Find ecstasy within yourself. It is not out there. It is in your innermost flowering. The one you are looking for is you. ~ Osho

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High-souled persons have only two states like that of a bunch of flowers; either they have to be on top of the whole world or they should wither away.

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 in jail
there is neither flower
nor wine

what is a poet to do
when the night is so exquisite?

from the window
i gaze at the moonlight

while through the bars
the moon gazes back
at me

by Ho Chi Minh
(translated by Joe Dolce)

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‘Tain’t good intentions what paves the road to hell: it’s self-justifyin’s.’ David Mitchell, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

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Hay and Hell and Booligal

‘You come and see me, boys,’ he said;

‘You’ll find a welcome and a bed

And whisky any time you call;

Although our township hasn’t got

The name of quite a lively spot –

You see, I live in Booligal.

‘And people have an awful down

Upon the district and the town –

Which worse than hell itself they call;

In fact, the saying far and wide

Along the Riverina side

Is “Hay and Hell and Booligal”.

‘No doubt it suits ’em very well

To say it’s worse than Hay or Hell,

But don’t you heed their talk at all;

Of course, there’s heat – no one denies –

And sand and dust and stacks of flies,

And rabbits, too, at Booligal.

‘But such a pleasant, quiet place,

You never see a stranger’s face –

They hardly ever care to call;

The drovers mostly pass it by;

They reckon that they’d rather die

Than spend a night in Booligal.

‘The big mosquitoes frighten some –

You’ll lie awake to hear ’em hum –

And snakes about the township crawl;

But shearers, when they get their cheque,

They never come along and wreck

The blessed town of Booligal.

‘But down in Hay the shearers come

And fill themselves with fighting-rum,

And chase blue devils up the wall,

And fight the snaggers every day,

Until there is the deuce to pay –

There’s none of that in Booligal.

‘Of course, there isn’t much to see –

The billiard-table used to be

The great attraction for us all,

Until some careless, drunken curs

Got sleeping on it in their spurs,

And ruined it, in Booligal.

‘Just now there is a howling drought

That pretty near has starved us out –

It never seems to rain at all;

But, if there SHOULD come any rain,

You couldn’t cross the black-soil plain –

You’d have to stop in Booligal.’

‘WE’D HAVE TO STOP!’ With bated breath

We prayed that both in life and death

Our fate in other lines might fall:

‘Oh, send us to our just reward

In Hay or Hell, but, gracious Lord,

Deliver us from Booligal!’

Banjo Paterson

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Correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t the fine line between sanity and madness gotten finer? George Price

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 Lee Emmett, Australia
SHOPPING FOR SANITYvery exciting trip
saves from implosion
goods-shelves explosion

getting better at shopping
don’t panic so much
millions of shapes and forms
got to stay in touch

just buy some basics
bread, fruit, eggs
decide it’s too hot
to run self off legs

talk to friends on phone
arrange to have lunch soon
meeting others for coffee
later this afternoon

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“Inside every sane person there’s a madman struggling to get out,” said the shopkeeper. “That’s what I’ve always thought. No one goes mad quicker than a totally sane person.”
― Terry Pratchett, The Light Fantastic

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My head is like a bad neighbourhood and I shouldn’t go in there alone

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Woroni (Canberra, ACT : 1950 – 2007), Monday 2 July 1973, page 1
National Library of Australia

It is walking in the night
after the theatres and before the milkman
alerted by some signal from the golden drug tapeworm
that eats yr
flesh and drinks yr peace
you reach for a needle and busy yrself
preparing the Utopia substance in a blackened
spoon held in candle flame
by now yr thumb and finger are leathery
being so often burned this way

it hurts much less than withdrawal and the hand
is needed for little else now anyway
Then cordon off the arm with a belt
probe for a vein, send the dream transfusion out
on a voyage among your body machinery.

Hits you like sleep –
sweet illusory, fast, with a semblance of forever.
For a while the fire dies down in you
until you die down in the fires.
Once you become a drug addict
will never want to be anything else.

The Author of this poem is now dead.

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“I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.”

