Tag Archives: John Lennon

Poet for Peace.

A small voice called out

in the wilderness:

“Why must you throw

your sticks and stones?

Why grow anger,

instead of love?

Or, do you even know?

 

But then,

the great wind came,

blowing the small voice

from pole to pole.

Yet, its whisperings spread.

Amelia footprints in sand

Footprints in the sand.

 

“Why must you throw

your sticks and stones?

Why grow anger,

instead of love?
Or, do you even know?

 

Brother asked sister.

Sister asked brother.

Husbands and wives,

partners…

questioned why.

The neighbours wondered

whether a cup of sugar

would be better instead.

 

Slowly but surely,

the people started looking in,

instead of blaming out.

After all, peace in our world

begins in our hearts.

amelia heart painting

My daughter’s painting

 

And so,

after  scattering the seed,

the small voice called on

the sun, rain and soil,

waiting for love to grow.

 

Rowena Curtin

26th August, 2016

This is my contribution for Poets for Peace, a collaboration of poets right around the world urging for peace. It is being hosted by Forgotten Meadows Deadline for Contributions is 31st August, 2016.

“In response to the recent unceasing, and, in fact escalating global violence, we have seen and felt a corresponding surge in poetry about it.

We would like to take this opportunity to invite you to share your thoughts and feelings, a piece of yourself, to add to other Poets from around the world. We are hopeful that the combined weight of our collective spirit and wisdom will be felt worldwide as well.

The only restriction is that absolutely no hate is expressed other than the hate of violence. Any and all words will be appended to the running poem. This is not about ego, so you retain the rights to your creation, we are only interested in doing what we can to stop the violence.

Please share your poetry and your platform to spread the word for Poets everywhere to unite in this effort we are calling, “Poets for Peace.”

Google +1 it, Tweet & share it on Facebook, wherever you are able. Hashtag #PoetsForPeace

 

Diving Deep into Dead Poet Creek #atozchallenge.

My brain’s been absolutely scrambled what with swimming through Dead Poet Creek…a thick molasses of words, thoughts and characters. Even when I turned to Roald Dahl for some light entertainment through his Revolting Rhymes, the dark side caught up, dragging me down by the toe.

I never really set out on this journey searching for meaning or anything profound. The muse just popped the idea in my head like a postcard and it seemed like a good idea at the time. I was right and revisiting these dead poets is exhilarating yet also deeply challenging. While I thought I knew about poetry and poets, I’ve actually found out I was ignorant. That you can’t just read a couple of poems, relate and feel you know someone. People are much more complex.

The letter I received yesterday from Rudyard Kipling, has thrown me a bit. Not only does it emphasise that I haven’t found an equivalent “girl” poem for my daughter but it’s thrown me into a quandary about his son.  After all, he sent me his poem If, which follows on from Hemingway’s poem: Advice To A Son.

How do you choose suitable role models for your kids? Just because the words sound good, is that enough? Or, do they need to walk the talk instead? Live what they say?

I believe so but we’re all human. None of us have got it right! Then again, some crimes are considered “unforgivable”.

This means I’m still no closer to working out what it means to be a man. Or, what it means to be a woman either.

Perhaps, I should’ve just stuck with 10 finger arithmetic and then I’d know all the answers. However, that wouldn’t be any fun!

As I’ve mentioned before, writing these Letters to Dead Poets hasn’t only been about asking the poets the questions I’d like to have answered. As much as I’ve felt totally transformed fully immersing myself in their words, ideas and splendor, the poets are also challenging me through their lives.

Why did Hemingway take his life? How did Jim Morrison end up dead in a bathtub in Paris at 27? Why did Keats die at 25 when so many lesser men live long but comparatively useless lives? How could Roald Dahl write Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, his greatest work when he was experiencing such intense, unbearable personal anguish and grief?  Does suffering really make the poet, the writer? Without it, would we simply just be: “normal”?

With all these questions, running round and round inside my head and words blowing around like Autumn leaves, I am left wondering, wandering while trying to bake cupcakes with my daughter. The kids are home on school holidays!!

As I said, yesterday I received a not-unexpected letter from Rudyard Kipling. I was pleased to hear from him because under the constraints of this blogging challenge, I’m trying to stick to  writing to one poet per letter. Choosing between Keats and Kipling wasn’t easy but for me, there was never any doubt.

