January 27th 2018


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Loy Yang just latest critical asset to go offshore

EDITORIAL Behind the power shift in the Middle East

CANBERRA OBSERVED Freedom of religion just an afterthought?

GENDER POLITICS Family Court washes hands of gender-dysphoric kids

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Western sanctions have forced Russia to upskill

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS China exerts soft power on our southern neighbour

ENVIRONMENT Senate committee puts marine life before people

SEXUAL ABUSE Royal commission report ignores cause of abuse

HIGHER EDUCATION Critical thinking and the culture of skepticism

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS U.S. urges Taiwan rearmament to counter China threat

PHILOSOPHY A reflection on thoughts of Richard Dawkins

MUSIC Group theory: A good band is greater than its parts

CINEMA Darkest Hour: A long time till dawn

BOOK REVIEW 'Populism' and the new social divide

BOOK REVIEW Poems outshine dross of inept introduction

POETRY

LETTERS

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POETRY




News Weekly, January 27, 2018

Volkssturm

A photograph from the last days of the Reich:
An old man with forage cap and arm-band
Lifting a Panzerfaust, under the cold eyes
Of instructors, readying for a final stand.

From the east the Red Army is pouring in,
From the West bombers blacken the sky.
The men have makeshift uniforms and weapons
And a few hours left in which to die.

In a tattered, shabby mix of clothes:
Civilian suits and arm-bands
Uniforms stripped from corpses,
Wooden legs and artificial hands.

The very sight of them should crush morale.
The hangman waits for those who would betray
Defeatism or despair, or would desert.
They gird themselves against the hopeless day.

Others stand watching: old men and boys
Someone official takes the photograph
To encourage that morale, presumably.
An odd way to do it. A smile or laugh

Even if posed, would be an expected thing,
But here is nothing, neither hope nor pain.
Does he think: “They kill me for a lost cause I detest,”
Or: “This is my chance to be a boy again”?

Hal G.P. Colebatch

 

 

Booragoon Lake

(With thanks to Ian Argyle)

 

A busy, noisy highway lined
With close-packed houses of the less-interesting kind.

Turn left at the first corner,
Then left between the houses,
Walk a few paces away from the road.
Green rises. Sounds change. A tangle
Of wild bushes grows higher.

Another few paces,
And there spread, unexpected,
Is a great blue lake, lined with deep ranks of bush,
With long-necked tortoises and tiger-snakes,
With ducks and coots, swamp-hens and standing cranes.
Frog choruses.

And now, filling the sky
Changing the colours of the branches
Straight from an Egyptian friezee
Come ibis in hundreds to roost.

And there will be
A full moon rising soon.

Hal G.P. Colebatch

 

 

Breakthrough

Saint Thomas gazed: his thought was turned to straw;
God left him speechless … save for metaphor*.
Only the fragment of a poem reigned
Above the lifeless refuse of his mind:
Imagination, all alone, found voice,
Letting his “straw”, as poetry rejoice.

Andrew Huntley

* In order to forestall being attacked by the entire village of Porlock, I record that an English translation of what Saint Thomas said would read, “I can write no more. I have seen things which make all my writings like straw”.

 

 

Passing Express Recalled

(The poet as a retired Anglican “bishop”)

 

What sight can equal this white rush of steam?
What sound reveal the same majestic force
As moves this regal giant on its course?
Relentlessly the rails caught in its beam
Are beaten into miles, and it could seem
All night falls back before the ancient source
Of thunder – Thor – god of the vanished Norse.
But then one glaring moment, and a gleam
From the hands and faces of men in power,
And night rolls back to drown the engine’s roar;
Yet as its train ticks off a final hour
On clock-like wheels – measuring the last
Sad times of steam and smoke – wreath-like, a flower
Of distant steam foretells a dying blast!

Andrew Huntley




























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April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm