Ivan Donn Carswell

Found 161 thoughts of Ivan Donn Carswell

Tools for life

Has life ever dumped you in a heap?
Perhaps you’ve found self belief so strongly
reinforcing that doubt never enters it,
nor divorces you from your own reality.

While I admire conviction I see it an
affliction of the blessed, sign of the righteously
possessed and indeed, a decent place to serve
a sentence for dereliction of self doubt.

I argue without it I am a cautious man and
easy to live with, I resound like a drum,
resonate to sympathetic percussion,
inflating nothing, merely imitating sound.

I feed on my doubt, I feast into the long night
of feverish dreams, fitfully sleep from crisis
to crisis, I am fêted, riven, inspected,
and reformed in every second of oblivion.

I waken rehabilitated, consummate with
confidence I can face the day’s rigors and
pursue challenges in the same vigorous
way I did yesterday.

And I die in the dawn of each new consequence,
ashamed I have no plan but the rising sequences
of random words, at times inadequate, at others
inspiring, as my tools for life.
© I.D. Carswell

Ivan Donn Carswell

When We Were Young

As a child I played in the same frosty fields
barefoot as my no lesser loved classmates,
whom we challenged to show courage in the numbing cold,
then together we held our chilled fingers over the roaring stove
that warmed our prefabricated, asbestos-sided classroom.

There were differences then and we knew them,
but shoes, or their lack,
shared clothes, running noses and weeping sores
did not seem significant to us
as we hastened through adolescence.

In those awkward years we were accustomed
to the unruly spirit of our being,
and our commonalty had more meaning than our separate futures.
I cannot recall a formal battle between the ‘them and us’
which was won by either side,
victories demanded greater skill
than tribal pride and family honour,
and warriors had no first claim to their origins.
The teams which warred were short-lived
and names were shared as battle-lines were drawn,
disputed, skirmished-over, until the bell
called us to our classroom.

In winter there was the lunchtime hot pot
to which we carried a family contribution,
and glutinous, multi-coloured, meat-and-vegetabled
soup slopped and steamed in our enamel mugs
as we bickered over the disintegrating mutton shanks,
eating our thick buttered bread, licking our fingers
satisfied guts glowing with a 1950's sense of well-being.

The playtime games and school chores punctuated
untroubled days of rote-learned arithmetic,
and lists of spelling words like 'fatigue',
muddled with stories read and agreeably listened to
granting glimpses of wide-eyed worlds beyond
the thin, obtuse walls of our shrouded origins.

I never knew other than great wonderment
at the vastness of the outside world, and my classmates
amazed me with their sophism
although I did not recognise it then.

But the naiveté of my beginnings
has me shackled in this era of mass beliefs
and machine-made consumerism,
my humble origin is shaken out as a time worn excuse,
trampled upon as a well used hearth rug. It matters not
that my heart has never left the simple rooms
where my world vision was fashioned
in the company of my playmates, my peers,
and I am deserted by their desperate awareness
and avid quest of themselves.
© I.D. Carswell

Ivan Donn Carswell

The Price Of Parting

Will they be there for you when you die?
Will they hold your hands and cry until you’ve breathed
your last? Is it too much to ask? While love is free
in tearful task the price of parting wears
a mask of pain which none would feign
to gladly greet. Yet love abed with death is said
to ease the way to timeless bliss, but just
for those departing. Or would you rather
quiet instead, the dignity of night and sleep
alone abed, no waking dreams? It seems
the beggar’s choice; a route into the wilderness,
departure lounge without the crowd.
And then there are the grieving scenes
that follow in your wake, you’ve gone beyond
the reach of mind, crossed the vague
and tacit line into a deep of endless sleep.
Your light has been extinguished yet
the light that fires your heirs burns bright
to bode the leaving of your flight.
© I.D. Carswell

Ivan Donn Carswell

A few kind words

A few kind words, what can be bought with that?
In essence just a clique of tidy prose,
a verb, a noun, perhaps an adjectival phrase
offered in the form of venal praise
– and be surprised at what it buys.
Like a fleeting smile it’s currency outweighs
the simple form, a hint of urbane compliment,
a subtle implement to sway discursive
dissertation, stun a lengthy recitation,
steal the centre ground; oh, so was that smile
for me? Profound congratulations are implied,
and truth denied, we always need a dose of that!
I’ll put it in my hat, my ego is well fed enough
and poets with a fat, indulgent ego are a nuisance
to the trade. Thank you for your words;
these words are yours in kind to muse,
I hope you’ll find some joy in that.
© I.D. Carswell
June 2006

Ivan Donn Carswell

Before the arthritis set in

It’s Wednesday, September 6th and a birthday,
again, these things arrive tediously on time
with wry regularity – and sadly, no sense
of providence or charity.

