FOOD OF THE GODS
OR
A SLICE OF LIFE

BY
JOHN LAIRD

Book VI

Book I
Book II
Book III
Book IV
Book V
Book VI

 

Concocted from
and
Subtly flavoured
by
Daily exposure
to the
Australian Ethos.
 

Dedicated to
The Family -
around whose tables
rich fare has been offered
- much exchanged.
 

Allah made poetry a
Cheap thing to buy, and
A simple thing to understand
So that all men might
Profit from it.

Cooking instructions
For FOOD OF THE GODS

All poetry should be read aloud.
The symbolism and often used poetic license
is solely to emphasise the underlying fact.
It adds poignancy, pungency and
flavour to the dish.

 
 
TRIM
 
Trim was Matthew Flinders' cat,
A well beloved and famous cat,
Adventurous, trim, with Flinders
Circumnavigated the world
With him charted the long sea ways
Innumerable reefs and cays
And sounded a thousand
Golden sanded bays

Trim shared great dangers, hunger, cold
Trim resolute and always bold
Trim was as Flinders said with grace
"the best of all companions and
the most illustrious of his race;
the most affectionate of friends
of servants most faithful
Trim was the best of creatures ever.

Matthew watched his merriment's
With shared delight;
Noted his keen intelligence
With surprise;
And knew that never
Would the like of well loved Trim be seen again

All honour to your memory
A friend indeed
A loved companion Trim.

 
There is a bronze statue of Trim created by John Cornwall beside a statue of Matthew Flinders in the Mitchell Library, McQuarrie St Sydney.

Flinders lovely little story of Trim was written during his captivity on Mauritius between 1803 and 1810.

The essay titled simply 'Trim' was published only in 1973 and copies are available from the library.



WHAT MAN AMONG YOU
 
Two men in every man I see
And all of us half knowing
Which of these men we be

Who choose the better way
They overcome
The burden of their day

Or wrong the choice
Condemn ourselves
To the bitterness of remorse

 
Before the naval battle of Salamis in September 480 BC Themistocles thus persuaded the Greek captains who were undecided to engage the immensely superior Persian fleet.

'In every man there are two men, one base, one noble; and we shape our lives as we choose between them. The easy way is cheap but the man so defeated pays for his choice as long as he lives; while that man who chooses to be brave, and risk the prize of the good life, will die with glory, or live in honour, and this is our choice today.'

The Greek captains chose the better way and though outnumbered more than ten to one destroyed the Persian navy.
 

 
  In a bright clear dream
This woman looked at me.
I met her glance,
And held my place,
Though attracted by the strength,
That glowed calm peaceful,
In her eyes, her face.

Later we met again. She spoke,
"I have heard," she said, "that between
a man and a woman,
there is a level field whereon
they may in safety meet."

So with an old world courtesy
My mother taught to me,
I answered honestly
"If that is so it is well said".

She smiled at me and I unbent
Now both are well content
With an understanding
Of the mystery resolved
On that fair field
And all our days have been
A rich unfolding of
Life's oldest sweetest theme.
 

 
I keep a dream book in which I record such dreams as I recall. All must be transcribed at once on waking, every delay loses something, and the recollection all to often adds foreign clarity to the fleeting images of the dream.

This dream is as I wrote it down in the early dark; time unknown.

Very distinct, clear and colourful, it seemed to be a political gathering, the woman culling funds and visiting to explain, to sugar the pill with her personality I thought. I don't know where but she is very clear, very personable, bright and likeable. She looked at me and smiled, I thought "she is only trying to influence me", so kept a straight face but felt the contact to be very strong, one of those spirit to spirit things.

Later we met again, I acknowledged her smile only with an inclination of the head. She said very clearly, challenging me to unbend "I have heard that there is between men and woman a level field on which they may safely meet" I answered still very lightly and defensively "If that is so it is well said". Then I gave in and we met on that level field where it seemed all in a single smile that we lived very happily ever after. All very clear very well defined, I woke up on the edge of tears at the loss, realising that the wonderful experience was only a dream. That was on a Saturday 12th of October 1996. Hours later the wonderful sense of it was still with me and I wrote the poem for the solace of my spirit.
 

