R J Hauser’s poems of wisdom and humanity
31 December 2022
NOOSA – Ingrid and I are fortunate to share our leafy neighbourhood with many fine and gifted people, one of whom, Richard Hauser, happens to be an outstanding poet.
Fairly recently, Australia lost Les Murray and Clive James from our midst, but thank heavens we still have RJ Hauser – a man whose works are always wise, provocative, bathed in a warm glow of humanity and very Australian.
These days, Richard - who is about my age, that is, getting on a bit - spurns wider publication of his works.
He's been in that circus. These days, it's strictly for his own pleasure.
However, at the end of each year, he shares 10 of his favourite new poems with a group of acquaintances, the composition of which only he knows.
And once more, Richard has kindly allowed me to share some of his ‘Ten Poems of 2022’ with readers of PNG Attitude.
R J HAUSER
At the end of February Russian troops were lining up
along the Ukrainian border at the same time as a huge
rain depression was lurking off the Queensland coast - RJH
Fat capitalists still scrape black coal
from the gaping open-cut wounds
in the Queensland countryside
from Acland to the Bowen Basin
and pile it on the waiting trains
which seep along the railway lines
like swollen veins of septic infection
to the open sore terminals
from Mackay to Townsville
and then secrete it out to sea
to settle on the smothered reef
which bleeds a dark smudge
on the weather map where radar
images pulsate like nature’s heart
revving with rancour in its blood
while a naïve and pensive population
wait appalled by the impending flood.
In the garish tasteless décor of
a secluded presidential palace
in a hidden Russian parkland
a leftover thug from the cold war
with the face of a cruel ferret
and the heart of a vicious hyena
plans his crude comeback for affronts
a bit real but largely imagined
railing about the plots against him
buoyed on a tide of national myths
manipulating the levers of stolen rule
to pour firepower like leaked sewage
at the fence of a peaceful neighbour
while the mothers of young soldiers
both sides of the trembling borders
prepare their hearts for casualty lists
that will follow the marching orders.
R J HAUSER
When we built our new church at Noosa, we installed
stained-glass windows featuring vivid pictures and
themes from the Bible. It made me wonder what it would
be like to encounter Jesus in a more familiar setting – RJH
I thought I heard you sneezing on the farm
as we forked the mounded stooks of drying hay
and we paused to take a breather and a drink
and from a puff of swirling lucerne dust
your nostrils pricked with memories pouring back:
the gentle smell and rustle of manger straw
and a lone cow lowing quietly near the door.
Was that you walking along the beach
in dark shades and a pair of rubber thongs
taking in each tumbled grain of sand
facing too the foaming troubled surf,
looking for your friends on fishing boats,
your thoughts of pressing crowds by the sea
and the night it stormed on Lake Galilee?
I could have sworn I saw you at the Gabba
with zinc cream striped across your nose and chin,
peering over the wooden picket fence
your eyes wandering to the smooth willow bat
as you glimpsed again the curls of lathed timber
on the workshop floor in distant Nazareth,
and the splintery cross the day you faced your death.
As some look for a reason to celebrate something perhaps we should pause and think about why? Is it to delude ourselves from thinking about reality?
Would a grouch rather think about the glass being half empty or the optimist declaring the glass half full?
Have we just celebrated the birth of a spiritual leader or is it an old Northern Hemisphere custom of acknowledging mid winter, typified by wearing warm, coloured clothing? Are we celebrating a spiritual message or the material oversupply of plastic generated by ringing cash registers or melting credits cards?
East Africans that evolved in a semi tropical region are potentially the only one group of humans that aren't descended from migrant ancestors. Yet we don't seem to be able to eradicate our hatreds and warfare between our one, now overpopulated species?
Perhaps some of us will be celebrating tonight in order to forget, just for a moment, that 2023 will be just the same as 2022?
Nevertheless, wishing you all the best for 2023.
Posted by: Paul Oates | 31 December 2022 at 09:09 AM
I guess coal served us well until it didn't. Now we demonise it but I can well remember huddling around its reassuring red glow in the grate of our house during the cold winters in England before we migrated to sunny Australia. I'd rather think of it as an old friend whose purpose is not fit anymore.
Perhaps Jesus once stood among the mulga with his spear and woomera in his hand and the hot sun on his black face and stared at the magnificence that is Uluru and wondered at the power of Earth's creations.
Putin? Well, who could disagree, he needs to be hurled back into the oblivion of the past where he belongs.
Can we have some more of Richard's poems please?
Richard generously left that decision to me. There will be more - KJ
Posted by: Philip Fitzpatrick | 31 December 2022 at 08:04 AM