Gulf War: a poem




It was the morning 5.44 if I do recall,

All were trying to sleep for the long haul,

The train rocking gently from side to side,

Like a lilting lullaby to cope with the ride.


The train was the domain of the old male,

Relic body odour making it smell stale,

The odd lady amongst the testosterone,

Fragrant roses improved the dank tone.


The men divided by how they did dress,

It was plain to see, no chance to digress,

Some donned bright fluro seen from a mile,

The rest were decked out in business attire.


This chasm cut deep into the land’s history,

Blue collar versus white was the big story,

What these two did for work had to be noted,

As it even decided how each of them voted!


Blue singlets now replaced by high vis vests

For tradesmen with tough hands and strong chests,

Yellow and orange the garb of these herculeans,

They stood out in the train like bright beacons.


This the quiet carriage, no noise could be made,

Sound violation and death stares would be paid,

And patrons wanted the same seats, own spaces,

A pecking order of sorts, they knew their places.


The scene now set for the conflict that ensued,

Let’s get on with the story without further ado,

We must keep this train poem on the right track,

It was starting to wander, to take another tack.


On the right of the aisle sat the tradie in yellow,

Unshaven, he looked like a gruff kind of fellow,

Squat build, middle-aged, tattoos on his forearms,

Callouses could be seen on the both of his palms.


On the left of the aisle sat the professional man,

Slim build, bespectacled, with a slight ruddy tan,

He was typing big words, jargon like ‘resultant’,

Might be a banker, lawyer … or even a consultant!


The tradie he had a cooling box called an esky,

Emblazoned in our flag it was not very sexy,

To all wishing to alight it was a stumbling block,

As it sat part way in the aisle like a massive rock.


Now on the day in question the tradie was snoring,

Sounding like a lion on the plain that was roaring,

In the quiet carriage this noise it was most foreign,

To many awoken you could say it was abhorrent.


It must have been a day the consultant was uptight,

An intense look like he had been given a big fright,

Turning to the tradie, he glowered and nudged him,

Would the tradie accept he had committed a big sin?


The tradie he stirred and glanced across the void,

Upset by the awakening he seemed to be buoyed,

“Can’t a bloke get his sleep, is that too much to ask?

If you ever do it again, be sure I’ll break your arse.”


The consultant ignored the rant, he’d made his mark,

He went back to his typing oblivious of the nark,

But for every day as he alighted from his ride,

He felt the esky of the tradie bump on his side.


Next day, the esky upturned, contents in the aisle,

The tradie fuming, face red, looking very vile,

Then he yelled, “For that mate you’re going down!”

All the patrons shocked said “Please quieten down.”


The consultant responded saying “It wasn’t me,”

The tradie retorted with “Who else could it be?”

“I’ve got to get off the train now,” he went on,

“Better not be here tomorrow or you’re gone!”


Would the consultant return? It had to be seen,

The tradie looking around, appearing real mean,

No consultant, no one this day sitting in his seat,

The void was there, and I cheerfully took his seat.

The Plain



The plain: uniform terrain. Plains-people: strong, resolute against drought, flooding rain … and the boredom of the plain. Does the rain fall mainly on the plain? What about the orographic effect? You’ve probably guessed by now that this is a planar poem – as flat as the plain: it rambles across this plain page. A road train rumbles through the plain to make noise to liven up the plain. The plains-wanderer is a bird that wanders across the plain trying to find and eat something that likes the pain of the plain. It builds a mound to lay its eggs and make a mountain out of a molehill … or is that bird the mallee-fowl? The plains-wanderers sometimes get run over by road trains. Stratus clouds work in parallel with plains. Planking is people trying to be plains. I would like to live on a plain, then I wouldn’t fall down a hill like Jack and Jill. Life can be a real plain: they always want you to stay calm, not show your emotional highs and lows. Have you felt emotionally controlled before? That’s a plain. And when you die and your heartbeat stops, the line on the machine you are attached to shows a plain; a plain life from birth to death. This poem is flat-lining: it’s dead. Mirages are shimmering, glitzy sirens like the Lorelei that lure you to keep travelling across the plain (beware of plains-wanderer’s mounds, road trains, bored plains-people, and death). Plains of the world unite as one – the prairie, the tundra, all plains come together and adopt a flat earth policy. But then, see, if you’re in a plane and you look down, the plain is not plain, it is: Creased, Cracked, Contoured, Colourful










Recently retired: Col’s Blog


Old man on bench

My name is Colin Hodges, recent retiree, and this is the first post in my blog called ‘Col’s Blog’. A ‘post’, well who would have thought when I started work some forty years ago that you would have posted words electronically. We only had letters back then which we would hand write and send by ‘snail mail’, as the young ones call letters.