― Edgar Allan Poe

On paper,England is a good cricket team. The trouble is – they play on grass. Arthur Smith

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The Sultan of Swat

‘Why don’t you read the papers?
 It’s all right there in the papers.’
                                    — Babe Ruth
Waking, wiping the
sleep from his eye, he
reaches for his pills.
Reading the label on the bottle:
it seems to say:
‘don’t try too hard just
             let it carry you’ –
             like… a river, he finishes,
                        the sentence and his pills.
It’s prescribed like this
because mythology inadvertently
gets mixed up in the games
of chinese whispers
                                    we play with our history.
Drunk on fairy floss and beer
the story they’re telling in
Sideshow Alley is that Don Bradman,
fulfilling a promise to a
terminally ill child,
points straight back over
            Larwood’s head at a spot
      somewhere in centre field.
Winding up Larwood
          gives it everything he’s got,
   to the screaming ecstasy and
spilt beer of the Chicago fans,
            but  even as the ball leaves his hand
      Bradman’s eyes are fixed upon it and,
                  with a flick of his wrist,
            he sends it soaring out of
                          Wrigley Field.
Larwood, sticky with humiliation,
imagines a ball rocketing into
the soft-flesh of the batsman’s
helmetless head as he walks
back to his mark.
Bradman, luxuriating in the profanities
and abuse he has evoked
watches an angry fan hurl a cup
of beer onto left field and spits
nonchalantly just missing the fielder
at short leg.
Larwood turns and Bradman, like
            a brave Achaen points back
      prophetically to the same spot.
    The bowler runs in like a fierce
       bull charging through the streets
  of Pamplona and digs it in short,
              a spear jagging up sharply,
    but our Achilles has wiser eyes than this
         stepping backward and away,
                        hooking awesomely
the ball
                seems to climb
to the sun.
The news story is packaged thus:
The footage of the shot
from a variety of angles,
an interview with humble Bradman,
fans saying how he’s the greatest
the world has ever seen and
then the fadeout:
the small child smiling from
his hospital bed,
this miracle breaks hearts
for joy at dinner tables
A kid finds one of the balls out in the street.
He hides it away in a box,
and forgets about it for years
until one day, for no reason
     that he can name,
  he starts to take it out at nights
and let its elegant stitching
   take him back to the cutgrass
    summer twilight that now
seems so important.
It is a fact:
    The Bambino grows in deed and
    stature with every passing year.
Poem © Liam Ferney



Charon, do not vex yourself: it is willed there, where what is willed is done: ask no more. DANTE.

racks of suits and overcoats that swayed
When one was tugged from its overcrowded frame
Like their owners’ shades close-packed on Charon’s barge.

Human Chain
By Seamus Heaney

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The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 – 1954), Saturday 3 November 1934

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Kayakers roll over and do it again … swimmers just sink.

“The ocean has always been a salve to my soul…the best thing for a cut or abrasion was to go swimming in salt water. Later down the road of life, I made the discovery that salt water was also good for the mental abrasions one inevitably acquires on land.”   Jimmy Buffett

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THE SWIMMER by Adam Lindsay Gordon (1833 – 1870)

With short, sharp, violent lights made vivid, 
   To southward far as the sight can roam, 
Only the swirl of the surges livid, 
   The seas that climb and the surfs that comb. 
Only the crag and the cliff to nor'ward, 
And the rocks receding, and reefs flung forward, 
And waifs wreck'd seaward and wasted shoreward 
   On shallows sheeted with flaming foam. 

A grim, grey coast and a seaboard ghastly, 
   And shores trod seldom by feet of men -- 
Where the batter'd hull and the broken mast lie, 
   They have lain embedded these long years ten. 
Love! when we wander'd here together, 
Hand in hand through the sparkling weather, 
From the heights and hollows of fern and heather, 
   God surely loved us a little then. 

The skies were fairer and shores were firmer -- 
   The blue sea over the bright sand roll'd; 
Babble and prattle, and ripple and murmur, 
   Sheen of silver and glamour of gold -- 
And the sunset bath'd in the gulf to lend her 
A garland of pinks and of purples tender, 
A tinge of the sun-god's rosy splendour, 
   A tithe of his glories manifold. 

