“The Believer; the burning man”

Story-lovers/readers of Fiction, Faction and Fantasy: This tale was written about 11-years ago for a friend’s son, at a time when he was becoming an adult. It was to inspire a belief in the power of a strong will. The ‘boy’ is now a man and a Dr.

I have written several ‘short’ stories for various competitions [without winning] and am starting to put them around for free. Otherwise, they’ll be joining Dominic Kirwan’s 1st book of Poetry: “Where Words Go When They Die”. I hope y’all enjoy it…

The Burning Man:

    Burning-burning-burning! Jesus-H! It hurts! Everything’s bloody burning! Me arms, legs, lungs – even me bloody brain’s burning – if that’s even possible! Oh yeah – I know the drill – the whys and wherefores: head spinning in a vacuum of oxygen deprivation, labouring breath coming through a dry throat in rough gasps; more like a fish out of water than a supposedly-fit athlete! Though in fact, this burning pain is just my own – as per – over-the-top training regime. To achieve my goal – run my dream – as it were, I’d become totally obsessed in the pursuit of finding the best method of creating fast, oxygen absorption and spring-strength for my whole body – all linked to the most constructive muscle and tendon spring and endurance ever known!

Champions know that without these qualities, any competitor will only become – and always stay – just a fair sprinter. To be ‘up’ – to literally keep-up with the very best for that few, frenetically calm seconds that it takes to move over the chosen distance, a winner needs that tiny bit extra, which only brutal mind and body training and conditioning can supply.

I stand at the bottom of the huge sand dune, stretched out to the blue sky two-hundred meters or more above me, already breathing hard and perspiring freely from my warm up. Professional trainers tell me to look at the goal’s end, although I find picking spots to pass over – when pushing your body’s limits uphill in soft sand – a much better approach; in training at least.

Now my mind says: stop procrastinating and get going fool! However, my body says: have a break – give yourself some time to re-gather your energy and focus… ‘Ha! Very clever body!’, I think to myself, not listening to its excuses as I lift my right leg and push with the left to begin the drive to piston these poor weak things way past their ‘use by date’: a little joke that my first trainer told me – and one that has stayed with me throughout ten years of breaking the limits of this particular piece of flesh, blood and bone – which I have become so fond of.

There are many ‘good’ sprinters. Some are naturals – some are laborious fanatics. Others use it as a profession and are happy just to gain a meet ‘place’ and keeping on training, while speaking publicly about its benefits – and often making a good living from it. Then there are the burners. This type describes me. I burn to run – and to run very fast. I love competing against very fast ‘burners’ and being pushed to the maximum that my body can give and stay standing – well, running in fact.

For me, it’s not the adrenaline before a race at all: running fast is life itself. I have never given thought to not being able to run at speed and refuse to entertain the concept of ageing and infirmity. Some say it’s my youth and naiveté that burns, although I am uncaring of the what or why – only the doing. Sometimes my fevered, burning mind suggests that perhaps it is youth and innocence, lighting impossible fires of imagination, which are extinguished only by fast, flowing physical movement in my case.

At my chosen halfway point on the dune, I stop thinking altogether as I step and drive and begin to burn. My mind joins with my body – one entity – working together to trick my body’s safety limiter into opening wider instead of closing off and slowing the activity. I don’t ‘see’ anything anymore – my feet guide me more than sight now. They become my eyes as they drive and push and slip, learning to focus on the terrain as they bend and twist, absorbing muscle memory to power forward – no matter the terrain. I believe that it is these small steps of body-conditioning details; like deliberately making each ankle, joint, muscle or tendon become used to springing forward, especially at times of stress that give the edge needed to win – in a ten second foot-race.

In the very best ten sprinters in any country, there may be only one long second between each of the athletes’ best performances. Yet, it is the one whose body has no idea of lassitude or lethargy – that will cross the line first: take the photo, grab the cash and the girl – become number ‘Uno-numo-macho’ – until the next big race. I don’t want to be that man. I just want to run as fast as humanly possible. For me it’s more of a battle with mind against body, than against an opponent as such. The rest: adulation, fame and sponsorship money will come naturally in this society – part of the deal – forgettable really.

