Witch  Doctor

published  2003




PriceU.K.:  £7 inc p&p,  £6  two or more copies

 Australia:  $18  inc p&p and gst,  $16 two or more copies


Please Contact Anne if you're interested - Click Here

Selected poems:

   Queensland Fresco
      1. Charters Towers
      2. Glass House Mountains
   Easter Day, 1996.   On seeing Cecil Waller's paintings.
   Paean to the Russian People
   Australian War Memotial, Canberra
   We, the Watchers, what of us
   Waterhole by Mapleton, Queensland

See also  Fall of Rabaul, Retreat, and Aftermath for other poems from  Witch Doctor.

 These are under the title  Publication Extracts.




Queensland Fresco




New Moon


New moon
Points a horizon
Into silence.

In reflection
Finger a star.

The land watches
Elementals move
About water.

Accepting unquestioned
Earth waits
For words.

Energy hidden
Hands hold

Figures trapped
In rock
Wait for release.

Skeletons wander
Across souls
Walking backwards.

Intelligence feels
Primal magic
Touch freedom.

Creation struggles 
Through sleep 
To Art.




All that's left of the bush round here


All that's left of the bush round here

Is a butterfly on wing
Carefully seeking a way to fly
Between balconies and 'things'.

Once the sun would scatter
Light into a sea
Lapping through the mangroves
Tangled up with leaves.

A continent place created,
Land sprawling out so far
Man could walk forever
In and out of stars.

Now paper-cluttered pavements
Bustle all around 
Until the creek that cooled in heat
Is forced to go underground.

Gone the laugh that comes with dawn
Gone the high sand dunes,
Nature now is only bone
Covered with diesel fumes.

How and why has this happened,
This limbing out of trees
Into concrete coffins
Cramped with title deeds.

All that's left of the bush round here
Is a butterfly on wing
Forlornly trying to find a flower
Amongst plastic wheeley bin




The Units


'Oh ach' meanders up to me

Through the banksias below,
So soft a lilt it melts into
Hills of Highland snow.

'Si, Si' I hear as a figure bends
To water the chusan palm.
A gondola seems to float through air
With easy Venetian charm.

A chirpy glottal stop or two,
An ancient busy sound.
I grin and listen to a slang
Breathing London town.

I listen, think and wonder,
I have no memory
Of noticing accents
When I played among tee-trees.

Did I feel though something,
When the adults heard
Old familiar rhythms
From a distant world.

After their reaction
Perhaps I went to find
Whether Word, or Homeland,
Willed most into the mind.

No mystery now or puzzle,

I recognise the place
From whence a dialect comes,
See its native face.

And I know the vision
Speech has power to give,
One idiom can let
A childhood be re-lived.

Language born of background
Also lets me see
My home is here in Queensland, 
Here my imagery.






Moffat beach in boisterous weather

Tossing, smashing, prancing,
Breakers seethe to shore,
Rising in the air
Thumping into foam,
They as horses race
Plunge about the sea
Curving round, returning, in reckless company.

Wave and man together struggle round the edge
Of sanity and space
Darting into depths,
Pawing into sand.
Australians crowd the coast
Excited as they watch
Their mates demented match.

A twist or ill judged turn
Could cripple, kill a man,
All or nothing now.
Pitting strength of spirit
And co-ordinated limbs 
Against a wilful ocean
Furious to feel such concentrated motion.

Scrubby bush lies broken by the beach's edge
Foam is flinty salt
Sprayed about the flesh
Splashing into rocks
Flying over forms.
Skill and courage meet
Youth's ecstasy complete.

Half a world of water
Crashing down like hooves
Figures bend and lean
Saddled to the surf.
Topping in a fury
Dropping in a rage
Waves gallop to the cave.

Lather on the main
Eyes and minds alive
To battles fought and won.
Through surf or steep cliff side
The man from Snowy River seems forever on the ride.





1 Charters Towers


I felt my mother here
In this verandahed place
Open to the plains
And sunset solitude.

At peace where once she played,
I saw a house of hope Wide-
windowed to the world
Spreading out to touch
A land with ancient light
Absorbed from centuries
Of educated action.

Gold was panned
Fine buildings planned,
Heat and dust and distance
Became a town.

Canvassed by such movement
Men worked assured
That what they did was good.
Pride and confidence
Gathered into streets
Of bustling elegance
To form a Christian nation.

Sweat mingled into Art.
The page and spade together
Accepted as a right
By school and miner's camp.

From this north a future
From this north a past
Where disciplined desire
And visionary thought
Imaged and imagined
A culture that was equal
To the best from which it came.

