Saturday, December 15, 2012


Yet another mass shooting in America. This time a twenty year old honors student with his handguns and .223 Bushmaster. So many little kids dead.

Questions tumble from this... How many massacres is it going to take to get serious firearm reform in the US? Who's going to have the fortitude to really take on the National Rifle Association etc? Why are there so many young men in the US who are bitter, disillusioned, crazed, narcissistic, out of control, unloved, lost? Why are they slipping through the cracks? What are adults doing to look out for these potentially volatile young men? Is enough money being pumped into counseling and mental health in the US? What's the National Rifle Association going to say, then do? When is US congress going to address the fact the US is a warmongering nation and they need to cool it, lead by example?

Michael Moore recently tweeted a message stating that there have been sixty-one, yes sixty-one, mass shootings in the US since Columbine.

Enough already. Enough already.

LJ, December 16 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012


An aphoristic 'love' poem I put together a while ago called Love Songs has been selected for an anthology tied to the Poetry d'Amour Love Poetry Contest 2013. WA Poets Inc are behind the comp; the anthology is to be published by Mulla Mulla Press in Kalgoorlie. My thanks to the powers that be for selecting my work. I don't usually set out to write 'love' poems. What is a love poem anyway? The poem I penned looks at love from all angles. It's a poem predominantly about loss, healing, confusion, lust, sex, technology, hedonism and fatherhood. There's the odd bit on love too. It isn't Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It isn't Rick Astley. LJ, December 14 2012.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


I was just told by a colleague that I remind her of a minister in a western. I'm so glad. That's the look I've been cultivating for the last few years! Not enough Aussies have that look.

LJ, December 3 2012.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Big thanks to Red Room Company for selecting a poem of mine for their upcoming downloadable app. The Disappearing. This app. allows a traveller, wanderer, nomad, swagman, low-plains drifter, someone riding the rattler, or indeed a poetry tragic to access a poem on particular places in NSW. So, theoretically, if I'm in the gorgeous hinterland west of Byron Bay, somewhere between Clunes and Dunoon, I could download a poem on that area (if one's been penned). A cool idea, huh? My poem centres on the memorable, yet tainted NSW mallee town, Ungarie, which I drove through towards the end of 2011. It is an expanded version of Poem #3 on this blog. LJ, November 26 2012.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


It was great to put the gloves on and get back to the heavy bag after too many lazy hours. Time to lose some weight and get a bit fitter. Too much reading and writing, not enough weaving and jabbing.

LJ, November 23 2012.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


On Saturday morning, I spoke with a Syrian security guard in Wollongong who is deeply concerned about his uncles and aunts in Homs, who he sees as 'sitting ducks', with the military continuously attacking their city. He wants his family members to flee to Lebanon. Only days ago, one of his uncles saw 6 children killed right in front of him. He wishes his family were with him in Australia. All he could do was be hopeful. I hoped his family would be alright. What could I say? Looking a little like a young Robert DeNiro, he sat quietly with his Koran and Greek/Egyptian worry beads, after I spoke with him. Outside where he sat, the day was blindingly bright with whirling lorikeets and gulls and men applauding one another during a nearby cricket match.

LJ, 19 November 2012.

Friday, November 16, 2012


I picked up Jacknife Lee's third solo album (from 2007) for $2 at good old JB Hi-fi at Macarthur Square, Campbelltown, last Wednesday arvo. It was reduced from $28. Gold! And it's a cracking album. I saw Jacknife at Vibes on a Summer's Day in Bondi back around 2000 - he was brilliant. LJ, November 16 2012.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

POEM #23


a bloke watching the cricket turns to another bloke watching the cricket says, you gotta wonder how many no balls the umpire misses. an old bloke with a form guide waits for a hamburger with the lot and a life with a little bit more to it. outside, the day is big bang bright. a woman in her sixties aims at a small white sun, then rolls a black planet, as if god during the birth of our universe.

LJ, November 14 2012.

Monday, November 12, 2012

POEM #22


After printing reports,
Acrobat quit unexpectedly
on my Mac screen.

I wonder whether
the circus will
be leaving town.

LJ, 13 November 2012.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

POEM #21


We scan
airbnb for

(a bit Debbie Harry)
writes of her
Marais studio,

you have to 
it's not 

LJ, November 12 2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


He's nowhere near perfect (there's always the questionable foreign policy), but I'm stoked Obama is back. I'm also glad Bo (his Portugese Water Dog) is back (I have a Field Spaniel and a Cocker Spaniel, so share Obama's enthusiasm for energetic medium-sized dogs).