And the word ’blog’ – I thought it was ‘bog’ to start with. Yes, I’m a little hard of hearing. Just imagine ‘Col’s Bog’ – that would have been a good one to tell the wife! By the way, the wife is Jen and I’ve been married to her for coming up forty years. Jen’s not here now, she’s at work. I’m not sure why she returned to work a few weeks after I retired, but I’m sure she’s got her reasons. Not that we need the money of course. And we’ve got two kids – Ben and Heidi – although we don’t see them much these days, all grown up and living away from home. See Jen and I are ‘empty nesters’: the little birds are now big birds and have flown away. No grand kids; you never know Jen might retire like me if she had grand children to care for.

As you can work out already, I’m one for the words. I always enjoyed doing the crossword on the train to work.

But I’m rambling a little and when I googled and found ‘How to Write Drop Dead Great Posts’ I was told not to digress, to write punchy posts that would interest the many millions of readers I would attract. ‘If you’re not succinct, you’ll be extinct,’ it said. A wonderful gem of wisdom! And it said you can get more wisdom for a small fee (I of course subscribed).

Anyway, I thought readers wouldn’t be interested in a diary-style approach to covering my first three months of retirement. Nor will I try the essay-style approach. So I thought I would use the anecdote-style approach providing some little stories about the early stages of my retirement.

Back to Work

How odd you might think? Col went back to work and so I did, for a couple of hours. It was Barry Jordan’s farewell. See Big Baz was also retiring. Which reminds me: I should have told you that I had retired as Assistant Accounts Officer at the local council. Baz was my boss and he was having a similar send off to me down at the local Rissole (RSL).

But before the farewell function, yes, I went back to see my work colleagues, I mean my ex-colleagues. And to my chagrin someone was sitting in my seat, the seat that I had occupied for close on forty years. And to make matters worse, gone was my sign ‘Colin Hodges. Assistant Accounts Officer’. And the young girl had taken my place in a little over a week! Outrageous.

Anyway, a few of my old work mates looked up and acknowledged my presence, even uttering my nicknames: one I don’t like, and one that’s OK. The nickname I’m not enamoured with is ‘Colon’ – to relate my name to a skinny, unsavoury part of the anatomy is grossly unfair, albeit I’m a little on the skinny side. The other nickname is ‘Cracker’ which I received many years ago. You might think it relates to my ability to crack jokes (I’m sure you’ll note my humour in this post). But to be honest the name was coined at the start of my career when the staff wags dangled a fire cracker over the toilet cubicle door, and it exploded, and I quickly departed the men’s toilet without my pants.

I had a little chit-chat with the guys and a little at the farewell, and left early. It wasn’t the same. 

The Cruise

Jen had wanted to go on a cruise for several years. But as we were both salary-sacrificing our superannuation, we had little funds available for such excess. I finally reneged and we dug into our super savings. So a few weeks after Baz’s Bash and the office return debacle, we sailed for tropical Noumea. To entice me on the cruise, Jen suggested some romance (‘wink, wink’) and that I might find some other new retirees to befriend.

Well, cruise boos. Everything went wrong. We hit the tail-end of a tropical cyclone just out of Sydney and many passengers, including Jen, were seasick as the ship lurched in the large swell. Thus, no romance of any type, and most passengers retreated to their cabins (to be sick), so no new friends. When we finally reached the tropical isle, few even went ashore.

The cruise was over in the first leg of the journey.

In the Park

I try to keep myself busy every day. For example, I do the washing and put it out, go down town and pick up the paper, potter around the garden. But I read that ‘retirement is the chance slow down to really observe life and ponder our very existence’.

