Draft Poems March 2012

Standard

1788 Shoreline

[This poem is rewritten for submission to Red Room’s project ‘The Disappearing’. It occurred to me after walking around Circular Quay in Sydney and noticing a line of brass discs set into the ground, which apparently trace the original shoreline of the harbour as it was in 1788.]

This is new colonisation

another unmarked silent death;

a natural border is no obstacle

to the march of mediocrity.

We have buried the moment

of first meeting:

of the hard clash / of unknown syllables

under a high tide of concrete,

coffee shops and crap.

 

Gone is the harmless hostile sand

soaked in cheap black blood

the gunshot corroboree lost:

so we can wave an imperial flag,

and sing through smiles the lies

about sharing our boundless plains.

 

 

He Reads Himself to Sleep

He let go of my hand at school one morning

and disappeared: he ran

 

to class without me, because

I was walking.  Until I stopped

 

and realised that I couldn’t see him any more

he’d gone inside

 

and the path between us, outside the building

was empty.

 

Last night, he asked me to

tuck him in; and when

 

I put down my book, and walked

into the bedroom

 

He was reading, by himself, without me.

I watched him.

 

When I returned to my book, in

another room, I was

 

happy that he had found

a book to enjoy; and I felt

 

one of the million griefs

that creep up on you

 

when you realise that something

has happened

 

while you weren’t

 

paying

attention.

 

Advertisements

On Postcards and their Myriad ‘Dangers’

Standard

Something alarming occurred in Hobart earlier this week.  I mean, truly shocking.  Foundations of decency were shaken to the core and frankly I am surprised that the world did not end. What cataclysm, you ask? What dreadful earth-shattering drama could I possibly be referring to?

Postcards. That’s right. The horror.

Postcards endorsed by The Greens, and Senator Bob Brown, were found at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) and in, apparently, a couple of Hobart’s government schools. The postcards feature an illustration by Reg Mombassa, of a Tasmanian Devil and an Orangutan, with the phrase: ‘The animals are worried…Ta Ann destroying ancient forests.’ Shadow Minister for ‘Education’ Michael Ferguson got up in parliament and demanded that these postcards be removed from the aforementioned institutions; the Premier agreed with him, and the postcards were duly removed from TMAG. When the  schools were contacted, no one could apparently find any of the cards in question.

To put it bluntly, I was incensed by this. I include the transcript of an exchange between myself and Michael Ferguson, conducted on his Facebook page on Thursday March 8th.

  • As a former teacher, Michael, please explain why the so-called ‘propganda’ postcards should not be available in schools.

  • Michael FergusonIt’s self evident.

  • Cameron HindrumWhat is? Censorship? Can’t teenagers form their own opinions?

  • Cameron HindrumA note from Paulo Freire, Mr Ferguson: education is a liberating force. Knowledge is power.

  • Michael FergusonNothing to do with censorship. This argument (now passed) was about respecting the proper function of government schools, which are the trusted choice of parents who vote in different ways. Schools are not the place for party political campaign cards authorised by, in this case, a Green senator. The Premier did the right thing and pulled them out of the public museum.

  • Cameron Hindrum

    Forestry Tasmania has been disseminating information in schools for a long time, Mr Ferguson. While this information is not ‘party-political’ it represents their agenda, with the support (presumably) of the government of the day. It is a POSTCARD, Mr Ferguson. People are free, surely, to ignore it if they wish. If schools are a microcosm of their community, then democracy belongs in schools also. This is an issue of free speech–and your attempts to undermine it in this case. It is censorship. How will students decide who they should vote for in an election? They may well decide not to vote Green if they see this postcard as they will disagree with its message. But who are you, Sir, to remove their right to do so?
  • Michael Ferguson Only polite way for me to respond is “wrong again”. Nothing to do with freedom of speech… perhaps more to do with “freedom from party political brainwashing in schools”. Parents understand that, so should you. So please, Sir, no more acrimony. We understand each other.
  • Cameron Hindrum
    I apologise for the acrimony, Michael. I don’t apologise for being passionate about protecting the rights of students To Know. I have an interest in the educational value of controversy. Your use of a term like ‘brainwashing’, however, is alarming. I’ll close on this point, and it will be my last word: if postcards like this one should not available in schools, then neither should chaplains. Good luck at the next election.

I’ve spent some time since this exchange reflecting on why I was so angry.  At the core of it, yet another assumption was made (it seems to me) about adolescents–that not only are they not capable of making up their own minds, but they should deprived of the information from one side of the debate. Five minutes on the internet will provide them with plenty of information for the other side of the argument; Ta Ann have vigourously refuted the claim that this postcard makes. (As they would, I’m tempted to say.)  It is possible that Ferguson can dismiss claims of censorship, because there are as yet no votes to be found in our high schools–and yet, today’s students are perhaps one election away from turning 18. One hopes they will be inform themselves of the issues before entering the polling booth. Perhaps some of them will take this cue from their parents–nothing wrong with that. But the Freirean notion of education, which I refer to above, as a liberating force is completely undermined by the attitude that lead to the ‘censorship’ in schools of these postcards.