Anyway, Kipling sent me a few poems for my kids, especially my son. He’s now 12 years old, recently started high school and is steadily becoming a man. As much as he’s always been growing steadily upwards and learning new things, puberty is something of a metamorphosis where the child goes into a cocoon and emerges an adult. In so many ways, it’s like being forged inside a furnace. As the parent, I suspect that I’ll also end up in the flames and will no doubt emerge frazzled and somehow transformed.

One of the poems Kipling sent me was about his son Jack, who died in World War I. While there is incredible honour and sacrifice in dying for your country, I was intrigued to read that John Kipling had actually been declared medically unfit to serve and his father had pulled strings to get him in. Like his father, Jack was severely short-sighted. Kipling, I discovered, was 200% behind the war effort and fighting for King and country and was writing propaganda. This not does sit well with me and I find it all so difficult to understand. Wasn’t he sending his son to war just like sending  a lamb to the slaughter house? Or, was his son that willing to die? He didn’t value his life and was more than willing to be that sacrifice? Or, was that what it meant to be a man? Noble sacrifice?

How much should we as individuals be prepared to sacrifice for our country?

Should we be taking our freedom for granted? Or, should we be prepared to fight to the death in its defense? Do we adequately appreciate what it means to spread our wings and soar through the sky without being shot down or locked up in a cage? Somehow, I was lucky enough to be born in Australia. Although I can struggle with our geographic isolation, being out of the thick of things has also had its strengths…especially in the past.

I’ve never really had to defend a thing aside from the TV. My brother and I fought some pretty fierce battles over who controlled the box but that was about it.

So, I obviously have no idea what it means to lose your freedom, be silenced or what it’s like to live through a war. It’s so easy for me to take that freedom for granted. Forget that’s not a universal thing and that the free need to help liberate the enslaved.

So, I’m in no position to question Kipling about his actions and choices. I’ve never walked in his shoes. Instead, I think I’ll send him a poem I wrote to my son at the end of his first year at school.

Today, I am writing a letter to John Lennon. I am seriously struggling with this. What do you say to one of the greatest, most inspirational men who ever lived about the moment of his death when a crazed gunman shot him in the heart and robbed him of his life? Even though Lennon was a man of peace, wouldn’t he be angry about what happened? Or, has he found the power to forgive? You hear of people forgiving the unforgivable and that forgiveness is enlightened self-interest. That anger and revenge are  poisons consuming you body and soul from the inside out. Yet, I know I’d be mad. It’s one thing for someone to steal your car or break into your house but to take away your life and take you away from everyone you love? How do you live, or even die, with that? What stops you from haunting that bastard forever. Making their excuse for a life a living hell?

However, even in death, revenge could consume you. Rob your peace.

I have also wondered what, if anything, John Lennon would say to Hemingway?

Isn’t it a bit freaky that Hemingway shoots himself and Lennon gets shot? The man who shot Lennon is still behind bars and yet Hemingway escaped justice.

It’s a strange world once you lift up the hood. Indeed, perhaps, I should have left things alone.

I’m starting to think that too many questions can be bad for your health.

Do you have any answers or reflections on this mess? It seems to me, that asking more and more questions, only digs a deeper hole!

Best wishes,

Rowena

14th April, 2016.

L-A Letter from Lao Tzu

Dear Rowena,

I heard you have been writing Letters to Dead Poets and Robert Frost mentioned that you had a few questions about the journey after reading his poem: The Road Not Taken. This might help:

“A good traveler has no fixed plans
and is not intent upon arriving.
A good artist lets his intuition
lead him wherever it wants.
A good scientist has freed himself of concepts
and keeps his mind open to what is.

Thus the Master is available to all people
and doesn’t reject anyone.
He is ready to use all situations
and doesn’t waste anything.
This is called embodying the light.

What is a good man but a bad man’s teacher?
What is a bad man but a good man’s job?
If you don’t understand this, you will get lost,
however intelligent you are.
It is the great secret.”
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

You are undertaking an incredible journey into the human psyche and it has been such a pleasure to walk down but a short part of the road with you!

Blessings always!

Lao Tzu

PS By the way John Lennon says he forgot to mention this:

“Life is what happens to you while you‘re busy making other plans.”

-John Lennon

L: John Lennon: A Reply.

Dear Rowena,

Thank you!

I was rather stuck for words myself but I understand that you haven’t been well and this hasn’t been easy for your kids.

You probably weren’t aware that  Hey Jude was actually written for my son as: “Hey Jules”. I wrote it to comfort him after his Mum and I split up. Finding out how to walk through sadness is something everybody needs to learn. After all, we can’t always stay in the sun. We need the seasons just as much as the Earth. They make our experiences so much richer, more complex and diverse. As much as we complain, life would be so boring, if we didn’t have the rain. However, that doesn’t mean you keep standing out there getting wet. Only a fool wouldn’t find an umbrella.

