Comment/Poem – Let’s Roll up Our Sleeves

It is 35 years since the last major dam was built, yet our population has been  increasing at an alarming rate since that time. Despite a history of droughts and flooding rain, our blinkered politicians are most reluctant to spend money on major water infrastructure.  They further reinforce public doubts on their competence when they commit eighty billions dollars plus to procure conventional submarines not ready for service before at least 25 years and given the rapid advances of science and technology it will be as comparing a tank to a three legged horse with lancer.  

Drought stricken farmers are still waiting for financial aid while we spend so much on foreign aid and give to an ever- hungry bulging treasury of the United Nations and Climate Change pirates.  

We have surrendered our intent for the future, time and time again, to minority groups who worship lizards and lung fish.  Two examples where politicians sacrificed our future needs to appease a noisy few were both the proposed Tully-Millstream hydro-electric and the Mary River projects. Both of which by now in times of need, would have been fully operational with abundance of water for irrigation, and providing significant clean energy for power and more effective flood mitigation in both regions.

Be there climate change or not, we need to be more positive and seek common and achievable goals which will enhance our ability to live with nature. We can harvest much more water. We can mitigate flooding.  We can reduce the severity of bush fires. We can provide more protection and refuge from cyclones, We can live with Mother Nature and use its tantrums to our benefit. We can set the example, and provide confidence, not fear, for those generations who will follow us.  

With more water infrastructures we will reduce the impact of nature’s tantrums as well as enhancing our natural environment. All of this and more can be achieved if our governments, both State and Federal remove the heavy blinkers, stop procrastinating and set a true course for our people to follow.  

One lesson from history is clear. Our treasured way of life is worth defending, no matter what the cost.  The failure to harness the products of nature’s wrath as well as its generosity could well result in poverty, discontent, disunity and empty pockets within our nation plus a third world category signpost just around the corner. The consequences could well contribute to the demise of our way of life, long before the arrival of very expensive ghost obsolete submarines to defend what used to be.

So stop the procrastination, roll up our sleeves, seize the steel, pour the cement, and toil for a bright and prosperous future.    GM December 2019

Poem – To Be or Not to Be

Mother Nature’s tantrums have always been part of our scene
Dry creeks, thirsty rivers and parched soil often seen
Cruel fires burning life, leaf, bark and dreams to ash are not new
Heavy rains turn dust to mud; rivers flood towns and pastures too 

Each disaster tests our nation’s strength, resilience, spirit and unity 
Mid danger, pain and stress, are brave and caring deeds for all to see
“She’ll be right mate;” “It could be worse;” “I’m OK, check next door”
“Can I help;” “Pass the hat around;” ‘‘Chip into help” and many more  

We must travel with nature’s flow and use its temper to survive the test Never dither or relent to a noisy idle few who claim to know best 
Create plans laced with bags of common sense, more than a few
Fear not obstacles; for unity, confidence and purpose will see us through

We want a Caesar of Caesars with positive intent and clear mission   
No more broken or distorted promises which sour our vision
To ensure resources needed to master rivers, should we dare
A leader to give our nation purpose, be it city, bush or anywhere

Ignore a teenage prophet casting spells from old playhouses far away
For survival, throw aside the UN’s heavy sly cloak and do it our way
Rid ourselves of the unknown, doubts and fears which burden all 
Gather our scattered visions and weld them together, once and for all

To create food for the table from what was barren land to see
Provide oases where past generations never dreamed could be
Tasks will not be easy and the final goal must never alter  
So roll up sleeves, seize the steel, pour the cement, and never falter  
              

     Let future generations prosper from our blood, sweat and tears 
To live with and benefit from tantrums of Nature, each and every year
No more doom and gloom, deeps sighs and shrugs of shoulders
We must be as one, seeking tomorrow, becoming wiser, stronger and bolder
   

                      Hail Caesar

George Mansford © November 2019                            

After A Day at War (South Vietnam, 1969)

In the gloom of each day when it’s dying
Standing to is the normal routine.
A time which I use for reflecting
On what we have done or we’ve seen.

It’s the time, when my view blends with darkness;
And as daytime gives way to the night,
I review the way that we’re working.
Are we doing this wrong or right?

Did Jim keep his distance from Stan at the creek?
Why Rod was stung by those bees.
And Frank, who found that crossing point
Despite its concealment by trees.