So each day I go down to the local park and sit on a bench to read, reflect, gaze and may be just doze. It’s a place with plenty of activity, so people-watching is another activity.

A few days ago when I was down at the park, may be people-watching, may be gazing, I was shocked out of my reverie by an angry lady’s voice.

You dirty old man, she yelled. I know your type – a paedophile, stalking children.

Shocked I replied, but madam…

I saw you perving on my kids.

But all I do is come down to the park and…

Watch kids to get your jollies.

No, I’m not perverted, not interested in children in that way.

Oh yeah. Well, what are you doing here?

I … I had better go.

I didn’t return to the local park.

Helping with crime

As I walk around the shops and the streets I notice little crimes that I never observed during my busy working life. I see a driver not giving way, a person shoplifting, a youth being served alcohol. Yes, petty crime all. But my adage is ‘many crimes, many fines’. All crimes should be reported to the police and people pay for their misdemeanours. And so I see myself as the eyes and ears of the constabulary.

The police know me well and appreciate my vigilance at the local cop shop. There’s young Constable Porter, the evergreen Sergeant Panadopolis … I could rattle them all off.

Only yesterday, I noticed a covered pram near the lake’s edge. I think the owner had pushed the infant into the lake and we’ve a murder on our hands. However, when I went to the station to report this shocking crime, I’m sure I heard scuffles, giggles, but there were no officers at the counter. Where were they when I needed them?

I’ll go back today to make sure this crime is investigated.

In search of a sport

When I first retired, Jen said, Colin you’ve got to find a sport to keep yourself active. And so I’ve gone as a guest to sample suitable sports. I’ve tried tennis (can’t hit a ball), swimming (half a lap is my maximum), running (sore knees), and cycling (sore knees).

Until I came to the sport of lawn bowls. Here was a sport for the retired, judging by the number of older people playing it during work hours. So the friendly Club Secretary of the local bowls club invited me to try out the game under his tutelage. For my first bowl I put the bias on the wrong side and my bowl rocketed through a neighbouring competition knocking a few of its bowls from their positions. Judging from the frowns and expletives coming from the competitors, I thought I had better stop the bowls, although the Secretary pleaded with me to bowl again.

I’m still searching for a sport. May be I’ll try the Men’s Shed instead.

So there you go, my first blog. I hope I haven’t broken any rules of ‘How to Write Drop Dead Great Posts’. I’ll be back again, may be with a post on ‘Men’s Sheds’, again with some wise words.

And I’ll leave you with my new saying: RETIREMENT IS REFIREMENT.



I want to be like Kim Kardashian



I want to be like Kim Kardashian:

Low on talent but o so flashy and

I want to be like Johnny Depp:

Captain Jack Sparrow and o so hip

And I want to be like Donald Trump:

Mega-rich, so ready to give the dump

And I want to be like Queen Elizabeth:

Pomp and splendour, with plenty of breath

And I want to be like Justin Bieber:

So many fans and big on social media

And I want to be like that doll called Barbie:

Perfect body, perfect hair, perfect in every way

And I want to be like that man, The Pope:

Followers everywhere, giving plenty of hope…


So many to choose from, confusing it can be,

On reflection, I think I might end up being me.








I think I will get a tattoo, or two,

Of you

Or a sleave with some serious ink,

In pink

May be something in words so felt,

Not misspelt

I’ll get them all over, even near the ear,

No fear

Looking like Joseph’s cloak, I’ll be the bloke,

No joke

But then I think of the pain, the pain, the pain,


And when I’m ageing, skin dried and wrinkling,

An inkling

That I should have covered in kid’s transfers.

Onesie poem




all alone

in my Onesie

I once won my Onesie

at a show

It’s a skeleton Onesie

They say One is the loneliest number

but I’m not really alone

I’ve got my Onesie

And now I’m snuggled up

in my Onesie

on the couch

And I think to myself

what if all the world

was like a Onesie?

we wouldn’t be separated

all for One, One for all

together forever

We’d be



The Necklace (a short story)


The Necklace

A short story about bouncing back from adversity. What option do you think he took?


– Mummy, can we sit here?