I couldn't have coped in the myopic, constricting world Mitt Romney would've created. Let's hope Obama can do something about the economy and the 8% unemployment. And everything else in between.

LJ, 8 November 2012.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Two recent articles from John Pilger - over at his website - are essential reading. He condemns Julia Gillard in the wake of her being declared a feminist hero, questions our recent sales of uranium to India and worries about a future attack on Syria and Iran at the hands of NATO (whilst linking this present time to 1962 and its tension between Russia and the USA). I await what he has to say on the outcome of the US election. He is no fan of Obama. LJ, November 2012.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


After hours of teaching by day, I'm marking Advanced English HSC scripts in the Snakepit (don't think Raiders of the Lost Ark, it's a basketball stadium) at Wollongong by night. We're in the middle of Blade Runner and Frankenstein responses. Anyhow, I drive home via Macquaire Pass, which winds up the escarpment between Albion Park and Robertson. God I love that road at night - the serpentine nature of it, all that Top Gear adrenalin, a chance of spying a small wallaby or a sooty owl feeding by the roadside, the smell of Eden, that stretched buzz of crickets as you zip past them, Spring's full moon climbing up the escarpment with you, trees like fortresses... 2 people I spoke to yesterday used the adjective 'scary' in association with Macquarie Pass. The Pass adrenalises you, tests you, keeps you focused, asks you to respect it, brings you closer to divinity. LJ, November 1 2012.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Rabbit, a new poetry mag rooted in Melbourne, has just accepted 2 poems of mine for their Age issue due out in November. Big thanks to Bonny Cassidy, Rabbit's guest ed. for taking my submissions. Both poems are about various students I've taught over the years and what they've brought to our world. Rabbit is the fourth publication to accept my work this year. I feel blessed.

LJ, October 23 2012.


Coles has just announced it's ceasing the sale of branded pork, ham and bacon from pigs confined in cramped stalls, as well as company branded cage eggs, come January 2013. Animals Australia is launching a huge campaign to ban the practice of factory farming. Bless 'em both.

A committed vegetarian, I haven't eaten red meat or poultry for some eighteen years.

LJ, October 23 2013.


Diggin' Closer (finally a dance track featuring an impression of those immortal five notes from Close Encounters) and The Veldt (very Chicane) from the new deadmau5 album. I'd love to see them performed live. In a recent interview in Rolling Stone, the man who is deadmau5 came across as a spoilt brat with nothing much to communicate. He's onto something with all the Tron aesthetics and the Mickey Mouse in Heaven or Hell helmet though.

LJ, October 23 2012.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Here is my first review of a poetry collection. I hope it reads well.

Savvy and contemporary new Sydney-based publishers Pitt Street Poetry recently brought to the world Tim Cumming's new collection Etruscan Miniatures in a stylish, eye-catching and easily-portable volume that may well define the future size of chapbooks. It also retails for a very affordable $10 through the PSP website. Tim, who was brought up in the west country of England, has written six poetry collections prior to this.

The twelve poems within Etruscan Minatures celebrate Tim's recent stay in a luxury hotel in Orvieto, Umbria, Italy, yet the poems don't examine little shampoo bottles, Egyptian bed linen, buffet breakfasts and how attentive the hotel staff were. Tim turns from first world luxuries and the insubstantial, to face the cosmos, the importance of friends, fish bones in limestone, time and... David Bowie. It takes several rereads of the poems to soak up the intention and layers of Tim's concept. And then you need to reread once more. I'm not sure if this then equates to 'successful' work.

Form seems not to be hugely important to Tim. You will not find concrete poems or haiku here. He is more interested in unearthing the great rush of Italian experience in free verse, as if we are in that Umbrian hotel pool, having gallons of white wine poured on us or staring at nearby tufa columns during a tempest (these tufa accompany the poems in paintings composed by Tim). Full stops appear to be his enemy. The effect of this word-rush is enthralling, yet exasperating. Surface Depth is a case in point, a ten line sentence using a Beat Generation expressiveness:

Claire praised raindrops exploding
on the surface of the pool, plunging in
deep to life beyond reason, describing
the colours of impact and submission
pinning them plain to a wall in a fifth
floor apartment, no balcony, in Budapest... 