Instead of counting a year less I am
said to be blessed with sixty one
while actually I’m the age where I want
to regress about six, hover around
say, fifty five, start a new career.

But I doubt the World will cheer
at the thought of that or be as magnanimous
when I invent an age-reducing elixir /regime,
start a seditious scheme depriving younger generations
of their sexagenarians, septuagenarians,
octogenarians and nonagenarians – and any
centagenarians still kicking ass.

It would be considered a crass abuse of
aged-privilege (which I have yet
to discover the whereabouts of)
and a waste of rare resource opportunity,
meaning I couldn’t be exploited as easily.
Alright, I’m just having some fun,
I used to think sixty one was old
way back when I was fifty five,
before the arthritis set in.
© I.D. Carswell

Ivan Donn Carswell


The Ekka institution bares us all, though call it Exhibition, Royal
Queensland Show, it’s that time of year when you will go in
liberal spirit where the spectacle of fantasies escrow.

Gaudy frills and simple bunting still excites the passive soul,
ignites the fires patrolled by commonsense and daily grind,
enlivens dour inclines with smeared hypnotic flossy smiles.

You wander for a while, mouth agape in milling throng diffused with sounds
and smells both strong and rank and rare, ponder if you dare but move
along or stand aside, or be beleaguered in the tide.

Agile sellers spruik their wares in choral dissonance from booths
that crowd the narrow ways, writhing from displays of goods
you’ll never need or ever use, their cries confuse your commonsense.

The eyes in distant faces move in hazy motion, dazed, endangered
for the moment short of focus, searching for a locus to engage,
staring still amazed and buried in a trance-like syrup dance.

You pay and pay for things you never buy, consume exotic fruits
that sellers ply like smarmy snakes entwined in hanging vines within
your reach, devour the pith and core and seeds and then seek more.

You watch events you cannot comprehend, comments from the cryer
broadcast from the centre ring amuse, confuse or drive you from your seat,
you applaud in concert with the station hands who seem to understand.

When you have drunk the plastic cup of Ekka essense sad-dispensed,
supped and limned within the flow of raw emotion, emptied out your
pockets neat then you may go and flee the grounds, your soul replete.
© I.D. Carswell

Ivan Donn Carswell

The light was always you

In the beginning there was light,
abundant light that truly lit the way,
time was never lost in dodging flights
of feckless shadows and darkness seldom
ever blight the brightness of our days.
And when the shadows came at night
and stretched into the weary dawn, tangled
in the sleepers’ eyes and yawning in their
tousled hair, barely then we were aware.
And that was when we dwelt in dismal shades
of grey, remembering the flawless summers’ days
we left behind in broken time, dismembering
the quintessence of everything that bound us
thence and held us tightly on our way.
And now we stumble in the dark and walk
a sorely riven path that’s strewn with rubble
of our tumbled past, strive to find our perfect light,
aghast the gloom compounds our plight and treats
us to affray; could we ever find our flawless day
within this darkened room, or ever find the kindly light
we seek whilst stepping in each other’s way?
The bruises which we bear from crashes in the night
are sorely worn, we’re torn by crazy flights of fantasy
despite the anchors of our past, deluged by vast
illusions with no caste or frame to give a name to;
I know it’s not a game and I despair
at my lost sight but see a worldly light that glows
within the warmth of you, a light to guide you true,
a light to surely show you where to go;
and where you go is where I have to be
because I’m blind, did not construe,
the source of light was always you.
© I.D. Carswell

Without you I am blind….