And the cache that we found on the high ground.
The call of a barking deer.
Searching that corpse before burying.
And asking – why am I here?

Mick Shave

Immediate Action and Life’s Handicap

When tracer snarls about your ears
Because the bastard knows your there.
When so much noise explodes the fears
And drills take over what you do;
Run, crawl to cover, get your breath.
There he is, he’s in your sight,
Take satisfaction from his death
Let loose that round to end the fight.

Mick Shave

Warrior Poet : Lest We Forget – For our youth – A time to reflect – A time to learn – A time to stand tall.

 

   At the beginning of World One, a very young Australia was still struggling for identity with an old world which possessed a long and rich history, culture, traditions and influence. Europe still yawned when there was mention of that remote and far distant continent of no significance.

   Yet, despite being isolated from the old world, (apart from slow steamers and sailing ships plus a newly laid under-sea cable,) our nation was maturing and growing tall at a rapid rate.

The harsh isolation of the outback and the cruel tantrums of mother nature became a good breeding ground for toughness and strong resilience. There was an accepted and established code of mateship, independence, egalitarianism and an unwritten law of a “fair go for all.” All of which had been conceived with the arrival of the First Fleet, and nurtured mid the pain of the lash, clanking chains, the Eureka Stockade, the Great Depression and other trials until this very day.    

   Such characteristics became the signature of our nation.  Long held dreams became alive in every region; from crowded cities to towns, big and small; on dirt tracks in the outback via swagman, horse, dray and puffing train.

These powerful strengths breathed life and confidence into the crowded cities, country towns, shearing sheds, drover’s camps, goldfields, farms and beyond the loneliest of barked huts with dirt floors and dim flickering lanterns. 

   In 1914, after an uninvited God of War knocked on our nation’s door, the qualities I have mentioned and more were carried to Gallipoli and beyond in every kitbag and haversack of those men and women who had stepped forward to serve. These assets remain a very powerful weapon in our armoury which can be used to master the unknown challenges that will face us.   

   The qualities of the ANZAC, bred from generations before them are there in our history books to read, understand and pursue. Page after page of proud deeds tells of their courage, love of country, and the price they paid willingly so that you, me, and future generations can enjoy such a precious way of life.

   To ensure such freedom, you must continue to emulate their example. Above all, never falter. You must maintain self- discipline and endure when all seems lost. If you fail; learn from your mistakes, get up and try again. The ANZACS did.                             

      You have been gifted with a freedom forged in times of peace and war with blood, sweat and tears. The ANZAC legacy is so precious and must be protected at any cost. Carry the torch high and in time, pass it on to those who will take your place. Always stand tall, and shout with loud voice for the world to hear “I am, you are, we are Australian.”      GM

            Strong Genes in a Country Town

Inspired by an old soldier, Richard Barry from  Narrabri and his fellow citizens from all those yesterdays’:
 
When you awake to see a new dawn so clear
Picture our many heroes who once lived here
A small sleepy town blessed with love, laughter and fun
Youth with so many wild dreams to pursue in years to come
Then came the news of an angry God of Mars
Poisoning peace with hate and misery in an old world afar

Listen and you will hear the sound of bugles and drum beats
Cheering crowds and the rhythmic tramp of marching feet
Mid a sea of waving flags, see kin and sweethearts holding back tears
As the column leaves to fight a war for months or even years
Imagine special dreams now stored in lonely cupboards next to empty beds
Footballs, racquets and bats swapped for rifles with bullets of lead

Long bitter years passed by, and many black dresses to be seen
Empty chairs where loved ones had once been
Yet always the hope and faith that peace would reign
Then soon or late, long absent smiling faces would be seen again
A terrible price to protect a precious free way of life
An unpayable bill of misery and strife  

Since such angry times, white doves returned to roost once more
The District still well known for its hospitality and an open door
The old school has been expanded again and again 
Tears of grief have dried while proud memories remain
In our space age, regional pride with an ever-burning flame is the same
Fresh flowers guarding the town’s stone tribute etched with names

We can best honour the fallen who gave all, for us to stay free
If we remain alert to greed, ignorance, apathy and disunity
To understand our past and learn the lessons from what has been
To carry the torch and teach those yet to be born what freedom means
The flame will be yours to keep, to pass to those who will know what to do 
Go now; live a life to make past and future generations proud of you

George Mansford © October 2019

NOTE. The above could be your town, your district, your school, no matter where. Be rest assured the spirits of the ANZACS and those who followed them are with you, and very much alive. Keep it so—-.