Beatles Red Album

This is what I knew as The Beatles as a kid- Dad’s “Red Album”.

Moreover, as much as your kids might ask for loads of stuff and it’s hard to provide it all, when it really boils down to it, love is all they need. Anything else is a bonus and possible even a distraction.

That applies to you to my friend. I’m not suggesting that you stop writing to dead poets altogether but we have such a brief time in the land of the living. Don’t waste it.

Indeed, get off your laptop, out of that chair and off to the beach. It’s only metres away, and yet time and tide are passing you by. Let your dogs take you by the leash, pulling you along those golden sands. You could even get your feet wet. Frollick in the surf. You know the dogs are always ready, simply waiting by the door.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to keep writing and writing until you’re typing in your sleep. The muse will not desert. Indeed, the muse is part of you. It’s just that you don’t know it yet.

Farewell my friend until we meet again!

Best wishes,

John Lennon.

John Lennon autograph book

John Lennon wrote this in his cousin Stanley’s autograph book.

 

L-John Lennon: Letters to Dead Poets.

Dear John,

How are you?

You are at peace and perhaps I should apologise for so rudely interrupting your thoughts, your dreams and even mentioning the past. Yet, how could I not say something? Say what I want to say, without acknowledging what happened. How your life came to such an abrupt and violent end, when you were peace. I have been reminded of your quest so many, many times as more and more lives are swallowed up by war and hate and wish you were here. That you could’ve spoken out about what’s been happening in Paris and throughout our world.

Still, not knowing what to say, I’ll keep my words uncharacteristically simple:

Sorry!

………

After a pause and a few deep breaths, I apologise if I am moving forward too quick but I am writing to you as part of a series of Letters to Dead Poets. Each of these poets has touched my being in some way and I’m extending these moments into something of a journey, a conversation and even a difference of opinion. It turns out, that in so many instances, we don’t see quite eye-to-eye after all and I’ve been seriously challenged by what I am finding out along the way.

Anyway, although there are so many, many questions I could ask, I have a relatively simple request.

Could I please borrow your glasses?

I’d like to see the world through your eyes. See your vision. I know it wouldn’t be the same but I wish I could see better. Have your x-ray vision straight through the surface and into the soul.

Indeed, isn’t it ironic that someone short-sighted had such remarkable insight? Could view things unseen, hidden deep inside the soul and somehow unravel them. Explain those intangible inner mysteries the rest of us can’t even begin to perceive.

How did you do it? What made you who you are? Why weren’t you just like any other John?

Do I really want to know?

Or, would seeing through your eyes ultimately have me walking in your shoes and indeed paying the ultimate price?

Can I really afford to take that chance?

Or, would I be better off simply driving Mum’s taxi and sticking to the local roads and not venturing beyond the comfort zone?

These are not simple choices for me, especially as something tells me that I already left the main road a long, long time ago. That once you have know the road less travelled, there is no turning back.

Beatles Ticket

Thank you so much for being there. Not only now, but throughout my life. I still remember my Dad playing The Beatles on our recorder player as a child. Both of my parents were among the screaming crowds at Sydney Stadium when The Beatles famously toured Sydney back in 1964. They didn’t know each other then but they were there.

Beatles Aust tour

There are so many, many memories shared along the long and winding road cut painfully short.

I know it is no exaggeration to say, that all the world also wishes you were here, especially your beloved.

 

213573-yoko-ono-john-lennon-glasses

John Lennon’s bloodstained glasses, tweeted by Yoko Ono on what would have been their 44th anniversary. (Pic: Twitter @yokoono)

Indeed, Yoko Ono tweeted a photo of your blood-splattered glasses on what would have been your 44th Wedding Anniversary along with these very grim statistics about gun deaths in USA:

Over 1,057,000 people have been killed by guns in the USA since John Lennon was shot and killed on 8 Dec 1980. twitter.com/yokoono/status…

31,537 people are killed by guns in the USA every year. We are turning this beautiful country into war zone. twitter.com/yokoono/status…

— Yoko Ono (@yokoono) March 20, 2013

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that your glasses bore the scars of your death, although I didn’t know. Perhaps, I should retract my request and yet your glasses were but a symbol. A way of my expressing my desire to be a better person and a more compassionate and empathetic human being.

That’s all.

