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Swept into the milky past

Pat Walsh |  16 May 2016


A perfect lunch break

Book in hand burning
I take chicken soup
The colour of an outback dam
Drained to its dregs
And a bowl of clean white rice

Flecked with insect wings of onion
Browned on a gushing stove
And with my right hand
Feed my body and the left
My hungry mind.


My yard broom

It was made to sweep away
But the sound of my old yard broom
Worn bristles rasping the brick path
Wet with last night's rain
Picks at a faint memory
That grows louder with each stroke
And carries me back across borders
Of seasons lives and landscapes
To a time of rubbing gumboots
Sucking through the quickmud
Hands hugging mugs of steaming tea
The uphill heartbeat of the engine
The baby bleating of hungry calves
Voices cussing and coughing
And the scrape of yard brooms
Pushing back the tide of muck
As the lifeblood of white milk
Creamed in its silver chalice.

Doing my sums

Doing high finance twenty one floors up
I see a figure no bigger than a number eight
Walk to the edge of the roof below
And stand for a long time looking down
On the railway tracks to the underground.

Graph lines on our advisor's chart
Start high then descend wilting in a curve
To drop out of sight off the bottom line
Into that no-man's land of endless zeros
Where numbers and planning are only placebos.

For a moment I am led to look over the rim
To the lines below ruled bold in black
That run express to the edge of the page
Then, afraid, to rejoin the now conversation
As the man on the roof goes inside the station.


Pat WalshPat Walsh's new book Stormy With a Chance of Fried Rice: Twelve Months in Jakarta is available from amazon.com.



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Submitted comments

Wonderful poems to "feed my hungry mind". Recommend "Stormy" for those who want to get a glimpse into Jakarta daily life: lighthearted and playful in tone, yet always permeated by the author's deep knowledge of and love for Indonesia and its people. A good read.

Anne Ostby 18 May 2016

'Doing My Sums' is a clever, evocative piece of poetry, reminding me of avoiding a Maths lesson at high school; gazing out of the window, I was soothed by my own modest efforts of writing poetry!

Emma Coupland 23 May 2016

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1 Comment
Peter Gebhardt | 27 April 2016

Military hat and poppiesThe children are in the park today, running, skipping and laughing. They slide down the cannon, polishing the past with freshly-pressed pants, a mother's delight. 'Always tell the truth,' the mother says, 'If you lie, you'll burn.' ... The day is closing, patient and gentle in its suffering, but the great lies will not lie down. Lies breed lies like flies on dead sheep and the masquerade of maggots makes its creep.