I begin to burn now as I feel my body begin to work the magic gained from years of often-wicked punishment. This dune is big! From ground level, it looked impossible to make any body continue to push through the very physical and psychological pain, which comes with pushing your body against a texture and gradient that combined, can break any strong heart. Attempts by weaker hearts could perhaps actually stop that muscle – I consider – as I push and drive, slide and sway, sweat and grunt out my pleasure: that I am burning now. My joined body and mind feel electrified by the energy waiting behind the curtain of doubt and uncertainty that have stopped me -so very close to my thus, unrealised faith – so many times previously.

For now, though, there is no pain. No thought at all. No indication that this hot, sweating, crazy human has bills, worries, cares and concerns that affect every human no matter creed, class, race, gender or color. I manage to lift my head and eyes upward, no easy task at this point in my personal contest, as I feel my feet begin to fly.

This is It! This is the point that I need to reach to be competitive and stay in the top ten! I can feel it! Perhaps now, I will cause some of these great, noble athletes – who had to break these barriers as well, I know – to see me as a genuine threat. Even though I am running uphill and in soft sand, I have persuaded my mind to imagine this speed and strength is possible. Like my heroes: Jesse Owens and Jim Thorpe, Peter Norman, Patrick Johnson, Usain Bolt, Carl Lewis and Tyson Gay, my own feet, now only touch the earth to balance my forward motion.

If you were to slow-motion the images of these burning men and watch their feet – as they literally fly over the distance – you would see that these men’s toes only, touch the ground for slightly less time than their opponents. Yet, this tiny difference makes the others look sluggish, almost uncoordinated as they strain in frustration at the backs of such champions. My own belief: that a human could even attempt this ‘burning’ of mind and body in fast, fluid movement, comes from dreams I had when I was a young man.

I often dreamt that I was at the top of a huge mountain… With a steep, bare slope before me – and I would begin running flat out, taking enormous bounds of thirty and forty meters at a step as I caromed down the mountainside in an exhilarating, wild ‘ride’… A dream which gave me the notion that perhaps this type of balance and power, could be achieved through belief and training. Of course, the neigh-sayers and most everyone else, for that matter, told me that I was ‘dreamin’, and that it could not be done in real life. However, a quiet inner voice repeatedly echoed that nourishing belief, can turn the impossible into possible: the ordinary into exceptional – doubt into firm certitude and reality.

Now, as I reached the top and slid over the sharp apex of sand there, I suddenly fell awkwardly, my challenge suddenly transformed from up to down at the dune’s pinnacle: my sand-covered face is looking stupefied back down at the waiting, desert floor – but also realising that I’d finally done it. ‘Probably a tad too much thinking and forgot that there was a top!’ I thought crazily – and began laughing insanely as I began to roll back down the challenge, I had set myself. I realised again that I had done it!

Yes, I was puffing as I rolled over in the warm sand that covered my hot, sweating body and my legs began to cramp immediately from the strain and exertion I had asked of them – but I’d succeeded – and so rolled, still laughing like a crazed, sand-covered madman almost to the bottom: allowing that angry gravity – finally tamed on the upward side – to gulp me down, first slowing, then stopping my descent just above the flat desert floor. The sun was just rising as I sat up covered in sand and sweat, though very much ‘over-the-moon’ at my first ever breakthrough of my mind’s limits – and of my body’s recent, cautious acceptance of its own abilities…

    Ten days left until the next race – and I felt as though I had broken through my own, self-doubt barrier. Now, it was just good foods, proper rest and long walks with stretching only, until I lined up with the other men to see who had done their homework. In fact, most coaches agreed that hard training was only beneficial until a week or ten days prior to the event. That in fact – an athlete would only burn up needed energy and power by pushing your body past that time before a competition.

At home I paid bills, talked to family and friends, walked my dog, went to work, but in my heart and mind, I was limbering up over my blocks: eagerly ready to explode from point A to B. The energy building was unique to me. Never had I felt the need to burn so badly; to run flat out over the hundred-meter distance, touching the ground about 40-45 times over the course of the race – and then for a moment only.

