Wednesday, 14 December 2011


part one (longish blank-verse poem - all the rest are < 50 lines)
Poem 1 of 230:
0 - 19:  HELPED BY “THE OLDS”; SCRIBED 2000 A.D.

Another branch on ye tall English Tree
(A family tree with three grandparents
Mancunian and one yon Colchester),
I was born in Manchester’s St. Mary’s,
Just before kick-off, on the World Cup Day
(Nine hundred years from that other battle;
And three hundred from London’s Great Fire)
When hosts England defeated Germany.
And I came out of the womb quite wounded:
A clubfoot to boot - my lighter left foot.
This Foot and some scoliosis with it
Have not missed me out of much through life,
But early on proved a bedtime hassle.

    My earliest learn-to-walk-and-talk years
Were based within a semidetached house,
Not distant from Didsbury’s Old Bull pub,
Nor the Cong. of my Christmas Day christening.
I can picture nothing at all from then
Save vague memory of going to bed
With my feet in bedding-tearing braced-boots -
Designed, I take it, to stop reclubbing.
In perhaps what was a first in-spite-of
(I have sometimes since gone against some grains),
Apparently I learnt to walk quite young
(Aided about by a walker at first,
Plus, it seems, surgeons who’d unclubbed me well)
And, enjoyed it so, was soon plonked instead
(Partly for the purpose of parental peace)
In a containing, back-garden, playpen -
Walls contented with, then contended with:
Student, wanderer; student, wanderer...

    Via request in a Northern accent
(A tongue soon to be kidded-out of me
Upon emigration to Australia),
I’d be walked with Sis. to “Feed the duckies,”
At places to which lately I’ve returned
(As partly has that long-lost first accent):
Fog Lane Park; the Mersey at Didsbury.
And, at night, first books were read out to me
“Again” and “Again!” by my Mum or Dad,
Alongside my first of hundreds of beds.
(In extension, I now like to study -
Read to write - publications at least twice.)

    In the first year of the “Disco Decade”
(Not back, to live, till Hong Kong’s repat. year -
Alighting on a sunny Swithun's day!),
Newly arrayed in a gunslinger’s kit
(Fighting or flighting home-grown discontent?),
Via Switzerland and a plane-bomb scare,
Before Tel Aviv and other short stops,
We four were greeted like many before -
Some two hundred years from Captain Cook -
At, in a Cockney rhyme, “Steak and Kidney,”
By, in an Aussie slang, our “relies,”
On, to my Olds, “A summer winter’s day.”
Such days, too, are beyond my memory,
Except for playing with, in ray-lit air,
Dust - the dust of a Waterloo high-rise;
From whence, with Sis., Mum and her Scottish friend,
Would be made weekly one-stop train trips to
Paddy’s - a market with, for mine, “Doggies!”
Doggies - those space wanting/needing cute pets,
That, at least through novelty time, kids love;
Doggies - some innocent traffic-risk strays,
Others kept and trained sanity-savers;
Doggies - some innocent shoe-soilers,
Others good fitness-mates of clean owners.
(These days, I’m with a “no pets” landlord’s rule,
Though, around school, I spent time with many.)

    Nature, nurture, or a knitting of both?
From this council-flat (I’m told by my Olds),
Wearing braced-trousers and a shoulder bag
(The latter custom has survived the years),
I’d often want to collect the mail -
To collect to Know my grandparents’ news,
To Know, I now interpret, of others:
Other places, other people - their lot.
(Plus, may I add, to at least try and help.)
And this links with desires to See things:
Years hence, during my maturing twenties,
I preferred plastics-work to electrics -
I could See the changed-shots of changed-settings.
And my Foot - ‘twas an infant’s obsession,
Leading me to grind, to self-improve.
Nature or nurture? No - a work of both;
To me, the fraction’s the question.

