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From Dan Byrnes
Word Factory

1000 poems by Dan Byrnes (and a few songs)

An updated/recompiled presentation of Poetry - some rewritten in minor ways
Not yet all of poetry by Dan Byrnes but growing -
Move from here in series for: Poems from No. 900 to 1000

For your information...
Dan Byrnes has been writing poetry since his late teens and is now aged nearly 70. He has had relatively few poems published in Australia but those published are so marked. A few of his poems have been published in USA and are so marked. He decided a few years previous to 2018, why not try to leave behind 1000 poems? A round 1000?
One result is this presentation of poetry. Enjoy. - Ed

This file is for poems No. 9000 to 1000

This page updated 28 March, 2019

Dan Byrnes Poem Titles

Poem 1000, Just an old street (revised 29-5-2017)
Poem 999, After MH17 (a poem of system failure)
Poem 998, Myself at 66
Poem 997, empty and needs to be filled ok
Poem 996, An Old Man
Poem 995, Sister (for Ghotsi Amin, 18 July 2015)
Poem 994, The ALP
Poem 993, Shirtfronting Tony Abbott (update re Abbott to shirtfront Donald Trump?)
Poem 992, An old man who reads a bit of history as he talks to himself
Poem 991, Retiring Age (Vive la bile)
Poem 990, An Old Man
Poem 989, An Old Man (is this repeated)
Poem 988, The Wrong Tomorrow (from a phrase by English poet William Cowper) Being finished 29-5-2017
Poem 986, Shakuhachi (5-2-2017)
Poem 987, aphorisms by dan byrnes, more to come
Poem 985, What to do next? (for Donna Amini and her first music album, Night Underground, 20-2-2017
Poem 984 relaxed
Poem 983 The Full Cat Catastrophe
Poem 982 - Blank
Poem 981
Poem 980
Poem 979.
Poem 803,
Poem 802,
Poem 801,
Poem 800,
Poem 799, Upon my sister turning 60

fix blah

Poem 1000


(An Anzac Day poem 2014 by Dan Byrnes)

For Australians, Gallipoli really means …
Never run with a rifle in your hands
on open ground before machine guns.

Yet not even the fear of futility
will stop young men joining armies,
hence the need for helmets to toughen their heads.
Military high hats … there's so many of them.
Maybe with feathers to tickle in a colourful way,
fur to warm, or airman leather.
Berets for seeming casually brave
in a perpetual way ...
But mostly helmets close to the skull,
even with an arrogant spike on top.

Helmets to repel blows or bullets,
or even slouch hats as no protection at all,
but they all look so good in silhouette
when the war artist comes.

Helmets protecting the warm thoughts
of hot-blooded young men
from the cold temptations of death,
not to speak of uniforms to make
young girls' blood pulse,
improved boots and better guns.

The first kill is always a surprise,
and under the helmet the young man privately asks,
What have I done? And why?
Is this service worth it?
(This is why, under his helmet,
he is called, “Private”.)

Oh no, by then the war machine
has invented a better helmet,
the better to slide under,
a fresh wonder to hide under
when the world is next rent asunder.
The industry of soldiers is endless.

It's the case of The Universal Helmet,
timeless yet better than ever before,
just the opposite of the formless key
to the door of nothing
known as our great cause
versus the stupidity of enemy ambitions.

In secret war rooms a better helmet
is always on the drawing boards,
while in other rooms
women breed new boys
who will one day sweep again
the brooms of death.
One of their boys will be named “The Unknown Soldier”
and be honoured in different countries
for the same enigmatic reasons.

Sgt. Helmet, I salute you!
You have stamina still untested!
The rest of war is not the lot
of old men bareheads who wear no helmet,
since experience shows (if you live that long),
In the longer run, it is safer not to ...
Military history shows it is so.

In the old soldier's nightmares
are the real and untold legacies.
War is international.
A drunken old German sniper from the African badlands
bitterly told me once he couldn't sleep,
he kept dreaming of shooting mens' heads off.

*Notes: Written after the usual mixed feelings of an Anzac Day in Australia plus watching movies re WWII, A Bridge Too Far and for WWI, All Quiet on the Western Front (starring Ernest Borgnine).


