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Already died


Selected poems


Already died

I live in the remains of an old castle
Lost to the world
And next to the sea
Virtually in the sea
Like an inexplicable vigil
By the deathbed of one who has already died
In a life that has gone before us

And if I were not writing this poem
In the old lost castle too close to the sea
I would still be in the caves and caverns
Drinking up the dust
I likely came from.




I was thirteen I think
Or nearly thirteen
When Salvador Allende told me
I had to be absolutely serious
If I was to follow the calling
Of poetry

Already I had a notebook going
Along with whatever I was reading
No different really to how I am today
Some forty years later

But when Salvador Allende told me I had to be serious
Or else I should stop trying to be a poet
Right away
Well that was a turning point
That was when I stopped trying to be a poet
And just turned my face to the poem
And since then I have never turned away
I have never turned away
I've gone down so many strange alley ways
So many canals
Tunnels even especially underneath the hospitals
Unused wings in overused buildings
Superseded suburbs that have lost their names
In countries no longer on any map
Places outside the zones
Not in any programmes
All lovable predictable familiar desired
So much the thread of my one poor poem

I've been nowhere too
But even then I did not turn away from the poem

I talked to no one
Let no one catch on

Ate nothing
Never got wet in the sea
Or from the sea in the sky
I did nothing wrong
Except everything
But even so
I never turned away from the poem
Even when I shaved off little bits
To sharpen my sense of the poem
Or the unseen warfare
In the world.


John FalzonDr John Falzon is an advocate for social justice. He is the author of The language of the unheard and has had long experience in political analysis and activism. He has worked in academia, in community development and in research. He has been the Chief Executive of the St Vincent Paul Society National Council of Australia since 2006 and a poet since 1973. He has written and spoken widely in the public arena on the structural causes of inequality in Australia.

Topic tags: John Falzon, poetry



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Existing comments

This is very beautiful and thoughtful. It is what I imagine people do when they meditate. But why is it called poetry?

Frank | 15 November 2016  

John, stay with the day job. Sounds like S.V.P. Needs people like you. Dreamer, Meditator, heart and soul and a bit of a head too. God Bless.

Máire O'Donoghue | 15 November 2016  

Beautiful, John Falzon ...

Lyn | 15 November 2016  

Good question, Frank.

john frawley | 15 November 2016  

Memories of what came before are washing out to sea in John's poems. In recent memory, we created a feeling of certainty through sharing our compassion and lives with others. This solidarity built homes, community spaces and green suburbs where people had a name, a sense of place, an identity and a summer sprinkler! Uncertainty and competition retracts that which binds the spaces between us all. It washes our sense of self to sea where who we are is lost and forgotten. John's poems are a reminder not to forget that which was built before us. To hold on. To ride the sharp waves that threaten to pull us apart. To cling together and to not let go of all that was good in 'what came before' to pursue all that could be in the 'what is the next'. Sometimes a rock can speak simply by being there. John's vivid 'not' poetry is a reminder of this simple protest. Thank you John for your encouragement and kind student mentor-ship at Vinnies N.C.

Belinda Gault | 17 November 2016  

John You have a great gift with the use of words and your commitment to the betterment of your fellow human beings to and to peace is to be admired. Your "Sick with Worry" Poverty Week Oration is a powerful piece of writing.

Anna Pha | 11 May 2017  

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