                                                                      My Dad’s
Electrical abilities employed,
We moved to a Yowie Bay detached-house,
And I into Yowie Bay Infant School.
Now, in retained-fragments (“spots of time,”
In William Wordsworth’s words), I remember...
One spot, a tape of Peter and the Wolf,
by composer by Sergei Prokofiev -
Thrilling; as was role-playing firemen -
Though only for the yellow-raincoat set!
(A “group-think,” in military language.)
Other spots are the crèche where Mum worked hard;
An enchanting turtle in my school’s tank;
Early shoots of capitalism, like:
“My dad’s got ten billion million, so there!”
(These “shoots,” through all my school years, were well-fed -
While socialism was malnourished);
Old hopscotch, force-men-back, and hide-and-seek;
Plus esoteric doctors-and-nurses;
Ignorant cowboys-and-Indians games
(Again, sprouting from biased nourishment);
Playing a football-mix - betwixt the codes;
Sore young hands from training at Aussie Rules
(A good game - for me, began at too young);
Playing tunnel-ball with medicine balls;
And a first ruler-smack across the “Moon”;
Stars - stars, as carrots, for getting through books,
Stuck onto a competition wall-chart;
And kidding leading, from “lorry,” to “truck.”
Such was the start of my new ‘isation -
English Boy to Anglo-Australian
Or, now, Australianised-Englishman
(Either-nationals pick other background)...
Who, as a positive nationalist,
Respects ab- and Aboriginal rights;
Who doubts economic emigration
Plus refugees not in their closest refuge
(That is, from this point in time on, at least);
Who is aware of medical reports
Re sunlight/Vitamin D and skin-tone;
Who attempts to understand history,
And make due allowance for its effects;
Who has heard the globe-as-melting-pot voice
(And, beyond English and Aussie training,
Is, frankly, much a product of the globe),
But likes cultures and borders, with fair trade
(Eco-travel and lore parts of such trade),
Via a stronger United Nations,
Including - his own - the English nation;
Whose anglicises is slowly regrowing
(Anglicises of the better kind, I hope):
Perching by experience and practise,
Appreciating unique home-plusses,
But fighting, in a Way, some home-dislikes,
And remaining caring of world affairs
(Not forgetting worldly ills seen first-hand),
Thereby making something of it - this past.

    From hand- to foot-passing drills/New to Old,
I began seven years of club soccer,
And further years of calisthenic drills
(Team push-ups, chin-ups, sit-ups, and leg-ups;
Solo skipping and hopping on my Foot -
A half of a Morris dancer, of sorts!),
At the up-and-go-searching age of five -
Get ‘em while they’re young, like the banks do!
Good times, mostly, for my family and me:
Nil-nil and latish in the second half
(And latish in my football career!),
A 12-years B-grade hard-fought grand-final
(Always trialled - never picked for the A’s),
My family closely edging the sidelines
(Extra feeling for my just-widowed Nan;
My Grandad-trainer-keenest-fan had died -
They having followed us from Manchester)
As they cheered and urged our team onward...
And a long firm drive from outside their box!
Me slowish (hadn’t scored all year) but there -
There for this once, there for the deflection...
Off goalie to my boot and into net.
We won and went on, as A-2’s, to be
Trophied “Most Improved Team ‘79” -
The Miranda Magpies, in the striped strip.
(Missing my Grandad’s interest in the game,
I stopped on a “7 Years Service” badge.)

    From a one-minute walk over the road
To a fifteen-minute suburban march,
Or, more often, a five-minute pedal,
My schooling moved to Yowie Bay Primary,
And, in some ways, the “nourishment” curved up
(As with the just-opened Opera House):
I recall videos and projects on
The hard-homing of Pacific salmon -
Impressively muscling the river’s flow,
To sow their seeds and die in calmer climbs;
Plus videos and projects on Bushmen -
The fine Bushmen of the Kalahari,
And (equally finely tuned to their lands)
Those of Aboriginal Australia;
A spear making-and-throwing contest,
Preparing fires for bush-tucker food,
Before a visit from the experts who,
After some indigenous chant and dance,
Showed easy us kids how things should be done;
And then being moved by a film - Storm Boy.
(Years later, at uni., I would add on -
To this and high-school narrative-study -
In-depth anthropological research
On Aboriginal society:
That is, both pre- and post-colonial,
Which involved, at last, socialist viewpoints;
Partly, as has already been hinted,
We are products of self-experience,
And, from the latter, I’ve concluded that
The disposition of what has become
Mainstream Australian society
Owes some to, in more ways than one, Kooris;
Plus that First Ways have been, and should be, kept -
Hard-won Aboriginal survival.)