 
  Patient, indifferent is the land
Passive and fallow until
The creative hand
Caresses it thus and thus
Transforms all
The desert now bountiful  
 
 


My now unwanted organs on demand
Why not; if they another life may live
But let the user pay, a golden rule
Pay for my funeral it's worth the life I give.

The writer's 84
Too few tomorrows
Beckon; it is not death I fear
But my impending funeral costs give me the horrors'

 
 
 

Cogito Ergo Sum
 

This simplicity
Enough for me
Simple but deep
It satisfies
And lets me sleep

Too often do I find
Philosophy a veil
Obscuring
The creative mind.
 
 

 

So stark a dream
I met old father time
On the cross road, he tired and spent
Morose and deep in thought
The keen blade upon his shoulder
His eye and his long scythe bent
Toward a crimson sunset
Lined with black cloud in the west
Where lie dreaming the Hesperides
All undiscovered yet among life's swirling tides
Lost Islands of the best.

Long years have made me bolder
I spoke with him I said
"What scene in your far seeing eyes"
He said a sadness in his voice
"there are but few who prize
the better way and make such choice.
The common man is such indeed this day".

Then laughed "such folly,
I but clear the fools away
And it is well
That sev'n wide and generous gates
Are open wide to take
The hoards, who, singing, make.
Along their chosen ways to hell".

"What of that other road", I said
he laughed, and shook his aged head
"that straight and narrow way ?
The better way ?
That path is wide enough my friend
For those few souls
Who choose that way today".
 
 

Heaven and Hell are like the broad and narrow ways but symbols for human states of mind, and we choose, sometimes without understanding, the way we go, the life we live, the good life we enjoy, or the small hells we endure. The good life is the personal choice of every soul who offers love instead of hatred; chooses beauty over the ugly; order above chaos; good before bad.

These are simple values but the very heart of a civilisation which makes the good life possible. To the careless as well as the thoughtful. Those who choose the easy way are riding on the backs of those who make the good life and our civilisation, with all it's faults, so possible.

The tides of violence and greed in our societies show us how delicate is that civilisation a beautiful though a light fabric indeed, constraining all the dark hubris of mankind.

We must resist the degradation of language, of behaviour, of trust, or lose the good life as have so many states in today's world and so many great empires throughout our dark history.
 

 

My country stretches far and wide
North to the old black stump
And South and West to back-o-Bourke
And East to the old hand pump.

The rabbit plague was bad until
The locusts came to eat
The greens the rabbits couldn't reach
Ate all but living meat

Long years of drought have made their mark
In our wide sun burned fields
Have mortgaged crops and mortgaged herds
Drought mortgaged all our yields

And yearly when the spiny bur
Is burnt and bushfires flare about
For far to long neither the sun
Nor moonlight shines about

The rainclouds then black billows rolled
The wet came roaring fast
Dry rivers ran in furious flood
We watched trees sailing past.

In days gone by these fields were good
In truth a lovely place
Heroic deeds, heroic men
And women sweet with grace.

Today it seem so different
Though men and women much the same
It is the land seems different
The games a different game.

How well I know and understand
That settlers wife despairin'
And how alas she came to be
Beyond all hope of carin'

It's either roaring flood or fire
Drought weeds or insect pest
It's only when it's none of these
Are our wide fields their best.

Yet when it's good it's very good
My country wide and bright
Beyond the black stump on my left
And back-o-Bourke on right.
 
 

 

My now unwanted parts
To others given free
May he who thus gains life
Pay for my funeral
A thoughtful charity.
 
 

 

Divide the lie from simple truth
Between them is so fine a line
That how may I with honesty
That unsubstantial line define.
 
 

 

All flesh is as grass
Or as a flower
Some lives beautiful
But however beautiful or strong
Our bright day belies
Our night so dark
So cold so long.
 
 

 

They talk of death
Of words an endless flow
But who will hold my hand
Or soothe my soul, my fears
As on that last lone walk I go.
 
 

 

You are Woman
Aphrodite
Venus
And care abandon
Desire awakened
And the moon is full

You are Woman
Diana
Minerva
Lover still
Tho chaste and cool
When moon is new
And your dear heart
Under her rule
 
 

 

There is an Order in the Universe
Beyond words.
This the spirit knows
Expres't in all things
The treasure of the Snows

It transcends the Gods
That men have made. And we
For ever beaten with their brazen rods.

