GP fancies himself as something of a poet. He has published a book of his poetry, and is currently working on a major work of poems about monsters and imaginary beings. This page contains some of his travel poems.
Around the World in 34 Verses
It’s nice in France, they have good wine
The life is good, the food is fine
But they get up everybody’s nose
Why they’re like that no-one knows.
In Germany they used to fight
They tried to use their Prussian might
To subjugate their fellow men
But they lost out once, then lost again.
Italians they like lots of parties
And they make good cars like Maseratis
They’d prob’ly be OK if only
They didn’t vote for Berlusconi.
In Spain they spend the day asleep
When not killing bulls and eating sheep
Or thinking of the day they ruled
America and half the world.
The Russian bear he drinks too much
Vodka, beer and wine and such
A viler lot you never met
To think they once were such a threat.
The Greeks invented how to vote
But nothing else, least not of note
They eat real lots of funny food
Which really isn’t all that good.
The Scandos are a funny lot
It’s cold up there, it’s never hot
They hardly ever see the sun
It’s mostly boring, never fun.
The Yugoslavs just fell apart
Made disintegration quite an art
Killed each other left and right
They are a sad and sorry sight.
The Dutch live in a nether land
Mostly built below the strand
One day the sea will come inside
They’ll disappear, gone with the tide
And England’s sun is setting fast
Its glory days are now long past
It once was great but now is small
There’ll soon be nothing left at all.
The Japanese they eat raw fish
It is indeed their favorite dish
Their wine they make from grains of rice
None of it is very nice.
The Indonesian archipelago
Has lots of islands, don’t you know?
They’re here and there, all in a mess
Too many of them, numberless.
In Thailand they think the king’s a God
You can’t point out that he’s quite odd
The slightest word, and without fail
They’ll throw in a Bangkok jail.
The Indians and the Pakis fight
Over who is wrong and who is right
Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Jain
They really are just all the same.
The Chinese they’ve industrialized
They make shoddy stuff with faults disguised
Even though they try to do what’s right
It’s still the case, no Wong is white.
The plucky little V’etnamese
Dispose of conquerors with ease
The Frogs and Yanks could never win
Don’t try to mess with Ho Chi Minh.
Singapore is clean and neat
So much so, you never meet
Anyone who might complain
That’s twenty strokes of a bamboo cane!
The Filipinos sail their shoddy boats
Between their poor benighted coasts
They often sink into the sea
It’s not the place for you and me.
Nigeria’s a land of gold
It must be – for so I’m told
Everyone who’s on the Net
Has cash for those they’ve never met.
Egypt has the mighty Nile
It flows forever, mile on mile
In Pharaoh’s day the land was great
Now it’s only second-rate.
South Africa’s called the rainbow land
There’s gold aplenty ‘neath the Rand
They’re black or brown or sometimes white
They don’t get on, they often fight.
The Ethiops just run and run
They seem to think it rather fun
But no-one goes there, it’s too far
To distant Addis Ababa.
In Kenya too they move real fast
Sometimes you see them running past
They’ve nothing else to do, you see
That’s why they’re quick as quick can be
The Moroccans have a strange cuisine
They cook it in a tall tagine
They use all kinds of herb and spice
And pretend it all tastes really nice.
Zimbabwe’s got a funny name
And lots of parks with lots of game
But there’s not enough to go around
Since Mugabe dropped it on the ground.
Africa’s got lots of diamond mines
Giraffes and elephants and lions
There’s lots of little nation states
With tinpot little potentates
Canadians do ‘most everything
To try to make it int’resting
But in the end, why would you go?
There’s nothing there but lots of snow.
In Brazil the nuts are small and brown
Just like the people, so I’ve found
They talk amongst themselves with ease
In a funny kind of Portuguese
In the land they call US of A
They do most things a different way
They think their way is quite the best
‘Cos they just don’t know of all the rest.
In Peru the Incas they once said
You’re not alive til you are dead
It’s really not so very nice
To be a human sacrifice.
Mexico is full of drugs
And violent murdering vicious thugs
A shame because the food is nice
Burritos, tacos, beans and rice.
In Argentina all they eat
For breakfast, lunch and dinner’s meat
They eat it ‘cos the land is full
Of cow and heifer, calf and bull.
New Zealand is a funny place
Without a single saving grace
Unless you count their rugby team
And even that’s not what it seems.
Which brings us to the land Down Under
Compared to others, it’s a wonder
They’re all mired in dismal failure
I’d rather live in fair Australia.
Small and gentle in Tokyo
My home in Japan
Rain will fall tonight
It will wash my blood away
Where is the mountain?
