When I was a child

When I was a child, I spoke like a child
for I was a child, inside and out.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child
for a child should only ever have to be,
a child true to themselves.

Liar, liar pants on fire,
Nose as long as a telephone wire.

Old Giuseppe should’ve known better
than to play with things he knows not.
Sticks and stones may break my bones
but names will hurt forever, more,
more, more and more it hurts.
Deeply, deeply, its so hard to endure, a
child should never have to bear such things.

Liar, liar pants on fire,
Nose as long as a telephone wire.

The innocence of babes, from
the mouths of babes we speak.
But is anyone listening? I doubt it, for
children should be seen and not heard,
better still, lock them in the attic, put them
in a box; does it matter if it’s real, or just
putting us in place, for a child only knows
what it’s taught, such willingness to learn,
can have such devastating effect.

Liar, liar pants on fire,
Nose as long as a telephone wire.

Speak now or forever hold your peace,
don’t let the sun go down on your anger.
Kiss and make up, is really only make up,
to a child who knows little else, than
sugar plums and faeres, make up, believe
it is what it is, the tooth faere always came,
Santa always left me something, even if it wasn’t
what I wished for; how could a child know, that a
parent would never listen, that such one way love
and emotion could lead to such disappointment,
what would a child know, no wisdom to speak, of course.

Liar, liar pants on fire,
Nose as long as a telephone wire.

I have spoken with the tongues of angels,
I have seen visions of the Apocolypse.
The dilemma of Cassandra has been my
constant companion, the innocence of youth,
the miracle of life, the question of death, the
Wonder of the Universe, the fate of us all.
What would a child know, what would I know at all?
I still search and wonder, what could possibly still be
thought; the more I know, the more I know I don’t
know, the child never ceases learning, even if they
cease the will to live, for life brings death and death
brings life, the Ancients have always known, that the
innocence of children is more precious than any possession.

Liar, liar pants on fire,
Nose as long as a telephone wire.
I don’t care, I don’t care,
I can buy another pair.
What’s the difference you may say,
I’ll tell you that another day.
Just for now shut your mouth,
It’s just a bunch of words gone south.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child
for I was a child, inside and out.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child
for a child should only ever have to be,
a child true to themselves.

I believe, I BELIEVE

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I BELIEVE IN THE DEVIL, THE FATHER OF EVIL
CREATOR OF SIN AND EVIL.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
I BELIEVE IN THE DEVIL, LUCIFER, FALLEN ANGEL,
CONCIEVED IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF AN OMNISCIENT
AND OMNIPOTENT GOD.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
HE RESIDED WITH THE DEVIL AND THE DAMNED
BRINGING SALVATION TO THE DEAD SAINTS
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
THE DEVIL REMAINED IN HELL,
AND CONTINUES HIS WORKS OF EVIL UPON EARTH
He will come again
to judge the living and the dead.
HE WILL CAST BILLIONS INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE
FOR ALL ETERNITY.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
THE DEVIL INCARNATE
the holy catholic Church,
NOT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
the communion of saints,
THE EXCOMMUNICATION OF UNBELIEVERS
the forgiveness of sins,
THE PUNISHMENT OF SINNERS
the resurrection of the body,
THE CASTING INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE
the life everlasting.
AND ETERNITY IN HELL.
Amen.
AMEN.

Alien

I am an Alien
a foreigner in an
unknown Land. A
sojourner, a traveler,
no History, no connection
only shadows and whispers
of faraway places, of cities
and Culture so familiar yet
so far abroad. Distanced.

The Land where I walk
so vast and unfamiliar
only the foreign is familiar
the introduced and the built
the Weeds speak volumes, the
litter glistens in the endless
sea of brown, the relentless
Sameness that surrounds
our suburbs. Decamped.

My world is upside down
seasons topsy-turvy, with
trees that keep their leaves
and shed their bark, the face
of the Moon winks from the
other side, compass points
turn the other way, the burning
Sun drops suddenly from the
summer sky. Disturbed.

In the deepest DNA the
weather resides, spring leads
to winter, autumn followed by
summer, solstice on the go, day
by night, Mars or Venus, I can
never be Shaw, she sells seashells
by the seashore, language lost
heaped upon the fire, burning
desire to know. Deceived.

Ghost

I am a ghost among
the gum trees, an
apparition of imagination,
sent here, born here from
those sent, sentenced, given
a new life in a new Land, Diaspora,
the chosen ones, the forgotten,
the despised, excess of
an Empire. Abandoned.

I did not choose to be
here, my Fate was sealed on
distant shores, by desperate folk,
living disparate Lives, unknown and
uncertainty befell them, no Land to
claim, no home to shelter, sent
sailing to the four winds,

many never to see

Land again. Awash.