    As well as soccer, through primary school,
Were goes, of varying scope and depth, at:
Softball - one (not so soft!) flat on my nose,
Thereby tonne-heavy for a lengthy time;
Touch- and, sometimes, tackle-type rugby league;
Snooker and pool, darts, and table tennis;
Go-carting, cycling and skateboarding;
Beach body-surfing and pool lane-swimming,
Or diving and ducking in backyard pools;
Long-course runs, like the Sutherland-to-Surf;
Cricket - in a low grade, carrying-bat
And managing to spin the ball both ways;
As well as pastime games, like dominoes
(Including group-effort long-chain toppling),
Hula-hoops, yoyos, Rubix cube, and draughts.
Plus, at the end of these fun years, tennis:
Down by one match-point and five rapid games,
In an A-grade junior tennis comp.,
A match against an old sparring partner,
His team and my team all well-acquainted,
A local derby of Bill Gilmour’s school
(Bill Gilmour of world refereeing fame);
The season before, my wayward backhand
Having lost for the team a mixed doubles
And, thereby, that long-season’s grand final -
All sessions and sweat to no avail!
I began giving the ball some more air
(The sole gamesmanship I ever used was -
Slow things down, when down/and speed up, when up),
And, that time, it worked - seven games to five.

    From the Primary motto “Justum Tene"
To the “Ardentibus Nil Ardui
Of Port Hacking High School, my test results
(As with the tennis and other sports comp’s),
Overall, were just above average:
A school report labelled me “a battler” -
Dedicated but lacking “confidence”;
Latter is, surely, partly conditional,
But it’s true that I choked in some exams -
Yet to learn the fine Art of perspective,
That saw me better through tech. and uni.
(“A late bloomer” hindsight reports might add),
Helped me shoestring through say forty countries
(“Say” for the world’s boundaries sure have changed),
Plus reach the station of “works manager.”
And this “fine Art” came hard to me from chance,
Plus learning, in time, to cope with chances:
“Look, he’s wearing one of his sister’s shoes,”
He laughed, pointing. “He’s got a girl’s shoe on!”
This event chanced upon me in first-form,
And was to do with my shorter left leg -
Or the high-heel lifting it equal.
I left the playground of that “knowing” group,
And learnt to cut cardboard-insoles instead.
(So far, I have suffered little back pain,
Having lifted, I gauge, my workshop share -
In perspective, a minor injury.)

    From the school of knocks to schooling in sex -
The “esoteric doctors-and-nurses”:
What do teachers say/what don’t they say?
I remember, “If it’s not on, it’s not on”;
As well as, “Getting off before Central”;
And brief talk on other contraceptives.
I don’t recall being told the age-law;
Nor about foreplay to get wet and hard,
Before either guides it slowly inside;
Nor how sodomy, being much tighter,
Is more risky re blood-borne diseases;
Nor any mention of alternatives,
Like mutual hand (with oil) massage;
Nor of Her need for post-sex affection
(Equally strong as His need to finish?).
But perhaps enough by teachers was said
(In words I can no longer remember),
For pregnant teens must have been rare - if there;
And when AIDS arrived so did Grim Reaper,
Warning on how many, from a germ’s view,
Each of a couple may be sleeping with.
And, as for my school-sexuality,
Male friends have always been non-sexual
(Friends, rather, in music, sports and suchlike),
While hetero-sex came not till late teens.

    On, from “doctors-and-nurses,” to farmers,
Oklahoma! - an end-of-year school-bill
(Signalling Americanisation),
With a neighbour in a leading song-role,
His family giving tickets to mine -
Was my first viewed stage-play of any kind,
And, though I’ve seen few since, I liked the form
(If not the Americanisation):
Something for a more set future, maybe.
Other plays - non-musical - through school were:
Lawler’s Summer of the Seventeenth Doll,
On migrant cane-cutters’ concerns;
Plus, on power, Williamson’s The Club.
And, as for my own theatrical roles
(Beyond the jams with my musical friend),
From high-school forth, I’ve liked bathroom warbling.

