A few examples of pieces commissioned for special occasions…
- A mate’s son's wedding
- A piece written for a mate’s funeral
- A commemorative poem written for Koen Rooijmans the departing CEO of Brisbane Airport Corporation
- Written for a Greenpeace article about a place I have visited in Germany
- A chapter from my novel about Rough Red’s travels soon to be published
- The biggest gig of my life in front of 20,000 people in Nuremberg Square
AN ODE TO JOHN CORRY
In every generation throughout antiquity,
A scandal shook the branches of every family tree.
A burden to be carried on by Generation next,
Unknowingly to bear alone the dreaded family hex.
The Mayne Family Legacy, a twisted family gene,
Jack the Ripper, so they say related to the Queen
And poor old Ned, though long since dead ensured the family line,
Will never live the stigma down until the end of time.
And so it was that one such taint befell the Corry name
Ensuring that the way ahead could never be the same.
Condemning those who followed to guilt and infamy
White ants within the roots of the Corry family tree.
A secret that could cause a blue down at the local pub,
Or start an all in free for all at the local footy club
When someone standing at the bar in drunken repartee’
Told how John went off the rails and became a referee!
It went against the very grain of the Corry reputation,
Many of whom sailed out here to forge this mighty nation.
Pick pockets, race course touts and prison escapees
But none so coarse and hardened as a rugby referee!
Even Mad Dan Morgan who was shot for lesser crimes
And Captain Starlight in his day was the monster of his times
But all of them were welcome at the Vicar’s house for tea
But only the Devil shares a pot with a rugby referee.
How could such a lovely boy have gone so far astray?
Crossing to the dark side to surely lose his way.
Some would blame the trauma of his days in Pony Club
With a psychopathic pony out to draw his blood.
Some have said the broken leg served to stall his plans
Or perhaps those raunchy Swedish girls from his escapade in Cairns.
Whatever dark disturbance had caused the boy to turn,
Remains a flamin’ mystery, a lesson to be learned.
His friends were at a loss to explain his strange compulsion
His whistle blowing antics were treated with revulsion.
No one dared to disagree it only made him bristle
And result in a sharp rebuke and a shrill blast on his whistle
His friends all said, ‘It’s gone to his head! We wish he’d swallow his pea.
He’s become a prima donna like those buggers on TV!’
And his friends and family live in hope that someone down the line
Sticks that bloody whistle where the sun won’t ever shine!
How do you judge the scale of a man, how do you guage his worth?
How do you measure the trails he blazed
When he finally leaves this earth?
Do you judge him by the prestige he carried to his grave?
Or would you judge him by his knowledge and the wisdom that he gave?
Would you judge him by his trinkets or the value of his gold?
Or would you miss him for the beauty of the stories that he told?
Would you miss him for the lessons learned throughout his earthly span?
The accumulated wisdom of a humble steadfast man.
Don’t judge him by his chattels and other worldly dross
Judge him by how much the world is poorer for his loss.
On a cobbled street in Eindhoven on a chilly winter’s day
A little boy stamped and tramped to chase the chill away.
He dreamed of chasing dragons and deeds of derring-do
And finding pirate’s treasure as all small boys will do.
He dreamed of far off foreign lands where he knew adventure waited
Where days are hot and palm trees sway and legends are created.
But for now his greatest challenge was the daily grind of school,
No time for grand adventure, no time to play the fool.
For now the voice that beckoned him would simply have to wait.
The dragon left unsaddled and locked outside the gate.
At University the years rolled by toward his graduation,
Long days of wine and roses and those tender invitations
From goddesses on bicycles with skin of golden hue,
Sunsets on Scheveningen Beach and a Heineken or two.
But still those distant echoes from some far off twilight shore
Came at night to haunt him and offer something more.
At the edges of the consciousness, like waves upon a beach
So close and tantalising but always out of reach.
Koen planned to be a doctor, an exponent of the knife
But he learned far more than theory, things that influenced his life.