I wonder at them now
Those of my kin
Who crafted and created,
With pioneer clarity.





2 Glasshouse Mountains

'They are very remarkable on account of their singular form of elevation,
which very much resembles Glass Houses, which occasioned my giving
them that Name.'

                              Extract from Captain Cook's Journal.


From out at sea Cook saw them stand
So strange and yet familiar -
Shapes from England waiting
In the bright, strong air
To dream out their doing?

For suddenly there was
Building, planting, reaping,
Shipping, railing, carting.
Vast distances disappeared
Hot horizons travelled.

After silent aeons
A continent was kindled
With energy and action.
So swift the transformation,
Was earth willed in with people?

Amazing pioneers
Able to achieve
In poverty and pain,
Often all alone.
Had they indeed come 'home'.

My family settled round
Those mountains called 'glasshouse',
Imaging so well
The manner of their being
New background, ancient root.

Tough, sturdy, ready
With axe to chop
And knife to prune
They planted, grew, created,
Working in two worlds.

Today the mountains stand
Still strange and so familiar.
Do they know what spirit
Worded with their past
Awoke them from the Isles?




Easter Day, 1996

On seeing Cecil Waller's paintings.


An Easter content
Now sings for me
Sweeter from shadows
Dead ten years past.

From canvas a Waller,
One of my name,
Leaps beyond fashion
Delightfully sane.

Fate had decided
We should not meet
Waller, my kinsman,
And by my troth, friend.

Your work I now see
Moving through leaves,
Intelligent Master
Watching alone.

Still our Line holds
Steady, secure,
The right of command
The power to create.

With energy sapped
From a rich textured tree
We are able to seize
Form without fear.

Long eyeing England
Our blood often used,
Poet and painter,
We mould history.

An Easter content
By the hearth of your home,
Here Art is saluted,
I am with my own.





On first seeing the Gustav Moreau Museum, Paris.


A room high-windowed,
With paintings everywhere.

I stand, look around,
Feel as if caught in car lights.
Instinct alert
Dazed, dazzled, shocked.

Here, in substance, Spirit
Shimmers in every shade,
Life active in streak and stroke.

Figures soaring in and out of spheres
Light pulsing into canvas.

I climb a spiral staircase, wrought iron, black,
Two more rooms
God grins with glass
He has been waiting, waiting in this earthly paradise.

Spirit made into patterns and coloured harmony,
Lounging about with Light, roving out.

Angels are shown in visioned form
Intellect in mental pictures,
Framed here for Mankind.

Linked to the Christ, recognised,
Each second drawn to Being,
Part of the action
Complete glory.


Australian War Memorial,




Here I am home, at peace with my people
Australians united, free with a soul
Speaking a language clear and assured
Coming from roots that know well a sea
Wind-swept and wild, blowing boats south,
South to a land earth-red and hard.

Rising from rock of belonging, belief,
A young nation gave to its dead a stark hope
That they of this south land would hand to their heirs,
A pioneering people, restlessly roaming,
Something of truth, something of grace
Learnt from those battles in fields far away.

With graves across seas that brought us from 'Home',
A voluntary army in spite of its youth
Had memory buried in blood of a past
That did understand the Right of dissent.
Was there an instinct behind the bright going
That knew this a time when action was needed.

Gallipoli, Flanders
My family was there,
Burma, New Guinea
My family was there,
Surviving and dying.
Here now, they can rest.

Here, grief can be opened to day
Fingered and felt and given some ease.
I see in the sunlight the name on a wall
Of a man who was lost, unburied, in mud,
And two women weeping for a son and a brother
From pain that was mine before I was born.

Was there a purpose behind that proud Roll
For the death in a wood of a brother, my mother's,
As he of our nation, from far to the south
Stood in an army kinned with the globe.
Deep in the trenches, all were as one,
Were those men fighting to kill or maintain?

As stars in our cross sweep over skies
Shining and guiding the weary and lost
So gather we in here to ourselves
All that we care for, all we believe,
And sometimes in corners quietly apart
A reason seems given in shiver of growth.

A slouch-hatted figure caressed by the sun
Lingers and leans in among gums
Slowly it wanders, moving as shade
Touches the tomb from where it has come,
A man and a donkey, a doctor in pain,
The features are different, the courage the same.

Here in this sacred, beautiful place
A pulse beating strongly, aloof from all lies
Tells of so many whose job was well done
And a people who loved them, wished them to live,
Yet let the sea take them away from our shore
Childless for children they never would know.