The Land I dwell in is
not my own, never was,
never will be, covered with
Names so familiar, with buildings
upon places, hiding Knowledge I will
never comprehend, the Fate that
befalls me is that I live out a Lie
under the pretence of a Nation
fabricated. Alone.

Baa baa black man

Land of plenty, land of the free
Only if you’re a white man, come across the sea
No room for the Natives, only for our sheep
Riches only Empire warrants to reap

Baa, baa black man, have you any wool
No sir, no sir, we burned it all you fool,
Call up the master, don’t tell the dame,
Let’s shoot all the little boys who live by the flame.

Captain Cook took a look
Then we sent all our crooks
Landed gentry seized the Land
Turned a profit, something grand

On the sheeps back
We invaded the blacks
Trampled all their history
Brought death and misery

But we legislated
And boldly vindicated
What can only be described
As murder and genocide

Terra nullius, tell another lie
Terror Australis, Blackfella die
Terror incognita, no one will know
Whitefella terror is never on show.

Nationhood and settlement
Never gave a second thought
To millennia of acknowledgement
That country is their sacrament.

An injustice to every person,
Every tribe and every Nation,
That this vast Land created
Since before time instigated.

Enclosures and clearances
Girt the Land with fences
If you can’t work Land for profit
Then we’ll just take it by forfeit.

Rule, Britannia! Rule the waves
Britons never, never will be slaves
While we flourish great and free,
All come under our decree.

The earth is our dominion
And that’s not just opinion
The Lord has given us the right
To rule over all with might.

Rule, Britannia! Rule the waves
Britons never, never will be slaves
The fall of other nations poor
Shall raise Britannia forever more.

Terra nullius, tell another lie
Terror Australis, Blackfella die
Terror incognita, no one will know
Whitefella terror is never on show.

Nationhood and settlement
Never gave a second thought
To millennia of acknowledgement
That country is their sacrament.

An injustice to every person,
Every tribe and every Nation,
That this vast Land created
Since before time instigated.

Land of plenty, land of the free
Only if you’re a white man, come across the sea
No room for the Natives, only for our sheep
Riches only Empire warrants to reap

Baa, baa black man, have you any wool
No sir, no sir, we burned it all you fool,
Call up the master, don’t tell the dame,
Let’s shoot all the little boys who live by the flame.

You Want a Physicist to Speak at Your Funeral

The following, written by NPR commentator Aaron Freeman, is a gem!

You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him/her that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let him/her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her/his eyes, that those photons created within her/him constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly.

Amen. 

The Poseidon Adventure

Poseidon Poster ALL LOGO CROPPED

Work-in-progress Showing

Tuesday 19th November at 4.00pm

Waterside Pavilion

Mawsons Place, Hobart

Poseidon, king of the oceans, has awoken from a two-hundred year slumber and has missed the industrial revolution! He finds himself in a marvellous new world teeming with tantalizing plastic! But is plastic all that it appears to be? Why has Amphitrite, queen of the oceans, never left her palace all this time? And who is making all this plastic that is choking the oceans and killing the creatures? The Poseidon Adventure is a play exploring the dilemma we face together and the mighty task of cleaning up our oceans.

Please RSVP by 5pm Friday 15 November to andy@andyvagg.com

The Poseidon Adventure was seeded at the 2018 Tasmania Performs Artist Residency

Not being on fire

IMG_8807

My ten year Faceversary ticked over just recently. It was more a time for reflection than celebration. A whole lot has changed in the world of social media. I didn’t even have a smart phone back then. I was using my old iMac desktop (we never used to call them desktops till laptops came along. Ditto landlines before mobile phones). I remember logging in and logging out each time I used Facebook, too! Who does that now? And whatever happened to changing your Facebook language to pirate?

Anyhoo, back to “Not being on fire”. This Facebook page began not long before I signed up. I don’t think I really knew what a ‘page’ was when I liked it. I just thought it was funny. I wasn’t the only one. It never quite cracked a million likes, but it came pretty close. Not bad for a page that is really nothing more than a funny title! Its also fairly sage advice. Not being on fire is something we should probably celebrate more often. Especially when we are looking down the barrel of climate change catastrophe.

In those ten years social media has evolved from bordering on the inane to becoming a highly politicised platform for evermore oppositional views. From a newsfeed filled with cute puppies, home cooked meals and exotic beaches, it’s now species loss, glyphosate residue and plastic polluted oceans. I’m as guilty as anyone. Have we simply created echo chambers for our own views or has social media evolved into a genuine platform for change? Its hard to imagine how all the recent student strikes about climate change would have gained such momentum without it.

On the eve of a federal election I am optimistic that people are wanting meaningful change, a paradigm shift that sees economics subject to the environment, not the other way round. There is no economy without a healthy environment. There is also no justice, equality or peace without a healthy environment. We are already beginning to exhaust our resources simply mitigating disaster, let alone maintaining any sort of reasonable lifestyle. We simply cannot sustain even the current cost of flood, fire and drought across the globe.

But a healthy environment is not simply the absence of disaster, it is one that thrives, grows and nurtures, just as individual health is not simply the absence of disease, but the presence of well being, meaning and happiness. Some are already calling this the climate change election, and protestors and even governments across the world are declaring or calling for a state of climate emergency. So where was I again? Oh yes, not being on fire! Let’s vote for the people that want not only to not be on fire, but alive and well and happy, and that can only happen with a healthy environment.

This is a good read on the subject: https://science.anu.edu.au/news-events/opinion/how-do-we-go

26th January – the day also known as Australia Day

The_First_Fleet_entering_Port_Jackson,_January_26,_1788,_drawn_1888_A9333001h

The first time I can remember ever, even vaguely, ‘celebrating’ Australia Day, was in 1988, the bicentennial celebration of the arrival of the First Fleet in what is today known as Sydney Harbour. What I remember more vividly was the amount of money that was going into ‘dressing up the nation’ leading up to the big event. If you don’t remember those heady days, you will certainly have seen its legacy; the cracking and crumbling pavers laid in the ubiquitous herringbone pattern, covering just about every inch of every main street of every city, town and suburb across this Land also known as Australia. Being a landscape gardener myself at the time, I remember the lure of the dollar to go to work on the pièce de résistance, the pinnacle of paving, Darling Harbour. I could’ve earned double what I was earning, working for a small business in the hills district of Sydney’s north-western sprawl; but then, I’ve never been one much for the madding crowd…

I don’t think the debate about Australia Day has as much to do with what happened on the actual date, as what it set in motion. It was barely a day, more like several hours, after the First Fleet’s inglorious departure from Botany Bay, crashing into each other, watched on by the two French ships that anchored the same day. The official commissioning of Phillip was on the morning of the 7th February, the night after Australia’s first ‘B & S party’ on the shores of Sydney harbour, but that’s a whole other story. Phillip, for his part, was quite empathetic to the Aborigines he encountered, and refused a reprisal, even after he himself was, sometime later, speared. But what can’t be denied is that the arrival of the First Fleet set in place the machinations of colonisation that forced the First Nations people off their Land by warfare, poisoning, displacement, starvation and murder. Many changes have taken place since 1788, and as a modern Nation we can take pride in many achievements. But that doesn’t change what happened over the last two centuries of occupation. I believe this is an issue of national empathy towards a people that now find themselves a minority in the Land that was theirs, and theirs alone for Millenia.

The best way I can think to convey this is to tell the story of some of my ancestors, the Scots. On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite rebellion was soundly defeated on the field of Colluden. Two thousand Scots died, and two hundred British. This wasn’t the first battle between English and Scot, but it certainly was the last. What also died that day, and, in the ensuing weeks, was traditional Gaelic highland life. Their culture, icons and language were banned, and much of their Lands were taken control of by British aristocracy. In the following century this allowed the mostly British Land owners to clear the Land of people to make way for sheep. The parallels to colonisation in the new world are blatant. Now if the British rulers had imposed that Scotland Day would be held on the 16th April each year, they probably would’ve got away with it. The only people that would’ve objected would’ve been the same people who now had no voice, the ones directly oppressed by the British rulers. The 16th of April, has, for many Scots, been a day of mourning, a day when the life they had continued for thousands of years came to an abrupt end. That is how I empathise with the plight of Aboriginal people now wanting to change the date. It’s not about changing history, it’s about changing attitudes, and having empathy for a marginalised people who mourn the loss of tens of thousands of years of culture and connection to their Land. I reckon even Captain Phillip would’ve supported changing the date.

MIlitary Ops in VDL

The trouble with Australia Day being set on (approximately) the first day of British invasion is exactly that fact. The invasion of Australia was decisive and ultimately successful. Every order and commission carried out under the Union Jack was achieved: naval outposts to secure trade and military supremacy, a place to send prisoners transported from England, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, South Africa and any other British controlled territory, and eventually the conquest of Land to supply the British Empire with wheat, wool and finally minerals. From an Anglo perspective, the invasion and ruling over this Land was a great success, and helped form the greatest Empire that has ever existed, under the reign of Queen Victoria. Moreover, once claiming its independence from Britain, and becoming a constitutional monarchy, Australia has forged ahead as a successful, modern Nation. So, celebrating the invasion of this Land actually makes sense, no less than Americans who celebrate their independence from the British in 1776, on the Fourth of July, setting in motion the displacement of America’s First Nations. So here’s the rub: the Aboriginal Nations never ceded their Lands, and as far as they are concerned, they are still being colonised, still being ruled over by a foreign government, and neither the British nor Australian governments have ever recognised their sovereignty. So, for Aboriginal people to say that Australia Day is a day of mourning, a reminder of all the atrocities that have and continue to be brought upon them by a foreign power, is equally compelling and true.