‘Gravity be dammed!’ I thought constantly as the day came closer. My stretching walks had now become a dance – and worship of movement, and my mind wanted to feel those explosive heights once again: now! This hunger was magnificent! I talked to myself silently and relentlessly, promising to allow the wonderful explosion of power and balance out soon. I fed its need, reminding it of the previous hardship and pain it had gone through to get to this point and felt it tug at my muscles, attempting to pry me out of patience and let it out now: but I would not. I felt it build and grow, taking over my mind and body, becoming hungrier and thirsty for release – and although I kept it tamed and docile, I too wanted and needed the release: not unlike a man who craves the two-backed animal and has not been with a lover for many years…

Burn baby burn

    The day is here, finally. For the last few days, I’ve tracked the other men who have entered – via their online bios’ and You-Tube races. Not to see what they do, but to see their faces. So, I’ll know them when I see them at the warm up track prior to the event. Oh yes – you must expect that they will try to bluff and intimidate as they stretch and preen, out of site of the public, where young, future champions – novices now – become so nervous watching the top guys warm up that they lose the race in their heads before they make it through the heats.

Intimidation can take many shapes. I have watched great young sprinters turn to jelly, from just seeing one of the greats warming up. Standing beside those hard muscled bodies, massive thighs, and toned calf muscles up close, jigging and dancing in front of their eyes and literally exploding those greats out of their practice blocks. It can be an awesome sight for a newbie.

Big, glaring, shiny, muscle mass and overt confidence never faze me though. I saw with my own eyes, when a short Aussie guy with an average build, almost took the win in the 200-meter at the Mexico Olympics in 1968! I will take that second place with me to my sprinter-grave (a joke among burners – who ask to be buried standing in case they can hit the ground running, wherever they end up)…

1968, Olympics, Mexico:

    It was the final of the men’s 200 meters – and as the two Afro-American favourites came around the bend, driving into the final straight, everyone could see it was a no-brainer: these two men had power to burn. They were also using the event to publicise their people’s inequality, in a land that had equality as a foundation stone of their culture and Law. Though alas, for many of the minority (read non-white), groups – that equality was sorely missing any real, or practical application in 1968. Thus, as the two greats saw the finish line beckoning and as one, raised their black-gloved hands in a salute and protest to their countrymen, the little Aussie just kept burning.

He passed the man coming second and in another few meters might have won the race. That race gave me my first great lesson in sprinting: never ever, give up! Run your own race and pump – burn – until you cross the line. Those three great men became fast friends and when Peter Norman died recently, the winner and third place getter from the 1968 Mexico Olympics, 200 meters came to Australia to attend the funeral of a great and fearless man. He was and is a hero of mine and his legacy lives every time I begin to tie my spikes and smell that unique tang of the track, where a normal sized man from a small population in a strange, down-under land, shone his burning Australian spirit to all present…

    I have run against several of the big names in this race before, though so far with places and no wins – as I watched their backs cross in front of me – arms raised in victory – giving out delighted glances to us poor losers. Yeah – they shake your hand and say ‘well done! Better luck next time,’ but in their eyes you see the fire: burning low now, but still banked and ready as if they hoped someone, anyone – would challenge them, now that their confidence, body and mind together are burning.

I am ready. My own fires are banked and waiting deep in the bottom of my feet. Waiting to rise, giving strength and faith to muscle memory and hot blood as it enters my heart and begins the now familiar connection of mind and body that will enable me to burn and fly today.

In tracksuit and Skins, I enter the warm up area. There are around thirty men warming up, but I take notice of only two. The big Jamaican – looking nonchalant as he squats and readies his thighs for the push off from the starting blocks – is hot at the moment, and ran under ten in his last race. The US of A’s up and comer is only nineteen, but has already made a name for himself – and run under ten in several of his last College events. Both men know me and nod to me as I pass, giving me a warm glow as I realize that they have checked my own races and times: a small show of respect for someone who has also run ten flat before.

And, although never having broken that elusive barrier, they understand: it is the burning conflagration of mind, body and spirit that gives that tiny, extra aspect of balance and light-footedness that will break through – and I sense that they are wary. My warm up goes exactly as I planned. I have no twinges, no slight strains or sprains. My mind is clear and my body is already heating up and prepared for the burning seconds. I must get through two heats to qualify for the final and am slightly worried that I won’t control my fire. That it will explode and reveal my newfound confidence before I want it to be seen, which is only at the end of the final – as they watch my back as I cross. That’s the only time I want my peers to witness my newfound, power and fire.