An Observation (make of it what you will):

I once overheard some colleagues bemoaning the introduction of a new rifle, not because of its small caliber but because of its cumbersome appearance:

I was once a soldier smart,
Learned to stamp my feet, the art
Of calling out ‘The Time’, the thrill
Of perfect, synchronising drill.

We did it in the Sunshine glare
On what was called parade ground square.
It’s something that I’ll always miss.
Those halcyon days, what perfect bliss

To march along in line abreast,
Our arms swung well up to our chest.
Rhythmic, gravelled, crunching feet,
With Pipes and Drums, and pagan beat.

When marking time we’d raise our knees,
Oh what a jape, oh what a wheeze.
We’d point the toe, dig in the heel,
Stay with the marker on the wheel.

Saluting dais comes in sight
So make your dressing by the right.
Neck to collar and chest out,
This is what it’s all about.

Look at us, performing fleas:
Shoulder, order, stand at ease;
Perfect creases, looking good,
Just like all good soldiers should.

Mick Shave

My Toast to The Regiment

The well aimed shot, the instinctive kill,
Return the same intrinsic thrill.
To see it twitch then lie quite still,
Was once the measure of our skill.
So, being alive and because we can,
Let’s raise our glass to the fighting man
Of The Royal Australian Regiment.

(all stand and with raucous voice)
Tip your glass e’n when your old and roar back down the table.
Boast and glare, give back the stare, for you, sir, have been able
To cut and thrust, to fire and move, to prove yourself in might,
To show that you enjoyed the gore and carnage of the fight.
So, being alive and because we can,
Let’s raise our glass to the fighting man
Of The Royal Australian Regiment.

(pass the beer from hand to hand while this is said)
Ah! Here’s the horn of plenty. Drink from it deep without a fuss,
Then bone the bard – but not too hard – would you believe he’s one of us?
That Viking fought at Maldon which, ’tis said, was quite a brawl.
And be careful with that legionnaire he’s just got back from Gaul.
So, being alive and because we can,
Let’s raise our glass to the fighting man
Of The Royal Australian Regiment.

A toast to those who enjoyed their war,
But never dwell on “things” they saw,
Who gain a quiet satisfaction
When thinking of themselves in action.
So, being alive and because we can,
Let’s raise our glass to the fighting man
Of The Royal Australian Regiment.

Mick Shave

Champion Company – a tragic comedy that really happened

One morning safe in barracks while sitting on the loo,
Our Colonel, who’d put duty first, was wondering what to do.
Now, he’d sounded out the adjutant and the R.S. M.
He’d asked that pair what did they think would occupy the men.
They had answered ‘drill, sir. Men love parade ground stuff’.
But the Colonel, after consultation, thought they’d had enough.
Their morale it should be lifted, satisfaction thus enjoyed.
‘We must not have the men abused, but gainfully employed’.

Thus, next morning doing block jobs, the diggers were astonished
When told by sergeant of platoon that toilets must be polished.
”Tis for honour and the Company’s pride’ he’d said to busy soldier
‘And pleased it is you’ll be my boy before you’re too much older.
That instead of stamping feet on square or theory of the gun,
Or concealment from an enemy, or stalking (which is fun),
You will spend your time with elbow grease each morning here with me,
Polishing taps and porcelain and cleaning lavatory’.

So that every week when CO. comes to look at WC.,
Accompanied by the Major and all the powers that be,
And they poke round toilet ledges, check louvred slats for dust,
These expert, fighting officers smelling drains because they must
Ensure their Colonels wish, and we to quench our Major’s thirst,
So that of Battalion’s toilets it’s his that comes in first.
And young, fit, soldier volunteers, now feeling damned annoyed,
Are to be denied all training to be gainfully employed.

But enough of silly moralising, holier than thee,
Who was it beat up all the rest for champion company?
Well, that was Sergeant Kusba, who were a devious swine.
He’d doctored water closets so they smelled like table wine.
Well, ‘twer lemon essence really, after which one could not flush.
And a secret guard on toilet bowls to ward off morning rush.
Which was borne by me and Sergeant Glen ’til trickery did we smell,
After which we cornered Kusba in the Mess and gave him Hell.