Stay focused. Pay attention. All is never what it seems,
But life is no rehearsal, you must pursue your dreams.
That life is hard learned lessons on that there’s no debate
But adventure whispered: ‘not just yet!’ Hypocrates could wait.
He made his name with KLM, it was there he found his wings,
But so much more beckoned him he was meant for greater things.
.At last the distant drums he heard at the corner of his senses
Spoke of misty mountains in a land without pretences
Of people who live girt by sea in a wide brown arid land,
Crammed between the mountains and a narrow strip of sand.
How hard could it be to make a mark in such a place?
A high rise country cow town with a weather beaten face.
‘I’ll do this on my head’, thought Koen, ‘no one’ll steal my thunder.’
So he packed his swag and a wide brimmed hat and headed off Downunder.
Australia! No worries mate, the land of milk and honey
Where houses stand on skinny legs and red backs haunt the dunny.
Where legends speak of Bradman and his prowess with the bat
And of the mighty Queensland Roar with their skill at this and that.
Where droughts will kill off half the crop and floods take off the rest
Where jelly fish and garden spiders put you to the test.
Where slip, slop, slap and wear a hat is all the rage you betcha!
And if the Noahs Arks don’t make you kark, the crocodiles’ll getcha!
But never one to shirk a task he considered it a romp,
Create a world class airport from a boggy tidal swamp!
A city where the populace would come to work and play
With all of Brisbane’s greatest works forever on display.
With golf courses and retail stores and fashions to be had.
‘But it’ll never work,’ the doomsayers said, ‘you must be flamin’ mad!’
‘What about the cost?’ They cried, ‘You’ll not convince a banker!’
‘You’re a kangaroo short in the top paddock, you silly flamin’ wanker!’
What they hadn’t counted on was a man with endless vision
Prepared to dodge the slings and arrows of uninformed derision.
He’d see his lofty dream come true whatever it may take,
He battled bumbling bureaucrats and left them in his wake.
Infrastructure, on cost, on time? He must be bloody jokin’!
It’s not the way things are round here, what’s he bloody smokin’?
It’s Brisbane mate, it’s fireworks the populace are wanting
Footy, thongs and barbecues and Ricky Bloody Ponting!’
It was only a few years ago the town was flamin’ dead.
When the town hall clock struck ten o’clock we all went off to bed.
The International Terminal was a World War 2 tin shack
And Brisbane was a little town somewhere down the track.
And now this ‘Flying Dutchman’ with his ‘blazing vision splendid’
Plans to make more of us than ever was intended.
He plans to build a city that the world will hold in awe,
Looks like this ‘Flying Dutchman’s’ more than we ever bargained for.
But as Murphy’s Law would have it things will go wrong if they can,
Murphy has a way of stuffing up the best laid plan.
On day one the Asian Crisis reared its ugly head,
Then Ansett bit the dust, another great Australian dead.
We sat in silent horror and watched the towers fall
And realised the world had changed forever for us all.
The tragedy in Bali left Australians in no doubt
The world’s love affair with Aussies was finally wearing out.
Along came SARS and chook flu to exacerbate our woes,
The downturn in tourism, another body blow.
But it seems ‘The Flying Dutchman’ was made of sterner stuff,
The others vowed to ride it out, he had to call their bluff.
‘We can’t retreat now,’ he said, ‘we stand and hold our nerve,
we attack these minor setbacks with tenacity and verve!
We invest now when times are bad, we will not sit and cower.
We meet this threat head on and fight, this will be our finest hour!’
They battled in the trenches and found the going hard,
Close in fighting hand to hand for every bloody yard.
Even City Hall it seems was keen to test their will
For they loved to blame the airport for all the city’s ills.
Those lean years of perseverance built an inner strength,
Resilience and self belief held despair at length.
They learned that shrewd investment was a must when times are tough,
Fingers crossed, momentum lost would never be enough.
Regardless of the battles fought there was one they’d never win,
The stoushes with the government regardless of who was in.
Bewildering bureaucracy with co-operation fleeting,
Whose answer to a call to arms was another bloody meeting.