We glimpse it momently
Only in beauty
Which isn't quite right
I know there are other times when you glimpse it.
It touches spirit but fleetingly
It stands beyond our love, Our pain
Beyond all sacrifice
Our deepest understandings
All in vain.
 
 

The old Greeks knew this.

They knew it as Arete, beyond all their Gods, as it is beyond ours.

 
  As well as the Runcible Spoon there was
A beautiful pea green boat
With pirates bold with a lust for gold
In breeches and brass-buttoned coat
And they were terribly wickedly BAD
And they all had knives, and their pirate wives
Were as bad as any afloat
And they fought and they sang
That bad wicked gang
And they didn't care THAT for their lives

But

Thou they were bold they all grew old
And quiet and very well mannered
With hearts of gold, and their ladies bold
All kept black cats for mice and rats
And of all those big bad pirate men
Not one of them went to sea agen
All in peace and quiet grew old
What a dreadful end for those pirates bold

And the wives lived on as they often do
Each with their share of pirate gold
With their pretty cats and a parrot or two
Such gentle old dears you never could tell
That each had a husband, a pirate in
 

 
 

THE WORD


In deepest silence,
Word less heard
Sublime, majestic,
His unspoken word.

My way my thoughts
Are above your thoughts your ways
As are the heavens above you

Such are our ways Eve
Wept for her sons
Thus our tormented thought
Thus our darkened ways

Thus Mary
Wept her son
So dark our thoughts
Our darkened ways.

Mothers still
Weep for their sons
Salt tears
dark pain
the trampled hearts
our thoughts our ways
these remain

Thy grace to light our darkened ways
Thy grace to guide our thought
Empower our days
 
 

 

When the young man died
None had asked his name
Or asked his place of birth.
So they dug his grave
Where they found him dead
Somewhere out in the harsh red earth
One made a rough cross
From some Malley wood
And planted it over his head
And for want of a name
he simply said
"Somebody's Darling".

Somebody's mother waits in vain
For the child she bore in love and pain
Back-o-Bourke under blazing skies
So rare a cross or hewn stone
To mark the place of one unknown
Or prayer to bless the grave where lies
Somebody's Darling.
 
 

 

A MAN TO HIS MATE
 

Yer doin the wrong thing, mate
Get out of the pig pen before it's too late

Go easy on the grog, old man
You won't get what your after, not outer a can

Sex is one thing, ask the animals brother
The sweet thing we call love, that's another

So take your choice, mate
It's your life but play it cool; why blame the wife

Things ain't too good for you ?
So change em. Don't get uptight

It's not your fault? That's what you say
Try changing your tune, always a better way

And give your kids a chance. Fair go
They didn't ask to be born, as well you know

Do your bit. Have a go for a better life
You owe it to them, same as your wife.

She's carried your kids and you too
Give her a break, and a hand with the job, for your own sake

Make a new start mate, it's a ruddy good life
Get on the right road, and take your kids and your wife.
 
 

 
  TANE

Tane Mahuta
 

A tribute to RJ who was recently likened to a Kauri tree.

Tane Mahuta is the name given to the oldest and largest Kauri known in the New Zealand forests.

Tane Mahuta is also the Maori God and Creator of the Forests, the God who separated Rangi the Sky Father from Papa the great Earth Mother; who bought Marama the moon to lighten the dark night for the lonely Papa, set the stars in the sky to beautify the cloak of night, the five stars of the Southern Cross to adorn the cloak.

 
Tane Mahuta


Tane Mahuta

Two thousand years and more
Have armoured your strength
Fashioned each forest grace
And shaped, most venerable
The long slow centuries trace.

Strong was the growing heart
When Plato looked to Socrates
Strong when Anthony in vain
Sought Cleopatra's lovely hand
When Jesus walked the desert roads
Of Israel's ancient land.

Mighty the great tree
When Kupe
Charted the unknown sea
And Ao-te-Aroa, the long white land
When Tama and Ngotoro
In the canoe, Arawa
(Which we would call the shark)
Breasted the white combers
And drove, deep and hard his keel
Into Maketu, the safety
Of deep golden sand.