In this excerpt from the poem, we have Claire (?) drinking in raindrops and colour, but it all seems forced, ambiguous. I was left wondering what the point was. The phrase raindrops exploding seemed overwritten. How does one pin colour to a wall? And what are the colours of impact? I can only think black and blue and red! Maybe, I just needed to accept this flow and go with it, rather than break it apart, try to dissect it.

Tim does description and imagery expertly (98% of the time). In this collection we have children dancing as if they were antlered (I envisioned something vivid from Dr Seuss or Where The Wild Things Are)... a blurred fire of generosity... a lighter trailing a flare of gold over moonbulbs of garlic... frescoed selves on the slope through the trees... he strode out of the woods with Saturn in his mountainous hands...  Toscano grapes, cool conductors of white lightning... we're staring up at Umbrian night sky watching fast stars stir the drunken cranium... dream lyricism, stuff of the Romantics.

However, I did feel smiling watermelon was the wrong description for a watermelon carried up a hill and not yet sliced, in Watermelon. As much as I could, I couldn't go with this image and battled with the personification. The watermelon was cut up and eaten later: perhaps it was joyous at the news it could fulfil human hunger... Perhaps, I've lost the plot, encountered a 'pip-fall'.

Etruscan Miniatures finishes with the piece Exposure featuring a Roman frieze showcasing the sexy buttocks of a centurion in its final lines. This centurion is turning against the writhing of the sun. I'm not sure why? Is the sun overbearing, something that will overexpose us? Why does the centurion have a problem with the sun? Although an unexpected, naturalistic image, the sexy buttocks had me perplexed, and unsure how to react to the poem as a whole. Was this bathos cum humour Tim was ending things with, some statement on our naked selves? It felt unnecessarily camp, twee, oddball. There were other more potent images in Etruscan Miniatures Tim could've left the reader.

Overall, Cumming's writing is polychromatic, built for a widescreen, heady, ambitious, memorable in part, heavy-handed, confusing. As soon as I finished my first reading, I Googled the Umbrian hotel and landscape depicted and instantly wanted to spend a week off where Tim had holidayed - that's got to say something.

I very much look forward to Pitt Street Poetry's next venture. They are publishing challenging works.

LJ, October 22 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Our Feral Prince, a poem I put together speedily on the late great Aussie artist Adam Cullen, is about to be published in the final addition of Tasmanian-based journal Famous Reporter. My thanks to Michael Sharkey, guest editor, for selecting my work.

I'm proud of the poem, which reads like prose, and tries to be as vibrant and multi-faceted as Cullen's immortal work. Andre de Borde, co-owner of Gallery Ecosse at Exeter, NSW and good mate of mine, read the poem before I sent it off to FR. Andre was close to Adam. He thought Adam would've liked the piece very much.

I never spoke with Adam. I wish I had.

LJ, October 10 2012.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

POEM #20


Bradman. Tulips. Lavender. Cappuccinos. Indian cricket addicts in droves. Bryce Courtney. Seven red-vested Golliwogs in a Bong Bong window. Pastel blouses. Pearls. Boat shoes. Polo tops. Cane baskets. Lovers from Sydney. Big cows in big squares on big walls. The poet writing the Wingecarribee's song. Judy Davis in shades in the hardware store. Nicole and Keith gossip. Pines. Windbreaks. Autumn's pantomime. Gargantuan estates. Highlife. A beaming teenage lad in a musk stick-pink singlet and spearmint leaf shorts asking a girl to add him on Facebook. Rugby at The Grand. Bradman. Tulips. Lavender. Cappuccinos. Smiling Hitler postcards and a Hitler Youth knife in Dirty Janes Emporium. The buyer of these.  

LJ, October 8 2012.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


I saw Private Lives last Sunday afternoon at the Belvoir. It was pithy, cerebral and anarchic - dysfunction has never been more hilarious. Watching the audience cringe, roar and look horrified, was most amusing. Toby Schmitz owned the stage from start to finish. His performance had so much scope. He did everything with apparent ease. I'm very keen to see Toby take on Hamlet's antic disposition in 2013.

On another note, 4 members of Bell Shakespeare's team visited work midway through last term. The Yr 10s were glued. The large Islander chap who played Macbeth was so mesmerizing he had many kids looking behind themselves for his air drawn dagger. Now that's a performance.

