Some memories last a lifetime. Like happy memories. My childhood was blessed and I was surrounded with happy people. My parents, grandparents and my parents’ friends. We used to go bushwalking in the Grampians in Victoria. I was only 2 or 3 years old and I would run off up ahead along the track alone. I would watch the birds flitting in and out of the small shrubs and admire all the wild flowers that blossomed everywhere. Then I would run back to where the walking party was coming. Sometimes I would crouch down behind a tree and jump out and surprise everyone who was walking towards me. They would all act surprised and I would laugh because I thought that it was funny. I knew not to stray from the path because I could get lost. I never did get lost and I have never lost these happy memories.
I am the little boy in the photo below and holding me is a friend of my parents’, Laurie O’Brien. I always remember Laurie as a happy man and he still is. Today is his birthday and I couldn’t think of a better way to thank him for the memories than to write a happy birthday poem for him.
Happy Birthday it is true, Happy Birthday just for you
Happy Birthday, you are great. We love the way that you act 8.
Happy Birthday with lots of money. You know I’m just being funny
Wishing you this birthday wish, I hope you get a sloppy kiss
From your darling loving wife. Who has stuck with you all your life
Happy Birthday dear Laurie. You never seem to ever worry
I wrote this poem just for you. Read it when you’re in the loo
Happy Birthday Laurence O’Brien. I hope you have a wonderful time.
Another fond memory that has never left me is that of my grandfather. He was killed in a car accident when I was only 4 years old. However the memories that I have of him are only positive. While my parents were working I would go a stay with my grandmother for the day. I used to arrive early and watch him shave before work. He would put shaving soap on my face and then pretend to shave it off. We would drive to the airport sometimes and as we would approach and overpassing bridge he say, “no more bridges” then as we went under the bridge he would tap me on the head with a rolled up newspaper and I would laugh. He would laugh. We’d both laugh together. I loved him and he loved me.
I have been fortunate in my life to have had happy and kind men around me when I was young. My father is one of those men. He never hit or smacked me and was always measured in his discipline preferring to use his words than any form of violence. For this I am grateful and this has been reflected in my peaceful non-violent attitude to life. I have never attacked anyone and only ever stepped in between people who were about to fight in order to protect them.
One year I was in West End in Brisbane and there was a drunk guy who was causing trouble. Five other guys were ushering him away and he was getting increasingly aggressive and agitated and starting to swing punches at them. I didn’t want to see him or them get hurt so I walked over, took off my shirt held up my arms and said, “if you want to hit someone hit me.” He punched into my stomach which was tensed and I felt his wrist crack. He then took a swing at my head and I ducked backwards. He just grazed my forehead and then stopped. I looked him square in the eye and said, “Is that it? Have you had enough?” His friend walked over and said to him, “I think you’d better go” He left. Nobody was hurt, except perhaps for his pride and fractured wrist.”
After I studied Environmental Science at university I worked for Greenpeace. The Cold War ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and then the START-Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty on the 31st of July 1991 and the break up of the USSR 26th of December 1991. So by the time I worked for Greenpeace the Cold War was over. The only problem was that the USA had so much money invested in the war machine and arms production that they were addicted to profits and then had to create conflicts in through lies and deceit by dehumanising muslim people.
Now in 2021 we are in one of the most peaceful times in human history. If we get rid of armies and weapons we can truely create abundance, wealth, security and peace on Earth for all people.
We can finally thrive together, care for on another and live in peace on Earth. I wrote the “Legend of the Bombagun” as a post war vision of the world that I would like to see in the future. Below is Part 1 and the rest is available in the second of my “in Nimbin” books, Lust in Nimbin available on Amazon.
My grandfather served in the ADF in WWII and I have always honoured him and the ANZACS for the sacrifices that they made. My belief is that one day the only armies that exist will be responsible for planting trees and vegetable gardens so we can all have freely available healthy nourishing food world wide and live in peace and war will only be a memory. Thank you to all the peaceful men in my life.
A teacher once asked a preschool student what job do you want to do when you grow up. The preschool student replied, “an artist.”
The teacher laughed and said, “you’ll never be rich.”
The student replied, “No, you’ve been to university, studied hard and know everything that you’ve ever been taught, you’ll never be rich.”
Many years later the teacher was invited to a children’s book launch written and illustrated by the student. Original paintings of the illustrations were for sale for thousands of dollars and this was the student’s 6th book and the student was now an internationally recognised children’s book author and illustrator.
