Who Has Seen the Wind

Who has seen the wind

Whence it comes, whither it goes?

Who has seen the Spirit of the Universe?

Who is not in awe of cosmic mysteries?

Man thirsts for knowledge of his maker

We know you are there – somewhere.

‘Ah’, we say, ‘We will make you in our image,

We will give you space in our three-tiered universe,

We will lead you captive into our houses of worship,

Our words we will write as your sacred scriptures.’

‘This is the word of the Lord,’ we will say,

Your nature we will enshrine in our creeds.

Your very mind will be revealed

In our doctrines and dogmas.

‘Ah,’ we will say

‘We have captured you God,

You cannot hide,

You cannot escape,

You are ours,

And ours alone.

Now we are safe.’

Who has seen the wind?

Whence it comes, whither it goes.

November, 2013


Hebrew ruach feminine – wind or spirit.

‘The wind bloweth where it listeth and thou heareth the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth … ‘         John 3:8

‘As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.’      Ecclesiastes 11:5.

A Rose     

Why is that rose so beauteous?

Was it thus at dawn’s creation?

It enters as a modest bud,

Nothing fancy, nothing fluent,

But overnight

Its blooms ignite.

Solomon, in all his glory, could not compete.

With form and structure so petite,

How can it be?

Why is it so?

We do not ponder its creation,

We take it all for granted,

‘’Twas always thus’ we say.

Was its parent ever plain

In trying perfection to attain?

Where from did it get its urge

From less beauteous objects to emerge?

‘My genes are patient

My progress ancient

Success will crown my path.’

Has this rose, with such display

Said to its DNA along the way,

‘I must proceed with great intent

I must attract with form and scent

My petal more exotic,

My perfume more erotic!’

And so the weary DNA mutates

And scent and petal renovates,

A million years is but a day,

That former rose is now passé.

And so the bees and butterflies,

Responding to our rose’s enterprise

Take note of colours and of smells

And bring their pollen that impels

An even faster transformation

Of the rose’s reformation

The bee alights and sips the nectar,

In its role as a collector.

Can our rose sense satisfaction

For its master’s benefaction?

And so the genome of our rose

Leaps ever upward to compose.

What implanted, desperate urge,

Can cause such beauty to emerge?

We humbly bow before this mystery,

We stand in awe at history

What splendour and what grace endears

Such patience that awaits a billion years.

Pause and contemplate

When next you see a rose,

The miracle before your eyes,

The scent beneath your nose.

For Charlie, December 2013

 A Tribute

This poem was written the year after John Pfitzner died unexpectantly at the young age of 70 and encapsulates the widespread feeling of deep loss among his close friends.

How’ve you been JP?

Things aren’t the same since you left,

So quick it was,

No time to say goodbye,

Caught us unawares;

You being so young,

So strong, so healthy,

So much more to offer.

The day went off well – sort of,

Not how you would want,

Lots of ‘In the name of …’

As you were wont to say.

Many spoke about your life,

But the essence went unspoken –

Your struggles, your triumphs,

The important things that made you.

No-one now to push the frontiers,

No-one to blaze a trail,

We thought of one or two

But they all came up short;

Your vision was way ahead,

Further than we dared to think,

Truth, unbound by orthodoxy,

An unafraid and questioning mind.

Gentle, uncompromising,

Refusing to be bogged down

With feet of clay, in the doctrines

And dogmas of your upbringing,

Soaring like an eagle

Into clear uncharted skies,

Giving visions to those around you –

Those prepared to listen.

Your life an unfinished symphony,

With refreshing chords, resonant

Among those of many persuasions;

Those without a doctrinaire bent,

Those honest in the pursuit of truth.

Our worldview changes,

Cosmos and evolution

Enter our spiritual world.

Your headstone looks a treat;

A poem is etched,

‘One Day’ – one of your best –

‘One day you finally knew’…

Spring is in the air,

It’s been a cold winter,

The buds are swelling,

The odd blossom bursting …

Are you happy now;

I somehow think you are.

The cycle moves on,

We play our small roles.

We thought to set

The record straight,

But on second thoughts,

You wouldn’t want it.

August, 2014

The Final Test


Recollections of failed final exams in medicine, 1957. The custom in those days was for the newly graduated doctors to immediately work as locum tenens, enabling general practitioners to take a holiday. This window of opportunity existed for December/January, before the compulsory intern year began in February each year. Those who failed had to find alternative employment – such as driving a taxi!

Sid Krantz was an autocratic Jewish surgeon at the Royal Adelaide Hospital who had received acclamation for his wartime exploits whilst a prisoner of war of the Japanese on the Burma Siam Railway in 1942-43.