So we as well began to use the lemon essence trick.
We all professed to satisfy but thought our Colonel thick,
As he stood at water closet breathing deeply, satisfied,
The diggers standing by their beds all laughed until they cried.
And the CSM., cognisant, fed-up as much as we,
Served the Colonel and his minions a scrumptious morning tea,
Whilst they stood relaxed and at their ease upon our polished floor,
Between urine trough on one side, on the other, closet door.

Mick Shave

Some Advice

Beside that track in jungle green
(Bare the bayonet, beat the drum.).
Sweat-soaked, dirty, thus unseen
(Bare the bayonet, beat the drum.).
These young men who crouch so still
Are poised to pounce, to make their kill,
In doing so they’ll do your will; if you
Bare the bayonet, beat the drum.

Platoon or Company, Section strong
(Bare the bayonet, beat the drum.),
Led by those who can’t do wrong
(Bare the bayonet, beat the drum.),
Trained by the same consummate skill,
Focused thus to do your will,
But – yours to pay is the butchers’ bill; if you
Bare the bayonet, beat the drum.

And when they stop too old to serve
(Bare the bayonet, beat the drum.),
Ensure they get what they deserve
(Bare the bayonet, beat the drum.);
For at that time they must not find
That you and yours have changed your mind.
So, if you’ll then feel less than kind, don’t
Bare the bayonet, beat the drum.

Mick Shave

Political Will (comparing then with now)

Last night I spoke with Caesar’s ghost.
We’d quaffed a glass or two of wine.
But then the bastard made a boast,
How his blokes would be beating mine.

Now, a General I have never been,
I’m saying that reluctantly;
And could not argue what he’d seen.
Thus had to think most carefully.

Therefore I spoke of contact drills,
Of duty weeks and other thrills.
And of the things that I have seen
Tales of what I once had been.

But carefully, not beating breast,
For after all His was the best.
Recounting only what I saw,
Not saying much about my war.

But why not tell of where I’ve been?
Am I ashamed of what I’ve seen?
Or, I’m asking, is it wrong
To beat one’s chest, to sing one’s song?

That man of Caesar’s who jumped ship
With Eagle held in calloused grip
Inspiring witnesses to roar
Then wade with him to Britain’s shore.

Is he so different? Or might I say
To Caesar, oiy come have a look
At all these men so brave today.
Would you have put them in your book?

No, really what I’d meant to say
To Caesar was that on that day
He’d launched his men through thick and thin
Because he meant those men to win.

Whereas in our bold day and age
No matter who might shout and rage
We don’t do that any more.
We’ll fight, but not to win the war.

Which is why I left the swine,
Came back to Earth, peered at my wine.
He knew, thus his boasting leers.
I knew he knew, thus my shame and these my tears.

Mick Shave

A Warriors passing…

Do you remember the place where we lay our heads upon bed of root, so finely twined, a mattress made?

Where buttress root giant must have spoken with Jesus when young? Where words were spoken in hushed whisper?

Light shafts so bright they startled eyes, and made caution grow for fear of what lay beyond in such darkness?

Where mind wandered to fairy-tale where creatures ran through such place, making merry, or encroach heart with fear?

Yet, our warring no tale, just fearsome task, with moment’s respite for such gentle rest and meandering thoughts.

Making no path, moving as shadow through the dark. Lined and waiting in morning mist, the day the clouds wept their thunderous pain.

Loosed with such violence that trees groaned and wailed in sadness. The ground tried to swallow the pain, dragging all down;

Onward, step by torturous step, another taken by angry metal and mire. The wind not ours to hold but foretold of doom.

Trees and men shedding their skin and soul in violent frenzy of menacing metal and conflagration, scents of wood, battle, ordure, and blood.

Rivulets of muddy water tinged red, sweeping downhill and swallowed by jungle, a fern lay over one as blanket, while awaiting the final journey.

Night swallows all, but streaks of fire red, green and flash, screams of the unknown haunting the night, tentative motions to bring them in.

Morning breaks to find once again we are alone, fleeing in the night, leaving predator and rodent in their wake, feasting on such carrion.

Leaving you to be carried home on rotary wings, the steady beat lost in minutes, never to be seen again, salt water on stone the final farewell.

Craig Hannan 03/04/2018…