It reappears tomorrow
Fuji-san is here
I love Japan. I have been there many times for business and pleasure. The little undiscovered suburb of Monzen-Nakacho, so close to central Tokyo yet so unknown to tourists, is a wonderful little place. I have stayed there often.
But I did have a bad fall there, on Eitai-dori, the big street that runs through the middle of the suburb. I tripped on the median strip running across the road, and fell heavily on my face, cutting my lip and forehead. I was not following my own advice – “Never jaywalk in a foreign country!”
These three pieces all written on a trip in 2011.
Dorothy Parker, she once said
There’s no “there” there, I say instead
There’s no “there” here, nor glass of wine
Nor nip of gin, nor beer in stein
No shrunken head, no orang-utan
Nothing here for beast or man
Nothing made from force of will
There was more to do – in Invercargill
I went to a conference in Brunei in 2009. It is the stupidest place I have ever seen – there is no alcohol and the whole place is devoted to glorifying His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah.
It is boring as shit. Don’t go there.
On Loch Ness, Winter 2015
Inverness is monster town, they make a big thing of it
Like the Kiwis with their Middle Earth and Orcs and Dwarves and Hobbits
I’m never one to laugh at such, I don’t like to inquisis it
But when I stood there on the shore, the Monster came to visit
She was quite nice, and very large, all black and round and finny
I’d never think that she could live in a place so cold and windy
They’ve said for years she lives up there, in the loch up in the heather
In the howling winds and biting frost that in the Highlands they call weather
We gave her food, a piece of bread, and a small brown ball of haggis
And a piece of fruit and a shortbread cake and a little plate of tatties
She wolfed them down, in lizard style, then splashed away with glee
For monsters rarely eat enough, and not like you and me
Some say that Nessie’s just a myth, a phantasy of man
A made up thing, a fairytale, an imaginarium
But she’s real, she’s there, she swims about, she’s of the female gender
So don’t you listen when they say she’s like Charlie, a Pretender
The loch is dark, the sky is bleak, the land is fierce and barren
But deep beneath the waves there lies a monster-laden warren
With Nessie eggs, that soon will hatch, and banish all the doubters
When the Monsters swim about in droves and play upon the waters
On the Somme, 2003
I wandered through the poppy fields
I could never say just what I feel
I could never feel the wounds would heal
I just can’t make it real.
It makes me sick what they went through
So many died, we don’t know who
So many gone, they left a few
To say what we can’t do.
Through cannon fire and bayonet
Machine guns swept the barbed wire net
Mowed down like grass and even yet
There is no point to get.
In Albert the church’s steeple fell
In Peronne still the tales they tell
In Pozieres they know too well
The folly of it all.
In pretty Villers-Bretonneux
They’ll always know Australia
They say they know what they died for
But I’m not really sure.
For King and Country, Empire’s pride
Millions killed, God on our side
Butchered, slaughtered, crucified
Not knowing why they died.
Gott Mit Uns 1914-1918
“Gott mit uns” Gürtel anschnallen
“Gott mit uns” wir sind gefallen
“Gott mit uns” die große Lüge
So viele grässliche Betrüge.
Wer weiß warum wir sind genommen?
Wer weiß woher wir sind gekommen?
Ich weiß nur daß wir sind verloren
Und seh’ nicht mehr das gold’nes Morgen
Das Leben fliegt mit keine Gründe
Seit den frühsten schlimmste Sünden
Ich liege hier in völliger Stille
Das ist mein Los, und nicht mein Wille
‘Gott mitt uns’ (God is with us) was inscribed on the belt buckles of German soldiers in WWI.
My only ever poem in German. Not easy, though the Germans say theirs is the language of poets. And it is – read Goethe or Heine. And the language does have similar rhythms to English, which made things a little easier.
Christmas in Wagga, 2010
The mighty Murrumbidgee’s brown, the creeks are overflowing
It’s the richest that the land has ever been
I lived here as a child, but I don’t remember knowing
That the Riverina ever was this green.
The summer rain has washed away the drought and dust and drear
It’s given us a Christmas day so mild
Now Santa’s here to bring us joy at the ending of the year
As we celebrate the coming of the Child.
In Wagga with my son and dog, back to the land where I was born
Where my father’s father lived and worked the land
And now we’re back in town again, here on Christmas morn
For a day of turkey, prawns and beer and ham.
The beer is cold, the sun is warm, the Murrumbidgee’s flowing
Its waters fill the rivers way out west
We’ll eat and drink and laugh and joke, but then we must be going
Christmas day in Wagga Wagga is the best.