Ivan Donn Carswell

Piscine kind of kinship

To glibly say that Joe was sort of odd
quite missed the point. Peculiar in many
ways and kind of weird, I would have
been afraid of him were I a child (if I ever
was a meek and mild retiring kid), avoided
him as if the plague. But he was good to Mutti,
and that Mutti was so good to me was cause
enough to bear the most extreme
eccentricity. He taught me how to fish;
oh, a blissful art it is, and just as Art exists
beyond relationships we were not friends,
instead we shared a piscine kind of kinship,
a sensitivity in which we learned to tie
the special flies that fished with great success
in streams around his home; we blended with
the river banks, cast our lines in rhythmic,
trance-like ballet dance that looped and swirled
in gently rippled peace, rarely spoke, we had no need,
we always knew which piece of water each
of us disposed. We drove the many miles
to fabled Lakes and fished in legendary tarns
and breaks, watched each other’s backs in places
anglers have a wont to go. On the river I’d
know within an inch where Joe would be,
studied his impressive ease of cast,
his reach, retrieve, the placing of the fly,
the gentle rise of rod to set the hook;
it took me many years to even part achieve
his awesome symmetry. I should,
with true humility, mention I
was never near as good.
© I.D. Carswell

Ivan Donn Carswell

Mountains of Delight

The problem was the manner of choice
(or whether there was a choice for that matter)
as you had taken those options to yourself,
choosing as you had to do, and as it was right for you,
there is no shame in that – and no reproving,
but my alternatives were emptied by your doing.

I define the weight of that odd convention
and what I attribute as logical is not natural
in terms of your reality, or contaminated by notes of practicality,
I am anxiously divorced from those restraints, halfway to lunacy’s
sanctuary where my unqualified knowledge provides
an illusory defence against what fate prescribes.

Oh, I hoped for a better life with fairytale ending,
a sympathetic resolution which implies
a fairer fate. It is far too late to make it thus I know, but I
won’t abandon my greatest ally, who was born
out of the same romanticism and grew worldly wise by my side,
steadfast and true, at least in the light of my colour-blind eyes.

So I cannot choose other than this singular place
where I already am, a place of which you know as I do
that there is no manner of choice in the matter.
And I accepted that irrevocably when I chose you.
It was never a question of winning or losing,
it was purely a matter of simply choosing.

Can we face this flight in concert and not judge
the road to come by looking backwards
where we’d find no pathway we could climb?
The mountains of despair which rise
out of the distant past are no surprise; our plight
should make them mountains of delight.
© I.D. Carswell
Anita, on her birthday,
June 13th 2005

Ivan Donn Carswell

Something to shout about

Captain AJ Shout, VC, MC, MID (& bar), who died at Gallipoli
of wounds and was posthumously awarded the VC,
a rare and prestigious award for most conspicuous bravery,
could say, even in dying, it was something to shout about.

He was a Kiwi serving in the Boer Campaign, mentioned
in despatches, remained living in South Africa a Queen’s
Sergeant with the Cape Field Artillery, married, a child,
then in 1907 came to Darlington, Sydney.

Entered the CMF, practiced his trade as a carpenter & joiner,
without peer as a rifle shot, considered the coming onslaught,
joined the AIF in late 1914, commissioned, made 2nd Lieutenant,
volunteered for even more ANZAC service at the outbreak of war.

1915, April, and during bloody confusion at ANZAC Cove
Lieutenant Shout bravely won an MC, he also received
wounds which cost him time out of battle ‘til June,
promoted Captain with mention in despatches on his return.

In August, severely wounded by his own grenade in close range
fighting in trenches at Lone Pine, incapacitated by the loss of an eye
and a hand, undismayed by blood and pain, fought ‘til collapse.
Passed away aboard HMHS Neuralia, August 11th, 1915.

A short but stellar career, if you had wont to call it that;
the aftermath, however, was just as as ominous. Clerical stupidity,
the curse of General Staff was blamed for heedless misinformation
provided his wife; her life, apologies aside, was also destroyed.

It should have been fine to remember the feats of his valour
revived from a fruitless campaign, and learned it was sane
to consider his warrior domain denied from our distant shores.
But he wore a Victoria Cross, or would have had he not died.

He’s in the news again with medals and ribbons and decorations
posted on bulletin boards across our Nation; Kerry Stokes, Ch 7,
aka ‘anonymous’ buyer, paid one million dollars for his VC,
a record made graciously at an auction to keep it in Australian hands.