The following is a copy of my first published book “The flea and the dinosaur.” It is currently out of print but the story and illustrations were all done by me. I will republish it again in the future.
Many millions of years ago, way before you and me, Tyrannosaurus Rex was born, he was bigger than a tree. About the same time flea was born, rainbow fairy flea but small and super powerful filled with joy and glee. Tyrannosaur grey and brown strong and forcefully went around tearing things down like a big bully
Today I saw a dinosaur laughing at a flea, it looked down and said, “you’re not as strong as me”…………
The flea said to the dinosaur, “do you want to pick a fight?”
“One thousand times my height I jump. you can’t jump with all your might.”
The flea said to the dinosaur, “I have a super skin and I can bite you anywhere my teeth will sink right in.”
The flea said to tyrannosaur, “I can be a little snitch and I will bite you on the bum and I will make you itch”
The flea said to the dinosaur, “you can move about but I’m 100 times as fast as you that’s without a doubt.”
The flea jumped on the dinosaur and bit him on the knee. “I’m so much more than you think don’t you mess with me.”
The flea jumped on the dinosaur and bit him in the eye. The dinosaur shed a tear and then began to cry.
Today I heard a dinosaur say, “sorry” to a flea, “without a doubt you are so much more powerful than me.”
The flea said to the dinosaur, ”don’t laugh at others too because little guys are much more powerful than forceful ones like you.”
The flea said to the Dinosaur, “you can’t run away, nowhere to run nowhere to hide have a lovely day.”
The flea bit tyrannosaur and the dinosaurs all died and great big bullies fade away and get fried by little guys
Today I saw a dinosaur get beaten by a flea. Big mean bullies disappeared but loving joyful fleas dance free.
I finished writing this poem at 1:33, dinosaurs became extinct but fleas still live free.
I too was like the teacher once. I was a teacher and happy to take an hourly wage/salary with annual leave, sick days, superannuation of 17% and all the perks that come with a government teaching job. By the time I was 44 I had had over 50 different jobs. Then one November day in 2014 I returned home to find the roof had blown off my home. I decided to buy a double decker bus named Atlantis and go travelling and giving away free books. I lived on the smell of an oily rag, collecting and giving away free books for over 2 years until the bus broke down in Nimbin. I had started writing and my drawing skills had developed while I was living in Atlantis.
Nimbin had a great poetry scene and while I was living there I decided to illustrate and publish “The Flea and the Dinosaur.” I also published two volumes of poetry “Love in Nimbin” and “Lust in Nimbin” more recently I also published “Poetry to End Prohibition 420 2020” They are all available by following the links to Amazon.
In February 2020 I passed through Guyra on the way back to Nimbin. I had been to the Banjo Paterson Australian Poetry Competition in Orange. Here in Guyra I stopped for a walk and found an amazing empty theatre. A month later I returned to open the Australian Poetry Hall of Fame on the 24th of March 2020 which was Australia’s first day of COVID19 lockdown. It was a surreal experience moving to a new town to open business and suddenly finding the town deserted. However, 16 months later I am still here and I have just got around to opening “Seahorse Medicine Cafe here to serve vegetarian and vegan food as well as tea, coffee, soup and juices. People ask where I got the name “Seahorse Medicine” from. I have 3 unpublished volumes of children’s animal poetry by the same title.
I was told by a friend in 2016 that I have Seahorse Medicine in me. I had no idea what she was talking about at the time but now I do. I haven’t set a timeline to publish the Seahorse Medicine poetry but I have opened the cafe. Running/setting up the Australian Poetry Hall of Fame, a cafe, writing and publishing keeps me extremely occupied but they are all things that I enjoy doing.
That is what creatives do. They open their heart and do what they love. Create. Create some more and create even more. We use our creative abilities to bring joy, love and colour to the world, even when everything seems like it is going down the toilet, we will paint the toilet in bright colours. I wrote the following piece of poetry for my son’s birthday because I love him and also wanted to inspire him as well as other people. After he read it he thanked me and said “dad, that’s a good poem because it can be applied to different situations.”
I begin by acknowledging the Banbai people as the traditional custodians of the land on which I am living and the continuing connection to the land of elders past, present and emerging.