    P.C.s, too, were embryonic as I
Began those six awkwardish study-years:
Within grounds within walk of home (again),
A small computer-room had just opened,
With two terminals per the assembly,
Available for lunchtime usage -
I.T. not being taught in class back then;
Among the few - “Tech-Heads” - that took the call
Was a friend who guided me to BASIC
And simple key-games like Formula One,
Loaded firstly by tape, later by disc.
(But for brief clicks at tech., uni. and work,
I’ve lost touch and have never surfed the Net -
Finger-walking a library, I gauge.)

    “Try to nut-through and get the gist of it.”
So spoke one of our science schoolers,
In reference to a theory of much complaint.
Getting to Know more-and-more my limits,
I took to - and still take to - gathering,
Plus giving, the general “gist” of things.
Testing and strengthening this newly-found Way
Were, in English classes, the study of:
Judith Wright’s, and Kenneth Slessor’s, poems;
The novel, The Getting of Wisdom,
By Henry Handel Richardson;
Plus, adding to past primary-projects
And preluding uni. work (as above),
Aboriginality in Coonardoo
(Novelist - Katharine Susanna Prichard);
as well as the previously-mentioned plays.
(“What, then, is the writer saying? And how?”
An English teacher repeatedly asked.)
And there was another schooling in Gist:
The general gist of our misdeeds -
Written and written, down and down a page,
During lunchtime or after school, even!
(Smoother the paper, more will the wash run?
Or, from William Shakespeare’s Claudio,
Within Measure for Measure, “Liberty:
As surfeit is the father of much fast”?)

    Leading me out to a bit of Nature
(“A bit” compared with the likes of Wordsworth
Or, indeed, latterly, Attenborough),
Throughout primary- and early high-school,
Was involvement in Yowie Bay Cubs and Scouts,
Culminating in a Perth jamboree -
Reached by my second long jet-plane journey,
And including a circular joy-flight,
In a small feel-the-flying aircraft,
Somewhere around what seemed a huge campsite;
Further partakes were orienteering
(Then, mostly for views or other such ends;
Now, increasingly, for the life passed, too -
Along with natural history T.V.,
Old Poetry influential, once more),
Canoeing and kayaking on rivers
(I’ve thought about the Mersey or Irwell,
In-between Manchester and Liverpool...),
Plus knotting and other “rites of passage.”
Family holidays adding to such
Experience of Australia’s outdoors
(There was also one to New Zealand)
Were at spots, such as Forster-Tuncurry,
On New South Wales’s surfy coastline,
And included fishing and sightseeing,
Plus the simple thrill of staying anew.
And Nature-memoirs are the usual gist:
Gumtrees, teatrees, wattles, bottlebrushes;
Kangaroos, cockatoos and cicadas;
The hard-laughing kookaburra chorus;
Plus the cracking storms (ending sultry days),
Some blown by Southerly Busters.

                                                                       At home,
Early or late in these summertime days,
Breaking from study or such indoor things
(I did, and still tend to, take briefer-breaks
Around half-past each hour - for hours),
I’d go out to the quarter-acre block
That ran down behind our bungalow,
Within walk of boat-lovers’ Yowie Bay,
In Sydney’s lawny Sutherland Shire;
Once just a means of some sporting practise,
My gardening interest grew green, from
Straight-through lawn-mowing and -edging, into
Composting, mulching and weeding, before
Pruning, plant types and, eventually,
Pelargonium species collection.
(Now, in cooler and more-confined soils,
I grow, and shape, some Hedera helix,
Plus push for native- and veg-planting.)

    Meantime, my wartime-trained Dad was growing -
When not creating, well, at his easel -
Much of the simple fare I now consume:
Fine for the body-growing-years before,
My choice of diet, through later high-school
And well beyond, was, frankly, wrong for me;
I had bad acne on both my face and back,
From too much sugar, meat and milk intake,
And building top-heavy on a clubfoot,
With, linked, high-protein foods, was no wise try;
When at home, at least, I’m a vegan now;
A teetotaller - but for scarce events;
And a non-smoker of any leaf-type -
The slight calm not worth the cost and the throat
(A calm reached freer from just thought-control).

