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John Wiley Feb 23
The smell
from the wine-making
lies a memory
on the crisp July air.

Straight rows
of leafless vines
march parallel
over the hill.

A heap of
pomace
awaits its future
as compost.

Oak aging barrels
lie racked
end to end
row on row.

Pallets
of bottles
neatly stacked
await delivery.

Vintage
on vintage
full of promise
waiting in line.
This grew from a winter visit to an Adelaide Hills (South Australia) winery.
Most of the wineries in this area do the whole process from grape growing through to cellar door sales.  Some specialise in degustations of their wines with locally grown foods.
John Wiley Feb 16
A small town nestles
on the plain behind the range;
our rural escape.

The surrounding farms
lie baking in summer heat
after the harvest.

A rocky river
meanders towards the coast
but now summer dry.
This is a cluster of haiku to help me get started writing again. I often find the structure of haiku helpful when I'm stuck. Laura is a small town in the Southern Flinders Ranges some 200 kms north of Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia.
John Wiley Feb 10
I want to write a poem
but the words won't come.

I want to sing an aria
but I can't raise a hum.

I want to play a sonata
but I can't even strum.

I want to achieve so much
but, right now, I just feel numb.
This is a light-hearted response to writers' block, written some time ago. I've been too busy doing too much else. It is time I got back to "Hello Poetry".
John Wiley Sep 2018
Drive slow or you’ll miss it
There’s an old campfire,
no marker, no sign-post,
just an old truck tyre.

Forty long miles of plain
with little change,
some low hills on the horizon
with a gap in the range.

You wind through that gap.
Drop well back through the gears.
You’re on rocks now, a creek bed
that’s been dry for years.

More miles to a boundary fence,
a windmill, a gate,
a stockyard, some cattle,
a homestead, a mate.
I'm not greatly into rhyming verse - admire it in others rather than write it myself. Every now and then I make myself try. This poem is about a bush track my father used to speak of when I was a boy. Over the years I have travelled it many times.
John Wiley Sep 2018
It's gone.
I've checked.
I know.

But then,
it never was
much.

Made mostly of scraps;
A rough frame of old bush lumber;
Walls of flattened fuel cans
and lime coated hessian;
A roof of corrugated iron,
battered and rusting.

Scorched by searing summer heat;
Blasted by dust storms;
Chilled by winter frost.

Insubstantial
against the vastness of desert
that stretched in every direction
from the tiny bush town.

But it was home.
Within its walls
were love and care.
At its table
were sustenance and conversation.

For three years
we lived there
when I was a boy.

I'd rise early
and sit on the edge
of the gibber plain
with our dog
watching the sunrise.

One morning
I heard
the jangling of hobbled camels
returning to town
from a night
in the desert.

On another,
there were herds of cattle,
walked in from
an outlying station
for drafting and yarding,
then transport southward
in a train
hauled by a small steam engine.

At the stock-yard
we'd pretend to be cowboys,
prodding the cattle in the loading race
with sticks,
revelling in the dust and noise,
caring little for their terror
or their destination.

One day we hiked
out past the stock cemetery,
of carcasses leering sightless,
scavenged by crows.
We trudged
to the red sand hills,
then back to the rail-line
for a ride home
with the fettlers.

We went barefoot often -
foot-soles like leather
from the searing sand.
In the heat of the day
we'd pause in the scant shadow of a bush,
to choose the next meagre patch of shade,
then run like the wind
to roll on our backs,
waving scorched feet
in the air.

It's still all there in my memory.
Every few years
I take the old track north,
just to check,
to experience again,
to remember.

Other than the vastness of the desert,
it all seems smaller now -
one tiny settlement
within the compass
of an unbroken horizon.

The old house
is just a memory.

It's gone.
I've checked.
I know.

But then,
it never was
much.
John Wiley Sep 2018
He was a stray before we met.
It was at an animal haven.
We had not had a pet for some years
and for whatever reason
had decided perhaps it was time again.

On a visit to the city
we followed the whim
and found ourselves
strolling between cages
of deserted dogs -
large and small,
barking and silent,
confronting and withdrawn …

And then
there was "Bwana",
establishing eye contact,
standing up at the gate
on his hind legs,
barking invitingly …
"Take me! Take me, please!
I'm the one you want."

We went for a walk together,
bonding immediately.
Yes, he was the one,
but there were formalities to be fixed,
dog requisites to be bought,
a home prepared.
Unwillingly he returned to his cage,
with words of reassurance from us
that we had decided
and would return.

Next day
we took him back with us
to the country town where we lived.
We had been briefed that
our new dog was believed
to be partly Basenji
and might be a bit demanding -
a fencer and a wanderer.

In recognition of his genetics
and personality
we named him "Bwana" -
Swahili for "Master" -
and so it was
and has been
for a doggy lifetime
since.

We are all older now …
nearly time for parting.
Bwana sleeps most of the time
except for his insistence
on regular morning and afternoon walks,
albeit much shorter
than they used to be.

But the time will come.
We will all know when.
I'll take him to the vet
and hold him close
while he goes to sleep
for the last time -
hoping that my own ending
might be as easy
and surrounded
with such love.

But then …
I am human …
not a dog …
no one's pet.
John Wiley Aug 2018
This morning
I watched a young sparrow take its first flight.
Venturing from the nest it sat tentatively on a nearby ledge.
while its mother fluttered encouragingly around it,
gently clasping  its back feathers, fluttering her wings
and  then swooping off into the air
before returning to flutter and encourage again.

At last it happened.
The young bird hopped from the ledge,
fell briefly,
then fluttered its wings,  
flew,
and was gone,
a nestling no longer.

I felt privileged.
In a lifetime of watching,
I could not remember
witnessing
a first flight
before.

Wondering too
at how we had fluttered around our own young,
encouraging their first steps
and eventually the leap of faith
to fly, to soar, to glide ,
as the beautiful adults they have become.
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