In these our days, your days
Men have set foot upon the Moon
And Voyager sails the gulfs
Between the stars.

Mighty now and venerable
We bow the head to you
And, Tane Mahuta,
Such is the mystery of Life
That there be men
Short lived indeed
But strong enduring spirits
Who may well be likened
Thou mighty living being
Unto thee.
 
 


Archimedes was the kind of man
Who could bend all things to his will.
Invented the screw to make water run uphill
Burnt a Roman galley for fun
By concentrating the sun.
And built a ballistic mortar
To improve Grecian old world slaughter.

So the King Heiros, said "I think
The gold in this crown
Has deceitfully been watered down.
Can you find out the truth
And give me some proof?"

Archimedes said
"A pound of gold of whatever shape will grace
Only X amount of space.
Let's see how much water,
Your gold crown will displace."

And put it in his bath
Which made the King laugh!

"Now, the crown displaces Y amount of water
Which is more than it should.
So there's silver, mixed with the gold
Just as you thought it would."

"Good thinking," said the King.
"Will you give a name
To this cunning game?
Now that we've caught the stinker."
Archimedes frowned
"The only name that comes to mind
Came in the bath, it made you laugh.
It is of course EUREKA."
 
 

 
  Six Days


Six days He said
And it was so
Because He said it.

For, as He explained to Eve
Who liked to talk about things
In a general kind of way
(Before He tempted them.)

It was manifestly
Quite impossible
To set out all the detail
They wouldn't understand
The science or the planning.

Why sure, they must have truth
Laid out most clear
And simple in their day
That he who runs may read
No fool
Need stumble on this way.

And so the long ages
Of thoughtful preparation
Land -- seas -- and air
And the sun and moon
Made the rich seed bed
Of all the wonder there.

Then the reproductive cells
And the selection of the best
From the humblest beginnings
Dear Eve -- another age
Has quickly passed by here.

Then the simple cell
Through progressive orders
Each the planned product
Of the proven one before
Flora and fauna in profusion
Grace earth, in variety profound
And through the years -- long ages
Transformed to higher orders
Our critics to confound.

Long ages and profoundest thought
To consolidate the frame
And vital parts -- womb, heart and brain
Transmission of the best
By cross fertility to shape
All future destinies, and so refine
Orders with species -- beauty and design.

And so by such tedious
Constructive and intensive
Means, cunning and inventive
(The knowing ones will understand
The symbols and the deep intent)
The universal oneness
Of each separate individual --
By such means have I evolved
My consciousness in man.

And this world’s work dear Eve
Is really just begun
With you
Your children will resolve
Great mysteries, bright in the dreaming
Their hands, my hands will be
Unfolding all - shaping the future
Whence all return to me.

How tell them this?
Always they ask “why”
And “who” and “How”
But wax impatient
Beg for simple answers
Magic -- signs.

And so I said “Six days”
Thus encompassing all
Countless eons are compressed
In proper order
In those six days expressed.

And on the seventh day
( Septenary signs, ripe with
Wisdom of the ages lie about )
Thus on the seventh day
I rested.

So rest you Dear Eve
And ponder wisdom
Understanding will flower
In the deep heart

Reflect on my words and works
In certain faith
And through long ages yet to be
Hold steadfast faith
With confidence in me.
 
 

 
  In The Making of Man


Four rivers flow from the garden
Four great streams govern the soul.

First and greatest -- Id
the ceaseless flooding flow
Of the deep unconscious self
Source of all fantasy
In the living mind
In deep and hidden tides
All here confined.

Birthplace of all our gods
The deep unfathomed mind
Where all experience abides
And all our fears enshrined.

I AM dwells silent here
I govern all -- a hell
Or heaven on earth as men desire
Within my call.

Then flows the turbulent stream
Of primitive emotion
Conditioned or unconditioned
The hates, the greed, the rages
Lies and false witness -- and pride
Darkest of all follies
Wars and great scandals
All jostle in this turgid stream
Who frolics here his cause is lost
As was Pandora and her fateful box.

And the third great river is action
Fed by the same deep springs
But the waters, clearer by intent
Are governed, and direct us to
The better life; The fields about
Grow fruitful and abundant
These waters nourish all.