    When the ball-size changeover was starting,
During third-form I took to playing golf
(“Thought-control” test if ever there was one!);
First ‘twas done solely as a P.E. sport
(Struggling hard to get the thing off the ground),
Then whenever I could find the free time,
By sixth-form as a junior member,
Before - how now - as a keep-card hobby
(That has replaced stamp- and coin-collecting):
Ninety courses played, in eighteen countries,
And some six single-figure scores, so far...
(A perplexing perpetual pastime.)

    I learnt to drive a car during school, too:
Found much easier than the golfing kind!,
'Twas soon used to steer a small sedan
As high as Thredbo, for Kosciusko;
As far west as Fleurieu Peninsula;
As far south as temperate Tasmania -
Crossing via the ship Abel Tasman;
And as far north as tropical Queensland -
Returning, partly, via a freight train.
Plus, some years before that test, became a
“Naturalised” Australian Citizen -
Though, being underage at the time
Of my family’s hall-ceremony,
Did not make direct declaration of
Allegiance to a queen born on the same
Island as us and all my known forebears.
Either way, I had little care, back then,
For the politics and symbolics of
A system I now find against a Faith
In fair regulated competition,
As well as social cooperation
And basic-security, I’ve since formed.
Nor did I Know of Milton and Cromwell:
Early, competent, brave republicans.

    After high school, I took an unfinished
(Though I later converted its subjects
Into one of my tech. certificates -
Preferring moulding to wiring, as said)
Electrical Fitters’ Apprenticeship,
Which, as it was a quite highly paid one
And as I was based at home during it,
Enabled me to save for the shoestring-
Travel and study in Humanities,
That, along with all the above, led to
(In the Old medium found best for me)
The penned Walkabouts, which may now be read -
Newly shown, I hope, where I’m coming from.

(C) David Franks 2003

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


part two



C2 F3 G2 G3 A2 A3 G2 G3
C2 G3 A2 A3 G2 G3 F2 F3
C2 A3 A2 A3 G2 G3 F2 F3
C2 G3 A2 G3 A2 G3 F2 F3

C2 F3 G2 G3 A2 A3 G2 G3
C2 F3 G2 G3 A2 G1 F1 F3)

Once drove an old sedan up north,
    From a place in Sydney to Cairns;
Then to Kuranda I went forth
    By train, to look without set plans.


I browsed through the trendy market,
    With fresh fruits of tropical kind;
Walked to the creek through lush thicket -
    Nature’s hand giving peace of mind.


I dined in a scenic cafe;
    Then, outside, as I wrote for yen,
Some passing Kooris called-out: “Hey,
    You go walkabout with your pen.”


Request or question, I don’t know -
    Assured voices, elderly men.
That’s now several years ago,
    And I’ve seen the world - with my pen.

(C) David Franks 2003
Hear here -
The "place in Sydney"

Near the start - 1988

Near the end - 2003

Monday, 12 December 2011


Poem 3 of 230:  PICTURES

Photographs and, more so, painted-
    Pictures of people and places,
For ends, involve in some cases
    Adjustment of what was gathered.

With restrained artistic licence
    (To make metre and rhyme with sense),
All matters related here -
    Save the love-songs, to be clear -
Did happen to me, no fear;
    And time-ordered they appear.

(C) David Franks 2003

Photographs of English painted-pictures at
London's National Gallery, 2016...

Sunday, 11 December 2011


Poem 4 of 230:  PICTURING SYDNEY

A good place to start is Sydney Tower,
    With its enthralling panoramic feast:
Olympic grounds - west; to north - the harbour;
    And beautiful beaches - north- and south-east.

From what is quite a jumbled C.B.D.,
    A good walk is through Botanic Gardens
To the harbour, Opera House, then the Quay -
    But other options number in the tens.

(C) David Franks 2003

Sydney Tower, far right, from plane.