LJ, October 4 2012.




Thursday, September 20, 2012


There was a Blue Whale off Sydney's South Head this afternoon. I would've loved to have seen that. Blue Whales are very rare visitors to Sydney. The Sydney Morning Herald had a few shots of it on their website. I've seen Sperm Whales and Humpbacks before, but never a Blue. I narrowly missed seeing a Killer Whale off Byron Bay about twelve years ago. I still grumble about that.

LJ, September 20 2012.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Right, a rambling update...

This blog had received over 10,000 page views since it began in 2008. I've had a small number of readers from America and Russia. How odd. Why? How would I interest a Russian reader? Here's something for them... I love how Putin's been leading young, endangered Siberian Cranes on their migration.

I'm awaiting news from Whitmore Press, the FAW Shoalhaven LA, the Gwen Harwood PP, Page Seventeen & Famous Reporter re. poems I sent them. A poem with FR is on the late, great Adam Cullen. If it doesn't get published, I'll put it up on this blog. Robert Adamson wasn't a fan of the poem I sent him for the Val Vallis. Boohoo.

Here's hoping my mate Peter Lach-Newinsky wins the Newcastle Poetry Prize. He's on the shortlist.

Hooked in by Eleanor Hogan's Alice Springs, just released by Newsouth. I love The Alice and want to go back. I was last there in 2003, with twenty-five kids and two teachers from Oakhill College in Sydney. We stayed behind gates and wire, close to Heavitree Gap. I was there in mid-2001, too, when poor Joanne Lees and Peter Falconio were Bradley Murdoch's prey. I recall rain and cloud shrouding the ranges and a police identikit image of Murdoch in shopfronts the day after Lees' attempted abduction and Falconio's death. It was a surreal time. There's a lot out there that's grand: The Old Telelgraph Station, ghost gums, Dusky Grasswrens, late afternoon light on red rock and spinifex, the Albert Namatjira Gallery; it does atmosphere so bloody well.

Awaiting the release of The Presets' Pacifica. Their last album, Apocalypso (a nod to the old Mentals track?; probably not), was a tour de force. If Underworld, The Prodigy, Yello, Pitch Black, The Beloved, Coldplay and Pet Shop Boys joined forces, you'd have The Presets. The cover of Pacifica is striking - the lads, bare-footed, with distorted/mangled legs and cuffed wrists, are standing on ocean. Is it a comment on our treatment of asylum seekers, our convict heritage, how passage across the Pacific Ocean can mean so many things? Apparently, some of the album was influenced by John Birmingham's Sydney tome Leviathan. There is no other band in Australia making more interesting music than The Presets. We're lucky to have them.

My god, Go Back To Where You Came From... What do I say? Essential stuff. As was the follow up discussion on Insight. Such a shame it was on SBS and didn't receive the viewers it might have on a more commercial channel. Still, the ratings were high. Let's hope it seriously changes perspectives, even saves lives. Imogen Bailey proved she's a lot more than a very pretty face. And Angry Anderson... he needs his name changed to Big Softy.

Well done to all our Olympians. So what if there wasn't gold everywhere. You have to admire all their dedication, discipline and drive over so many years. I'm no sportsman, so the admiration, perhaps, is doubled. Many media commentators had a field day telling us how bad we went. Typical. Australia defines itself by sport. When we fall short, there's always humiliation, finger pointing, anger. If only we defined ourselves by the way we treated one another or our medical advancements or by the literature we wrote.

Hosting a trivia night at school tonight - all money raised is going to the Childrens' Hospital at Westmead. It's easy to get lost in marking, methodology and morality in a school day. It's terrific to be doing something deeply important.

LJ, September 7 2012.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Bloc Party are one of the only British 'rock' bands I care deeply about. Their last three albums have often thrilled me. They are supremos when it comes to jagged, instantaneous punk-pop tunes fuelled by vitriol and glee. Nigerian lead singer Kele Okereke can get it right lyrically. Russell Lissack's guitar licks come across as rare birds of paradise in a PNG highland glade or a firefight in Libya. Bloc Party, time and again, kick you in the guts and remind you you're lucky to be alive.