Fancy is sublimed to action
Imagination blooms in vision
And creation flowers
All the future is seeded here
And nourished to bring forth
Man’s dreams to bright reality.

From the sands of this great river
Is the gold panned -- hard won
Of wisdom -- understanding
And beauty flourish here
And all the works of man’s hands
And the vision of his questing mind
Here satisfied.

Prometheus unbound -- and he
Dreamer and maker
Of all that is yet to be.

And the last great stream
Acheron -- no other
No Cerberus here -- but Lethe
Brings forgetfulness of the past life
And the stream moves on
To the unknown goal
A rebirth in some other where.

These waters, mingle and meld
Through all our ways
Claiming last penance
Life’s work, life’s dreams, life’s days
And all achievement
Sad tribute from all men.

Small solace
That all men share such fate
Life beyond Life -- beyond this death
Another birth, another life beyond death’s gate.

Through all our myriad
Our diverse and individual ways
Such waters run, the full tides
Flow unceasing through our days.

And some grow swift - and fair
Nourished by the waters
For seed is fruitful in the fertile mind
And the wide plains grow lush
And beauty flowers there.

And the swift flow and the rush
And the white broken waters
And the dark still deeps
And the placid reaches, sun warmed

Of the four great rivers
Which compass the garden
They are the life and death and birth
Of all mankind. The flow
Of the four great rivers of life
Which set the garden of our world around.
 
 

 

It’s the courting and the winning
The protecting and the caring
For the woman
Makes the man.

Mans eyes search outward
New horizons are his goal
But the warm maternal eye
Looks inward to nurture

And sustain the human soul.
And motherhood the absolute
Self sacrifice is sanctified
When offered with the mother gift of love.

So as the strong maternal line
Gifts life, all joy and love
All sweet things human
Men should assuredly then
Gift honour to all woman.
 
 

 

Preacher Paul my standard
His ringing words my plan
Put childish things behind you
Become you now a man.

Childhood’s fears behind me
Childhood’s blinding tears
Childhood’s imps and bogeymen
Now gone with childhood years.
 
 

 

Let the devil take you
Whether too or fro
Whatever devil you choose
My own way I go.
 
 

 
  The Quest


The Golden Lotus?
The Search?
The Soundless Centre?
Nirvana?
Satori?

The Infinite Way?
And bliss
All is found within
And there, all roads
Lead to Him.
 
 

 

The unutterable
Expressed by brush or ink?
What next I ask
And hardly dare to think.

One day the truth you seek
Will enter in both ears
And meet that peace
Above your eyes
Where understanding
Is a light.

Strange is it not!
But that is the way
You will understand.
 
 

 
  Starry Starry Moonlight


Cold, beautiful the starry night
Gleaming above the pale moonlight
Long eons the stars and the moon
Have lighted the night
Long eons before the man thing
Looked up into their light.

Long have the stars and the moonlight
Lighted the ways of the man thing
Through his long troubled night
And deep is the love of the man thing
For the starry starry moonlight.

Men sleep ‘neath the stars, the moonlight
Live out their brief lives and depart
Into the shadows where all things
Have gone, have moved into the dark
Gone and forgotten for ever
Into the dark past and the night.

Cold and austere and beautiful
Starry starry moonlight
Shine silver bright on a new world
Careless of man unknowing
His love of the stars; of moonlight.
 
 

 

A short talk with Bill Gates about you know what.

We worshipped long the Yankee Dream
From childhood till the grave.
But never Bill have you offered
The rich bright dream to save.

We bought your Windows 95
NT, Access; Word and Excell
Then Windows 98.
These led us up a road to ruin
Our trust in vain, Bill Gates.

We bought your book "The Road Ahead"
No word of warning there.
You wrote it Bill, with tounge in cheek
You told a lie; or was it just
You simply did not care?

You have your lovely yacht, Bill Gates
You Island in the sun.
Not all your billions will repair
The damage you have done.

Well Bill; the Gates have crashed
Chaos in our lives supreme.
Your "Road Ahead" our road to ruin
The wreckage of the Dream.
 
 

Book I
Book II
Book III
Book IV
Book V
Book VI

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