This attitude, essentially, is a patronising one. There are strong arguments to suggest that schools are a microcosm of society; if this is so, how has this incident prepared our students for what they should expect once they enter the world?  Badly, in my opinion.

Needless to say, there was no response to my jibe about chaplains; I am aware that Ferguson is a committed Christian. But I see very little difference between ‘party-political advertising’ in schools, and the presence of a chaplain.  If, as Ferguson seems to suggest, schools should be politically neutral, then they should be completely secular as well.

To take action that prevents a portion of the population seeing what some don’t want them to see is censorship–and perhaps, if he is serious about his portfolio, Mr Ferguson should invest in a decent dictionary.

Sneak Preview

Standard

I am embarking on something of a long-held dream this year, to complete a Creative Writing course. While I’m sure there will be plenty of enrichment and other pleasures to be found therein, I’m mainly doing it for the structured motivation–having to achieve certain wordcounts by certain deadlines. Anyway, I thought I would post the first few pages of the project I’m taking into this course, for your perusal. I’m hoping it will grow into a novel and is loosely inspired by the unsolved murder of Italian backpacker Victoria Cafasso on an East Coast beach in broad daylight in October 1995. I don’t intend ‘solving’ the murder, by the way–I might explain this a bit more in future posts. Anyway, hope you enjoy this. Cheers.

 

 

The Sand

(copyright) 2012 Cameron Hindrum

 

 ONE

 

Ben stopped the car before even finding the house where he would live. He parked at the edge of the small carpark and flicked the radio, killing the cricket commentary mid-sentence. Before finding the house, before driving slowly past the other houses of the small town, before attempting to find his bearings again in this place that was both familiar and foreign, he wanted to see the beach, to place his feet firmly on the sand, breathing in the salt and the spice of the native heath, sharp in his nostrils.

He grabbed a drink bottle from the floor in front of the passenger seat and flicked his thongs off, leaving them by the pedals in front of him. He stood and leaned against the open driver’s door, stretching, the three-hour drive creased into his bones, his knees, his arse. Slowly, the soreness evaporated, dissolving in the early summer air.  It had been hot in the car—the air-conditioning needed servicing soon—and it was hot standing next to the car in this carpark, but the heat was different. The car had been stifling, sweat-making, close. The air within this echo of the beach, the rhythm of the distant waves rolling lazily onto shore, was liberating: rich with choices.

Ben shoved the car door closed with his hip and didn’t bother to lock it. His camera gear was packed neatly into a couple of boxes in the boot, so it was secure anyway; he had thrown some bedding and about a week’s worth of clothes into the back seat but otherwise the car was empty. He ignored the sharp grit of the gravel under his soft feet and crossed the carpark in six strides, stepping onto the fenced pathway that connected it to the beach via a low hill of sand. Keep to the formed path, said a sign on his left. Valuable shorebird habitats are found in this area. Help us look after them! There was a picture of a nest, with some bland-looking eggs, and a pair of carefully drawn human feet with a red diagonal line through them. Ben had no interest, at this moment, in shorebird habitats. He needed to see the beach, feel the sand on his skin, wrap himself in its air.

At the top of the hill, about half way along the fenced path, it opened in front of him, endless until it bled into inky-coloured mountains in either direction.  It sloped gradually down to the surf’s caress, that insistent sound, gentlest of all rhythms. There was no one in his immediate field of vision, except for some indistinct smudges a long way off in the distance, struggling to keep their shape in the noon haze.  Ben inhaled deeply. His hands combed through his matted blond hair, resting briefly at the base of his neck so that his elbows pointed out sideways.  Slowly, his hands fell away from his body and opened out in front of him, in a gesture of welcome, almost a crucifix position. His eyes closed against the quiet world.  He walked on the spot briefly, driving his feet hard into the sand, feeling it cram up between his toes, the powdery warmth unlocking tension, until he was buried up to the ankles. He leaned against the splintery beam of the fence and stood, outside time, inhaling and exhaling in silence, washing himself in the sound of the surf.

After a while he kicked his feet out of their divots and walked down towards the waterline.  His tracks remained vague in the looseness of the sand above the high-tide line and if he had looked back he might have been pleased that he was leaving such indefinite shapes behind him. He stopped on the thin line of foam that announced the uppermost reach of the sea across the lower flat expanse of the beach. He sipped some water from the drink bottle and grimaced; its water was warm and plastic-scented. He unscrewed the lid and poured the rest of the water onto the next flood of surf, watching as it was sucked back into the ocean, water bleeding into water. The action of the tide swept small curls of sand around his feet, his toes; in the shallows nearby he could see small shells dancing along the rippled tidal bed, rolling and stopping, rolling the other way as the surf withdrew to feed itself again. He watched until they disappeared as another curl of white water collapsed on top of them.

Ben turned and slowly walked back towards the path. Sand crusted onto the wet skin of his feet in powdery clumps. He had to remind himself what day it was and was grateful that he had forgotten, no matter how briefly.  He stopped again at the top of the path and looked back along the beach, at its silence, its vast proportions. He could feel the crusts of sand, the smallest imaginable weight, on his feet.  In a few more steps he would see his old car, and the car would take him to the house he had rented for the next two months. Regardless of what happened there, in that time, he was home again.