Was it worth dying for in Gallipoli, a sufficient reward for suffering
and pain, and who may have gained from this magnanimous act? One
inescapable fact is the bronze of his VC came from cannons captured
at Sebastopol in the Crimea War. Yes, Collectors, there aren’t any more.
© I.D. Carswell

Ivan Donn Carswell


Why can't I keep out of harm's way?
Am I so preoccupied, simultaneously looking ahead,
concurrently looking behind; concerned to avoid
what I'll fail to heed and blunder on into calamity?
I lurch with no confidence from moment to moment
in a blindness as complete as if we'd never met.
Colliding with figments of your imagination or mine,
recoiling from dead-ends and dangling conversations,
half-truths and dyspeptic distortions.
And when we crash into the inevitable wall
I am gutted by its abruptness.
There is scant time to plan avoidance as each clash is
instant and after our loud but brittle utterances
you leave in mnemonic silence and I burn to ashes.
The fire is ruthless, it devours egregiously, consuming
all reason without respite, and though I cringe
in its aftermath, shocked in a charred hell,
cursing my stupidity bodes no pyrrhic insight.

Time to count the torrid cost of careless words inflicted on
your battered dignity, time to close the ugly face that chanted
out invective foul and shattered amity, time to quell
the fervid rush of feckless wrath which weighs
against the bloodied loss this manic madness brusque
and hot has flung across the face of sanity.

And I think of the words we've used; how we've talked
without touching the matter directly, or walking it to sleep,
not laying a hand on its heart, resolving nothing other
than knowing it hurt too much to say more, or
having said too much afraid we would be buried too deep.
And I fear the litanies, the trifling banter which offended none
until a fatal line was uttered and the battle thus begun.
And now I think a thousand lines and fear to utter one.

Who are these strangers in our house?
Cavalier of feeling, lacking sensitivity,
cartoons of battered self-esteem circling vulturously.
What were their origins and why are they so,
are they one and same we know?
I wish they'd stay their distance but fear
they share a common path - they bear a strange resemblance.

When I equate your sapping pain the sickness
in my stomach quells my need to eat or drink and bile
derides a bitter taste upon my tongue. I tremble in the aftershock,
ravaged numb with boiling shame; my deed it was, I knew it not
for what it was and bear the blame. I wear this millstone
as a symbol of my fate, a fate that weighs alone.
That you should feel the weight belies
your quiet, so deathly hushed it is without you home.

Time to count the torrid cost of careless words inflicted on
your battered dignity, time to close the ugly face that chanted
out invective foul and shattered amity, time to quell
the fervid rush of feckless wrath which weighs
against the bloodied loss this manic madness brusque
and hot has flung across the face of sanity.

Where is the person you once were?
Who is the one you have become? Can I find you in between?
I searched in memories which span the years we knew together
but rummaged in a closet bare. It is as if
you’d left with every vestige of yourself, and though
mementos and odds and ends remain
they are cold and inanimate, giving no clues.
I don't know who the new You is, and I am sorely afraid
it isn't the same You I knew. I don't know the new me either; I can't see,
I am blinded by futureless prospects which appal and terrify me.

I know of your wont for contentment for when you are not
I am despondent and spiritless; yet you need me to be happy
to mollify your joy, which to me is as much affliction as frivolity.
It is difficult to rise above the effect you have and impossible to deflect
this curse of your decent geniality and courteous respect,
you are the civilised soul; I, the angst-ridden ghoul.
Had we common joys to share and shared them not
to keep a pact we never made, preserve a calm of artifice,
I'd be a hand to misery - but share we did and kept a peace
we'd never trade. Low as I am and ready to sleep,
I smile to recall the gentle snores I hear
through the walls that separate us now. They woke me at times,
I could touch to reassure you, if not myself,
that at the heart of the matter, the matter was we were together.
Now I'm not so sure.
Can we be together still but need to be apart?