I’m all for changing the date, but not because it is historically inaccurate, nor because there is nothing to celebrate about Australia or being Australian, but simply because  Aboriginal people are taking the lead and asking to change the date. It is well to remember that it is only since 1994 that all states and territories began having a public holiday on the actual date, the 26th. Although Australians have been celebrating Australia Day since the 1930s, and taking a public holiday, on the Monday closest to the 26th, it has hardly been a big occasion; not until the bicentennial celebrations of 1988. It serves us well to also remember Aboriginal people have been officially mourning and protesting the date since the Sesquicentenary year of 1938. It is no coincidence that Aboriginal protest and request to change the date have heightened in intensity as the ever increasing patriotic fervour and flag waving continues around the country each year on the 26th of January. It is also worth noting that many Aboriginal people are happy to celebrate Australia as a modern nation, just not on the same date that their Lands were invaded, and life as they knew it, changed forever. The sovereign First Nations of this vast Land are simply asking to change the date. They are not telling anyone not to celebrate Australia as a nation, nor even what date it should be changed to, but they are asking us to listen.

Aust Day protest 1938

There are all number of dates that could be chosen, and many a perfunctory choice has been suggested by middle-aged white men, so being of that genre, I am reticent to put forward any suggestions. Again, I would prefer to wait and listen to the voice of Aboriginal people. However, I will advocate for what I believe is at the heart of this matter, and fuel for both sides of the argument over an arbitrary date, and that is a treaty. A treaty isn’t simply recognition of the past, nor an apology, or even a declaration of  independence. It is the legal right to self-determination and self-government. In 1960, the General Assembly, of the United Nations, adopted its landmark Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, affirming the right of all people to self-determination. So, to this end, I believe we, modern Australians, need to listen to what Aboriginal people are saying, what they are asking for, what they want for themselves, and then, most importantly, give them the time to work it out and the autonomy to enact their choices. Back to my ancestors, the decision of the Parliament of Scotland to ratify the Treaty of Union in 1707, forming Britain, was not unanimous and, from that time, individuals and organisations have advocated the reinstatement of a Scottish Parliament. Some have argued for devolution – a Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom – while others have advocated complete independence. The people of Scotland first got the opportunity to vote in a referendum on proposals for devolution in 1979 and, although a majority of those voting voted ‘Yes’, the referendum legislation also required 40% of the electorate to vote ‘Yes’ for the plans to be enacted and this was not achieved. A second referendum opportunity in 1997, this time on a strong proposal, resulted in an overwhelming ‘Yes’ victory, leading to the Scotland Act 1998 being passed and the Scottish Parliament being established in 1999. There may come a day when Scotland becomes an independent nation.

For the Aboriginal peoples of this Land also known as Australia, let’s listen, support, and give them the autonomy they require to enact their own destiny.

Moonah’s Old New Artspace

MAC-Our-Building-705x330

It is interesting that whenever something ‘new’ comes along we are quick to make comparisons. Its hard not to. We also readily interpret the new as yet another ‘overnight success’. I’ve read several articles drawing various comparisons between the new Moonah Arts Centre (MAC) and other artspaces and organisations about the place, and that’s OK, but I kind of like the expression, ‘it is what it is’, because in my experience that is so often the case. The new MAC is definitely one of those places that is what it is.

So what is it?

MAC is Moonah’s Old New Artspace. Its been around the block once or twice and has established itself as a part of the northern suburbs on a number of levels. Why? Because it is a council run space that has evolved with the people for the people for well over 20 years. Old MAC’s space goes back even further, a gift to the community by the then EZ company in the 1920s, one of two halls in fact, the twin being demolished in the 1960s. The remaining building was for some years the local library, a fact that wouldn’t be lost on MAC’s first Arts & Cultural Development Officer.

The new MAC is certainly new, in fact it is state of the art in every way. It is a purpose built artspace, something surprisingly rare in the artworld today. But before I make any comparisons, before I claim that it is a premium space among Hobart’s many and varied artspaces, let’s look again at what it is. It still is a council run space that will continue to evolve with the people and for the people, because that’s what MAC does. The new building itself is no mere architectural wonderspace, it is the result of many months of community consultation. The architects have listened and responded well.

MAC is not an art institution in the traditional sense. It doesn’t collect, conserve and research in an institutional manner. But it will continue to bring local product to local audiences across a multi-arts platform, it will continue to offer affordable workshops for local people to develop their creativity, and it will continue to be a melting pot for the diverse people of the city. For it is the social fabric and cultural tapestry of the City of Glenorchy that is to be valued above any building or institution. Yet, in the case of the new MAC, it is wonderful to witness a building and organisation that is so decidedly dedicated to the people of this city.

Congratulations to all the people that made this happen.

http://www.moonahartscentre.org.au/