Recorded in New York, the band's latest album, Four, is hard to define. It has polarised me after two and a bit listens. It is, in turns, blistering, jagged, spiky, peculiar, fascinating, frustrating, odd, gorgeous, sublime and hollow. Think Blur meeting Aphex Twin in a bad street in South London at about 4am. There are interview/studio outtakes amounting to little (Kele? talking about someone's infected arm and the baby spiders that emerged from it), deep south vibes, nu-metal panic attacks, lost strings, buried vocals, words that can barely be made out, a track with a wall-of-Smashing-Pumpkins'-guitars-sound featuring an ending where I expected Billy Corgan to start chiming in with Kele any second (so I began imitating Billy in the car!), lacklustre lyrics and choruses you can't singalong with. As well as the odd golden moment where everything is in accordance and your heart wants to explode.

I really don't know what all this means. All I know is that I really want to listen to it again, very loudly and acknowledge how grand it is to be breathing.

LJ, August 22 2012.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I had the pleasure of meeting poet John Foulcher for the first time last week, at the Canberra launch of his first collection in ten years, The Sunset Assumption, released through fresh NSW publisher Pitt Street Poetry.

I've admired John's economic, varied and memorable work since the early 90s. I'm not sure how I first came across his writing. Perhaps it was during my long years at the ACU in Strathfield, Sydney. The Learning Curve, a collection focussing on John's other life as a secondary school teacher, is a collection  on my shelf I come back to time and again for its humour, truth and poignancy.

The Sunset Assumption (I love the ambiguous title) is an unexpected collection from John, centring mainly on the architecture, history, light, mystique, people and pigeons of Paris. It contains some of John's finest work. There are poems on death, torture, loss, anxiety, racism, miscommunication and our often shaky relationship with the divine.

About sixty people filled the back of Paperchain Bookstore in Manuka for the launch. Pitt Street Poetry's John Knight and poet Susan Hampton introduced John and the collection. Following the bash, several of us went for a lovely dinner at a nearby Korean BBQ spot with John, John, Susan, Geoff Page, Alan Gould and other ACT poets.

Congrats to John Knight for starting Pitt Street Poetry in this age where verse means so little to so many. His imprint is a beacon. The work he prints is faultless, timeless.

And thanks to John Foulcher for the writing, poetry/teaching anecdotes and laughter.

LJ, 16 August 2012.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


I'm still reeling from watching Tony Krawitz's doco The Tall Man, concerning the death of Cameron Francis Doomadgee whilst in police custody on Palm Island, back in 2004. A section from the 25 min mark, where Cameron's brother, sister and son (who suicided after his father's death) spoke, particularly got to me. All Australians should watch it.

LJ, August 12 2012.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Well done to NASA's armies of geeks for getting the rover Curiosity on Mars. I'm impressed. But really, these early images aren't doing much for me. Maybe, Annie Liebovitz  and Anton Corbijn should've been beamed down to Mars' surface instead.  

LJ, August 9 2012. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I have two poems coming out soon...

Visionary, a poem springing from an incident back in 2001, involving a drunk flatmate (who sported a tattoo of the Grim Reaper on his shoulder) and his fists, is to be published in the first edition of Perth-based journal Regime. My sincere thanks to Nathan Hondros, Regime's editor and his team, for accepting my work. I was impressed with Nathan's punctuality and professionalism re. correspondence. Some established literary journals don't get back to you for six months or more when you send them work. Regime is the total opposite.

Sincere thanks is also due to poet Harry Owen, who's based in South Africa, for taking Nexus, possibly the briefest poem I've penned, for his upcoming international anthology For Rhino in a Shrinking World. My poem looks at the unexpected connection humans have with rhinos - it's a poem about keratin, basically. Harry's book will aim to celebrate the rhino and raise awareness of the rare animal's plight. Poachers are still murdering the poor beast for its horn. Nexus will be the first poem I've had in an international publication. It's good to see Aussie poets Andy Kissane and Ron Pretty also have poems in the anthology.

Lastly, thanks to Alicia Sometimes for fighting hard to get a poem of mine - on outlandish 80s band The Art of Noise and Britain under Thatcher - into the journal Etchings. Alicia was the guest editor for their music issue. Unfortunately, there were other editorial voices and my work didn't make the cut. I'm sure that it'll appear one day.

So, another moment of recognition. How lucky I am.

LJ, July 19 2012.

Friday, June 29, 2012


Great Australian poet Rosemary Dobson passed away last Wednesday, aged 92. I never read her work extensively - I must rectify this. I adore the following potent lines from her poem To A Child.

the world divides - and yet we hold
an end to each, the seeking skein,
the indestructible thread of love.

