Compost of Dreams

Thursday, March 8, 2007

I DO !

or ( The farmboy's I Do! )

I am my own slave.
In the primary world there is no
escaping the menial others wage slaves for
I drive myself with a whip of ‘have to’
- an elemental way of thinking…
But I do

'Do you take this earth?' the preacher
intones. 'To have and hold to
till death you to earth return?'
And my solemn vow 'I take you'
gives small change for earth taking seed of me…
But I do.

No! - I want mistress of the moon…
Oh any, any, comely star will do...
Love me some other, other...Other!
Infidelities are what I'm brewing
An easy lay. Lie! Why stay earthbound?
But I do.

Rings? With these shackles I farm
Wild oats back into a soil manure
and the house of earth I lay up
shoulders my sweat the daylong. True,
weeds thrive, work is my curse…
But I do.

Wayne David Knoll © 1987
Pub 1993 in ‘Compost of Dreams’
Broadcast-Publication on "POETICA' ABC Radio National, May 2006 and January 2007
Written out of reflections on a wrestling of the demon duty and thinking of my farmer brothers and my father who farms on after 50 years (and still does in 2007). Feeling powerless in abilities turned to small account. Yet this is a small parable of fidelity in spite of other pulls, and even while wresling with the angel as Jacob did, asking for a better deal. But that can soon become the story of bondage and fear of faith. Judith Rodriguez called this a splendid poem.

Counting For Nothing


(or - The farm signed me )

First Monday of

every month
I must spend a day uselessly

in town
Have five coffees

with the accountant

Acres Accounting Limited!

We do-over

last month's debt reserve
Go over next months tallies,

draughts, live-weights,
And I get my orders,

with Guides for Futures
plus meagre Stipend

and Household Support!

Going in I drive

all the way past farms
like mine

-I mean like not-mine-
[Mortgages bought up

Acres Accounting Limited! ]

I took years

to sign to quit the farm
but the farm signed me
Left me here
with a hollow heirloom
a tenant for history

with the lemon tree

by the chookpen
which lets its bitterness here.


where there is no family farm
but the only life I know.

I am owned

by the produce I sold.
I meet

the bailiff of the paper baron
And he tells me

what to sow,

where to reap
and how much

of the paper

I can keep.

I am under

the screw of thumbs
a fate
which my great-grandparents

left Germany
to escape.

I am an untold peasant
In an unsaid feudalism
And all my practical thrift

and ingenuity
- that spare economy

counts for nothing
on economist's


1992 © Wayne David Knoll

Economies of scale now run us off the land and unbalance us off the human scale of feeling. Everyone but the very rich is becoming landless and placeless, unless it is a pocket hankerchief morsel of trod-on dirt. This poem was written after travelling through the Riverina and meeting farmers on the edge of the bank doors. It was inspired by a story in the Melbourne 'Age' newspaper. In the Campaspe valley I discovered the early thatched-roof inplement sheds, and straw-roofed fooder shelters of our past, of settlers who built with what they had to hand. The family farmers made and built in and of the landscape to make this land rich and more productive, more sheltering as a home, than it had ever been before. Creativity with landscape is a poetic ingenuity which gives many life. Whereas, economy with landscape is that mercenary snake-oil spin which also kills with the venom of its fear and sefishness. Economics kills the country; belief makes the country live. It is generosity and philanthropic stewardship and commitment which makes the country come alive.

Song Of the Weedicide Freedom


(After a return to the family farm and an attempt to turn traditional farming
methods into an organic and spray-chemical free one.)

..............Thick Weeds.
.....................................Damn Weeds!

Weeds love a market garden.

Look at the rows of sweetcorn!

Is it a lawn of fat fan?
Wild radish?
Or a good crop of
Prince-of-Wales feather?

Sweetcorn ?
How tell it from Johnson grass?
Oh I see!
The corn does have larger leafblades.

What’s that?
Pigweed? Portulacca?
Looks innocent!
Looks like spinach!

All weeds?
Seedling weeds.

Pull weeds sideways from the plants,
Watch for the vegetables!
Use you eyes to hoe.

Look! Here’s a sweetcorn plant

Watch Out!

Use the hoe like a razor on your face
You are the edges of the blade.

So! Raze the feather!
Slice wild radishes!
Cut grassroots
And bare the earth!

the weedseed
riddled in the soil,

Weeds come again
Weeds love a market garden.

Can capsicums compete?
Will beans be choked?

But... weeds can be vegetables
(Plants out of place!)

You’d grow them,
except they
grow themselves...

Prince-of-Wales feather
sprouts like headhairs

(be a good crop if you’d sown it!)

So, Pluck the young seedlings up
Gather them in bunches
Good double handfuls
Tie them with a string...
Call it: Greek Spinach!

Call it: Amaranthus Greens
Sell a few!
make some cash bucks on the side

Tell yourself
‘It’s good to be in “Food Production”.

Weeds love a market garden
Weeds do well.

So don’t mistake scotch thistles
for cucumbers
when the soft cotyledons
first push through.

Weeds love a market garden.

Will the sweetcorn revive?
Will the Fat-Hen that got away
in the tomatoes harbour too many slugs?

Are grubs
breeding in that flowering
wild radish?
Pink and Cream?
Pity you can’t bunch them to sell!


Feather spikes turn thorns
Your wrists take the punishment
Your shoulders ache

You bend
You kneel,
You kneel to weed...

