July 16th 2006
Poems by Frank Putland
Frank Putland grew up on Magnetic (see our Reconnect with Magnetic section). His poems range from Magnetic memories to social satire.
Gigantic marbles hurled in crazy patterns
Into the tinselled waters of the bay;
Long tentacles of graceful swaying weed,
Soft coral, and the lively dart of fish
Beneath the lather that submerges, then draws back
From the barnacled encrustations on the edge;
The sights and sounds of gulls that wheel and cry,
Dive and glide - a half breath from the foam;
Majestic pines defying natures laws
And towering o'er some crevice, void of earth,
While thrusting out strong arms into the wind's teeth;
The high-blown spray as waves crash farther out
And reap destruction at their journey's end
Upon immoveable boulders at the head.
All this, and so much more, (my childhood's treasures)
Flood to my mind and I, ungrateful really,
Curse Chance who knocked and beckoned,
"Follow to real life and work and service" -
To this prison that's made with walls
Of my own choosing!
Reflections By Moonlight
Beyond the shining fronds of countless palms
I see the stars
That peep and hide
As trees are gently swayed
By the breeze that wanders idly
From the bay.
The mango tree is heavy with its blossom,
Not yet dislodged by the rude September wind.
Its leaves are all but still,
Yet now and then a dew-soaked face
Flashes its pearly sheen under the bright full moon.
I hear from in the distance
The strange, the haunting sigh
Of the she oak,
Whose tassels write upon the wind
A song, once heard, not soon forgotten.
The curlew's mournful cry
Comes plaintively, comes faintly
From the flats beside the shore.
I picture him on legs too long by far,
With staring eyes and mottled coat of grey,
Prowling in the half light of the night
Like some unwelcome stranger.
A toad takes fright beside me
And scurries through the bracken -
Causing my heart to leap
My neck to bristle.
I know he means no harm, yet every time
I start, with racing pulse and tingling spine.
A fruit bat halts his laboured flight
And crashes with a snarl
Into the leaves above me.
Another two or three curse him, and shuffle,
Disturb the silence for a moment
And then are quiet.
I wonder what they see
Upside down in the night
And neither bird nor beast .
Again they shriek at one another.
Then with a furious thrashing of the leaves
The timid, or rejected, retreats into the night.
Near-by an old o'possum
Growls his harsh defiance
As some new buck trespasses his domain.
There is a brief but violent confrontation
Before the crashing and the leaping
Declares that honour is triumphant -
That all is right again.
I look once more to sea-ward
To see the graceful palms
And vibrant stars reflected in the ocean.
No conflict there tonight;
No harsh words spoken;
No one rejected nor despised;
No fears; no doubts nor sorrows .
I think beyond the self,
Where peace prevails.
Frank Putland (c. 1960)
Sheeting Home The Blame
(or, The astute political observations of a well-informed Queenslander.)
Its beattie's fault we're doctors short
And patients in the mire are caught.
Of private health? I've had that thought
But it costs dough, so came to nought.
It's beattie's fault my mum's got sick
With ambos on some other kick,
So cops and fireies do the trick.
And pete? He says that's pretty slick.
It's beattie's fault the thunder claps:
That branches break and cables snap.
My beer's gone hot, our food's all crap.
So pete's the one to wear the rap.
It's beattie's fault my kids can't spell.
And maths? They don't do that too well.
Their manners also aren't that swell -
It's beattie's fault our standards fell.
It's beattie's fault my car goes fast
(at speeds that leave the cops aghast),
But should their radars I flash past .
Prem Pete'$ the one that I'll lambast.
It's beattie's fault my teen's so dense
He sprays graffiti on the fence.
I ask you, now, just what's the sense?
Pete leaves it there to cause offence!
It's beattie's fault crime's on the rise
And jails must be of greater size,
Our envied lifestyle's in demise.
The "media tart" we must chastise.
It's beattie's fault the dam's run dry -
Still not a cloud to fill the sky.
And "beattie's fault" will be the cry
When deluge comes and floods are high.
It's beattie's fault the highway's killed
All those young, testosterone filled
Boozing speedsters, little skilled,
Impatient, fearless, and strong willed.
It's beattie's fault I feel this way -
(If I paid tax, it'd be his pay!)
My Aussie right's to have my say -
Bring on the vote without delay!
And, best of all, when polls are done
And laurie springborg gets a run,
There's just one thing I'll have to alter:-
Go: "find","replace", my gripe won't falter,
Then Laurie's fault all things will be.
I know the system well, you see:
Blame "him" or "them", but never "we"
And certainly, don't point at "me"!
For international readers less familiar with Australia politics: "Beattie" is Peter Beattie the current Premier of Queensland and "Laurie" refers to Lawrence Springbourg the Leader of the Opposition. (Ed.)