I hear the call for my first race and make my way out into the main track area, where several race officials stand waiting behind the starting line. I know there are people in the stands, because I can hear the buzz of their muted talk echoing around the stadium. I take no notice. I have my number and lane and am only interested in placing my blocks just so, in my lane. This is, as you would have guessed from the run times I mentioned, a 100-meter race. The winner will probably take around 41 – a certain winner – to 45 steps only. Any more than that and you are touching the ground far too often and will be looking desperately at backs – and knowing that you can’t catch them over this distance: unless you burn more than they, then anything is possible: right! Mr. Norman? How many times did the great sprinter and jumper Carl Lewis come from behind and run down the poor guy in front, who was already celebrating his win at 80 meters into the race…

    “Gentlemen – on your blocks!” ‘Ahh! – the sweet sound of the starter’s voice – how I do love those words of challenge’. I crouch in my blocks, feeling the fire begin to work its way from my feet through my rock-hard, trembling calves, up, and on to my heart. Now the starter waits for silence amongst the runners, each settling as they make themselves ready for the explosion that must come to compete at all.

“SET!” The starter says loudly, as he raises his arm with the starting gun to fire. A few seconds of nervous energy while the starter ensures all are ready and balanced and “Bang!” goes the starting gun: and I stick to the blocks – like an amateur! Already a meter behind both runners on either side of me, my mind attempts to break from the mind-body connection and explain why I stuck in the blocks and missed the start!

Abruptly, I feel terrible desperation slowing me further as I fight to run smoothly and keep up with the race while urging my mind to let it go. At five seconds and fifty meters, I’m still running on desperation and can see at least four people in front of me as the final length of track looms in my vision. Then suddenly, all those hours of training and practice take over. The burn takes me over and I am strangely at rest – and then at full flight. I feel the ‘joining’, and my steps become light, barely touching the ground as I pick up one, then two, then three of the front-runners.

My burning body slows and cools as I cross the line in second place. I needed a third at least to go further, but second is an automatic qualification at this event and the relief pours through me as I congratulate the other runners and get my free ticket to the final from the race officials. I am now able to watch the other race heats and rest for the final: a genuine benefit for any athlete, but especially in a race like the 100, which is total explosive grunt for five seconds and ‘touring’ for the final five. That small rest can mean the difference between an under or over ten though – and is always welcomed.

The winning time for my heat was 10.31 and my own time 10.37, which is fair, although the favourites will be very low 10’s: fast burns to shatter confidence – and basically; To kick ass and confidence by the very direct means of lowest, fastest times before the final. The Jamaican is in this next heat and expected to win, but it will be worth seeing how the other competitors handle him for the final.

They’re down quickly and off and running. The Jamaican has literally exploded out of the blocks and is around three meters ahead and already looking around to see if any can stay with him. He is alone and stays there until the end, which he made in 10.17. Great time with no push, although I believe that if I hadn’t ‘stuck’ and had to catch up, I would have made a similar time. I even think to myself that my blunder may have been fortunate, as no one will worry about my poorer time now. With the young American still to race and probably wanting to take the fastest time from the Jamaican, I can sit quietly and prepare to burn.

All is quiet for the start of the final heat, as almost everyone here today has come to see this US junior run. He equaled the Olympic record once and has been consistently under 10 in his last four or five starts. He is also very good looking, sports a well- muscled, beautifully toned physique and plays up to the crowd – as he has done since he exploded onto the scene in his university days, a few short years ago. Once again, the starter has control and my fevered body shudders as the gun goes off to start the race. Another young man, wearing German colours is pushing the young US champion.

They go toe to toe until the German slows for the finish line, knowing he has made his point and probably scared the crap out of the young Afro-American, who probably thought that he would cruise through this heat. The time comes up on the digital clock and says 10.07! The fastest time yet, although I catch the eye of the Jamaican runner and see that we both know, that the young US athlete can and will run faster today.

However, we’ve also spotted a weakness in the American sprinter. He was surprised to find someone keeping up with him from the get-go. His usually fluid stride had a touch of ungainliness, when he realized that he was not going to blow this athlete away immediately. That small crack in his armour had given every genuine competitor in the final a tiny hope; That if any could stay with him in the first fifty-meters, a great finish could do him in today. Maybe he had something on his mind. Maybe he was using this run as practice for another, bigger event. It didn’t matter to me or to any of his real competitors: all we saw, was that he had a weakness that could be exploited and tested in the final.