Man's works are graven, cunning, and skilful 
   On earth, where his tabernacles are; 
But the sea is wanton, the sea is wilful, 
   And who shall mend her and who shall mar? 
Shall we carve success or record disaster 
On the bosom of her heaving alabaster? 
Will her purple pulse beat fainter or faster 
   For fallen sparrow or fallen star? 

I would that with sleepy, soft embraces 
   The sea would fold me -- would find me rest, 
In luminous shades of her secret places, 
   In depths where her marvels are manifest; 
So the earth beneath her should not discover 
My hidden couch -- nor the heaven above her -- 
As a strong love shielding a weary lover, 
   I would have her shield me with shining breast. 

When light in the realms of space lay hidden, 
   When life was yet in the womb of time, 
Ere flesh was fettered to fruits forbidden, 
   And souls were wedded to care and crime, 
Was the course foreshaped for the future spirit -- 
A burden of folly, a void of merit -- 
That would fain the wisdom of stars inherit, 
   And cannot fathom the seas sublime? 

Under the sea or the soil (what matter? 
   The sea and the soil are under the sun), 
As in the former days in the latter, 
   The sleeping or waking is known of none. 
Surely the sleeper shall not awaken 
To griefs forgotten or joys forsaken, 
For the price of all things given and taken, 
   The sum of all things done and undone. 

Shall we count offences or coin excuses, 
   Or weigh with scales the soul of a man, 
Whom a strong hand binds and a sure hand looses, 
   Whose light is a spark and his life a span? 
The seed he sow'd or the soil he cumber'd, 
The time he served or the space he slumber'd, 
Will it profit a man when his days are number'd, 
   Or his deeds since the days of his life began? 

One, glad because of the light, saith, "Shall not 
   The righteous Judge of all the earth do right, 
For behold the sparrows on the house-tops fall not 
   Save as seemeth to Him good in His sight?" 
And this man's joy shall have no abiding, 
Through lights departing and lives dividing, 
He is soon as one in the darkness hiding, 
   One loving darkness rather than light. 

A little season of love and laughter, 
   Of light and life, and pleasure and pain, 
And a horror of outer darkness after, 
   And dust returneth to dust again. 
Then the lesser life shall be as the greater, 
And the lover of life shall join the hater, 
And the one thing cometh sooner or later, 
   And no one knoweth the loss or gain. 

Love of my life! we had lights in season -- 
   Hard to part from, harder to keep -- 
We had strength to labour and souls to reason, 
   And seed to scatter and fruits to reap. 
Though time estranges and fate disperses, 
We have had our loves and our loving mercies; 
Though the gifts of the light in the end are curses, 
   Yet bides the gift of the darkness -- sleep! 

See! girt with tempest and wing'd with thunder, 
   And clad with lightning and shod with sleet, 
The strong winds treading the swift waves sunder 
   The flying rollers with frothy feet. 
One gleam like a bloodshot sword-blade swims on 
The sky-line, staining the green gulf crimson, 
A death stroke fiercely dealt by a dim sun, 
   That strikes through his stormy winding-sheet. 

Oh! brave white horses! you gather and gallop, 
   The storm sprite loosens the gusty reins; 
Now the stoutest ship were the frailest shallop 
   In your hollow backs, or your high arch'd manes. 
I would ride as never a man has ridden 
In your sleepy, swirling surges hidden, 
To gulfs foreshadow'd through straits forbidden, 
   Where no light wearies and no love wanes.

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Lee Emmett, Australia
SWIMMERS’ STROKES (Alliterative Onomatopoeia)

silently slipstreaming, Simon’s swim
huffing heavily Harry hurries him
Pete plods, pants, pushes, paddles past
Luke languidly lashes, lumbering last

spluttering Stevie sideways strokes
Barry backstrokes, beating blokes
sniggering Stevie swishes, splash
Davey darts, dodges during dash

wallowing waves wash white water
anaphylactic, aching arteries and aorta
swirling subterranean swimmer surfs
stonkered Stevie sinks, Simon swerves

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