Time to count the torrid cost of careless words inflicted on
your battered dignity, time to close the ugly face that chanted
out invective foul and shattered amity, time to quell
the fervid rush of feckless wrath which weighs
against the bloodied loss this manic madness brusque
and hot has flung across the face of sanity.
© I.D. Carswell

Ivan Donn Carswell

To Henrietta Lyn

We're going to miss you little girl, you leave an aching space
way out of all proportion to your size. Tomorrow we must face the day
without your lavish greeting - without your urgent bark to wake us up
and say, "Let me out of here, the sun is up, I want to play."
We're going to miss you little girl, your cheerful wagging tail,
your blithe and saintly spirit quenching petulance. Each day
you trampled indolence with unbound joy and claimed
our hearts anew, we bloomed with you and learned to live
outside our petty selves for endless moments at a time.
We're going to miss you little girl, you filled our hearts with light
and gave us hope and cheerfulness when sombre shadows fell,
you declined to be subdued in shadows you disdained to see,
and shades of darkness in your supple spirit were dispelled,
now in the ceded aftermath we feel a weary, welcoming delight.
We're going to miss you little girl, our tears are turbulent
and gusts of grief regale our reprimanded souls, we seek
an answer in the cogent light of day without your warm divinity
as guide, and where your soul resides we find a harmony
as gentle as the calming breeze you blew into our tepid, troubled lives.
© I.D. Carswell

Ivan Donn Carswell

Does the name toll a bell?

Let them declare Jihad then, let them despair that I
will speak the truth as I see it, and where that truth bears
brutally on their lies I will have applied my brand of terrorism as
desperately as they do theirs. Abu Bakar Bashir,
does the name toll a bell? It tolls in Hell for Bashir,
a sonorous ringing, a triumphant chime of evil over reason.
The lunatic cleric is released from prison after serving his
token sentence for monstrous crimes; Bashir entrained the hatred
which motivated bombers in Bali, he didn’t set the explosives
which destroyed innocent lives, he merely told the inhuman lies
disguised as an Imam’s teachings, declaring all justified
in the context of Koranic readings. Allah decreed it, he cried;
Muhammad recalled the words God gave him in a vision and the scribe,
who wrote them into the sacred book a mere century after the great event,
justified his own interpretations – I merely described the incidents
a little more prosaically, he sighed, when questioned by ancient sceptics.
They aren’t lies as much as extensions of probable facts.
Plus a bit of this and that.
And Bashir uses the same technique, an excuse
to embellish his misuse of the redoubtable text. And Bashir is back
at Ngruki, the religious boarding school where he teaches,
a convicted accessory to murder, a criminal demurring his crime
returning to preach to the minds of impressionable youth.
For God’s sake, the man is insane! What kind of lunacy is that?
Does this school reek of radical theologies,
prepare children for glorious but certain death as religious soldiers?
Are their subjects terrorism and the suicide bomb? I am struck dumb!
Perhaps the boarders’ loving parents are not aware of that.
© I.D. Carswell

Ivan Donn Carswell

My enemy my friend

My enemy my friend
whom I know without compromise,
when I listened to the
deconstructions avowed of you
as your brand of pernicious
lies I was ashamed.
I know where you situate
in matters that joined us
in vigorous hand to hand
(and at times bloody) debate,
I know where you opposed my
belated philosophies you would stand
as firmly of the same belief as I
that they needed to be uttered freely.
But you never said those things
you are unjustly accused of by the
makers of plastic peace,
you only claimed they could be
said in a free and democratic state.
And in a few hysterical moments
your worthy sentiments were crushed
by the heel of the much vaunted principles
you said would take your noble life in
denying the freedom to oppose them.
© I.D. Carswell

Ivan Donn Carswell

A catchy phrase

It was called Farm Fantastic, a catchy phrase,
and potentially a day’s wasted sweat.
Even after the event I can’t say it wasn’t,
and I’m kind of glad we went, for better
or worse, to see if it was. Actually, I went
because my Better had prefaced a day away
from the farm, her invites are harmlessly issued,
but rare. Whilst getting there was a torrid affair,
driving home I said sincerely it wasn’t wholly
wasted, but I’m short on ideas, I learned
nothing new. The displayed machinery
was all old hat, I inspected a tractor (or two),
priced a few dreams, bought some woollen
socks, watched alpacas and llamas disport
themselves in the ring, tasted some wine,
the sauvignon blanc was barely drinkable,
talked to some friends and was comfortably
taken aback when my Better said, Okay, let’s go.
Maybe I learned something new after all, not to
presume I couldn’t enjoy a day at the fair,
agricultural show, farm fantastic, whatever…
© I.D. Carswell

