheer size and close proximity
though seems she had no interest in the boat containing me.
She sang her song of loss and love and tears ran from her eye
and then it was I noticed a whale corpse lying close by.

Seems that corpse was her mate who’d been killed by our sharp harpoon
fired from the bloody whaler -  ‘twas the one we shot ‘fore noon
rough seas had ripped away the line and set the carcase free -
so now ‘twas just the whale and calf and Billy Bob and me.
The whaling ship was nowhere seen perhaps she had been sunk
and I was cold and sober but I wished that I was drunk,
for wild thoughts now besieged my brain I saw the whale’s distress.
I shared now in her sorrow and felt bad I do confess.

We shared the sea together and we heard her mournful dirge
whilst overhead a gathering of ferocious sea birds
were landing on the carcase, flensing flesh with savage beaks
and all the while,  the young  whale calf emitted little squeaks.
We drifted with the current and the whale drifted away
and soon we saw the golden sands of a small sheltered bay.
We paddled hard with our one oar and made it into shore,
and vowed that we would never go a- whaling any more.  


Australia being the hard country she is at any given time has someone, somewhere suffering the effects of drought, flood or fire.  This was written the last time that Rockhampton went under based on facts that friends and  family members who have property up there shared with me .


Maureen Clifford © The Scribbly Bark Poet

G’day Mum,

New Years Eve came and went, taking hopes and dreams with it but without the usual celebrations of night fire, fireworks and sparklers. Everything is too bloody wet up here at the moment. Sydney put on a good show though – saw that on the telly before the power went off. We’ll be right, the generator is keeping the fridges going and we’re not out of beer – yet.

rain dampens spirits
firework display fizzles out –
but there’s always beer

The corner shop has run out of almost everything now and the water is up over the counter and cash register now anyway. We tie the tinny up to the verandah post and then wade inside to salvage what little is left. The owner is a good bloke – he put a sign on the door saying ‘take what you need – slightly water damaged stock’. The man’s a comedian, but the water came up so quick he couldn’t get it out so he moved it to the top shelves to try and save what might be useful. Most folks will settle up with him when the waters go down. The river hasn’t peaked yet, she is still rising and they expect her to go over the 9.4 metre mark.

shore to door service
the joys of waterfront living -
boat vendors

Everything now is starting to stink – the sewage plant has been inundated. Maybe they could get the air force to drop a few of those new dri wave baby nappies upstream from the town or some of those ‘Depend’ undergarments, although I don’t suppose even they can handle a leak this big.

caught short by nature
saturation point exceeded -
reached and breached

The mossies are out for blood, and here we are wading in waters where no doubt crocs are on the move. They could pop up anywhere now, no longer restricted to the river and river banks – their playground has expanded by thousands of miles; and the snakes – you see them swimming through the muddy waters, clinging to fence posts, and no doubt when able getting into houses, onto veranda’s. Survival of the fittest here Mate. (Have to make a mental note – don’t go out on the verandah to check flood levels without first making sure first that crocs and snakes aren’t there.) There are just so many extra perils to think of at the moment. They are not the type of croc’s one wants on the front verandah.

garden ornaments
take on a new perspective –
they’ve gone live

But spirits are still high. Bowed but not beaten. Everyone is pitching in and doing what they can. Good intentions all round. Lots of new friendships are now being forged through adversity. The ANZAC spirit seems to be coming out. Mind you there are always the low lives. We have got looters – can you imagine? Not to mention the bloody tourists roaring through in their tinnies - rubbernecking. They are going so fast that they are pushing up a bow wave that surges and slaps the water into the houses – as if we haven’t got enough problems. Police are putting a stop to that though. God those blokes and girls have been wonderful – real morale boosters they are and the SES brigade, and the Salvo’s all trying to do something to help, and they are just as wet as the rest of us.

riding the waves
generated by idiots -
street surfing

The local showground looks like Noahs Ark. It is full of horses and cattle and goats and dogs – those that could be saved, and heaps of chooks and ducks in makeshift enclosures. They put them on the racecourse at first but then it went under, so now the showground is packed – but they are desperate now for stock feed. It will have to be trucked in from interstate and then airdropped. The amazing thing is that all of these animals seem to be getting on so well together. No doubt they realize the gravity of the situation they are in and everyone seems to be on their best behaviour.

local showground
Noah’s Ark re-enactment –
room at the inn

Stock losses on properties though will be huge, farmers were cutting fences and opening gates to give their stock the best chance of survival but doubt many would have made it. With no high ground even the strongest of horses and cattle can’t swim indefinitely, and standing neck high in water for days on end with no tucker isn’t the greatest deal either. The little calves and foals would stand no chance. 

from waters birthed
now washed away in death -
a watery demise

It seems silly with so much water around us but the first thing I am going to do when this starts to ease is have a shower in clean water. The newest fashion shade up here at the moment is ‘River Brown’ – described as a sepia shade reminiscent of soft sludge silt – I think the whole countryside around here has gone for it in a big way. Even the residents seem to have embraced it wholeheartedly. I wonder if those city slickers will latch onto it – it would make a nice change from the latte shades that have been popular for so long. Although come to think of it, it isn’t that different – kind of a strong cappuccino colour.

masquerading as 
the brew that fortifies - 
flood waters seep and rise

One thing about it is that it is a great leveller – Joe Blo’s lawn now looks equally as good as Miss Hoity Toity’s lawn – they both bask resplendent in the Queensland sunshine with tastefully arranged artefacts such as rubber thongs, kiddies wading pools and the occasional blue or red esky reposing amongst the shrubbery. Front fences and hedges are decorated with fringes of tattered shrubbery and long grasses and there are tantalizing glimpses of white and pale blue plastic bags artfully woven through the River Brown layers.

shabby chic
seen everywhere in town –
exterior decorating

Oh and by the way Mum, Jimmy says thank you for the great Christmas present you sent him. He wanted to know how you could possibly have known that flippers and goggles were just what he was going to need. We just told him you were psychic and had the gift of second sight so he said ‘Good oh – she’ll know what to get for my Birthday then.’ But just in case you don’t he’s hoping you’ll take him to Sea World when he gets down to Brisbane. You’d have thought he’d be over the water thing after going through this.

fills children with excitement –
wet and wild water park 

Anyway Mum – gotta go – they are filling sandbags at the showground so we are going to give a hand there. Don’t worry we’ll be right. When we are alone I will show you the piccys we took. You will be amazed – God knows we are amazed. Never thought I would be able to afford a property with such extensive water views. Do you reckon the value will have increased much?

waters rise - price drops
extensive water views here
don’t equate to cash

Love from your slightly soggy and almost submerged son