Five Poems

The Sleeper

The kids are rolling on the grass,
the sun is sinking low,
but look! a man is sound asleep
beside a lurking crow.
His white-grey hair conceals his eyes,
but not his wrinkled face,
slouched upon an old park chair,
detached from time and space.
His slumber is his sanctuary;
he is not made for this world
of lingering from nine to five,
collecting earthly pearls.
It’s those who can’t enjoy their sleep
who lives are plagued by strife,
if you don’t enjoy your sleep
you won’t enjoy your life.
Dream on sleeper, you will fly
to mountains, rivers, canyons,
who gives a stuff what people think:
if you can’t be there, imagine.

The Young Man at the Bus Stop

The young man found the crowded stop
in flannelette and mustard cap,
the bus would take him to the crop
where he would meet the working chaps.
Just yesterday he finished school,
the day before he felt the cane,
his father labelled him the fool
and said that he deserved the pain.
But school was now a distant star
and Rosa’s face, a teary blur,
and loneliness became his scar
whenever he remembered her.
And still the bus stop crowded more,
the expectation filled the air,
the rumbling sound, the flapping door,
the coldness of the driver’s stare.
The young man stomped his cigarette
and made his way towards the queue,
a widow brushed his flannelette
and scampered for her window view.
And on the bus he saw a seat
beside a slick-haired businessman,
who spread his arms and stretched his feet,
deterred, the youngster chose to stand.
The morning sun was on the rise,
it peeked above the distant hills,
the driver shut his weary eyes,
awaiting for the bus to fill.
And when it filled, the engine roared­­­­—
the bus let out a grieving cry;
the young man dreamt of days before,
and here he knew his youth had died.
But school was now a distant star,
and Rosa’s face, a teary blur,
and loneliness became his scar
whenever he remembered her.


From the humble Murrumbeena,
past the ever-flowing Yarra,
through parades of autumn Moomba,
            he aspired to golden sands.
Rode the waves of Gunnamatta,
dreamt of golden Coolangatta,
wooed the girls of Wangaratta,
            in this Anglo-Saxon land.
Left his darling in Yallambie,
watched the sunset at Kilcunda,
netted prawns in Mallacoota,
            travelled west towards alpines.
Pinched tobacco in Porepunkah,
fought the flames in Yackandandah,
caught the view from Kosciusko,
            on his way to Jindabyne.
Cruised the curling Murrumbidgee,
stoned the crows of Wagga Wagga,
heard the mocking kookaburra––
            which he did not understand.
Passed the swamps of Cootamundra,
climbed the mountains of Katoomba,
paced the fields of Goondiwindi,
            in this Anglo-Saxon land.
Saw the lofty peaks, Kuranda,
swooping currawongs of Daintree,
blushed at stories of the yowie,
            hitched a ride to Kakadu.
Stood in wonder by Nourlangie,
fished for giant Barramundi,
crossed the gorges and the deserts
till he came to Ningaloo.
Fled the ghost towns of Kalgoorlie,
trespassed through the Maralinga,
took a breather in Barossa,
            and a well-earned sip of wine.
Stomped the grapes of Coonawarra,
chased a pigskin in Dimboola,
gathered apples in Mildura––
            his life a pantomime.
Swam the waters of Echuca,
paddled-steamed to Yarrawonga,
stretched the boundaries of Wodonga,
            here the boy became a man.
Dreamt of darling in Yallambie,
headed home to Murrumbeena,
past the ever-flowing Yarra
         in this Anglo-Saxon land.

Byron Loved the Sea

Wordsworth loved his twilight lakes,
Yeats the wild duck and the drake,
Lawrence glorified the snake,
            Churchill loved his V;
Keats composed seraphic odes,
Frost preferred untrodden roads,
Larkin spoke of awful toads,
            but Byron loved the sea.
To some, Rimbaud provides the thrill,
or Baudelaire at vaudeville,
or Blake and his Satanic mills,
            or Dylan’s haunted trees;
or Teddy Hughes’ creepy crows,
or Sylvia’s cataclysmic woes,
or Robert Burns’s red, red rose,
            but I like Byron’s sea.
Tennyson penned dedications,
Pope perfected rhymed quotations,
Shelley praised the cloud’s formation,
            Poe loved Annie Lee;
Whitman loved his leaves and moss,
Coleridge the albatross,
Ezra couldn’t give a toss,
            but Byron loved the sea.
Have you heard him praise the sea?
the image of eternity,
the life-force in the soothing breeze,
oh how Byron loved the sea!
And how that lame boy loved to dwell
where pounding white-foam breakers swelled,
and the story he most loved to tell
was how he swum the Dardanelles.


Song of a Deaf Poet

When you see me all alone,
I hope you understand
that though my ears don’t hear a thing
the spirit rules the man,
and the harp of David dwells in me,
his strum is my command,
though ostracised from crowded rooms,
I dance on desert sands. 

About Damian Balassone

Damian Balassone is an Australian poet whose work has appeared in a variety of Australian and international publications, including Overland, Arena Magazine, Eureka Street, Australian Rationalist, Lucid Rhythms and Green Left Weekly. His second volume of poems will be published by Ginninderra Press in early 2013. He lives in Melbourne with his wife and two daughters.