Ivan Donn Carswell

It seldom snowed – Part IV

It seldom snowed they said,
perhaps they’re right
although seldom was never
in that endless summer
which tightened a fiery grip by day,
baking the plateau,
relentlessly melting its snow.
It began as a cliché
on a slow day
in a new January
of stupid heat
that penetrated the heart,
enslaving energies replete
with blinding lassitude,
defeating even the more able.
Over a beer shared in the Mess
we agreed to climb Mount Ruapehu.
The snowline had retreated enough
for a leisurely stroll
from the skiers upper car park
to Crater Lake,
we’d take a picnic lunch,
snap some great pictures,
be home for tea.
I had never climbed the volcano before
but it sounded okay to me,
representing no more
than a brisk morning’s walk.
I had heard the talk
of its moods,
how out of the placid blue
a shift in weather
could strand climbers,
I had seen the same phenomenon
from a safe distance
and I believed it true
but things had been stable for weeks.
When I reached the peak
clad only in running shorts,
a T shirt and combat boots
I was in awe of the view,
it was worth every risk –
not that there were any,
and to stand in brisk air
on top of this part of New Zealand,
on the pinnacle,
with two properly dressed
climbers roped together,
ice-axed and slack-jawed
gazing at me bewildered,
was an inspiration.
We exchanged greetings
and I left on my bum,
there was no other way down.
When my friends joined me
at the rim of Crater Lake
and we had shared
snow-chilled Liebfraumilch,
chicken and fresh, crusty rolls,
they asked if
my skinned buttocks hurt.
Not when sitting in snow
on top of Ruapehu
with my friends
I said, but tonight,
it might be a different matter.
© I.D. Carswell

Ivan Donn Carswell

Sweetness Of The Decent Night

They talked to me again today, they spoke in gentle tones
and said the things I ought to hear then lead me where
the frangipani flowered; they said the heady scent was meant
to soothe the wicked wounds I wore, to ease the twisted scars
that tore my inner peace. The power was overwhelming and I soared
in weightless flight, I spun amongst the blooms, I wheeled and turned
with agile ease in pungent breezes thicker than the blood that thundered
in my veins; would I could remain amid the scented blooms,
to loft beside the waxen leaves in pretty flight. Today I walk between
the dead and those who never lived, uncertain in my strides, awaiting
who decides my daily fate. The smile that tilts my lips is rooted deep
in flight and scented blooms and sweetness of the decent night.
© I.D.Carswell

Ivan Donn Carswell

Puissant Morons

Clean your glory glasses, scrub the lenses clean
and see the puissant morons stare;
garbed in common guises far from unfamiliar,
guises fair as anyone you know or care,
and what they seem is who they are,
and what they do and what they don’t
reflects their heir to common rationality.
They’re a film upon our ears and eyes
which mocks our haul to sanity, to plague
our petty little worlds with toxic insincerity.
Puissant I say, I meant ‘piss-ant’, but both apply,
they’re decadent, obsolete, a non-event.
Yet tell them so and bear the wrath; I’d rather not,
I’m kind of loath to bear more scars as recent as today.
So why, you say, demur, now are you man or mouse?
I’ll even purr if you can rub my fur just right
and suffer fools as gladly as the next
but keep those bastards out of sight.
© I.D. Carswell

Ivan Donn Carswell

It seldom snowed - Part II

It seldom snowed in Camp they said, on the mountains, yes,
and in the Styx, aka zone six. That’s where we were afoot
in alpine grass, garbed to test our winter skills,
tramp the craggy hills and camp a night or two,
spy a special site, an outing planned
to ready us for troop command. It snowed as we approached
our mission site, we set up camp above the dam
diverting Whangaehu River water to desert Tongariro.
The radio, an antique A10, worked okay in barracks
but in the snow it only raised a crackle now and then.
That night the snow reformed the land and we awoke
on an uninhabited earth, wrote our names freehand
in the continuous blanket surrounding our tents,
laughing as we urinated, the moment indelibly etched
in the timeless serenity of the snow-bound plateau.
The still, clear air, the pervasive silence which raided
our senses, calmed and freed us of the prying eyes
and demands our trainers made. We didn’t know
the exercise ended because of the snow,
the night before our fellow cadets slept in warm beds.
Our leader said we should take a shorter route
through the woods out of view of the site, observe
overnight and complete the task tomorrow; he might
have missed the blended contour lines, where they
converged we descended into a river gorge shown neatly
on the map, slithered down precipices, plunged through
saturating snow drifts until baulked by white water;
in a mid-summer jaunt it would be a trekker’s dream,
but now rigid with cold and no-longer brave we demurred.
It only occurred then that our leader should relinquish
command. He acquiesced when he knew our feelings.
We retraced our steps, tried our radio set and surprise,
were informed of the already cancelled exercise. We plodded
the weary miles to the RV, meeting our SSM who grinned
when he knew we were safe, “Good show,” he said,
“I thought you’d gone rafting! So, what do you think
of the snow?” I still don’t know; I’ll keep an open mind.
© I. D. Carswell

