As time goes by

many years ago
someone with a very big name
pressed that star-shot belly-button
and there was quite a shudder
some suggest a rather large bang
as the generator started up
generation generating generation
knocking everything into shape

and each new generation
sits on the knowledge-shoulder
of all previous generations
the continual eating of the apple
and the savouring of each bite
knowledge begetting understanding, beauty wonder
as the mystery of the universe unfolds
in the mind of its creation

generation generating generation
forever stretching skywards
towards the sun and the stars,
and as time goes by
there will come that day
when the hand of a new born baby
will part the clouds
to see unveiled the full majesty of God

© Richard Scutter 12 December 2007

If Bedroom Story for a Grand-daughter

if John sneaks down at midnight and
eats all the chocolate tart
Go to page 16

if Sue gets a lovely little pet dog
called Beauty on her birthday
Go to page 3

if Mummy finds out John has eaten all
the tart and sends John to his room
Go to page 66

if Sue gets invited to go on a picnic
with her friend Jane, and of course Beauty
Go to page 23

if John, Sue, Jane, Mummy, Daddy, Aunty Flo,
… and of course Beauty
are all run down by a very large red truck,

then it is time to close the book –
for eyes are now shut and
angels are singing in heaven

and the final ritual
an unseen kiss on the forehead

© Richard Scutter 9 January 2008

A Breath of Air

you saw me before I was born,
The days allotted to me
had all been recorded in your book,
before any of them ever began.

Psalm 139 v16

a breath of air
one breath
one breath of life, and gone

untainted by this World
your fragile existence
held the form of a perfect body
gave a testimony to life

a value magnified
in the painful enormity
of the shattered lives of family
in the struggle
of your precious gift

a glimpse of being
more important than the stars

a breath of air
one breath
one breath of life, and gone –

forever remembered

© Richard Scutter 9 April 2008

The Down to Earth Question

the answer lies in the soil
(Kenneth Williams, BBC Radio, Beyond Our Ken)

get down to earth, stick in that spade, turn over the turf, worry those weeds, prepare 'your' patch,

from soiled fingernails fathom –

what on Earth are you supposed to be doing -
for Heaven’s sake!

© Richard Scutter 12 March 2008

The Breaking of the Drought

there is a certain feeling to the day
that something will happen

the air massing, with no colour to the sky
sifting itself inside out in turmoil
but the cloud disperses
dissipating expectation

the sun is quick to return
stretches headstrong to the horizon
hard pressing its flat horror
the stunted scrub squeeze-dried

bent over double in submission
the ghost wrap of the winter crop
rattles its dead prayers to the wind
his harvester idle for the season

the long wait begins again
that endless wait for change
day after day of disciplined ritual
waiting for a break in the heavens

in the tomorrow that never came
at dawn in the patched shadow
with the sky groping to contain itself
he walked to the back shed

a sudden, sharp crack-echo
the air shocked still
and it is over,
too soon the family will find
and the endless cry.

© Richard Scutter 11 November 2007

Autumn Air on Mt Painter

the apple crispness
presents with cutting clarity
the early morning light
yielding its muted colours
in rediscovery of shape and form

nature is transmuted
in a spider-spun fragility
the Brindabella amphitheatre redefining
while in the valley sweep
horses steam in slow movement

a kingdom of thistle heads
their crowns pillaged
and washed thin of colour
stand testimony to the heady days
of the hot summer-party

while far below
cars collect at traffic lights
give a distant murmur
token to another world
unknowing of this ephemeral magic

a certain peace prevails
caught in the calm
after-taste of summer
a breath of quiet surrender
lingers a gentle submission

© Richard Scutter 9 April 2008


IF is a cerebral plan
mind evaluating
probabilities and implications
of what might happen
if that IF eventuates
the life rehearsing IF

IF is a dripping brow
from a fear earned sweat
the back door dread of danger
dominating thought
discolouring life
anticipating disasters

IF is an escape from the now
the view from the rose window
sugar to suffering days
mind food for perseverance
the dream of something different
from the lottery of life

IF is a promise of intent
the after cabbage sweet
a certificate, if qualified
a statement for the masses
warning to the wary
but prison, if found guilty

IF is a hovering axe
a devious device
to procure specific outcome
influencing the gullible
and if you buy it now
you will be rewarded!

but if the IF is an IF ONLY,
IF ONLY it had been so!
then it is the wallow of unacceptance
the drowning of today
in the sad waters of regret -
if only this page could be turned!

© Richard Scutter 9 January 2008

If Dreaming

If I get up now there’s plenty of time
to percolate coffee, make my best brew
I can smell it already a wafting through
I’ll have two pieces of toast, ginger and lime

a relaxing breakfast to start the day right
I’ll get to the bus-stop with time to spare
and talk to Margaret she’ll want to share
I bet that cad John took her out last night!