Sydney Opera House

Poem 999 By Dan Byrnes of 19-7-2014 - draft3

After MH17

(a poem of system failure)

Law, they say, law is the answer!
But not where it cannot be enforced
by men in suits and ties and their women
who cannot control the world.
Is there anyone out there
on a wing or a prayer who can?
Control the world?

A different dress code is on the rise,
tailored for more asymmetry in chaos,
and its territories grow daily in power.
The globalisation fantasy has fallen,
the days of monied glee are over.
The world gets a life and this is it,
including hell and ferals with guns and missiles
running amok, suicide bombers pouncing.
Compassion lies bleeding in the gutter
from fatal head wounds,
its freedom to fly paralysed.

The men in suits and ties
put their expensive pens
back in their pockets
and repair to their hotels
to make pretend phone calls
that do not meet the case.
They have no face left to lose,
and the TV news anchormen
know it and show it.
Boom service has rocked room service.

Sick with anxiety like dogs
on the run from fireworks,
the men in suits and ties and their women
summon at last the courage
to take the elevator down,
to confess to World Street
and issue a short press release pleading,
“We cannot control the world.
is there anyone who can?
Can you give us their mobile number?
This week's chaos is far too much.
Will you help us? We hope you will”

The Internet lights up,
the printing presses roll,
but oblivious to all future discussions,
the long-falls, freeze-frame dead,
lie so very, very still.

Poem 998

Myself at 66

I am a man of many sleeps and many dreams,
a writer, I move on moods versus convictions and conclusions,
and paper, paper, paper in reams
and horizons of words ...
Horizons of words and quails or triumphs of language
and wonderments about myself, or anybody else and conniptions.
I should look up how War and Peace ends,
I forget and probably need reminding.

No rest for the wicked or the virtuous either,
no rest and that's that – so what about atrocities?
What about learning new things?
What about knowing why the true is true?
Why are so many people using words
which so soon become blindfolds over their eyes?
Self-subversion has become an industry,
the march of folly proceeds,
the future clouds over with the past.
People fight over glass-half-full and glass-half-empty,
they rarely ask where the glass came from.

The legacies of my parents. Where are they now?
The dead drift through my mind at a pitch of thrall ...
The dead. I don't mean the ancestors,
or anyone's forefathers, I mean, the dead,
all of them and all of their opinions of life, quo vadis and so many unanswerables.

I'm lucky. I lead an uncomplicated life
and I'm not dead yet.
Those loose ends I really must tie up.
Unfinished business, get thee behind me. Get!
A smoky old man smelly because of cigarettes,
(before the fact, barred from seeing the grandchildren).
An ex-wife who resents the rudeness of my health,
a son who surfs the tides of wondering about women versus men.

Yes, thank you kindly, another dram.
I still make mistakes, therefore I suppose I still am.
The man who no one really knew.
High-performance conversation going nowhere,
and still we need to diagnose.
I fear for the world because tribes don't have constitutions,
because religion rings hollow as the dome of a mosque
or a churchbell's chime falling away.

I just twist again to the moon,
sadly to realise the discontents of my civilization.
I look at the moon and wonder what the fuss was about.

Slant of the sun, position of the earth,
spin, tilt and axis,
unknown things for the ancients and their religions,
they never knew they never knew that they never knew,
and their deities never knew.
The entire history of religion is based on half-bad guesses
about everything-and-nothing.
Today the Moslems are unhappy but they can't see why.
Today the Mystical Body of Christ is so embarrassed, He continually blushes.
Apologies from the Catholic Church as it goes to hell
ring loud and clear, and it's not a pretty sound.

I turn the TV news off.
I go for a walk and smell the waft
of steak and onions cooking in the nearby hotel kitchen.
I come home and massage a computer
till it rhymes and gives up its secrets.
I peer in my memories and see someone like me,
younger, livelier, full of hope,
and now I see where hope got me,
asleep in bed like a tired-out child
hoping for a better dream.
I get up later and drink chocolate milk,
something easy to do that seems worth doing.