They were going well

Those final tests

It was the second week,

But he was tiring badly.

Next up the surgery viva,

Alan Lendon was the one –

‘Check that groin, my son,’ he barked.

‘Yes Sir,’ he said,

‘Give a cough, my man,’

‘And now another,’

Ah, he has it.

‘Well son, we have others on our list.’

‘Yes Sir, it’s a hernia Sir – indirect.

So far, so good,

He moves on to the next.

‘Just look at those legs, my boy.’

The biggest veins he ever saw.

But then it happened –

He froze, he stammered,

Didn’t know what to say.

‘Varicose veins Sir,’ he blurted out,

‘Yes, we can all see that!’

Silence reigned

The surgeons looked at him

Then at each other

‘That’ll be all,’ they said –

In measured tones.

He staggered out,

As in a trance

‘You’ve blown it lad,’

Indeed he had.

His mind went back

A ward round eight weeks ere,

‘Twas Siddy Krantz of world war fame.

The special test for veins it was,

‘You boy, at the back,

Tell me what I just said!’

It had been a good weekend,

The one just passed

And Siddy quite broke

His train of thought.

‘When I give my time to teach,

You listen, Son.’

‘I’m sorry, Sir,’ he said.

The moment passed,

No further thought,

No looking up the books that night,

Another lesson never learnt.

What a fool!

What a halfwit!

Someone with half a brain

Would have checked the test that night!

And been prepared

For that last exam.

Alas! Too late, too late.

And so the story goes,

Results are pinned

His name’s not there.

Come back next May

And try again.

No locum tenens for you, my boy,

‘Tis driving taxis on the road.  


March, 2014

All Alone

A lonely figure was observed regularly over the several days that Ross and his helpers were cementing in a headstone on his convict great grandfather’s grave at Nuntin Cemetery, Stratford in Gippsland – March, 2003.

We were in Stratford Town

Setting up our headstone

In the Nuntin graveyard

And suddenly there he was

Sitting on a bench,

All alone.

We, all of us,

Worked hard and long

Cementing our headstone on its base

And, again he was there,

Sitting in his old car, head in hands,

All alone.

We had our dedication,

The Dean of Sale, he gave the address,

Sam’s offspring came from far and near,

We said our farewells and moved from the grave,

That haunting figure was there, yet again,

All alone.

Our Sam was buried long ago,

One hundred and thirty years before,

This sad figure had buried his wife

Barely ten days before,

His grief consumed his waking hours,

All alone.

We knew not where he lived and loved,

We knew not what his memories were,

He came each day to sit and grieve,

As close as close could be

To the temple that enshrined his wife,

But now returned to dust.

August, 2014

An Elegy

Come to my grave to remember, not weep,

My spirit’s long gone to a faraway land,

And all that is left is a crumbling heap;

Once was a life that was lived and was loved.

Come to my grave to remember, not weep,

That Universe Spirit that made its abode

Deep in my soul for its eighty odd years

        Has returned whence it came, the breath of my life.

Come to my grave to remember, not weep,

The wind it caresses the leaves on the trees,

It lifts the broad eagle aloft in the sky,

It whips up wild billows across the rough seas.

Come to my grave to remember, not weep,

That spirit that now is no longer confined

Can travel the cosmos with freedom unbound;

It’s gone from my body that kept it restrained.

Come to my grave to remember, not weep,

My spirit’s beyond any tempus and space;

It reaches to starts and to ends of all things,

It looks to the past and whatever may come.

Come to my grave to remember, not weep,

My spirit can roam to the start of all time,

And even can travel to where it all ends;

United in one with the source of all being.

Come to my grave to remember, not weep,

Life it commences and too soon must end.

Be grateful for love that you find on your path,

 And save not your moments but wastefully spend.

May, 2014

Clean Jarmies

Note: This poem was written during and after admission to Ashford Hospital for an angiogram.

‘Lovely clean ‘jarmies, the bag it’s all packed,

A toothbrush and comb, and hankies to spare

Your funeral arrangements, you were to enact?

Your rhymes are a pain and to me they do wear,

Choose a good venue – and pick a nice tract.

Your faith’s disappeared, your cupboard quite bare’.

‘Leave him with us and we’ll put him to bed,

You can go home and he’ll stay in our care.

When everything’s done and there’s nothing unsaid

We’ll give you a ring, and we’ll make you aware.’

‘Take off your gear and just fold it instead,

Then go to the toilet and sit on this chair.’

They come and they go and I’m left to await,  

That funeral you know, it just keeps in my mind,

Should I have hymns and a prayer to orate?  

