Another drifter like me

I’m just gonna play
A little acoustic thing,
Tell a few stories
As I strum and sing,
While you stand
Around and talk
And have a few beers,
About a long time ago
When I started out
Busking in front of the
Sydney Opera House,
When an old man
Came by and stopped
Right in front of me,
Well he stood there
And listened to me play
For a while,
Nodded his head,
Gave me a smile,
When I stopped for a break
He came over
And started talking to me.
“Son, I love your sound,
And the way you’re playing,
I’m really digging
The things you’re saying,
I don’t think I’ve seen you
Coming ’round here before.”
He asked me where I’d been,
Where I was going,
When he slapped his leg
Said “I knew you were
A drifter like me”.
Well, you know my friends
That got me thinking,
About the money in my pocket,
How my fortunes were sinking,
Maybe it was time I went out
And found myself a proper job.
So I packed away my old guitar,
Laid it gently
In the back of the car,
Drove away as the sun
Sank behind the Harbour Bridge.
Now twenty five long years
Have gone by
And each day I go to work
In a suit and a tie,
Sit and listen to the buskers
While eating my lunch,
Some days I’ll come across
A young guy playing sweet,
Maybe I’ll listen
From across the street,
Then walk over for a chat,
Find out where he comes from.
I’ll say “I really dig
That tune you’re playing,
And I can tell by the words
Of your songs your saying
That I’ve finally found
Another drifter like me”.
Maybe he’ll keep playing
On his old guitar,
Lift his voice
Right up to the stars,
And sing another song
For all the drifters like me.

Autumn of love

Orange autumn

Clouds move quickly
Across the sky,
Days grow shorter,
Nights are colder,
Another day goes by,
The world grows older,
Leaves tremble in the breeze,
Holding tight,
Prolonging the end,
Not ready to fall,
Even though branches
Have turned stiff and cold,
No longer caring,
Letting go of the past,
Forgetting memories of spring,
Blossoms and new romance,
Turned to rust, drying, crackling,
As thoughts turn to winter days,
Of being alone, dark nights,
Frost covering the beating heart,
Icy fingers bringing tears,
Frozen words escaping
From cold lips,
You can never go back,
Never go back.

Why I write

First there was desire because I always wanted to be a writer; I loved reading and devouring the delightful words that were painted on the pages of my favourite books. From a young age I knew that one day the words would flow from my pen if I could only find the handle to the tap.
When I was in high school I was encouraged to keep a writing journal for English, but the teacher never explained what I was meant to write or how to go about it. The journal was meant to be handed in for marking every month so I translated text from comics – it was the only thing I could think of and goodness knows what the teacher thought.
In my early teens I read a lot of action books, particularly Ian Fleming and Alistair Maclean; exciting page turners that I could lose myself in and were hard to put down at night. I loved ‘The Big Footprints’ by Hammond Innes, which I received for Christmas when I was thirteen, a story of confrontation and conflict set in Africa as the main protagonist struggled to save elephants from slaughter. This led to my discovery of Wilbur Smith, another author basing his novels in the African wilderness. At the same time I was introduced to Australian authors such as Colin Thiele and Judah Waten, but it was Marcus Clarke’s ‘For the Term of His Natural Life’ that really sent my imagination on fire.
‘For the Term of His Natural Life’ was the first novel to feel so incredibly real to me because it was largely set in Australia and was therefore more familiar and less exotic than other novels. From this I developed a hunger to read other Australian novels, to find out about the experiences of others within this country and how these experiences were shaped by a landscape that meant so much to me.
At school I studied Shakespeare – ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in year 10, ‘Julius Caesar’ in year 11 and ‘King Lear’ in year 12. Although I loved them all, ‘King Lear’ was my favourite and as part of my year 12 studies I travelled to Sydney with my classmates to see a live production of it at the Footbridge Theatre. Seeing Shakespeare brought alive made it so much more interesting and easier to read when I came back to the written page. I wrote an exam essay addressing the question of whether Shakespeare was still relevant in the modern day. I wrote for the affirmative, posing arguments about lessons for life and relationships. For year 11 and 12 I also studied George Orwell’s ‘1984’ and ‘Animal Farm’, Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and Emily Bronte’s ‘Wuthering Heights’.
Then the music found me. I got my first guitar when I was twelve years old, an old classical guitar that had been restrung with steel strings. I had a few lessons during my early years of high school but was always more interested in just playing songs rather than learning scales and theory. Inspired by a guitar-playing friend in senior high school, I took up the guitar again and began teaching myself some basic chords and learning songs. I found a new love and spent many Saturday mornings busking.
Then I found the words when I started my first tentative steps in writing songs. At the time I was working in a bank and feeling terribly isolated from the life I had known at school. I hadn’t realised how much I enjoyed learning and the creative aspect of writing essays and assignments until it was no longer there.
Those years were a time of jamming with my friends, busking on Saturday nights, writing songs and living the dream. And then it all began to rust and we went our separate ways without ever making that trip to Tamworth. Then I moved to Sydney, still writing songs, first attempts at recording my music, and regular busking at Circular Quay. Some great songs came out of this period that I still play live. After a long break I returned to writing and live performance and tapped into a new well-spring of creativity where I could put my thoughts, feelings, emotions and ideas into verse.