LJ, June 30 2012.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

POEM #18


They queued
around the
block for

Will they queue
around the block
when you're

LJ, June 22 2012.

Monday, June 18, 2012

POEM #17

Yesterday afternoon, Hamish Macdonald, sitting in for Richard Glover on 702 ABC Sydney, wanted people to call in (or send texts) with poems centred on current world events. I scribbled something down as I drove home and rang up, offering the following brief poem on Greece (Hamish got me to read it twice and said positive things)...

We need a new useful Zeus,
miracles not oracles;
in the immortal words
of Con the Fruiterer,
ah, a cuppla days.

LJ, 19 June 2012.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


I've taken this sign photograph from an Engrish website. I can't even begin to think of its context. Was the photo taken at a restaurant, an aquarium, an airport, a freak show, a comic book convention? Thank god for unfathomable things. There are still a few out there.

LJ, June 14 2012.

Monday, June 11, 2012


I'm disgusted that Barry O'Farrell (let's now call him Backwoods Barry) has decided to open up the national parks, nature reserves and state conservation areas of New South Wales to hunters. What a joke. What a crime. Who can guarantee the safety of picnickers, families, hikers, birders etc? When will Josephine Average know when it is safe to visit particular national parks? Who's going to be monitoring what various goons with guns various are executing? Are the rare, vulnerable and endangered species of New South Wales going to be safe? I do not trust hunters to shoot only ferals - I'd love to think they'll do everything by the books, but I doubt they will. Take the case of some of our mallee reserves, now open to shooters. These reserves have small populations of endangered malleefowl. Who's going to be looking out for them? I know I sound alarmist/over-the-top, but really, Backwoods Barry has thrown us into the Dark Ages. I talk a little more about this over at my other blogsite -

LJ, June 12 2012

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


I'm such a fan of Lana Del Ray's Video Games. I heard it in Two Skinny Cooks (best coffee and tarts in the Southern Highlands) last weekend and was bowled over.

Her voice - her glorious voice - is like twelve-year old single malt scotch whisky poured over ice cubes at 11pm in a low lit Sydney bar most of us have forgotten about.

LJ, June 6 2012.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

POEM #16


Are the 
         Dead Sea scrolls 
                               still fresh?

LJ, June 4 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012

POEM #15

For Ted Hughes (if he was still around and could give two hoots - or even three hoots - about a small poem from an emerging Aussie poet)

A pre-midnight fox
consumed by bone-lust,
padding where memory is lost,
hurls wheezes and wails
at Morton National Park's tides.

Along Lower Gullies Road
all our bored boxed-foxes
tear themselves from stale
fireside mats, chats and pats,
to shriek by frozen front doors.

We refuse to open up outside,
let them join that One Real Dog,
set fern, fence and field aflame,
out-laugh the loon, fang the moon,
scream until ambulances howl.

LJ, May 28 2012

POEM #14


amanita muscaria,
Fly Agaric -

ball for fresh sport,
evil strawberry,
dragon eyeball,

a distant
all fire

after God tired
of our staring.

LJ, May 28 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

POEM #13


Great Poet
told me writing
verse was like

LJ, May 24 2012

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

POEM #12


10am sunlight
          spilling all
around me,
turning carpet
     into a few
        bright stanzas.

Open texts
          and Macs
stare at four
         silent students
craving pools,

The moon-faced clock's
           lethargic orbit;
Rio weather
       shimmying outside,
   taunting us.

On the shining oval,
             and shrieking
from a PE class,
then a hurtling
            Vortex Mega Howler
with the voice
       of a dying firework.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


I just found out Maurice Sendak died last night. And I read Where The Wild Things Are to over one hundred Yr 12 students just before he died. Bizarre. Poignant.

Apparently Sendak was a surly old bugger. Oh well.

LJ, May

Monday, May 7, 2012

A + B = ?

There's so much talk about education at the moment (there always has been and there always will be). What's the best school? How much is too much when it comes to 'quality' education? What is 'quality' education? Is the school obsessed with HSC results at the expense of developing my child? Will my kid's talents be lost in a huge school of 1500 pupils? Are teachers just in it for the holidays? Are teachers keeping themselves versed in new teaching trends? So many questions. So much discussion. A lot of frustration from parents who pay big bucks for big name independent schools and don't get what they dreamed of. Students dazed and confused. Teachers doing everything they can to keep up with demands from all angles.

