Tasma Ockenden was born in outback SA but was educated in Adelaide. She was dux of Walford Anglican School for Girls in 1970, and graduated with a BA from Flinders University (1973). She married John Chittleborough in 1972 but later divorced. She became a national student leader as the first female President of the Australian Union of Students in 1976. In 1977 she travelled to Beirut to work with the PLO as a volunteer journalist, also sending material to Melbourne for the Alternate News Service distributed to Australian universities. She also visited various countries around the Mediterranean, including Libya and Iraq.
Since her return, Tasma has travelled around Australia, hitchhiking as a pamphleteer, producing material on Aboriginal land rights and the nuclear industry. She has had two radio programs – The Morning Show in Melbourne, and Worldwide in Darwin. Tasma has settled in Adelaide working with youth and welfare in capacities including supervising juvenile Aboriginal criminal offenders, playing the piano for Minda day care, and caring for paraplegics and the aged. She has suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome from her war-time experience in the Middle East.
Tasma has been published in numerous Friendly Street Poetry Readers, as well as the International Library of Poetry. She has also contributed to Axis, Flinders Journal of History and Politics, Joules and the Palestine Bulletin. She is currently compiling a book, Maverick Murmurs, which will contain poetry, short stories and a play.
In the deep indigo of night
when three robed women slip by,
to roll back the stone and enter the vault
and unwrap the slender male form,
with tenderness in their fingertips
and whispers on their breath.
Magdalena leans over to give the kiss of life,
Mary and Ruth leave on tiptoe,
Jesus smiles into the eyes of his wife.
Silently he rises to clasp her body
the warmth of her electrifying his blood
into renewed vigour, and they remake their vows
before God and a stone Roman death-bed.
Silently she leads him into the night
fresh chill air rushing into his lungs.
He throws his head back, laughing at Mars,
she agrees, in quiet victory.
The old Jewish tyranny is disarmed.
Together they lie on the banks of the Jordan
a willow grove their shelter
her soft silk robe their bed under stars in canopy
and their hands are sublime in trailing
haloed caress over eyelids and ears and limbs,
Their tongues are sipping each other’s saliva
like golden drops of the sacred wine,
their loins coalesce in singular delight
for their bodies are aflame to dine:
time enough to journey.
From Friendly Street No. 20
Your tongue delicately nudges each nipple
before it begins its slow trail down my body;
your mouth closes around my clitoris
as my thighs part in holy languor.
So it begins – my back arches as ripples
of liquid sensation ebb and flow
through my belly until I am gasping
and grasping for you to enter me.
Your eyes are gimlet slits in the dark,
challenging me in sweet mockery.
My loins are already throbbing
as you slide past every convulsing muscle
until I feel full, incandescent;
Slippery with glistening moisture;
Frantic with an innate nebulous
of nectar, creaming in spasms.
I have become the mutineer of my spirit
and you revel in my revolution:
Quintessential demonstration of sexual power.
And still you challenge me,
laughing low in your throat.
So I am licensed only to angels and devils
as I curl around your body
to coil my vagina over your penis.
And then I am rocking you my darling;
My breasts grazing your chest
Your mouth moaning in my neck
Your fingers kneading my hips
as I circle and sway.
And now as your breath shortens
and our loins coalesce in one
long coaxing undulation,
I sense no hesitation in your soul.
Only the eager and naked drive of passion
as you cascade within me.
And your eyes have no membrane
but are pools of fire.
From Friendly Street No. 21
Ways of the Aged
Peggy Tait always insisted on a dab of lipstick
and a spray of perfume before she left her room
a delicate lace handkerchief in her wizened hand
Gerry Fehlberg remembers her clearly,
treasuring a shawl she used to wear as they chatted
her family respecting his particular fondness for her
by offering him the soft comforter when she peaceably passed on.
Brenda Rafferty with her wig on backwards
shuffles outside to enjoy the sun
and a cigarette in the garden
Naughty Mrs Haren sneaks one in her room
Mrs Riley lifts her face like a flower with gently shut eyes
each night as a carer anoints her face with cream
Snow Deacon has a passion for painting
sitting crouched over his water-colours for hours
presenting his work with pride
Mrs Swan loves to snuggle abed with a good book
Miss Dingle emits a toot like a late train coming
each night as she expects a meal
Rotund Mrs O’Brien, as she lay dying,
fervently wished to be a little horse so that she could run around
I imagine, now she’s dead, she’s kicking her heels up
as she cavorts amongst the clouds like a plump little Shetland pony
The aged live with a special intensity as the last moment approaches
so working amongst them, one feels to become the friend
of many good-natured ghosts.
From Friendly Street No. 24