Thursday, 29 January 2015


Libraries don’t mean to be overwhelmingly wordy.
They shelve up centuries of wise plans and absurd
When all we are wanting is the single right word.
Home shouldn’t hinder our green verbal inventions
But in the way’s the laundry, or that new extension.
We have to make friends with procrastination
As we waffle at parties about gloom and elation.
The great outdoors are barrier to being freed,
Cities a hundred distractions from our need.
We may shuttle round the Earth literally times
Missing what it is, and how, that rhymes.

Time to write about finding time to write.
Some prefer the evening, others like first light.
Vague silence follows as we sort out our thoughts.
Art is long in dressmaking but time wears shorts.
Just sitting does nothing, we need space and theme,
A favourite desk or turret, thereat to dream.
Write everything we want to say first, then edit.
It’s not for money when it works, nor the credit
But the livelong credibility of what we said.
Writ just for our own sake, may as well be dead.
Trust the rush when it happens, the gospel’s ‘little birdie’.

Thursday, 25 December 2014


seventeen wye river haiku philip harvey wrote in december 2014

no haiku is solid as the footbridge straight over the sunned river

haiku is not the word we use to explain the moment of haiku

emptiness no word none can describe even in a useless haiku

right now the blue satin bowerbird collects a blue satin haiku

science rushes through the inlet on four wheels missing bushland haiku

nothing’s more fun than making up crazy haiku near no-one will read

the haiku of the sink after dinner, so many unfinished thoughts

nighttime scrabble K on triple letter score makes haiku out of ha

at night tiny house lights shine but not one haiku forces from my mind

empty beach empty road at sunrise on empty sea a haiku ship

light enlivens every limit free of haiku’s fixed monotony

kookaburra syllables name the sound as haiku frogs pobblebonk

sounds from a passing vehicle reach the car, something like a haiku

direct contact haiku: scribbly bark, banksia fibre, planed timber …

the haiku of sea condensation hits windows in streaming droplets

what do cockatoos screeching decades care for men and their haiku books?

only from lower haiku ranges may we view impassable peaks

Saturday, 15 November 2014


Recently the Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, threatened to shirtfront the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. A shirtfront is a term used in Australian Rules Football, a game that originated in the southern states of the country and not Abbott’s hometown of Sydney, where the main winter sport remains rugby. Shirtfronting is actually not legitimate in Australian football, despite the beliefs of some followers of the game, nor it seems Tony Abbott, who clearly has little grasp of the niceties of the game, at all. An umpire could report you if the shirtfront was crude enough. A shirtfront is a brazen charge at another player, usually with the intention of knocking him down or even injuring him so he has to be taken from the ground. When done behind play it is completely outside the law. In Melbourne parlance, any player known as a shirtfronter is, by definition, probably a dirty player and someone to avoid on, and possibly even off, the field. It's about playing the man, not the ball, which is why Abbott's use of the term is so disgraceful. To threaten someone with a shirtfront is to amplify the fact that you don't care about the rules and will do whatever you like to hurt the opposition. No footballer would brag about shirtfronting because it is poor form and proof you don't know how to use your playing skills. Sometimes it's the resort of a coward or bully. That said, there are certain famous shirtfronting rough diamonds who were also greats of the game, including ‘Captain Blood’ Jack Dyer, ‘Mr Football’ Ted Whitten, and that model of deportment Leigh Matthews. None of those men ever won a Brownlow medal.

It needs also to be understood that most shirtfronts are, almost by definition, unpremeditated. They usually occur in the fast tempo of play when a player loses it and decides in a split second that it will be tactically more advantageous to knock this player over by brute force than go for the ball or manage a legitimate bump, which is a lot to think in a split second. This is why the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, a Melburnian and not someone from the rugby capital of Sydney, calls Abbott's threat of a shirtfront on the President of Russia a 'brain snap'. A shirtfront is always the result of a brain snap. Abbott, by using the threat, reveals that he doesn't even really know what a shirtfront is, but obviously its macho connotations appeal to him for some reason. A footballer in Melbourne who seriously threatened someone with a shirtfront would be treated as a laughing stock because it goes outside the rules of the game; the player would be cautioned, if he wasn't banned. This is why Abbott is a laughing stock in Melbourne. Politically speaking, he has made a fool of himself because he doesn't even know the meaning of the word 'shirtfront'. It also reveals that he is someone who speaks first and is advised later, rather than the other way around.