You cut to the edges of your blade

And the earth you hoe
makes a new
Seed bed!

by Wayne David Knoll © 1991

Is freedom from poison to a curse? Original sin was said to carry work and weeds with it in consequence. The weedicides and poisons of the late twentieth century come out of a fascist ruthlessness, seeking similarly final solutions for problems that we have to learn to live with. For there are also human weeds, but who is to decide which. Hitler's cronies thought they knew. The master story teller told of leaving the tares in the wheatfield till the judgement of harvest day, but then, row crops can be weeded with a knife or careful hoe, whether dutch or goosneeck. The hoe sounds its rhythm in ironic strikes. This was written remembering the consequences of returning to the family farm to do it organically. No environmental answer is easy. But the music of manual labour does become a song, and here is an embryonic symphony of words for that libretto.

Old MacDonald’s Prayer

Old MacDonald's Prayer

[ Against the great emasculation ]

I ain’t no Old MacDonald
no more
The farm ain’t got no
No draught, no stallion

Just the combine
greased-up in the stall
And cloned wheat,
Waves from wired fence
to fence

And I, goose about
as Heinz mechanic
To wage mortgage on it all
Rendering my balls
to Caesar’s affluence

Ee…I….Ee…I…Oh !

1990 © Wayne David Knoll

A dinkum laconic voice rendered into verse. Caught off a grumbling great-uncle of a farmer out on the wide flats. Yet it is the earthier people who are left to cry the home truths of our ‘Great Emasculation”.



[The Magnifique Daffodil ]

Golden in paddocks that poets might fancy
Dancing in rows, splendid and free;
Dreams of riches from earth’s rare essence,
And need of wealth: prosperity.

Pickers must bend, quick-fingers glean,
Stems into sheaves, heads akimbo;
Bunches of pleasure for the shops and the markets
Gifts of God’s-country for cities below.

Masses of petals, the trumpets resounding,
Blessings enough ! Too much to disperse;
The shops are full, the markets are flooded,
A Glut ! The trade is in a curse.

What can be done with a surplus of flowers!
Might commerce! So cheap and wholesale;
Thrown down with the garbage, dreams to the compost,
Where gilding fades, essence is pale.

Back in the paddocks the rejects are nodding,
For green-silver leaves to idolize;
A triumph of nature over selection,
Like sideshow clowns, lampooning enterprise.

1985 © Wayne David Knoll

The Economy of overproduction is a scandal. Flowers of the absurd become a flowering of evil. I grew ”Magnifique” an early variety in what I discovered was a late district. Men are fools, especially men who dream, but Don Quixote was such a fool after Christ’s own heart. We have to plant our dream oats somewhere. So this is the nugget I panned out of those fields. The scraped skies of the city below are caught gob-open with a trumpet blast out of this marketplace bloom. It is my pleasure to fool that overgrown orifice with the eternal sideshow ping-pong of blooming asides of word.

The Poet’s Alibi


I live in
a world of dreams
Where despair is transcended

Like a drop trail of oil
In Antarctic storms

Nursing vision, I range my soul
High up the lookouts

Drunk with ways of seeing
Climbing for the star’s perspective

Where the sky is without limits…
…. I can study men like ants

Crawing full-tilt on the treadmill
To escape the cry of trod-on dreams…

They would bring me down,
Enmesh me, overwhelm me,

But this vision spirit is above
Them… it lifts me beyond

And I soar up their yearnings
Crying out: “Mine!” “MINE”

Break the doors of the fantastic
Sprout wings for the vision-forged eagle

Scribe paths I see from my advantage
Draw a map for Vision to travel…

I am the maker of myths to live in
The rhapsodist of fancies

Unmuting the knots of tied-tongues
Reading the groans of our speechlessness

Until all our bones sing
Pumping our hearts fuller

Hitting the nail of veracity
To drive home the kingdom of mustard

Where spiritlife is free
And everyone’s truest dream

Becomes a life that
Needs no alibis.

1987 © Wayne David Knoll

Paddy Russell and his Mustard Seed Project inspired the mustard edit. The poet is hard done by, hardly valued unless you write ballards a hundred years ago, a hard ask. This manifesto of poetic freedom is a profession of a profession. It rose declaiming those who would stifle oncoming poetry infavour of the schackles of convention (lies)Or respectable moral (hypocritical) society and its I-you bound need for permission. I wrote those last words in 1993 and I still agree with them. I believe a calling or vocation gives us a near divine right to speak up. When the bishop of Canberra was asked by a priest for permission to do something innovative, he replied: do not ask permission, just do it, and I’ll scold you if you’re wrong, take the credit for supporting you if you are right. Oh for us to be the author of such an authoritivness again!

About Me

My photo
I am a 4th-to-6th generation Australian of Silesian (Prusso-Polish), Welsh, Schwabian-W├╝rttemberg German, yeoman English, Scots, & Cornish stock; all free settlers who emigrated between 1848-1893 as colonial pioneers. I am the 2nd of 7 brothers and a sister raised on the income off 23 acres. I therefore belong to an Australian Peasantry which historians claim doesn't exist. I began to have outbreaks of poetry in 1975 when training for a Diploma of Mission Theology in Melbourne. I've since done a BA in Literature and Professional Writing and Post-graduate Honours in Australian History. My poem chapbook 'Compost of Dreams' was published in 1994. I have built a house of trees and mud-bricks, worked forests, lived as a new-pioneer, fathered-n-raised two sons and a daughter, and am now a proud grandfather. I have worked as truck fresh-food farmer, a freelance foliage-provider, been a member of a travelling Christian Arts troupe, worked as duty officer and conflict resolutionist with homeless alcoholic men, been editor/publisher of a Journal of Literature for Christian Pilgrimage, a frontier researcher, done poetry in performance seminars in schools and public events.