Pity and wonder walk in the light
For we of the south land, just after birth
Gave to the world our spirit in stone
Able to struggle, endure with the best
And face for some future that awful thing
That cut into shreds, crippled and blinded.

For what if our forebears had not cared at all
And let foreign rulers scratch out our Laws.
Out with that parchment signed by the Thames
Out with our parliament, Crown and law courts,
The world then a cell where tyrants could murder
More than all those this memorial honours.

The sepulchred dead now can look down
On the politicos clowning around
As if they were puppets pulled by red tape
Playing a part for the galleries sake,
Eager to act in any show
Whose plot would remodel fiction as fact.

The legions of young men slaughtered for 'real'
Watch still and wait.
For they of the south land
Dead overseas
Buried by mates,
Will not forget.

Here as I walk, calm seems to come
As if a force circles this shrine with a power
Drawn from remembrance of all the war slain
Who kept our traditions, our inheritance, safe,
An aura of energy relaying life
Round the sharp sting of sacrifice.



Paean to the Russian People

After seeing at the Royal Opera House, London, the Kirov Ballet, St Petersburg, perform 'The Sleeping Beauty' in the original version created at the Marinsky Theatre, St Petersburg, 1890.


Dancing in music, through music, as music,
Dancing with the soul,
No frantic frappes or pirouettes
Circling to applause across an empty space.

A coloured canvas moving
Round each painted figure,
Changing every second
Within a costumed form
Of disciplined delight.

Graced one into the other
Principal and chorus
Glide and soar and stretch
Out to the eternal
From a creator's mind.

Patterned limbs are gentle
Nothing is enforced.
The work is sure and clean
As the brushstrokes of a master
Living through the stage.

Years roll away,
Mine and Russia's.
I see at last the Dance
So many thought they were
Performing every day.

My student hours were spent
Trying to understand
Action without art.
We stepped about the boards
Alone in movement.

Petrouchkas in the flesh
Bought and sold at fairs
Where power and jealousy
Strolled along the lights
Watching young lives lost.

Now across the dark
Features pause and turn,
The dancer is the Dance.



We, the watchers, what of us.


We, the watchers, what of us, 
Children born in war?

All our life we've watched
Columns marching pass us,
Read the banners, heard the pipes
Sorrowed at the losses.
Now the ranks are thinner, fewer comrades left.
We still watch as we, like them,
Are ever growing older.

Our life has been this watching 
The marchers are our childhood.

Mother - anxious, lonely, 
Little money, rest.
Perhaps a refugee 
Struggling to do her best 
With nothing, no one near, 
Or surrounded by so many 
Do-gooding relatives.

Father - fighting far away, seldom, never seen,
Missing, presumed dead?
Or perhaps a prisoner.
He might have even died
While we awaited birth
Our mother traumatised
By loss as life began.

Rattles were the dance of death
Carried off by strangers.

Perhaps we’d trailed for miles and miles
Through bombed-out villages,
Bombed out ourselves from somewhere.
Or watched, as round us ships were sunk,
And screaming people drowned.
We may have left our homes, hurried off afraid,
Toys just left abandoned.

Safe ourselves, we may have heard
Adults whispering
Of dead men far away.
They never gave us details,
We rarely understood
What or where the terror,
We sensed, alone, their fear.

And always we were silenced,
As danger might be near.






Waterhole by Mapleton.



Pioneer thoughts

What did you dream of as you sat 
Here in the noon-day heat, 
Your face awash of sweat 
Weary limbs at rest.

Were you again in Scotland, 
In heathered hills of Home 
With a fresh breeze blowing.

How cool it would be there, 
And lovely as a lass.

Did you shut your eyes 
Lean into the shade 
Wish for rowan trees, 
Not these cedar leaves.

Sleet you understood 
Snow about the door, 
Winters full of frost.

Nowhere to hide here, even shadows sting, 
The sun quite merciless.

Yes it could be hot, 
August, in the glen, 
Heat though did not claw 
Through creatures on the moor.

Rough and tough there then, 
Men and women struggled 
In those family bothies.

Yet everything was old,
Mountain, rock and croft all partners with the other.

Did a lizard give 
Remembrance for you 
Of adder by the pool 
Watching salmon move.

Light filtering down 
Through miraged vine 
Draws dream-space.

Was that the cry of plover? 
Oh no, a kookaburra.

By lochy side the fern 
Nestled into earth, 
Here the frond uncurls 
As a roof of whirls.

Hazed out through Time 
Can Memory weave 
Itself another image.

So different and yet... yet... 
Creek has lilt of burn.