Margaret’s a sweetie, but he’s the wrong sort
she’s rather silly, won’t take my advice
and I know that John, and that John’s not nice
but she is so young and so easily caught!

I don’t believe it - the time’s run away!
I’ve missed my bus, what a start to the day!

© Richard Scutter 9 January 2008

Tiger Tiger


tiger tiger burnt out mite
Sophie Sophie sleeping tight
in thirteen years you’ll claw and bite
and give your mum a restless night

© Richard Scutter 30 November 2007

Sophie after face painting
Floriade, Spring Flower Festival
Commonwealth Gardens Canberra, October 2007

Third Birthday

In Rememberance

poppies, ambulance poppies
caught in unseasonable warmth
stragglers of the stubble

an untimely October showing
buttoned black unseeing
breathe out their reminder

a present of such enormity
where bones or a button would suffice
becomes a birthday gift*

this eyeless blood flap of memory
soaks through the stopped pages
in the back-drip of the years

Richard Scutter 27 October 2007

Footnote …

* See Poppies in October (27 October 1962), Sylvia Plath Collected Poems

The Two of Us

like death
the two of us
you and me
in the empty room

beyond the empty room
the removal of dead flowers
the quietening footsteps
and the distancing of our tomorrows

beyond understanding
within the very web of life
the rising of the veil
and the overlap of our eternities

beyond imagination
in the comet-lit electric shock
of the star spangled universe
we restructure our heavens

and like death
there's always
the two of us -
you and me

© Richard Scutter 14 November 2007

You and Me

words fall short
scattered fragments
seek an understanding
leaving the sky to the stars

in the fleeting moment
that imperceptible touch
of the you that is me
in the me that is you

and from our brief encounter
in the forever that lasts an eternity
love is never lost
in the book of our lives

© Richard Scutter 14 November 2007


birth defines
there is no mummified detachment
for the caring man

prepared to brace new battle lines
but the bottom line reached
when nappies need replacement!

but Fathers are there when needed –
Richard … Richard … Richard
where are you! …

I’m here behind these words …
hold on … just coming …
nearly finished

supporting pillar
reliable guide
helper and friend

fun to be with
annoyingly arrogant
right all the time …

but always cherishing
with quiet delight
the development of another

and in this case
as a family man
no ‘other’ quite compares …

to a daughter
to a son -
whether great, grand, or God

remembering a mother too! –
for as in birth
Fathers never stand-alone

© Richard Scutter 10 October 2007

Footnote ...

See also Shakespeare's Sonnet 37.

Student Love

You who are so good with words
And at keeping things vague
Because I need some of that vagueness now
It's all come back too clearly
… Joan Baez (from Diamonds and Rust)

unlocked by thought and passion
all else gone and dust to dust
this will remain etched forever
if nothing else
part of my existence
unlocked by blood
the moon full
and the door shudders
and you are here again

wearing old clothes
coming in from the moors
late in the afternoon when cold
the horse-brasses and low oak beams
murmur of talk and drifting smoke
rattling of glasses at the bar
the barman offering pie and peas
leftovers from lunch
we unnoticed in the sit-in fireplace
absorbing the warm ambience

ebony wet matted hair
dripping on to a Tetleys coaster
your anger dissipated with the wine
I knew we would get back to the road!
… eventually …
then it was laughter and joking …
reluctantly the walk down the hill
Cow and Calf rocks receding in failing light
your bus back to the city and night duty
for me, books to open and lodgings

… wake-up! - time for bed
the music has long ended
you have been dreaming
all those dirty dishes
they need doing!
then put dog out
and a log for the night
turn fire right down low lad
it will rekindle in morning
switch off the light, it’s far too late

© Richard Scutter 12 September 2007

with certain poetic licence, I never had 'pie and peas' at the Cow and Calf ... certainly elsewhere ... and I never ever lost my way on the moors

The Cow and Calf Rocks at Ilkley


the shadowed fragments of life
a faded photograph, an empty glass
the bitter sweet after taste
of mind conjured thoughts

dulled by time’s forward march
life pauses for a forced replay
the poking of the evening embers
the glow gone and dust to dust

in the morning the sun dissolves
history moves back underground
rejoice in another day to be lived!
to be remembered or not

but you are with me always
gold vein in the rock of my days

© Richard Scutter 12 September 2007

for Maureen and PRP


unaware of any underlying pulse
life is a simple existence
when needs are basic
quite happy to be and to be attended
but increasing awareness

the other guy across the room
his brazen body is real cool
start to step up to bigger things
hoping to catch up to him
have his drink, his smoke, his girl

now the pace is really moving
keeping up with the contagion
a wife, two kids, a mortgage plus
not to mention the lawn mowing fuss
just keep on going, going, going

at last the pace is slowing down
that other guy has long since gone
a used by date is now appearing
it is all a question of good timing
and knowing when to step aside