My revenge on the boring Australians I grew up with
is to eat food from all around the world with wine I can afford,
parmesan cheese, all sorts of cheese,
balsamic vinegar of Modena,
home-made pizza, paella from the coast of Portugal,
US fish chowder styles from Maine and Louisiana,
anything in tins, Asian vegetables, German sausage,
herbs and spices abounding, more to come …
in the mixes of tastes, still looking for eternity,
I say goodbye to all that!

I wait for the next thud
of learning about life,
how heavy will it the next time be
and can my pessimism bear it.
Civilization still needs a prod.
You know, no one ever did pave the Silk Road.
No one ever seems to miss
the Austro-Hungarian empire.
I certainly don't.
Merry Christmas, my enemies,
and may New Year bring you fresh frustration.

I met a lot of people.
Some knew other people I knew
and some didn't. They could all have got on better.

{maybe fix more section on people I knew}

Once I knew a woman with a love of secrets
only she knew because she created them.
I knew a woman whose sister took the man she loved,
so she never married.
I knew a woman with an unforgettable sense of humour
and wonder where she is now.
I knew a man who lost his faith and became a planter of suspicion,
but with his eyes still fixed on when he still had faith.
I knew a man getting wiser who said
“never look for the meaning of a life in a pop song”.
I knew of a man who sang, “No woman, no cry”,
and moving away from the radio
I saw the cripples with their crutches
all so differently carved.
Art balances where contentment doesn't,
that's the mystery, the problem,
the challenge, the non-answer
and the future for most of the artists.

I wonder about lightness of touch,
how light to seem, with how much force in it.
How much power with delicacy,
how much delicacy with power.
How much more wind does the world really need,
or do things just happen?
I contain some of my dreams
so they give no one else the bother.

I stand and watch storms arise,
lightning, thunder, sudden rain.
I've been watching storms rise since a child.
Been watching water pass by,
been watching gentle breezes blow.
Been watching human stupidity ...
I wonder where next to go
or if to bother.

Days of heat or cold but a day is just a day,
Music plays and decorates the silence as well as ever,
but modern civilization has dirtied itself with tattoos,
taken the search for happiness to absurd extremes.
Luck is Janus-faced and it's only good or bad,
everything else is just Mr In-Between.
I find the feeling that I need to get a life
can strike at any time.
It hit me just before last Christmas
and it's nothing religion can fix.
It's just a feeling, and like most feelings,
it won't last the distance.

Children represent the hope of the world,
then they become like us and ruin everything.
The politicians are feeling pride and humility again
about their faction, simultaneously and at the same time,
then they repeat themselves
and they wonder why they feel confused and have delusions of effectiveness.

The middle-aged middle class
is flat-out trying to be social glue,
trying to control the entropy
as the rate of change increases.
Pensioners, burdens on the state,
old folks shuffling about,
grizzling about the state of the world,
Pensioners if nothing else still eat
and support the food industries (bless 'em).
Some quote the poets but most don't.
Old people only need humility and a guard for their comforts,
humility since they mostly don't have enough energy anymore
to actually do much further harm,
comfort so they can rest easier with their guilts.

Some people go out sailing.
Some people lapse into dread.
I met a grump going down the stairs today
and he was me.
But I must go now,
because small black ants
are slowly carrying away my sugar
and they need some lessons in how to behave.
I admire their hope
but I also want to stop them.
So I know I'm still part of the problem, not the answer,
because it's not me who cures the world even by resting,
or not being here anymore, or doing anything else...
C'est la vie.
Humanity thinks it knows
why it's not good enough just to be.


Poem 997

The Wrong Tomorrow?

More to come soon

Poem 996

An Old Man, which is repeated, This numbering problem will be fixed soon.

An Old Man

He walks with worsening eyesight and memories
too long for younger people.
His drill bits are blunted and the world is anyway different,
managed badly and on the cusp of fresh disaster.
His seeds of long, slow anger disperse
and find new soil to grow in.
This is his main private entertainment,
enjoying schadenfreude at the state of the world.
(I told you so. I could see it coming.
Why couldn't you? Why couldn't they?)
But his lack of energy means he has to snooze,
or take more booze to bed, and wait.
No more new tears to shed,
only old ones.
And tied to the past, he thinks and says …
It's all sweet and sour curds and whey,
and stories for children and nerves that fray.
Everything changes and it seems pointless to pray.
Though a lot of things stay the same. Hmm.
I wonder what, or if, I will think today?