Into the silence

My eyes are wide open now,
Staring into the darkness,
Listening, waiting, hoping,
This time you will come for me,
Into the silence,
On the breeze,
A soft touch penetrating my thoughts,
Feeling weightless,
Surrounded by warmth,
Lost now in the beauty of the moment,
Dreaming, relaxing, breathing,
Resigned to my fate,
Anxieties ebbing away,
I close my eyes,
Content to drift like this forever,
Focusing on your touch,
Perfectly at home in your arms,
So happy,
Light and graceful,
Feeling the heat rising,
Contact of lips,
Pulling me closer,
Desperately aching,
A sharp intake of breath,
Exploring heaven,
Losing all track of time,
Flowing, surging, gently, insistent,
Hands clasped tightly
As we perform our ballet,
Whole body trembling,
On the wave of a tsunami,
Crashing on the beach,
Shellshocked, dazed,
Slowly subsiding,
Surrounded by your beauty,
Warm and loved,
This is where I belong,
In your embrace,

I open my eyes in the darkness,
A whispered prayer,
Please don’t let this be a dream,
Please don’t let this be a dream…

There was once a time

There was once a time
When I would look forward
To Friday nights
And finishing work
To drive back
To my hometown
For the weekend
To catch up with
All my old friends
At the local pub.

There was once a time
When he would
Be waiting for me there
And looking so pretty
That all I wanted to do
Was hold him
And kiss him
All night long.

There was once a time
When we would dance
The house down
As the band
Rocked out covers of
Chisel, Dragon and the Angels
Until the pub closed
And we were out on the street
In the early hours
Of the morning.

There was once a time
When we would walk
Slowly hand in hand
While the guys
Raced ahead doing
Crazy things and
Looking for fights
With the out of towners.

There was once a time
When we would wander
Down to the creek
And make sweet love
Under the willow trees
And hold each other
Until the pearly sky
Lighted our way home.

There was once a time
When I would cry
As he kissed me goodbye
And our fingertips
Ached for one last touch
Until it was time
For me to go.

There was once a time
When I would wake
On Monday mornings
And look forward
To Friday night
And the weekend ahead.

Maybe tomorrow

I know you’re out there,
Running around,
Living your own life,
I catch glimpses of you,
Every now and then,
Hurrying across the street,
Your back to me,
Eyes on the ground,
As I raise a hand
To say hello,
But you don’t see me,
Too far away I guess,
Too much on your mind
To spare a thought
For someone you once knew.

So I turn away,
Wiping the dust from my eyes,
Watching my footsteps,
Thinking about the space
Between us,
The distance
From your pillow to mine,
And the language
I was speaking
That you couldn’t understand
As I reached out
To touch your back.

Maybe tomorrow
You will look up
Before hurrying across the street,
And give me a smile,
Or a wave,
Or stop to say hello.

Some things I can’t remember

I was thinking about
That little house we lived in
When we were first married,
My mind wandering,
Lingering from room to room.
I can remember the lounge room,
And the nights we would
Start out watching a movie
And end up kissing on the lounge
Until the final credits,
But I can’t remember
What happened
In the dining room.
I can remember cooking
Together in the kitchen
When you couldn’t keep
Your hands off me
As I stood at the sink,
But I can’t remember
What happened
In the dining room.
I can remember taking
Long hot showers
With your soapy body
Pressed against mine
As the streaming water
Washed away your kisses,
But I can’t remember
What happened
In the dining room.
I can remember the soft light
Creeping through the curtains
Of our bedroom as you
Made love to me again
And again and again,
But I can’t remember
What happened
In the dining room.
Why was the dining room dark?
Why didn’t we open the curtains?
Why can’t I see inside?
If only I could remember
What happened
In the dining room
Then maybe
I would understand everything.

Oh why can’t I remember
What happened
In the dining room?

Under the southern cross

When the nights were hot,
We used to lay outside
On the grass in the backyard,
Gazing at the lights
Sparkling in the sky,
Watching for a shooting star
So that I could make a wish,
While you tried to teach
Me about the constellations,
But I preferred to think of
Them as fairy dust,
Each one holding
A special dream
As you put the stars
In my eyes
And the Southern Cross
In my heart,
With your whispered words
And gentle touch…

But I never did
Learn their names,
And the stars no longer
Seem as bright
As they were back then,
And while none of those wishes
Ever came true,
I still think of you
When I see the Southern Cross
Floating in the summer sky.

Someone

If it’s not too much to ask,
For Christmas this year
I would like
Someone to talk to,
Who will give me a hug
When I come home at night
And ask how my day was,
Who will share my
Secret thoughts,
Secret hopes,
Secret desires,
And wake me
In the morning
With a soft kiss,
Call me his angel,
Miss me so much
During the day
That he will ring
Just to say hello,
For no reason,
He is thinking of me,
Someone who will make
Me feel like I matter,
Like I’m important,
Like I exist,
Someone who will be there
For me when I am lost,
Or hurt,
Or hungry,
Or needy,
And will let me love him
Back with all my heart,
All my soul,
All my being.
So if it’s not too much to ask,
I will be looking under the tree
This Christmas
For that special present,
Maybe you will be there.

The river of life

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I started out swimming in a shallow pool,
Before I got the courage to venture further downstream.
There were times when I was swept along
By a strong current with deep water underneath
And banks rushing by.
Parts of the river flowed more slowly
And there was time to idle
And enjoy the drooping willows
And rolling green paddocks.
Other times the river was shallow and rocky
And there were plenty of scrapes and knocks to avoid.
Along the river were numerous landmarks;
New paths venturing down to the water’s edge;
An occasional town lingering along the banks;
Roads that allowed others to hurry across the river
Without sharing its journey;
New streams that joined the river
And sometimes added greater depth.
At times the river’s path diverged
And required a choice in which direction to take.
Some of these new paths ended in a billabong or swamp
And some effort was required to get back to the flow of the river.
Mostly, the river twisted and turned
As it sought the best way to go.
The scenery changed as it rolled along,
Never content to remain in one place.
At the end of its journey
The river flowed into the sea and became a memory.