Love and best wishes,

Rowena

PS:  I apologise for viewing you through my own rather rosy-coloured glasses and perhaps forgetting your humanity, your faults and mistakes along the road. It’s just that you could express things so succinctly, that it’s easy to forget the realities of living and how difficult it truly is to for anyone to truly walk the talk.

Indeed, my kids are currently on school holidays and I’m busy talking to you when i should be entertaining them. Yet, I’ve fallen into the reflections of my reflections and am struggling to connect with the world I’m in. I’ve somehow wondered into Wonderland but am wanting to explore as much as I can and write it all down before I return to the real world. Before the door is locked and there is no return. You can not ignore the muse.

Happy Birthday…1000 Voices for Compassion.

Twelve months ago, I joined up with an incredibly inspiring group of bloggers rising up against terrorism and hate in our world with a bold new project…1000 Voices for Compassion. This group seemingly sprung up after the terrorist attacks in Paris, bringing together bloggers from all around the world, who fought and continue to fight for all that is good in humanity.

Flowers at midday

Flowers Martin Place

My interest was also driven by a dreadful terrorist siege here in Sydney’s Lindt Cafe in Martin Place, which shut down the CBD and saw two precious people killed. Sydney-siders rose up and left flowers in Martin Place by the thousands just like thousands took to the streets of Paris marched, many under the banner: “Je suis Charlie”. I was stuck at home with a broken foot unable to pay my respects, feeling incredibly powerless and indeed shell shocked. What had happened to our beloved Sydney?

give peace a chance-yoko ono-lennon

These acts of a few were horrific but the incredible response of the many said we do not accept such hate.  At the time, it really did feel like we needed another Woodstock. A new John Lennon to “Give Peace a chance” or perhaps even that the second coming couldn’t be too far away.

For me, 1000 Voices of Compassion met that need.

Back then, I knew nothing about blog shares and like-minded bloggers coming together regularly in online forums of sorts. However, I loved what I heard and joined to do what I know best…wielding my pen. I’m not too good with a sword and would no doubt injure myself in any attempt to save the world. Chop off my own foot! That’s not going to help anyone.

Jean Julien Peace for Paris

Jean Julien “Peace for Paris”

1000 Voices, therefore, provided me with a vehicle, a way for me to feel like I was doing something towards building a more diverse, inclusive community where people from all walks are valued, respected and embraced. I felt less alone. Less paralysed. I could do something. In my usual fashion, I could write about it. Moreover, through writing about the need for compassion, love and understanding in our world, instead of promulgating hate, I felt like part of a wind of change. That in the spirit of the pen being mightier than the sword, that words expressed via the pen, pencil or keyboard, could be mightier than the bullet.

I remember the excitement, the buzz as our very first 1000 Voices posts went live and what it meant to be a part of that. It was electric. I felt like I was joining a modern day Woodstock. We were taking a stand! We were one but we were many.

That was just the beginning.

On the 20th of every month since then, we’ve come together and shared our posts about various aspects of compassion.

The theme I probably found most moving and just incredible was Forgiveness, which was our theme for January 2016 link. This felt like the equivalent of feasting on superfoods for my soul and I felt so enriched. Incredibly blessed. My post Forgiving the Unforgivable addressed my struggle to forgive an auto-immune disease which has ravaged my life.

Right from that very first blog share, being part of 1000 Voices for Compassion has seriously opened my eyes and dramatically expanded my world. I am no longer just an Australian sitting in my chair in Sydney. I have become a citizen of the world with friends scattered yet bound together, all over the world. That’s such an incredible thing and I find myself telling my family about my friends in London, Paris, America like they were living next door, even though we’ve never met. Our world has become so much smaller and incredibly intimate

Through 1000 Voices for Compassion, we have indeed created our own village, which might seem a bit utopian but it is real.

I now tell my local friends that I’m part of an international group of bloggers writing about compassion and while that certainly sounds impressive, I’m quick to let them know that it’s a group anyone can join. It is not exclusive.

How many clubs let you join where they don’t care if you’re turning up in your pyjamas for a chat?

This is my kind of place!

What has being part of 1000 Voices of Compassion meant for you? Please leave a link and also mention a favourite post you’ve written or read.

Love and Blessings to you all!

xx Rowena

Rowena sun

Together we can spread more light throughout our world!

 

 

 

Sydney’s Lindt Cafe Siege…12 Months On.

As I gingerly entered Sydney’s Lindt Cafe yesterday, nobody handed me a bravery award, or even acknowledged the deeply troubled significance of my visit. That I wasn’t there for chocolate or even coffee.