Poem 995

Suppressed as too personal, and oddly enough, a poem not for the writer but for someone else.

Poem 994

The Australian Labor Party

Food made with love, or at least, respect,
is no longer on their table.
Now it is bread and water for penitents
who could not make the future stable.
One by one, made to confess their sins
after they let in the wrong sorts of believers,
they lost their way to Purgatory and ended in Hell,
far out of reach of the doctors for fevers.
And now grievers, made small as the grains
of any fine white pepper, they rant, sneeze and snort
and cry and wail and their enemies rejoice,
and since this is all self-inflicted, there is no retort.
Cry, cry, cry, and more tears coming,
those who smelt the wind here had already turned up their nose.
The lucky country in a few years caved in
to become the land of no quiet repose.
So Hell broke loose, and when it did,
it let out the ALP penitents who had cried the most,
and sent them further down, further and further,
to look for wood to make a new guidepost.
They failed. The lights on the hills dimmed
and faded into blue-black, the colour of bruise,
gone the way of flowers left on a family grave.
There is no better news than this, nor any new news.


Poem 993

Shirtfronting Tony Abbott

Let us all agree that some revisions
of history might actually be required,
and as we join the rush for buns
we'll see in just what sort of bun rush we are mired.
This country's population is too small to be important
but its map size is umissable.
The powers-that-be keep talking cant,
the national stupidity seems unassailable.
Nevertheless, we'll keep on sheeping on,
just as we decide to continue our search
for ever-stronger shoulders to be weeping on.
None of this is progress, it's just the national lurch
writ repetitive ... writ in sand,
writ in authentic vegemite, or writ bland.
Question-free, a southern-hemisphere-anomaly, and …
not especially interesting, hiding its deeper meanings,
still finding the best way to seem to be leaning.

All this is why we were so aghast,
Mt Abbott, at your chosen picture of the past.
We have been there and done that
on our way to where we couldn't transcend tit-for-tat.
Let us all agree that some revisions of our future might be required,
before we achieve clarity about the kind of past
in which you wanted us to be mired.

Poem 992

An old man who reads a bit of history as he talks to himself and fights off writer's block

Let the mind wander where it will, old man,
let the cows come home in their own good time.
Let the clichés explode down the busiest road.
Tomorrow you can neaten the chess pieces
if you've still got the strength
to make the effort to make an effort.
Let the memories crowd each other out.
Let the poems suggest the low-volume talk of old friends ...
let the conversation go where it will.
Peer into health and wonder what's there
that's luckily still decorating your skeleton …
Watch the news and try to be fearless ...
rediscover some music ...
rewrite this poem when the mood strikes …
Comb what remains of the rest of your hair.
Dress in the most comfortable clothes.
Greet the new day with a suitable autumn caution.
Try to read something new
or find another new mystery to puzzle over.
Hmm, I am, therefore I think.
I think that's what I found,
that a lot of the philosophers were wrong,
wrong, wrong, wrong, a whole song of wrong ...
Rhymes with bong. Dry as a dead dingo's donger, wrong.
use that tong in less evil ways, Sir …
whatever it was, the conclusion would never be
the same thing twice ...
I mean ... her ex-Climate Change Highness, Penny Wong.
Slaves, and the famous case of The Zong.
I mean, the things you finally can't claim for insurance.
And so, as they say, that's life, unless, of course,
they're a post-modernist who is into Zen,
in which case, it'd be different again ...

Poem 991

Retiring age

Vive la bile! …
Get them out of here! Get rid of them!
With their blood pressure set to rile,
bloody cantankerous old men and women ...

Who gives a rat's? Retire them! Send them home!
Intractable, opinionated, experienced,
pains in the arse. Let them roam
free with their unappealing grey hair and their
aggravating capacity for variance.

They reek with loss of adaptability.
They can no longer listen, they are careless of teams.
They seek to inflict their memories particularly on me ...
They have no time left for your or my schemes.

Piss them off! Pay them out if you have to do it.
Free us completely of their failing grip.
Get rid of them so we are free to intuite.
Let the future rip!


