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The poet who collects things in a sack

Richard hauser
Richard Hauser - amongst many other attributes, an urban hunter


NOOSA - It is only recently that I have been introduced to the poetry of Richard Hauser; it's poetry that I admire a great deal.

So much so that I felt compelled to share his writing, especially with those many poets of Papua New Guinea who frequently appear in these columns.

Richard, who lives near me, is a respected citizen of Noosa, a former school principal and a leader in the local Lutheran Church.

He is also an historian and a poet, over the years having had a number of poems published in poetry magazines and other journals.

Richard mostly writes about matters he encounters in everyday life. He does so in a way that draws them out of the ordinary, often rendering them into whimsical jewels. The poem that follows is a fine example of this.

Each morning all year round, as both community service and recreation, Richard rises ahead of the sun and bearing a large sack hunts for bottles and cans that have been idly discarded along the pathways, parks and bins of Noosa.

This booty is later exchanged for cash which he shares among his nine grandchildren, developing opportunities to advance their financial education.

Urban Hunter


He slides under a mantle of darkness,
avoiding the blunt gaze of the peevish moon,
while stars punt across the roof-top sea
whispering the ancient call of the hunter.

He soaks himself away in spongy street shade,
minimising movement and cloaking all display
while searching the shifting shapes around him
for sneaky rivals or glints of ready prey.

He does his tests of the homes and hedges,
muffling disappointment at the behest
of the best likely bin lurking around the bend
with its jarring joy of an overflowing nest.

The thrill of the hunt is the anticipation
following a drill and a strategy of hope.
Each kill falls like a blessing and confirmation,
enough to fill the longing for completeness.

The proud early morning is its own reward.
The loud cheering birds acknowledge it first,
celebrating him in their rowdy gossip as
the sun also rises in a court of golden clouds.

With the warm heat on his back he bears
the cares and burdens of his curious catch,
the cumbersome load culled from early lairs
past the curious eyes of morning wanderers.

And then, weary with the effort of the night,
he alights at home, and cleans and counts
the rewards, and delights in his bounty.
He knows his family will eat well tonight!


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Daniel Kumbon

I am an avid collector of bottles and empty cans. I bought soap with money I earned from selling empty bottles at Lae technical college in 1974 and Indubada Technical College in 1975, PNG's independence year.

A few years ago, I sold some empty cans when a couple of my wantoks were at my house in Wabag. I was paid K11 for my bag full of cans. I told my wantoks, I could not share it with them because it was money I made by selling garbage. "This is free money,' I told them. I hope they got the message.

Philip Fitzpatrick

That's a good poem, Keith, has Richard published anything?

South Australia was way ahead of the other states with its bottle and can legislation, which it passed in the 1980s. I know the bloke responsible for setting it all up.

Shortly after it came into effect the bottle and can collectors emerged. You'd see them in Rundle Mall with their sticks and protective gloves rummaging through the bins for their gems. Men and women both, usually elderly people.

Out here on the West Coast you see them patrolling the roads for carelessly tossed away cans and bottles. A couple of them are on bicycles and a few use their cars.

There are also regulars who pick wild roadside blackberries in January on the road between Tumby Bay and Cummins. In the Adelaide Hills people pick wild olives from the roadside too.

Roseworthy Agricultural College did some research on the olives and discovered they have a particularly piquant taste which I can attest to, having tried them. Apparently they absorb carbon dioxide from car exhausts.

If you've ever driven across the Hay Plains you will have noticed the continuous scatters of drink bottles and cans (mostly Coca Cola) along the road. It reminds me how lucky we are in South Australia.

I published a short story about the roadside collectors several years ago but Richard's poem trumps it by a longshot.

Richard's poetry has appeared in various mags over the years. I'm trying to convince him to go the whole collection - KJ

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