David Harris

David is a retired engineer.  His interest in poetry was dormant during his working life.  Now, with time and awakening interest, he enjoys writing poetry over a range of topics.


So tell me, colonel, once again, just how you know
your target, a mere pixel image on a screen,
deserved your Hellfire missile with its hammer blow.

You say your mission violates no law, and so –
oh yes, you said no law of war that you have seen.
So tell me, colonel, once again, just how you know.

Your men had brought in an informer of the “foe”
who told you that a village house where he had been
deserved your Hellfire missile with its hammer blow

Oh, by the way, the party in the house laid low
was a betrothal, for new lives that might have been…
So tell me, colonel, once again, just how you know.

The groom-to-be was Taliban, he had to go!
That youth, excited, swept along, and just eighteen –
deserved your Hellfire missile with its hammer blow?

I’ve heard that your informant left some time ago
to tend his poppy crop – it won’t make just morphine!
So tell me, colonel, once again, just how you know –
they all deserved your missile with its hammer blow?


Butcher Bird

He cocked his head
listening closely,
then when the echoes
of my flute’s lament
across the gorge
had died away,
he began.

It was not your usual
Butcher Bird routine.
This was a master class.
He sang, he varied,
harmonised, vocalised.
produced an impromptu
original master-work,
then sat back, on the top wire
of the rusty fence,
almost reachable,
awaiting my response.

I played for him an air,
beautiful, lilting,
and with his inspiration,
better than I can remember
ever playing it before.

He looked at me a moment,
then poured out a song.
Such total command.
Such effortless notes.
Obeying no man-made rules
of harmony,
he filled the air with soul.

We looked at each other,
I smiled.
I believe that he did too.
Then flew away,
while I, in deep contentment
rested there beside the creek.


The man from Tipperary

The bitumen ended days ago.
Road is now soft dirt.
Not quite desert –
scrubby bushes, spinifex
break up the harsh red earth.
Dust devils here and there
point red fingers at the sky.

They buried John
somewhere close to here.
Industrial accident
building the Ghan line.

Here at Warrina cemetery,
a dozen graves, unmarked.
A few, well three, have headstones.
It seems that someone cared
for Paddy O’Dea.
A marble headstone.
Clean, legible, cared-for.
“Rest in Peace “– well sure, it’s peaceful here –
“killed on the 2nd August
1889.”… “Aged 23 years.”

There is no sign of
my John Long –
the man from Tipperary.
Buried here?
A long, long way from
his home town of Thurles,
where once I viewed,
in copper-plate script
the Parish record of his birth.


Evening mist

The rain clouds have gone.
Clear sky. Jet black.
Ultimate black.
The milky way –
a million, scintillating diamonds
splashed across the sky,

Here, down in the valley,
clear sky sucks out
the last of this day’s heat.
The fog is forming.

It’s late. No traffic.
Just me, in my warm car.
The headlights paint the fog –
here a solid patch, there some wispy shreds.
Just waist-deep.
Ground is invisible.
Trees grow out of whiteness.
I leave a turbulent wake.

I am a ship,
sailing my course through a milk-white sea.
Steering by the stars
through the cosmos.