Maybe Syd Carter with lyrics defined

A rev’rand or celebrant there to narrate

God is confused, he could leave me behind.

That blackbird, he’s up there amaking his nest,

He’s busy as busy as busy can be

I’m seeing him coming and going with zest.

They’ve got some big possums up there in the tree.

‘How are you going young fella at rest,

You could be the next if I rightly forsee.’

‘We’ve had some hard cases to test our aplomb 

Perhaps you’ll relax and just look at our box,

Or maybe your Apple and look up dot com.’

… I surely will say that I am het’rodox,

So after my fun’ral they’ll take me therefrom

And will I be buried, or burned in my sox? …

‘Wake up young Ross, the job it’s all done,

That diagonal vessel it’s got a chicane,

Here’s some good scripts to help you to run

And a very nice spray to rid your chest pain.

And what did you say your job was awhile?

Colorectal ha-ha, that’s the end of the pile!’

May, 2014


Note: A childhood recollection from Woodville. Tough little ruffians nicknamed ‘The Kelly Gang’ by my father.

We are the rough and tough,

We are the boys of the Kelly Gang.

‘Tis Friday night,

No homework night,

We gather at our house

To play our games of cat and mouse.

 At school today we were frustrated

But now our pleasure’s unabated.

There’s Richard from across the road,

And Murray from a nice abode,

And Robert Draper – he’s real mean,

No parents here to intervene.

We wrestle and we tussle,

Each one straining every muscle.

For two long hours we have our heads,

Even jumping from the garden sheds.

But then I’m shocked right to the core,

Hearing words that I deplore.

‘Wash your hands and come to tea – FLOWER!’

‘No, no, I can’t be hearing right,’ I glower,

A pregnant pause from those who heard

That utt’rance so absurd,

‘Where’s our flower’s little dress,

She does display much comeliness!’

I come inside –


Was e’er such fuming,

‘Twas all consuming.       

‘My disgrace is so complete,

That they can e’er repeat.

And I can ne’er deny,

The words that they imply.’

‘I’m sorry dear, I quite forgot,

I apologise, I was a clot,

I did not notice all your friends  

When next we meet, I’ll make amends.                     

They will forget my sad faux pas

Let not this be your bete nôire,

As after all, you really are –

My precious little … PETAL!’

May 2014

Papa and Lucy

Papa, you’re eighty and growing so old;

Your hair is so white but your teeth they are not,

The stories you tell us are mostly retold,

And others among them are just tommyrot.

You’ve trouble in hearing the tales we tell,

Even at times you mishear when we yell.

I hear what you say and agree it is so;

Sad when your papa so often mishears.

But how would it be if time went so slow,

You in the kindy for twenty odd years

And two foot eleven without any change,

You’d grumble to mum that your life is so strange.

Papa, how about having your childhood anew,

And being my pal at our school once again;

With lovely thick hair and some classical teeth,

Having no glasses, your hearing regained,

Sitting in classes, and running a race,

Learning your tables with sums to embrace.

No, my dear Lucy there’s time for us all;

Time for our school and a time to be old.

Who would look after your gaga withal?

Eat all her cooking and run the household,

And take all the tablets and do what she said,

And read ‘The Australian’ with porridge in bed?

We live in a world that’s appointed by time,

Each of our flowers they grow and they bloom;

Summer to winter – we slide past our prime.

Papa’s quite happy to take a backroom,

And watch his young Lucy emerge in her spring,

Her beauty and talent a bird on the wing.

August 2014


Note: Written a month or two before the birth of Ross’s sixth grandchild – Rémi Samuel Johnson-Saison                          

Time is a gift that permits life to flow,

Space is a gift that allows each to dwell,

Age is a gift t’wards the life we’ll forgo,

Nature dictates, so we cannot rebel.

And what of those skills that we all do acquire?

They add to our genes, or they’re lost in the pyre?

What wonder is this when new babies appear?

Those millions of years, they’re abridged in the womb,

How limb buds do form it is very unclear,

The marvel evolving we all do assume.

The heart and the vessels begin to pulsate,

The lungs are created but do not aerate.

Let us then ponder, the birth we all fete,

Its body as perfect as perfect can be.

Does it all happen at nature’s dictate?

Or p’raps there’s a breath from divine deity,

The ground of its being for seventy years,

To guide it and guard it away from all fears.

Oh, what rejoicing this baby imparts

To parents and uncles and aunties and friends.

They cluck and they clammer; they clasp to their hearts,

The smell of the newborn a rose it transcends.

The mother and father they’ll ne’er be the same,

Fore’er in their thoughts they will have this new name.

July, 2014


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