Yesterday’s Homework

March 12th, 2016 | Poems for children

Yesterday’s Homework

Last night, while walking home from school,
The sparkling bay looked very cool
And I, who felt extremely hot,
Decided on a dip. Why not?

A dolphin popped up by my side,
And said he’d take me for a ride.
Dazzled by his cheery grin,
I gripped him by his dorsal fin.

He towed me far. He towed me fast,
And when he let me go at last
I found that I was near some sand,
But very, very far from land.

I waded from the water next,
And stood upon the sandbar, vexed
To see the rising of the tide,
And no more dolphin by my side.

First my ankles, then my knees
Were inundated, by degrees.
A challenge great I knew I faced
As it came up around my waist.

High above me then I heard
A buzzing – not a bee or bird;
Not a chopper, not a plane,
But something tricky to explain.

It was a vessel from afar –
Some distant planet, moon or star –
That noticed I was in great strife,
And dropped down low to save my life.

It scooped me up, then high it flew.
Its crew weren’t green, but red and blue.
I thanked them. They were most polite.
I must have looked a dreadful sight

Dripping water on their floor.
“Could they fly me to my door?”
I asked them, but they answered not,
For then, a mighty cannon shot

Came crashing down from high above.
The shock waves gave our ship a shove,
And sent us tumbling to the ground,
Then further shots commenced to pound

The little vessel’s outer skin.
They made the most horrendous din.
Then one bloke rose up from the floor
And whispered to me, “We’re at war!”

He lurched across to grab the wheel,
And said, “I’ll see if we can steal
Away by keeping very low.
It might just work, but I don’t know…”

Right then I drew a breath, aghast,
To see my home go flashing past.
“Please, can you drop me off right here?
My family is very near.”

He tossed a ladder off the side.
I thanked him for the rapid ride.
Instead I jumped, with “What the heck!”
And soon felt water round my neck.

The shore looked very far away,
But next a creature, blueish-grey,
Nuzzled up with cheery grin,
And said, “Hang on, I’ll take you in.”

It was, of course, my dolphin friend,
To bring my journey to an end,
To lead me, with its gentle mirth,
To plant my feet on solid earth.

So now you’ll see the reason why,
With horrors in the sea and sky
(Though some of it was rather fun!)…
I haven’t got my homework done.

© Stephen Whiteside 12.03.2016

Bush Music Club Songs, Tunes & Poetry competitions

April 3rd, 2014 | Poems for adults, Songs

I was thrilled to learn last night that I had won first prize in the poetry section of the Bush Music Club Song, Tunes & Poetry competition.

This is the first time I have entered. Indeed, I would not have been aware of its existence if Maggie Somerville, singer, mandolin player, and songwriter from Ringwood Folk Club, had not drawn it to my attention.

Congratulations, too, to Maggie, for winning the Tune section, as well as being runner-up in both the Song and Tune sections.

Here is my winning poem.

Australian Dreaming

You talk of old Australia, with the flooding rain and drought;
Of the shearer, of the drover; of the cook, the rouseabout;
You talk of paddle steamer, or of bullock team and dray;
It’s the noisy, smoggy city where we congregate today.

You talk of red Australia, and the hulking Uluru;
Of the emu and the brolga, of the bounding kangaroo;
You talk of Kata Tjuta, like a buried monster’s spine.
It’s in the boutique restaurants we like to meet and dine.

You talk of white Australia, and the mountains capped with snow,
Where only hardy currawongs and wombats care to go;
Or hibernating possums fast asleep beneath a drift.
We like a bright skyscraper with a fast ascending lift.

You talk of blue Australia, with its narrow rim of sand,
Where breaching humpback whales provide performances so grand;
Whale sharks up at Ningaloo, or dolphins in the surf.
The bitumen and footpath offer more familiar turf.

You talk of green Australia, with the moss, the ferns, the trees;
The dew drops in the morning, and the cool and healing breeze;
The nesting cassowaries, or the stealthy thylacine,
But we prefer the steady purr of petrol-fuelled machine.

We don’t think of Australia as we make our busy way
Through the surging hordes and traffic of another hectic day.
“No room for sentiment,” we say, but all’s not as it seems.
Australia comes, with scented gums, and greets us in our dreams.

© Stephen Whiteside 07.11.2013