Ivan Donn Carswell

Travellers Whom We Met

Another fork away ahead
Exactly like the one behind
And twists and turns to leave you dead
As choices in your mind.

We've travelled here before you know
And had this conversation yet
We learned a way to ask for more
Than empty signposts that we met.

Of travellers whom we met
And journeys we have done
And twists and turns and choices yet
Beneath a never setting sun.

The sun we followed drew us on
And nights were filled with endless fun
And youthful folly not beset
Before our travels could be done.

Our lives segued and flourished when
We strolled through amber dreams
Whose rhythms were recorded in
Our vibrant, pulsing veins.

Of travellers whom we met
And journeys we have done
And twists and turns and choices yet
Beneath a never setting sun.

Now we sing our joyful song
To harmonise with voices set
In stones beside the roadside of
The travellers whom we met.

Of travellers whom we met
And journeys we have done
And twists and turns and choices yet
Beneath a never setting sun.
© I.D. Carswell
Peachester, September 2004

Ivan Donn Carswell

Of Such Simplicity

You and me,
the proof is there to see,
our lives are held within the spell of great simplicity,
we’re free of all the shadows dwelling in the hall,
seen in awe like pretty pictures hanging on the wall;
was it meant to be, intentionally,
of such simplicity?

The pace of Life
is not predictably ever free and oh so easy,
from the swift and mad to cruelly sore and sad
good times were had amongst the wrenching sorrows,
but most of life is so free of strife
as it was meant to be, essentially,

We have the time
now to reflect about
the things in life that we have surely gone without,
we could fixate no doubt on what we’d never see
or make our lives of great complexity,
but was it meant to be, implicitly,
just simplicity.

Here we are
the pantry door ajar
the shelves within are filled with all our living memories,
stored carefully, thoughtfully, for perpetuity;
it’s where we see our very precious legacy,
which is meant to be, uncontentiously,
of such simplicity.
© I.D. Carswell
June 2006

Ivan Donn Carswell

Night’s sentinel

Even tonight will pass into memory’s oblivion,
doomed, despite an ardent reunion
of once estranged yet precisely matched parts,
to a guiltless verdict – a foregone conclusion.
As you dissolve twice-blessed
in a kaleidoscope of dreams,
claimed by the deep, curdling sands
and sink, absorbed in sated self-suffusion,
I sense hard-edged awareness balefully prick,
dredging insomnia, haggardly thick with past phantoms
relating the fates of all vast and antique storms
that ever rose and menaced our skies, a raging
suspension of consensual lives which all but passed
into nothing; wise and implausible storms that calmed
hearts in thrall, teased sad wrinkled eyes before falling
easily upon our sore and thirsting land.

Even tonight will last only as long
as eponymous night can last, decreed
by blindness and a beggar’s mask to beg
in the darkness ahead of the light - and
when it is all said and done, perpetually
follow a transient path
under an old and intransitive sun.

And in the evening’s ritual dying and before tomorrow’s dawn flies
this night’s unguent shore I am more awake than trying to sleep,
at last alive in glory, fast-steeped, encased in a mould
of your liquid embrace where tied in fine bondings I fuse
with the dew from your sleep-used cheeks, rejoice in the scent
of your fragrant hair; absorbed in still-comfort and reading your skin’s
mercerised signs from the melt of our union – united in sum
and not caring to part, suborned, a transfusion of wearing your heart.

