Haiku of Innocence & Experience


[Haiku about my childhood, which was also the period of atomic bomb testing, also by the British government in Australia. We all copped the fallout.The three sections relate to three periods lived in different Sydney suburbs. The three names of the atomic test sites in square brackets are supposed to be printed on the right side of the page but WordPress won’t let me do that here. The poems were published in my book Cut a Long Story Short, still available online at the publisher’s (Puncher & Wattmann 2014). Haiku are like a fleeting footprint in time. Took the photo of a transient footprint at Murramurang beach on the south coast.]

Haiku of Innocence & Experience

Joys impregnate. Sorrows bring forth.
– William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

1 Glebe 1951-53

huge ship’s bow at wharf
whistling down:
Grandma’s teddy bear

joyous stream of piss
arcing high in kitchen
over brown linoleum

picking up father
near the harbour: soul
smells oil, boats, piers

on veranda biscuit tin
watching street:
Rainbow Bird on black !

[Montebello tests]

2 Crow’s Nest 1953-57

morning jump into
their bed, sucking earlobes:
this warmth will breed warmth

on the nature strip
a day of play & shout
eye sky, no between

father planing wood:
smell of shavings peeling
off so sweet & clean

playing with toy cars
pushed over tiny tracks:
suddenly real roads!

her scarf floats to my feet
Queen’s car rushing by:
still haven’t grabbed it

walking home from school:
dunce hat steeple craned on church
wireless blaring Games

winter cracker night:
Jumping Jack mad wild thing
pounces on dad’s pate!

back from beach in car:
pores warm clean breathing
sun-scouring surf

shuttlecock game
with father at Collaroy:
cock’s arc still mid-air

Christmas Eve tree
summer melting candles
hymns with presents covered

sudden slap in face:
mother, world shattering
cold empty bathroom

backyard tent:
prickly grass first lips
pressing mine pelvis melts

grownups talking War
& bombs, under table touch
Auntie’s stockinged legs

watermark on ceiling,
fourth class, bored. Only
made of flesh & things?

standing near wireless:
‘How do you know you exist?’
Paul prods life quest

[Emu Field test]

3 Haberfield 1959-66

mother’s Sunday lamb
crusting carrots, spuds:
fusing family

Hobart, first moment
garden bliss:
raspberry off the bush

back from paradise
look out hotel window:
dead trees moon horror

every day waiting
by the window:
thirty seconds, she’s gone

one day eternity here:
Stace’s copperplate
fleeting footpath chalk!

coming home from school
phone box smell
dial eternal time man

wrestling with father:
love in muscle
tussle & toss

Wylie Baths
old tortoise men drink sun
clear-glass aquarium

build, break, wash:
cells learn ocean beat

the moment before
waves break:
ecstasy enfolds build

[Maralinga tests]


knowing there’d be
fallout… knowing
there’d be black rain

they knew
we did not know
black rain gently

settles down
the black hole
of our forgetting


~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on February 3, 2017.

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