Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"Biame in autumn"


 On the autumn yatra I gave people the opportunity to write or draw for a little while.  I scribbled down the beginnings of a poem, and this is what it turned into. I had been thinking about Biame. 

Biame created the earth and the Law for human society, but then went to live in the sky.  Dearly loved local archaeologist Eugene Stockton cites Tony Swain's article on Biame  and says that " the cult of Baiame(sic) was a religious innovation in reaction to the first settlement of Sydney". *

Last year, in December, I went to visit a cave painting of Biame, which is at Milbrodale to the east of Mt. Yengo. This is a mountain sacred to the Darkinjung people, and is at the centre of a network of sacred sites, flat on top, like Mt. Colong, Mt. Wilson, Mt. Tomah. It's a powerful image half way up a hillside, and overlooking a beautiful valley ( with a coalmine now in the distance). My rather fuzzy photos were taken in the evening. 

  Biame in autumn

Did Biame step off
into the sky above Mt. Hay
where a honeyeater flits feverishly
across the blue, so late to migrate,
did he let go of earthly concerns
such as what the white ghosts want,
and why it is so warm?

The sky god doesn’t see the sky as a problem.

wings up as though he’s leaping
into a pool glinting with stars
and a feathery half-moon,
the trees whisper in the wings’ downbeats
his giant feet push down
squash the mountain’s head
and he’s away
like that burn-off smoke
which drifts northwards to the place
where the honeyeaters have gone.

* "Blue Mountains Dreaming: the Aboriginal Heritage" 2nd ed. Edited by Eugene Stockton and John Merriman 2009 p. 238

Friday, August 23, 2013

Festival of Walking - yatras and other walks

I’m running several walks in October, here are the details below.

Yatra for middlin’ levels of fitness

Sunday October 13

7:50 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. approx.

 A yatra (‘pilgrimage’ - Sanskrit) gives you a chance to be fully present as you walk in nature with mindful attention given to each step. They are days of silent meditative walking, meditation in country, and some interpretation. It is a great chance to be fully in your life, step by step, moment by moment. This walk is on King’s Tableland, Wentworth Falls.

Cost per person:
$20 + dana (gift)

Walk length:
about 8 km; ascent/descent about 200 mtrs

Walk duration:
5 hours

Walk difficulty:
Grade 3

Final date for bookings October 8 
 ( to be made through the Festival of Walking,

Elders’ Yatra

Date: Saturday October 12

Time: 8:30 or 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The elders’ yatra is designed for those in the irony years, where bodies weaken even as wisdom grows. It  is also suitable for those with health issues that would normally prevent them from going on a “bushwalk”. The walk is very gentle,  and about 2 to 3 hours long along gentle gradients, in Sun Valley. We will also be doing seated meditation. The whole programme, which includes the drive to the trackhead and eating lunch together, lasts for 4 or 5 hours.

Cost: $20 to cover basic expenses + dana (gift)
Final date for bookings:
October 7
 ( to be made through the Festival of Walking,

Lawson Haiku Ginko

Sunday October 6

Start and end times:
8:30a.m., or 9:30 a.m. Ben Roberts café, Blind St. , to 2p.m. approx.

One of the world’s shortest literary forms, haiku are pure zen. The way of haiku encourages clear seeing of what is. The day begins with zen meditation (optional) and then I will map the basics at our host cafe, Ben Roberts. After refreshments we’ll take a (ginko) haiku walk in Lawson’s splendid big backyard ( including Adelina Falls), then share what we encounter, written and unwritten, over juice in the cafe. What might you write? Finally we’ll eat lunch together. Fully catered, book in before October 3  ( to be made through the Festival of Walking,

 Cost per person:
$100 ( conc. avail.)

 Finish point:
Lunch at Ben Roberts café.

Walk length:
3 km

Walk duration:
1 1/2 hours

Walk difficulty:
GRade 1-2

Poetry Stroll for Singles

Saturday October 5

9:30 a.m. to around 12:30 p.m.

A chance for singles to mingle in a low key way, and walk together along Leura’s fine old tracks. We’ll start from one of Leura’s best lookouts and walk along the cliffline. There are waterfalls, cliffs, stunning views of the Jamison valley and I will recite some of the world’s great poems along the way. We will finish with a catered picnic lunch in the Cascades park, one of the original parks designed for tourists - amenities provided. 

Cost per person:

Walk length:
3 km approx.

Walk duration:
2 1/4 hours approx.

Walk difficulty:
Grade 1
Book before October 3 ( for catering purposes)
 ( to be made through the Festival of Walking,

What people need to bring:
1 litre water, sunhat, sensible walking shoes (no heels) and clothing for the conditions. If cold, dress warm!

The lyrebird calls / in yet another voice / for his lady mate                                       DL

Friday, August 2, 2013

Poem read to Bluegum Sangha

On Tuesday night I gave a talk at Bluegum Sangha in North Sydney, and I enjoyed meeting the group very much. As part of the talk, I read this poem.  This was my response, in 2001, to the invasion of Iraq.

Wyn’s Walk

When Baghdad                        Washington
want to split apart the world
uncurl yourself
push away the layers of litter
the soil burying you
walk forth
what lives together on the Newnes Plateau
after the backburn?

Fungi, large creamy mushrooms
floating through the road surface,
small  brown dots soft upon the crunching black
buff frills on the other side of a fallen log,

orange termite houses,
burnt trees, new growth on their black trunks
like burgundy ballgowns spilling out,
the rough feel of my friend’s  hand
as we walk along singing Jack and Jill,
my daughter leaping up the glinting pagodas,
the tops of the coachwood trees down in the canyon

Be given cake                        chocolate
fresh-brewed coffee            muffin with rasberries in it

Stride out
to find the canyon
enter it through a hole in the rock
inside find rock walls holding  like elder brothers
a hush of leaves           

thick-layered fire fodder
a purple flower with a yellow heart
an overhang for  a wombat                 
find peace
the conviction that rocks are alive

Lie beside a dry creek bed
look up
into the tea-trees -  flood detritus?
Abandoned finches’ nests  says Wyn

American bombs
are about to fall on Baghdad
our leaders are crazed
today I can do nothing more about it.

Some of us would like to argue
but we restrain ourselves,
Tara is drooping so we sing
This Old Man
and There was an Old Lady
on the way home Don falls asleep.

Diana Levy