Yet I desert you again in a dilettante swoon, atoning for deeds,
bleeding with sins, an amateur whom while knowing his trial,
self-mutilates in thin pledges and bogus denial,
unable to render or stomach his fate… I won’t be reborn, it’s too late
and too long to the innocence of dawn; the judging is done, it schemes
in the bier, and calamitously so for surely it seems
I’ve abused my renewal in your library of dreams.

As the light from a new day splits the anxious night
along its softened seams and spreads a filigree
of lucent threads to gleam in my mired eyes,
I am alight; the clouded cold ebbs to journey’s end
and tangles in the bends of broken sleep,
and though I’ve only strung a line or two
in a dearth of odds and ends where meaning’s clear
I know I can return from here; night’s sentinel will wait
good-naturedly to place my fate. I can without fear
rejoin your embrace and thrill in the joy of your awakening face;
comforts abide and time has stood still in a blaze of enlightenment;
I know what is true – as I always will, my comfort is You,
Forever is true, You are as you are, and You are as I see you.
© I.D. Carswell

Ivan Donn Carswell

Fountain of your rise

Michelle, the thought of you confused or under siege
bereaves us; you, the cheerful heart who waged a
silent war for lost, egregious souls whose thanks
deserted you should never be constrained, should never
need to grieve in anxious pain or ever cede to grieve alone.

Michelle, you gave without restraint, the light was
grown brighter by your sacrifice and even though
you managed to avoid the centre glow the light was
quite enough to keep the shadows of another night
at bay, until today. We knew so little of the troubled way.

Michelle, the zesty core you’ve kept proscribed will essence
out, your psyche has rebelled and shouts the epithets of
trenchant self, a new and lively eminence is just about
to soar in anxious skies; it is a resurrection of your inner
power and no demise, the natal fountain of your rise.
© I.D. Carswell

Ivan Donn Carswell

It was your first outing

It was your first outing, or more rightly, our first outing
with you. We were as proud as new parents could be,
wheeling our son in the crowded Sunday shopping throng,
glancing down again and again to reassure ourselves, and you,
that we were indeed one, gazing in awe at your small face
and trusting eyes, head encased in lacy cap, unselfishly
sharing this consuming intimacy with everyone.
When you could participate in the sights and sounds
around you and sat erect commanding all that passed
you ate your first ice-cream unaided. Your face
was painted in rich, chocolate smears
and your beautiful eyes
devoured our hearts.
© I.D. Carswell

Ivan Donn Carswell

On The Death of a Father

I was schooled well before he died, able at least
to feel what others felt when their fathers
were deceased. Able but not willing
and not without despair to glimpse the man
who’d hide the truth of just how much he cared.
My argent truth was fulsome gloom,
moribund and drear, my face a patent emptiness
occluding every tear; I’d gone to view him in his bier
and hoped he wasn’t there.

Driven to be reassured with no idea
of what I’d see, uncertain in my gnawing fear,
lead to where they said he rested comfortably,
- a wasted corpse too small to fill the space
the giant of my admiring youth had easily
displaced; it wore my father’s face disgraced
in modest death - a crushing disappointment,
a jest, I knew at once it was another
in his place. The man I loved for patience
and simplicity was clearly somewhere else instead,
yet dead, yet dead, oh most implacably.

Our sombre deed that day was one and last
for our departed Dad, we wore his coffin
on our rounded shoulders to its grave,
a coruscating scar before our heavy paths,
its blinding light a-thunder in our dismal thoughts,
our sight assailed with shattered shards that
charred the metaphors we brought to hear,
the metaphors we wrought with care,
the loving icons of our youth we fraught
to share and bury with familiar treasures
vested there. I fear I did not cry that night,
I did not dare.

This dismal place I hide my grief is crowded shame,
my father would have taught me tame my trembling lips
without contempt, face far constraints tight-lipped,
remain serene; I dream how well I played his silent game.

The years that separate me from the choke-voiced son
who spoke his Father’s eulogy with clumsy tongue
cleared the final clod of filial uncertainty. I know
my sons as one who loves, and know and feel
their love for me. In memories of a father whom
we laid to rest in strident peace and nascent piety
I see the vibrant image of the golden ones;
I so regret I never said how much I loved you
Dad, and so lament that you, Norman Frank Luke,
never spoke candidly of how much you loved too.
© I.D. Carswell

Ivan Donn Carswell
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