© Richard Scutter 8 August 2007

Appropriate Closure

arriving with plenty of time to spare
perhaps in common with those around
there is a certain calm from the sprawling lawns
against the backdrop of the motorway drone
the mind is still sedated by a garden

the memorials and landscaped grounds
remain impervious to the residential push
and a steady stream of cars roll
respectfully through the sedentary gates
into this sacred space

there is time to locate the plaque
in the peace garden, Dad’s name and dates
remove an intrusive weed, never tolerated
and gather wind blown purple petals
to fill the concrete flower well

a dead rabbit lies near the chapel buildings
such a surprise to stumble upon
perhaps a child’s precious pet
left the last day of the school holidays
hopeful of finding a fitting finish

the preceding service has ended
a service for a service person
with a guard of honour in full dress
next our turn, our family and friends
congregate, give recognition in the winter chill

the gathering is ushered into the chapel
the focus is on Mum on centre stage
the curtains opened on her life
personal memories pass like a train
the pain and joy of each connection

Mum’s large family always first
‘ is there anything I can do for yous’
and when taken out to lunch in later life
her needs quite simple, her attention given
to a small child at an adjoining table

a great grand daughter holds a flower
unknowing of the occasion
in closing days Mum too without awareness
as the love and support of those around
wrapped her warm, close and safe

the singing of the last song, Mum’s choice
‘ what a wonderful world’
the simple pleasures found from serving
wonderful to her, wonderful to those who knew her
her station reached, the journey over

in the garden a bouquet of white roses
is gently placed against the plaque
and the final mystery of life
lifts like a wedding veil
coupled in the mind of the living

© Richard Scutter 20 July 2007

Footnotes …

Evelyn Dalzell (Harrison) 1/3/1918 – 14/7/2007
Pinegrove Crematorium and Cemetery, Sydney

Mum Celebrating her 88th Birthday

Four Generations ... Maureen, Mum, Sophie, Judy (July 2005)

Family Home: 44 Platform Street, Lidcombe (1950s)

At The End Of The Day

the last time he went to church
he couldn’t sneak out for a fag
slip into a secret sleep in the sermon
do crosswords as a choir boy
or wonder at the fruit on Mrs Brimacombe’s hat
no, this time it was decidedly different

he had to lie back in silence
but at least he had his own space
and for once in his life
he had himself to himself
with no one to make demands
and today there was no offering to organise

he didn’t hear all the talk and testimonies
the subject matter a little too familiar
he would have been embarrassed
appropriate that this was hidden from him
though he would have appreciated
the playing of the piano by his grandson

more than eighty summers were moulded in his being
cucumber sandwiches, church fetes
the odd game of tennis with other parishioners
family camps at the beach, fishing trips
and card games to the early hours
yarns and cards very much his game

eighty winters of fireside fellowship
in the communion of church circles
but he hadn’t been one for academia
they could keep all them books!
God was within, to be experienced
always part of his daily dialogue

but the service was now ending
the church reclaiming an austere chilliness
the congregation quietly departing
into bright light and morning sun
his grandson last, turning
shutting the heavy church door.

© Richard Scutter 11 July 2007

Footnote ...

This poem was motivated by friend Ron.

Words Waiting

poems are
words waiting
for re-release

awaiting your eyes
your mind
a certain transparent mouth to mouth touch

the resuscitation
bringing a new life
that only you can really know

© Richard Scutter 13 June 2007

The Release Word

I tell Rani SIT
she sits
waiting, she looks at me
waiting, I look at her
she knows, I know
there is a limit to such decorum from a spoodle
so much steam in a boiling kettle
then … the OK, flash movement

but when one who hits the hand with a hammer
what word releases

for the uncultured mind
the clever take time to make replacement

for the more cultured mind
those with a refined and genteel taste
a certain moderation of expression is in order

but a rose by any other name
is an emotion by any other word

the same steam hissing
that clamours for escape
any word secondary to such release -
all head skyways with same substance

© Richard Scutter 13 June 2007

Queen Rani ... says WOW ... Queen Rani does not swear.

PS .... this hood protected her from scratching after a cut nose.

Release Me

Tired with all these to restful death I cry
(sonnet 66, Shakespeare)

the military plane is unseen high above the sea
her seatbelt is unlocked
she is frog-marched to the rear cargo door
and without ceremony released into a rush of cold air

falling … falling … falling
she falls
like an angel

stop the world I want to get off!

