So on Friday the 8th September, I read at the ‘Fused Harmony’ event at Art-time Supplies/Goleby’s Basement in Ipswich as part of the ‘fused’ arts festival over that weekend.
Earlier in the month, I asked Kate Roberts the owner of both venues and organiser of the gig, if I could include one of my Year 12 English students – Leon Miller on the program. Leon has started writing poetry over the last three years, and in 2016 was commended in the Ipswich Poetry Feast competition for his age group. He has led a life that few of us could comprehend – and his poetry talks to his seventeen years of being in the foster care system.
Kate agreed and so eager was Leon to read at his first poetry performance that he actually turned up to the venue one week early and hung around for about half an hour, before he saw some advertising that said the gig was on the 8th.
So, I was glad when Leon did turn up, and immediately we occupied a table for ourselves upstairs and organised for two short three minute readings each, and one collaborative performance at the end of the night. I told him that I had the idea that we could write short letters to each other from one old guy to one young guy and respond to what the other had said – taking turns. Leon agreed and off we went alternating this poem in two voices, which we wrote in about half an hour.
Finally, at the end of the night at around 9.30pm Leon and I stood on stage together down in Goleby’s Basement and read out the poem with guitar backing from Dave Smith. As a teacher of English, a poet and creative writer myself, it is so heart-warming to be there at the start of what will be a great new literary career for Leon as a young Indigenous Queensland poet.
Below is the finished collaborative poem called, ‘Oh Dear!’ written for two voices by Leon Miller and B.R. Dionysius
Sex ed now starts in grade five.
I picked up my son & he said
‘Dad….I never want to have an erection.’
‘Have you ever had one at night?
I’m sorry I didn’t fight the Great War.
Only seventeen, but do not think, because of my
Young age I understand so little.
Do not spit on me because I have dreams.
I’m sorry! I was just trying to be funny.
I think being young itself is no joke.
It must feel sometimes like surviving
A Great War. Humans mess everything up.
Embarrassment is all you seem to achieve.
You’re okay I guess.
But now times call for new jokes.
And please stop snoring!
When the wheels start to fall off
All sorts of noises are heard –
I snore, my wife snores…we both deny it.
Chainsaws start up in the middle of the night!
Oh dear lord!
Leave us be.
We’ve enough stress.
Now have you on our backs
And your snoring in our ears.
I think stress in life
Continues to rise like red mercury
In a thermometer on a hot day.
We are all dormant volcanoes waiting to erupt!
Leave us be for a while.
We’ve lives to pursue.
We’re not trying to be like you.
We’re trying to be better!
I want to leave something behind
For you to be better at! Hopefully
A planet – that can be healed & the core
Of its broken heart made whole again.
I know it was all of you
Who ruined our home.
We do not hate.
But you’ve led us to destruction.
We have killed so many of you
Over the centuries – for lands that
Don’t even exist anymore. I am so
Sorry we’ve turned the seas red.
But you’ve turned our souls black!
It’s not all of you.
It’s human nature.
I guess we have to heal ourselves
First, before we can start on the Earth.
Please don’t get our sickness.
Whatever it is. Stay away from pride.
We are the solution.
We would create solutions.
Maybe even a solution
To your snoring!
To you the world is snoring, fast asleep1
Do you believe that we must become insomniacs?
To combat our insatiable greed?
To get the sleepers to awake.
For a solution
For our old world
We must sleep well.
And so, soon a better world shall come.
I am getting so tired, it’s late.
My heart is full of black ink.
My entire body hurts, shakes in rage
At what I see you are going to have to do, to make it right!
All will be well.
So patience please.
Extra stress will not help!
But slowly all will be well.
I’m glad you have the faith now
You never have when older.
All I can hope for is that my words inspire
You to greater things! I look forward to reading you!
Faith is key.
We shall hold it to the end.
Just like you have with us.
Till I read you again, Dear Elderly.