Those at Home 

                     by Shawn O'Leary (1941)

God grant one letter from home today.
The days are long and the blood-hate
Leaves me weary when the fighting's done.
My soul is sick with the agony
Of it all and the heart cries for news
Of those at home.  I try to deny
My doubt, but ever the same thoughts rise
And it seems you have forgotten me.
This is not faith as it should be,
I know; but loneliness can eat up
The mind, the heart, the soul, and leave
Only the nagging, throbbing pain.  So
Are these days a void of torment
Deeper than you could ever know.

The mail came.  And out in the shuffling
Sand men sit apart drinking the news
Of those at home.  Now I am sure
Once more you have forgotten me –
There was no letter from home.

                                Shawn O'Leary (1941)


Return to Two Solidiers, Two Flyers 

Sky Death (For Australia) 

AWM Roll of Honour entry
Pat Galligan Roll of Honour entry, (Courtesy AWM)

I shall wait impatient for the day
When I shall leave this land of mine
To fight her battles on a distant shore;
To fight those men I know not, love not, hate not,
But pity only for their credences
That set a Caesar on the throne of God.

And I shall go into the darker lands
That know not peace as did this smiling continent,
Old like an ancient eucalypt,
I'll take with me a fragment of the land,
A living though unworthy part, myself.

And should I not return
To my old native plains and hills;
Should I while life is new and strange
Depart from it and leave
A thousand empty future dreams,
I'll not regret to die, if God is nigh,
And dying will mean peace and justice here.

For am I not Australian in my being,
Child of this glorious earth
That never yet has known the bloody baptism of war?
And fighting to preserve her thus
Is surely worthy my all;
And dying for her peace and freedom
Would be glory,
The Southern Cross my headstone,
And the Queensland stars my epitaph,
Written on the scroll of night I loved.

                                Pat Galligan Mt Isa,1941
 

Next poem in this series 

 Cenotaph

Bomana War Cemetery 

Death leers from the jungle – mockingly,
And smiles all-knowing from the skies:
With bony hands outstretched, caressingly...
But light of bitter mockery in his eyes.

Ah! Sons of men,
Are you so tired of life
Which, all too short
You would have shorter yet?
Remember – all those promises you made,
The vows, and tears you poured on bronze and stones?
While sadly murmuring
"Lest we forget?"
Need you more sacred bones
To bury in more vaults,
And call "unknown?"

Enough!
All men have paid enough
To have their names engraved upon a shrine,
Where many stand and stare at fluttering flags
Then wander onward, quickly to forget –
In sacred parks
Where drunkards swill their beer,
And old men sit
Unheeding in the sun,
Stand monuments to men who died in pain....
Fighting for that which each one held most dear –
Kindred and homes:
Must they have died in vain?
Someday, we too must die,
Maybe within this festering clime,
And sad-eyed mothers, lovers, grieve for us;
While civic raise ironic cheers

Around great stones....and saying "Thus they died, and thus!"
We shall not know, or care,
Nor will the wide-eyed multitude
Who come to stare, and do not have to pay!
They will have much to talk about at tea-
"Did you see those women weeping
By the cenotaph, to-day?"

                            Howarde Tilse, (1943)


Next poem in this series

Queen Street - Sunday

                                    By K.H.Bradshaw (1946)

 
Queen St Brisbane, 1950s

Sunday afternoon has long shadows
Of couples in Queen Street; 
And a sailor sits on the G.P.O. steps.
Yellow placards bleat the soft shocks
Of Sunday news.
Art-sippers sip their tea and chatter
Of Chinese philosophy on a third floor.
A taxi-driver turns his paper over
And spits meditatively.
Cold Neon signs stare glassily at urgent trams;
A policeman watches in the window
Reflections of a bicycle and a two-toned sweater.

The couples have hands locked
And the sailor has a hang-over.
The taxi-driver and the policeman
Wonder what the kids are doing;
The third floor party has Western frustration.

And yes, an Angelus is sounding!

                         Kenneth H. Bradshaw (1946)


Next poem  in series 

Barbaric Night

Canberra Times 1 December 1942
Canberra Times, 1 December 1942, p2

From the distant village
Comes the throb of a native drum,
And savage voices
Chanting through the trees.
A full moon
Crystalises palms against the sky;
And my thoughts .... wandering....
Among the scent of frangipani...
Down the perfumed years –
Like dreams....adrift in Time.
No breeze stirs,
As the softly whispering tide
Plucks at the mangrove roots
With supple fingers;
You are so far away my love,
And the moon seems so near and bright;
But the memory of your sweetness,
And your gentle voice still lingers.....
The very night is soft ....with your caress...
While I am dreaming here beside the bay,
My feet, on the sands of the tropics,
But my heart....with you.....
A thousand miles away.
 

                   Howarde Tilse (1943)

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