A NE beautiful beach - Manly

A SE beautiful beach - Cronulla

Botanic Gdns, Opera House & Circular Quay
The above pics are closely linked to the verses; below is a more-random selection of my Sydney favorites.

Bundeena; 17/11/15

Saturday, 10 December 2011


Poem 5 of 230:  STATE TO STATE


C2 F2 G2 F3
C2 F2 G2 F3
C2 F2 G2 F3
C2 F2 G2 F3
F2 G2 F2 C3
F2 G2 F2 C3
F2 G2 F2 C3
C2 F2 F1 F3)

From Sydney Town,
    In uni. break,
I drove south-west
    To earnings make
Onion picking,
    On the fields
Of Echuca,
    That year’s yields.

                                           After day’s work,
                                               From Y.H.A.,
                                           A group of us
                                               Would not delay
                                           To walk on down
                                               To the dirt rim
                                           Of the Murray,
                                               For a cool swim.

On one such day,
    I do declare,
Some three of us
    Had a big dare
To swim across,
    From state to state,
The wide Murray -
    I took the bait.

                                           Yes, foolishly,
                                               I took the bait -
                                           A choice that I
                                               Would come to hate,
                                           For I almost
                                               Did drown that date,
                                           Making the swim
                                               From state to state.

(C) David Franks 2003
Hear here -

Youth Hostel Association stamp from 1987

Friday, 9 December 2011


Poem 6 of 230:  THE PICKER

While picking onions at Echuca,
    Betimes I came across a
Man who was, he said, by trade a picker.

A compact and stocky physique had he;
    Kind he was to first-time me -
Advising, “You should pick ‘em on your knee.”

Then he told me of his long-kept plan
    Of travel, by caravan,
To pick seasoned crops, over a wide span.

But workers’ rates, I knew, were non too fair -
    Twenty dollars a tonne, there,
Was all the onion-crop owner could spare.

Though (with tally taken by some louse,
    And told to see owner or spouse),
Believe me, they lived in some kind of house.

(C) David Franks 2003

Thursday, 8 December 2011


Poem 7 of 230:  RECENT HISTORY

There’s a place called Sovereign Hill
    (Nigh the city of Ballarat),
With dated representations -
    And they’re authentic ones at that.

You can pan for gold at the creek,
    Write some lines with inkwell and quill,
See bread baked the colonial way
    Or a blacksmith at his anvil.

There’s a (pre-plastics) bowling lane
    (With everything made in wood),
A painted-photo studio,
    And a saloon built as they stood.

Visit the timber cottages
    (Via front-gardens of the day),
Read-up on mining history,
    Or watch costumed-revellers play.

And, just beside the “old” village,
    Should you decide to see some more,
There’s homely accommodation;
    But heed - Kooris came long before.

(C) David Franks 2003

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


Poem 8 of 230:  CRONULLA

South of Sydney,
    Sand and sea -
That’s Cronulla.

Surfies and girls,
    Sunbleached curls -
At Cronulla.

The promenades,
    The lifeguards -
That’s Cronulla.

A modern mall,
    Flats stand tall -
At Cronulla.

(C) David Franks 2003

The above pics are closely linked to the verses; below is a more-random selection of my Cronulla favorites.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011



In Sydney’s Sutherland Shire,
    There’s a relaxing place to see:
It’s called the Camellia Gardens,
    And one can wander round for free.

Down and along an escarpment
    Meanders a thin stony path;
Beside which grow the camellias -
    Beaut. autumn-blooms the aftermath.

With the evergreen-camellias
    Are a range of native species;
And, atop the leafy hillside,
    A shop sells snacks, coffees and teas.

Plus, down below, there is parkland,
    Where couples rest as children play;
And they walkabout the fish ponds,
    Or the shoreline of Yowie Bay.

(But, regarding plant selection,
    With more knowledge, over the years,
On flora, fauna and their links,
    I'd say - natives not camellias.

And these gardens that need do serve -
Joseph Banks Native Plants Reserve.)

(C) David Franks 2003

Camellia Gardens, spring 2011

Yowie Bay, Spring 2011

Photo visits to JBNPR, spring 2011 & 2012