A hell of a lot goes into a child's education. This isn't just the responsibility of teachers. Parents and family members have a huge role to play. It's not up to teachers to save a young man/woman from instability and insecurity (though they do everything they can). Education is more than just reading a poem, completing algebra homework and colouring in a map of South America (apologies to any geography teachers reading this - I know you give your kids more than colouring exercises!).

When it comes to selecting a school for your son or daughter's future, I feel the discipline policy of the school is paramount. You need to know your child will be in a safe learning environment and that matters of bullying etc. will be dealt with speedily. All schools say they will look after your kid's welfare through the mind and body (the education of the 'whole' person), all of them have mottos that run along the lines of 'creating a better future'... you need to know the discipline policy will be adhered to and teachers will follow up on problems not long after they surface. Whether you're spending over $20 000 a year on your child's education, or less than $10 000, it's the discipline policy that makes a difference. Who cares if there's a new rowing shed or basketball stadium or umpteen laptops or cool projectors? If Teddy's still smacking Marcus and causing his life to be miserable, no money into new infrastructure or technology is going to help.
This is my eighteenth year in full-time teaching, so I feel I can give an insider's POV here. I'm an English specialist, although I've taught History, Drama and General Studies (now defunct) over the years. I've taught in several secondary schools in Sydney and the Southern Highlands of NSW. Most were Catholic schools run by religious orders. The humour and energy of students, as well as the stimulation of literature, has kept me in the job for such a long time. I enjoy each day of my job. I feel lucky to be a teacher. You do feel like you can make a difference in the lives of young people. So many people in so many jobs feel they are insignificant.

This morning I read Where The Wild Things Are to all of Yr 12 (with appropriate voices) as some sort of parable - the message was tame your inner wild things (fear, doubt, insecurity etc). I also led three Yr 10 girls on a fifteen minute birding trip within school grounds. I tried to get reluctant students interested in print media with patience and thorough explanation. I deconstructed character relationships in Louis Nowra's Cosi. After lunch, a Yr 12 student told me I was a 'fun' teacher.

That one remark keeps you going.

LJ, May 8 2012.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

POEM #11


An ABC radio interviewee
with an educated tongue
told us the universe
is expanding
and accelerating;
you thought you might
stay up tonight,
drink a few Stellas,
stare up at all that
grand confusion,
see if he's right
or prove him wrong.

LJ, May 3 2012.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I'm talking Australian birds and birding with Southern Highlander Michelle Hrlec at this address - - click on Episode 6. My thanks to Michelle for her great questions and interest in my passion. Check it out if you're a bird fan.

LJ, Anzac Day 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I sped past a truck on fire just after 7am today. Near Berrima. On the Hume Highway. Ablaze in the middle of mist and rain and grey, it was surreal. I called 000 for the second time in my life. The Illawarra Mercury, online, reported no one was injured.

I sent off my entry to the Voiceless Writing Prize a couple of weeks ago. Fingers crossed. I am proud of it. It's a song for my home town and for native animals and for family and a child's future amongst other things such as animal sentience, what we see as dominion, what we must do for animals, how people see animals etc. JM Coetzee is the chief judge of the Prize. Who knows what he'll be looking for... I recently read his acclaimed novel Disgrace, which was visceral, stark, economic in its language and throughly engaging; the behaviour of some of the characters disturbed and amazed me. I was left unsure of what Coetzee's message was.

Picking myself back up again after knock-backs from Cordite, The Judith Wright Poetry Prize and Abridged in Ireland.

Looking forward to hearing Anthony Lawrence (the Aussie poet I most admire) speak in Canberra next month about his chilling/bleak new collection The Welfare of My Enemy. This volume, which centres on missing persons, death, disturbed people, empty or unsettling Australian landscapes, really got to me. There wasn't much hope and light in there. Anyhow, an original, needed and uncompromising collection.

Impressed by these films new to DVD: Monsters, The Hunter, Drive, Warrior, Crazy Stupid Love.

The painting of Father Bob was the best thing in the Archibald.

Glad, thus far, that Bob Carr's back on the scene. He's erudite, articulate, focussed, a bushwalker, oceans defender, open to other cultures, concerned about inter-faith hostilities... what the ALP and Australia needs, basically. I recently heard writer/journo David Marr talking on 702 about what Australians now want from their male leaders: being blokey is no longer desired by most voters. The days of Hawkey and his beer, rough charm and larrikinism are done. From what I've read, Kevin was a success because he's nerdy, earnest, religious and conservative.