A year after Sydney’s horrific terrorist siege in the Lindt Cafe at the heart of Martin Place, I was there to pay my respects.

Like so many, I had been glued to the TV screen during the siege. I’d broken my foot the day before. Immobilised and in pain, I vicariously experienced the horror, the not knowing and witnessed those gunshots which brought the siege to an end with three deaths and a blinding flash of light.

You don’t have to be there anymore to experience a sense of such trauma. Even if you have only half a heart, watching such trauma on TV, absorbing the aftermath of personal stories and being walked in their shoes, are enough.

As I said, you don’t need to be there.

Yet, for those that were, how do you ever move forward and yet they have no choice. Life goes on. It doesn’t stop. Pause. Hold its breath. It just keeps going and like running late for the train, you just have to get onboard.

I haven’t vowed never to frequent the Lindt Cafe but I still stand by what I said last year, with such a plethora of choice, I’d rather go some place else. Somewhere I can smile, laugh relax, write without being pursued by dark shadows.

As I said, I was far from being comfortable being in the Lindt Cafe. I could feel the gunshots going off and yet I couldn’t smell gunpowder.

All I could smell was chocolate. That intoxicating smell of chocolate and yes, that smell was very particular. It was Lindt chocolate. I was absolutely divine, heavenly and I can’t believe I resisted it all. However, it was such a hot day and I wasn’t going straight home so I didn’t even buy a drop. Even resisted all those gold Lindt teddy bears…two for $10.00!

When you enter the Lindt Cafe, there’s the chocolate shop on your left and you have to swing around to your right, to enter the cafe.

That was all fine. Didn’t affect me at all.

However, seeing the staff wearing the very same dark chocolate-coloured aprons which had been worn by the hostages,  triggered an awful sense of terror. The simple aprons made me feel ill.

It’s not surprisingly really. After all, the main images of the siege featured terrified Lindt employees wearing these very same aprons, escaping from the terrorist and running for their lives. There was one girl in particular. The horror etched into her face. She was running for her life… a survivor escaping a war zone.

You don’t forget that.

At least, I don’t.

I left without buying anything and would’ve liked to light a candle for Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson who were killed during the siege. I didn’t see anywhere I could do that but I did stop at a memorial out the front.

Yet, what can you say?

More and more I am finding words are so inadequate and like so many at Christmas time, I have no spare cash.

I walked out of the cafe and back into Martin Place.

heartman 24.6.2010

“Heartman” Drawn by Mister 2010 aged 6.

Not unsurprisingly, being around lunchtime, Martin Place was humming. It is the hub of Sydney’s CBD. Of course, the Christmas Tree was up and I was conscious that for a second Christmas, Katrina Dawson’s kids didn’t have their Mum. As a chronically ill Mum with two young kids, I feel that. We’ve had a few Christmases where my life was hanging in the balance and have had our own horror. Of course, I’m going to be mindful of those experiencing what I’ve feared with all that I am.

Yet, despite this churning vortex of intense, grueling emotion, I was strangely comforted by a classical guitarist performing in Martin Place. I noticed him a couple of blocks away and somehow the notes hooked into my heart. Like the children being lured by the Pied Piper of Hamlin, I felt myself being irresistibly drawn towards his melodious song. Quite often, I find myself drawn towards more melancholy music, but this was so upbeat, happy and just what the heart doctor ordered.

joseph

An incredible CD of classical guitar to lift up your soul.

Thank you Joseph Zarb! You can hear him  too at http://www.jose.net.au

Still feeling reflective, there was now a spring in my step.

Music helps the heart to heal and to hope.

Dancing_Man,_Australia,_end_of_World_War_II

This iconic photo known as “Dancing Man” was taken in Elizabeth Street, Martin Place celebrating the end of WWII on 15 August, 1945.

It is an intriguing coincidence that one of Sydney’s most iconic historical photographs, The Dancing Man, was taken virtually outside where the Lindt Cafe stands today. This photo captured the jubiliant excitement of the end of World War II. It doesn’t deny it’s horror but it does celebrate a better future…peace!

Jean Julien Peace for Paris

Jean Julien “Peace for Paris”

Since the horror of the Lindt Siege, there have been two major terrorist attacks on Paris and there’s a heightened level of vigilance and dare I say, fear.

However, that doesn’t mean we resign ourselves to the status quo. Stop fighting for freedom and that ultimate goal, which, even though it might sound rather cheesy and corny…world peace.

As John Lennon said: “Give peace a chance”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkZC7sqImaM

give peace a chance-yoko ono-lennon

xx Rowena