Notes for Poem 991 by Dan Byrnes re the French = it seems that bile is a word in French (bile is feminine gender not male. so la, not le) spelled the same and meaning much the same as in English, as in bile duct, etc. Voila!

Poem 990

Same as No. 989, repeated and numbering problem to be fixed soon.

Poem 989

An old man (repeated)

He walks with worsening eyesight and memories
too long for younger people. His drill bits are blunted and the world is anyway different, managed badly on the cusp of fresh disaster. His seeds of long slow anger disperse and find new soil to grow in. This is his main private entertainment, enjoying schadenfreude at the state of the world. (I told you so, I could see it coming. Why couldn't you? Why couldn't they?)

But his lack of energy means he has to snooze. Or take more booze to bed, and wait. No more new years to shed, only old ones. And tied to the past, he thinks and says … It's all sweet and sour and curds and whey, and children's stories and nerves that fray. Everything changes and its seems pointless to pray. Though a lot of things stay the same. Hmm. I wonder what, or if, I will think today?

(Notes: Is on the net also in personal3 and written while walking after pondering the probable debt ceiling crisis of the USA of October 2013.)

Poem 988

Aphorisms by Dan Byrnes

(from 26-9-2016)

Dreams arise to warn us that embarrassments as bad or even worse can happen in real life.

More to come

Poem 987


(On Japanese “zen” flute music by Riley Lee)

No poem could make its way here,
it’s too quiet.
There’s nothing happening
except the slowest ways of water,
and how old fashioned is that,
older than not-knowing,
older than knowing.
No poem could possibly make its way here.

Poem 985

Poem suppressed from this series

Poem 984


the way an old man
milks the days of sleep

Poem 983

Poem 983 by Dan Byrnes

The Full Cat Catastrophe

(For the Pattersons, their collective sense of humour, and their cats)

These friends of mine have at least three cats,
Meow One, Meow Two and Meow Three.
They continually prowl the horizons of hunger,
and like all good poems, they do not mean, they just be.

I don’t know if these cats will ever have kittens,
I’m much too polite to be asking,
But while the computer is humming or the TV is on,
God save us from cat multi-tasking.

There’s cat fur here, there’s cat fur there,
there’s another cat out on the kitchen window sill.
I try to survive my way past the family jokes,
but I need even more a dose of the anti-cat pill.

They think, “Who gives a rat’s? A mouse’ll do!”
These cats don’t care if it rains or snows.
They say, “You are what you eat, so cat foods r us,
there’s nothing else worthwhile to know.”

As pointless as robbing poor old Peter to pay dear old Paul,
walking, looking, eating, leaping, or lapping.
Evil-eyed, impassive, dressed in silence so massive,
everywhere you look, there’s a bloody cat napping.

Oh Astrophe, Astrophe, wherefore art thou, Astrophe?
The full cat catastrophe; romance and then tragedy,
food costs then laughter in bubbles; comedy, then trouble.
What does the menacing sweep of a cat’s tail mean, really?

Here puss puss puss, you little bastard, come here,
and take what’s coming to you for going outside
when you shouldn’t have, take that, and take that,
or by heaven I’ll take you for a very long ride.

Here puss puss puss, here pussy cat, cats,
pretty pussy cats all in a row.
Little stomachs you are, disguised badly in fur;
a cat is a cat is a cat, and a Cheshire Cat grins. Just so.

Look, there’s cats hogging the heater, or over-liking the lounge,
just products of their non-compliance with human-made rules.
Yum yum, cat’s bum, the chutzpah of cats if no dogs are about.
Whoever has cats has listened to fools.

Yum yum yum, birds are too good for words.
Ok, we agree these cats shouldn’t go play in Wattle Park ...

But lest you go catatonic hearing any of this,
or lest you trip over a belled cat in the dark ...

There is news! Educational news about the roles of cats.
In the way of – nothing exceeds like excess -
these cats have been asked to teach at the new Cattitude School.
And their real names are Stitches, Buttons, and Princess.

And they say, “Dogs have masters, but cats have servants.”
Oh, the fine careless rapture of their inscrutable games ...
It wasn’t Eve gave the apple of temptation to Adam,
you know. It was a domesticated cat that had no shames.

(Note: Poem 983 was written August-September 2017 during a holidayt in Melbourne)

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