Leaders labelled ‘visionary’ were treated with suspicion.
Detractors called for counselling perhaps a spot of fishing.
Defending infrastructure left him somewhat apprehensive,
Always delivered too little, too late and far too damn expensive.
The Queensland way of doing things often left him quite dismayed,
How does daylight saving make cows and curtains fade?
On the sporting field its ‘we’ who win when Queensland comes up trumps
But when we lose its ‘them’ not ‘us’ who are the sporting chumps.
Why is the lowly cane toad our symbol interstate?
Why not the Bowen Mango or a ‘barra’ on a plate?
The sun, our greatest asset is best avoided while its ris’
Who knows why, its Queensland mate and that’s the way it is.
Australians love their leaders, fair dinkum, down to earth,
How they call a spade a spade the measure of their worth.
But too much time spent focusing upon the here and now
Or on the past looking back pondering who and how.
A leader should be a life saver patrolling on the beach,
Eyes peeled beyond the break to somewhere out of reach,
A sentinel on a watchtower alert to every threat
Imbued with perfect vision and goals clearly set.
Koen’s value as a leader came from lessons sorely learned,
Strength grew out of failure as the vision brightly burned
Ansett didn’t kill us off and the lesson wasn’t lost
The Seven Deadly Sins were to be avoided at all cost.
That airports and politicians can learn to live in peace
And you don’t give in to curfew calls and watch your progress cease.
And airports and airlines although they’re intertwined
Can pursue separate agendas not easily defined.
But now the Brisbane Airport is a wonderment to see
Three times the size of Kingsford Smith and the Brisbane CBD,
Forget the Champs Elysee’ about which the Froggies sprout,
We’ve got one twice as bad, the Airport Roundabout!
A brand new international, a DFO that throbs,
A who’s who of business and seventeen thousand jobs.
From fifty two million in arrears to ninety two in the black
Not bad for a wanker visionary just twelve years down the track.
Then one day he realised he loved this whacky town,
Its just the sort of place where a bloke could settle down.
He met a lovely Aussie girl and took her for his bride,
Then hand on heart he took the oath and everybody cried.
He took the oath beneath the wing of Smithy’s Dutch made plane
And they all knew that Holland’s loss would be Australia’s gain.
They guzzled beer all afternoon and ate till they was chocker!
You bloody beaut, he’s one of us the silly old Dutch Fokker!
And it wasn’t just the bureaucrats who had Koen in their sights
The Dutchman would accommodate anybody looking for a fight.
Number One Airport Drive had Westfields in a tizz,
‘Who is this interloper? Who does he think he is?’
‘We’ll take him to the federal Court and squash him like a flea!’
But he floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee.
So David slew Goliath, left him bleeding in the mud,
Then waved the next one to the ring, his name was Kevin Rudd.
But now its time to say goodbye to this extraordinary man
Who stood upon a tidal swamp with an extraordinary plan,
To build a mighty city on the shores of Moreton Bay
To rival even Schipol in its inimitable way.
Koen took all they could throw at him and then stepped up for more
And the legacy he leaves behind is too great to ignore.
He casts a giant shadow over all he leaves behind
The Dutchman and his monument forever intertwined.
Koen leaves behind a family to take his vision on
To finish what he started long after he is gone.
He instilled in them self-belief and a passion to succeed
The ones who shared the vision now step up to take the lead.
His people skill and indomitable will be etched upon them all,
‘Nothing is impossible!’ In letters ten feet tall.
They’ve lost their great commander but the battle’s almost won
A fitting final testament to the memory of a gun.
But his love affair with who we are now means he’s one of us,
Now there’s time to play golf all day, he sees that as a plus.
To watch lovely Olivia grow in a land they now call home,
We cherish them, they’re in our hearts as if they are our own.
He’s a living local legend, his page in history’s set,
Etched in stone, indelible so no one will forget.
Koen’s impact on us all is great, his gifts too great to list
A man of class and character, alas, forever missed.