He opened an eye.

– No, not there, Victoria. Further down the carriage.

Both blood-shot eyes open.

– Why not here, Mummy?

His eyes recognised two figures in front of him: one short, one tall.

– Don’t argue with me, Victoria. We are not sitting here. Let’s go now.
– But why can’t we sit here? Is there something wrong with this man?
– Victoria, don’t argue with your Mum. We will find another seat.

Victoria, you’d better do what you are told, he thought. Can’t sit near a scruffy thing like me, lying down. I’m sure Mum will tell you later to beware of vagrants/ homeless/ bums/ dirty old men/ paedophiles or whatever description she thinks applies to me. She probably won’t tell you, Victoria, that we (whatever term) are people, yes people, that live and breathe like you Victoria, but have fallen on hard times.

As he dwelled on his lot (again), his glazed eyes started to focus on his surrounds: seats; the usual early morning commuters; and, directly in front, a column of nascent sun beaming down to something that glistened.

His eyes concentrated on the lustrous object. It was a necklace.

He slowly rose, tentatively looked around for the potential owner, and with no acknowledgement from the crowded carriage, grabbed the necklace.

Furtively under his overcoat, he examined the treasure. Wow, this is my lucky day! For on inspection the necklace was a dazzling array of what appeared to be diamonds coupled with colourful gems. Even if fake it would have value, but if real, then this really was his day.

Not a religious man, he believed in Providence: that God or someone was watching over him, that this higher being would someday rescue him. There were others like him that ended it all in a stupor of booze, drugs or by jumping in front of what he was on. He was different. He was still hanging in there, waiting for help, and help had arrived. He’d done his time.

He hypothesised that the necklace must have dropped from a wealthy party-goer heading home in the early hours from the city. The broken clasp supported his theory. She might have caught the necklace on something, or in a boozy state flicked it with her hand, or lost it whilst playing around with her escort. Off the train, she awoke to the fact that it was gone, but all too late. It was his now.

Although hungry – as he always was – he had to decide what to do with his ‘prize’. Making important, life-changing decisions was not commonplace for him. His main decisions were made through a haze of hunger, tiredness and hangovers from whatever alcohol he could get his hands on. The decisions were those of survival: which way to get food, to get sleep, to get grog. And how to avoid the transit officers and cops who would always evict him from the trains (then they’d try to fine him – fact chance he’d pay at ‘no fixed address’!).

But now he would really have to decide something – what to do with this necklace. The train would soon be terminating; the rail staff will be cleaning out the train of rubbish, including him.

He summoned all vestiges of rational thought. He identified three courses of action:
1. Hand the necklace in to authorities at the station
2. Cash the necklace in and use the funds himself
3. Give it to Shaz to get back in the ‘good books’.

The first idea was honourable and he could be rewarded. But would he get a reward for handing the necklace in? Knowing his luck he would get a ‘thank you’ and the station clerk would get the reward. Or there would be no reward, and he’d be back to living on the trains.

The second option had more merit, he mused. He would get some financial benefit that would enable him to live in a swanky hotel, for a while. But would a pawn shop believe a down-and-outer like him? They’d probably call the cops and then he’d be up on a theft charge. However, there was always the ‘street market’ – he had connections.

And then there was Shaz.

Shaz had been both his strength and his weakness, he reflected. Their relationship was like a tropical climate: warm and languid most of the time, punctuated by violent cyclones (the bust-ups). The ‘Shaz 4 ever’ tat on the inside of his arm reminded him of their bond. I’ve burned for you, he reminisced.
He’d had a job as a security officer, but when he lost his temper (for the umpteenth time) and Shaz booted him out (for the umpteenth time), he went on a booze binge, and didn’t turn up at work for days. Who wants an insecure security officer?

But Shaz could be impressed by the necklace, and might allow him back to into her home, her room, her pants. He could make up a story about how he’d earned the money to buy it just for her from a new job. I’m turning my life around Shaz, things will be better this time, you’ll see. On the other hand, she might take one look at him, remember the ‘dark old days’, and no necklace might help.

The train was terminating.

What to do?

He bolted out of the train, jumped the turnstile, and strode off to a better life.