I had no choice
I was sent on this journey with a kiss
wrapped in warmth, some might even say a love
seemingly there was some portent
a sense of being carried in the flow
moving in creation’s active pulse
but the view of her descending now disturbs
from my perspective I do not understand
should I try, … perhaps not …

where there was beauty
her face is cut
and bleeds before me
an unstoppable drain of colour

where there was faith
worms eat at rusting iron
it is brittle in my hand
and crumples

where work held a distraction
its limbs now grate
and stiff movement
brings but pain

where honour once held the head high
it is grounded downcast
and curves the back
each step a stumble

where respect gave value
and actions were applauded
its currency corrupts
and buys vain meaning

where duty brought a pride
its hollow voice
echoes in emptiness
down draughty corridors

where nature’s eye was clear
a veil now covers
her path thorned
by her own being

where virtue once made pure
is tarnished
trodden in the mire
the snow a yellow mush

where art showed a merit
glistened in the sun
a shadow casts
dark across its structure

where strength was steel
it twists disabled
aching from within
forcing its own destruction

where rightful perfection
becomes degraded by deceit
and all sensitivity
is sour to the taste

she continues to fall
falling … falling … falling
she falls
like an angel

but there is always the thin line of blood
that connects humanity, a dendritic cover
woven by eternal love, an invisible safety net –

the only release from impending death

© Richard Scutter 13 June 2007

Strip Trees

trees stand to attention
in full dress unmoved
by high heat or rain

but summer is a passing kiss
on an upbeat wind
and autumn brings seduction

light airs breathe a mist
leaves restless move
gracious heavenly

uplift into the pallid sky
a public unveiling
their scant dress scatters

tattered swirl and twirl
dance over hill and vale
while the last dragonfly of summer hovers

drifting joyfully into open air
a lone thread dangles, lingers
drops and all’s revealed

naked they stand
laughing loudly
in all their glory

© Richard Scutter 9 May 2007

Summer Dance

the gracious movement of her being
brightens morning with light and laughter
heaven moves through her cloudless sky
a soft translucent wind stirs

her emerald eyes spin thoughts of love
a gentle warmth permeates my body
she is pure joy sifting across cool waters
a champagne sweep across the heady countryside

momentarily she holds her figure
then, with a glance, she trails before me
an evening gown burnt by a golden sun
as slowly her body brushes the earthen floor

I step back in gratitude
and allow her memory to satiate my soul

© Richard Scutter 9 May 2007


shake of the hand
black glove unseen
kiss from lips
where poison has been

I keep on saying
this can’t be true
I keep on saying
this is not you

but I deceive myself
for within there is pain
the jagged edged sword
that no words can explain

© Richard Scutter 20 April 2007

March of the Killer Crabs

(to celebrate Pink Rock Poet Day 2007)

above, all is blue sky and summer light
unknowing any undercurrent in the day
ships sail against the far horizon
the breeze, a soft and gentle kiss
the world dozes like an after dinner nap

below and unseen, slinking from Sydney
taking their time to gorge the opposition
killer crabs pick at their prey without remorse
then wallow in the Bondi outfall wash
before their relentless journey south

then steeling themselves off Wollongong waters
they harden their shells for some gastronomic gobbling
tanks full and ready to trundle
they move over the rocks and the seaweed under
creeping the depths with their daggers a dangling

Longbeach clacks to their sharpened claws
snapping and cracking the timbers fall
blocking up bush they build up battlements
then charcoal their minds to make mischief at Mogo
slide sideways seaward on their insidious sweep

but off Broulee beach there’s a great blast
a bird with a bill as big as Batemans Bay
and magnificent mantle of precious pink rock
cries – ENOUGH – back to base -
you conniving clack tacking crustaceans

the crabs return to Sydney -
after creeping up the Clyde to Canberra

© Richard Scutter 11 April 2007

Notes ...

This poem was written in response to the poem Ghost Crabs by Ted Hughes (Wodwo 1967).

The following is an image of the Ghost Crab ... no relation of course to the killer crab who is a real Ghost Crab ...

The March of the Killer Crabs was read by Bill Mandle ... the famous Bill Mandle, at Naytures Table Cafe Moruya on Pink Rock Poet Day 2007. Ken Fry (Neptune), Audrey and son Warwick were present on this celebratory occasion.

Mermaids Singing

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
T S Eliot (Prufrock)

morning like faith rises
a blind man seeing the unseen
while mermaids muster
from their submarine love-land
sky and sea differentiates
into a sun splintered horizon
light upon light building
reinforcing form and colour
breathing life from the depths
the mermaids are on the move
glistening fresh in open air
sparkling at the sea’s edge
drowning the morning in their song

© Richard Scutter 11 April 2007