Family

I remember Dad
with nostalgia
but not with pride
and Mum
who went to an exclusive
school for girls
but only read recipes.

The year later
when my brother arrived
we were cared for
like pets
to be fed, I guess
and put to bed.

I escaped
into the magic
of picture books
and fairy tales
with a golliwog
and a Teddy bear
to cuddle.

After kindergarten
at an old church hall
and a day
at Primary School
Mum decided
I should stay at home
for the year
so my brother and I
could be
in class together.

I liked to sprawl
on the lounge room carpet
and listen
to radio serials.

My parents lived
cocooned
and stratified lives
aloof from neighbours
strangers
and the world outside
playing cards with friends
on Saturday nights
and driving
to visit mater and pater
on Sundays.

I endured
my years at
Primary School
as a ritual
without any interest
or ambition.

Enrolled
at Scotch College
Dad’s old school
I spent two
fruitless, useless years
before leaving
happy
but unqualified.

Dad enjoyed
Dixieland jazz
the novels
of Lawrence Durrell
“The Mint”
by T.E. Lawrence
and carving
the Sunday roast.

I became
an audit clerk
at Dad’s firm
of chartered accountants
then worked
as a dispatch clerk
in a furniture store
for two years
before being retrenched.

I studied art
fell in love
and graduated
with a diploma
after four years.

Without prospects
of an artistic career
I became
an art teacher
at a Technical school
in the countryside.

In 1958
I sailed to England
painted in London
visited Florence
and after ten months
returned by ship
to Melbourne.

I moved into our new home
overlooking the bay
and taught art
at Frankston Tech.

Promoted
five years later
to Dandenong Tech
I bought a unit
near the beach
at Carrum
only a few k’s away.

But my teaching career
came to an end
at Dandenong
after six more years
when I was superannuated
suffering from stress.

Dad retired
bought land
and began a nursery
managed by my brother.

He had aged
but stayed the same
insulated
enjoying scotch
listening to music
in the evenings
through huge speakers
seemingly unaffected
by Mum’s dementia
subsequent hospitalization
and death.

After selling the nursery
he contracted
Parkinson’s Disease
but remained
remote and inaccessible
until he died.

I became friends
with Maria
a widow and refugee
from Vietnam
and her daughter
Evelyn, husband Minh
and their children.

We became
business partners
selling jewellery
then close friends
developing an empathy
new to me.

I was delighted
when Evelyn
began calling me Dad.

Today
we live as a family
together
and the kids call me
Grandpa.

Infotainment

Moving pictures
Dolby sound
T V News
for the faithful
with biased views.

For bystanders
at the track
the philosophy
of perpetual motion
lap after lap.

Fans
excitedly sit
for the privilege
of watching
icons play for pay.

An obsessions
with machismo
is reflected
ad nauseam
in nostalgic replays.

At the final siren
don’t go away
we’ll be back
with more
after the break.

Artificial Empathy

Under each leaf
hiding
away from the light
camouflaged caterpillars
chew.

In silhouette
a guileless face
against a bland background
radiates
unctuous urbanity.

Pretensions of honesty
and fake bonhomie
by predatory politicians
with minds
designed to lie.

A concert for the deaf
enigmatic ethics
shotgun blasts to the head
and each one
a suicide.