Geez, our coppers have been busy. Shootings and Taserings and car accidents. I felt for the Brazilian bloke who was shot with a Taser several times and killed for stealing biscuits in Kings Cross. Surely there was another way to have handled that.

And MKR is over. Beauty, I won't have to hear 'on the plate or 'plating up' or anything else to do with plates.

LJ, March 28 2012.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


I couldn't think of much worse than seeing the musicals An Officer and a Gentleman and Legally Blonde. Good Lord. Why? Why? Why?

Here are some other films that desperately need musical interpretations: Rain Man, First Blood, Saving Private Ryan, My Left Foot, No Country For Old Men, Lorenzo's Oil, Avatar.

LJ, March 19 2012.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Every day, I drive close to 200km along the Hume Highway, for work reasons; I teach English in south-west Sydney and live in the Southern Highlands. Every day, I shoot past flowers and a yellow heart with the name Sarah emblazoned on it. This memorial is by a southbound lane, between Mittagong and Berrima. Sarah Frazer, 23, died there last month. She was off to Wagga Wagga, to live and study. She and a 40 year old towie from Mittagong, Geoff Clark, were killed instantly when a wayward truck struck them. He was my age. The driver of the truck was from Marulan. He's just been charged with their deaths. Every day, I drive past the site at Menangle where another truck driver, this time the driver of a B-double, crushed 3 people in a northbound car. This happened in January. All these tragic, tragic deaths were avoidable. The majority of our truckies are focussed, disciplined and aware of their speeds and their consciousness. Some, are going too bloody fast and falling asleep at the wheel. Others have devices in their trucks which tamper with their truck's mechanics (the engine is tricked into believing it needs more fuel), so they can continually go faster than the permitted 100km/h. It's all about deadlines, pressure and money-making. This is a real problem. Our truckies have to slow down. More cops need to be policing this stretch of the Hume. And they appear to be. Every day, there is a highway patrol car at Menangle. Most days, there's another near Mittagong. Let's hope things change.

LJ, 15 March 2012.

Monday, February 27, 2012


Twenty poems, most of which are brand new, were popped in the post this morning and addressed to Blemish Books in Canberra. I'm hoping they are accepted for publication in the upcoming volume of Triptych Poets. For each edition of TP, the work of three poets is presented. I had to submit up to twenty-five poems or no more than forty pages of writing.

Now they're done and away, I can say I'm hugely proud of this collection of poems. They are varied in form/structure, look good on the page and tackle varying themes/issues/topics/things such as father-son relationships, the importance of family, layers to the Australian male, divergent people, fear of indigenous peoples, dawn and how we approach the day, our obsession with Ikea, Belanglo State Forest, the Strathfield Massacre of 1991, Barcelona, apostrophe misuse, dogs, echidnas, birds, nature's spells, the minutia we overlook, Newtown parties... Most of the poems are drawn from reality. There is some embellishment.

The poem focussing on the Strathfield Massacre, is written from an objective mindset, even though I was there at the time, standing on a train platform overlooking people running from gunfire (I read later that the gunman was taking potshots at commuters standing at the train station). I didn't totally realise that there were bullets in the air, until I got to a mate's house at Wiley Park, turned on the news and found out what had happened. It was surreal, distressing. I think 8 or 9 people died that Saturday afternoon. The gunman shot himself on the roof of Strathfield Plaza. For this poem, I could've gone into personal experience, recounting my reactions to the day, but I found it more interesting to write the poem in a more detached style, where questions about (and stemming from) the Massacre are proposed and left dangling in the ether for the responder to consider.

Anyway, my fingers are crossed. I've wanted a little collection of my work out for a long time. I'm sure the competition will be leopard-in-a-trap fierce. Regardless, I'll give the other poets a run for their money.

LJ, February 28 2012

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Over at my Wild Bundanoon blog site, I've put up an interview with poet, activist, Bundanoon local and mate, Peter Lach-Newinsky. Peter discusses various things including coal seam gas extraction, life with Peak Oil looming, the origins of apples & the drama and wonder of life on his beautiful property. He also throws in a fresh poem.

Check it out at

LJ, January 16 2012.