We are all visitors somewhere and my house is your house. I arrived in Guyra in late March 2020 and opened the Australian Poetry Hall of Fame on the fist day of the Australian COVID-19 lockdown. It was a surreal experience to move to a new town to open a new tourist and entertainment venture and walk outside into the main street of the town to find it deserted.
There were special exemptions for businesses which were providing an essential service. On my way to Guyra from Nimbin I went via Brisbane to see my son and I stopped at Aldi where I bought a pack of 24 bottles of water for $12. They were the first thing that I put on the shelf at $1 per bottle. In my mind, I was offering an essential service. I am an Aquarius, the water carrier and an air sign. That’s also why the name “Thundercloud” makes a lot of sense to me.
What is a Thundercloud, if not water in air?
One of my first visitors was a very friendly local woman by the name Gladys Wilson. I am Glad that I met Gladys as she has become one of my best friends in Guyra and the biggest supporter of the Australian Poetry Hall of Fame. She is the same age as my dad, she is always happy and glad and since I came along she has embraced not only writing poetry but also performing poetry. Gladys has always lived in Guyra, she grew up here, left school in grade nine and living proof that you are never too old to learn something new. Gladys has many endearing traits, one of which is that she talks to everyone and is welcoming to everyone that she meets. Gladys is a living example of “my house is your house.”
The next people that I met here in Guyra were some of the seasonal workers at the tomato farm. Guyra has the biggest tomato greenhouses in Australia and if you have eaten a tomato in Australia then there is a good chance that they come from Guyra. There are hundreds of jobs available at the tomato farm but not enough Guyra people to do the jobs, nor enough Australian people interested in moving to Guyra to work on the tomato farm. The result is that workers from the Pacific Islands come here on seasonal visas. They come from Vanuatu, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, the Solomon Islands and more.
Tony Nati and Paul Tony were the next two people that I met and they come from and island in Vanuatu called Malekula. Tony’s brother Ken Nati also lives and works in Guyra and after this weekend Ken might be going home. All these Guys were only supposed to be in Australia for a maximum of six months and it but COVID came and they have all been here for nearly two years. Most of them have families in Vanuatu with children so when they return their children will have substantially grown up. It has been difficult for them to be away from their families for so long however there is a positive side. Vanuatu is the country in the world that is most prone to natural disasters. Cyclones, volcanos, earthquakes and tsunamis all occur in Vanuatu
The price of building materials is expensive in Vanuatu and the official currency is the Vanuatu Vatu VUV of which one Australian Dollar buys 84 Vatu. Working in Australia is one way that “Ni-Van” people get foreign currency and use it to build strong natural disaster proof homes for their families. The “Ni-Van” people here in Guyra have always been welcome to come and play music at the Australian Poetry Hall of Fame and Ken Nati, being a great rhythm piano player has embraced the opportunity and it is my pleasure to offer him and our brothers “my home.” I know that when I visit Vanuatu, and I will visit Vanuatu, that I will be welcomed into their home like it is my home with full Vanuatu hospitality.
Vanuatu might be the most natural disaster prone country in the world but is also the 4th happiest country in the world according to the “Happy Planet Index” . Next month, July 30th is the 41st anniversary of Vanuatu independence and I am holding the local Guyra celebration here at the Australian Poetry Hall of Fame as a funds raiser for the Melanesia Volleyball Club which is made up of members of the Seasonal Worker Program.
Today I met some new arrivals for the seasonal worker program. They are from the Solomon Islands and they came to ask me if they could come and practice their singing in the theatre here. I said yes of course and was treated to the two angelic voices of Sina and Leslie. There is no data on the happiness index of the Solomon Islands but somehow I reckon that they are pretty happy people too. The odd thing is that when I look at the Happy Planet Index Map most of the so called wealthy countries are in red or orange and not that happy and most of the happiest countries are less wealthy.
It just goes to show that money can’t buy happiness.
My House is Your House
My house is your house, we are all visitors
Welcome in my door, one day I’ll visit yours
When you visit my house, please bring harmony
Make yourself at home, please have a cup of tea
My house is your house as you are my brother
We’re from different lands and another mother
Come well into my house, enjoy my hospitality
As I know that you would do the same for me.
My house is your house, we can be good friends
This is our beginning and not where it ends
I don’t care if you’re rich nor if you are poor
Young or old, with respect, you’re welcome in my door
My house is your house, let us both be happy
When I visit your house, I won’t make it crappy
Welcome into my house, I see you brought a smile
Let’s enjoy our time together, let’s enjoy a while.