One hour later I lined up again and this time – against the best here today. Nine men had made the final and I had been assigned lane seven because of my time in the heat. I was not expected to win, in other words. I didn’t care what lane I was given. I was ready to burn and burn brightly. After all – all lanes are exactly 100 meters – although the lower numbered lanes are usually given to the fastest heat time winners and one of those lanes often wins. “Not today mate!” I murmured to myself as I set my blocks.

As we crouched to set ourselves in the starting blocks, I took the time to look across at the men beginning to stretch legs and sway as they settled themselves into their respective block crouch. Then suddenly, in that minuscule moment of silenced time, I had an epiphany. I saw that we were all equal as men under the sun. That this 100-meter race was an extension of how our lives should be. Here, there was no poverty, no colour, no rich and no poor. Stature, status and position in society meant nix here. All present believed that they could win – and all had an equal chance. A strange thought at this stage of the game, but that’s part of my mind also: ‘must let it do its thing,’ I thought rather superstitiously.

Time sped up again and my eyes came back to look at the track directly below my bent head. My hands were now balancing my body – and my trembling legs were burning to drive me out of the blocks and down the track: my mind, now heedless of anything, except the burning desire to smoke this track. At the starter’s call of; “Set!” We moved as one, up and into the drive-out position. Nine strong fit men waiting with almost exploding hearts to jump. To drive out of the blocks and into the spread-legged drive that moves you down the track until you begin to run upright.

Bang! No time to think, my body, mind and muscle memory are using that robust training to spring and fly; Swinging arms driving everything automatically.

I feel the burn coming on as my body stands to its full running height, twenty-five meters down the track. I see nothing. I have no idea who is beside me, in front, or behind. My mind is exhilarating in the freedom of this fast, free, wind-blown movement. I’m burning and I barely feel my feet touch the track. I have always counted my steps as an indication of how far I have left to run, although my count cannot be right this time. I see the finish line coming rapidly toward me as I stride out, flowing over the synthetic track underneath me. One, two, three steps, before I throw my body at the finish line and I am through: finished. I slow behind the line and look immediately to the time-board – and see: 9.96. Lane 7.

I’d done it! I’d broken the barrier! Now I realised why those winners had that look. I didn’t really care who came elsewhere. My faith in my beliefs had been justified at long last. Finally, I’d made the small number of men who had somehow broken through that elusive barrier of mind over matter. My peers from the race began to congratulate me – and I found myself doing similar automatic shakes and pats, as had the men who had beaten me previously. I was also sure that the fire was burning in my eyes and I found that I really did want someone to challenge me: right now, while I was at my very best.

The Jamaican had run second and the U.S. youth third. For the first time since we had run against each other, the Jamaican athlete came and talked to me. He told me that as we ‘stood up,’ after about thirty meters, he saw my feet begin to fly rather than run and realised that he couldn’t beat me in that state. He also said, that he saw the US youth glance across and miss a beat at seeing that extraordinary, lightly balanced form against him – and then he congratulated me. Though I understood, that it was not on the win itself, but on the great effort to defeat my mind’s doubting nature.

“No one could have beaten you today,” he said. He also told me that if it had been a faster field today, that perhaps a few records might have tumbled. Then he apologised to me, for the lack of solid competition that would have made me go even faster today. We became firm friends after that day, though I never ran competitively again. I had a shocking, debilitating accident soon after and could never find that smooth place again. I was not sorry or angry about it, as I had realised by then, that all things change and pass. I had trusted in my beliefs to prove my theories of faith and mind over body to my own satisfaction – what more could I want.

Now, there was only one thing left to do as far as I was concerned. My final run – before the accident stopped further burning – was back at the dunes where I had learned so much about myself. I found a massive old dune – back in behind the coastline – with vegetation growing on it, which made it solid and stable: stable enough to burn one more time – and pelt barefoot down its dreamscape slopes – while taking the largest, most beautifully balanced running steps in the known world – just as I remembered from my dreams: I burned.








Manifest Destiny

“‘MANIFEST DESTINY’ was a widely held cultural belief in the 19th-century United States [& prior, in Europe] that ‘American’ settlers were destined to expand across North America. [Sound familiar?] There are three basic themes to manifest destiny:

1 – The special virtues of the American people and their institutions [founded on slavery]. 2 – The mission of the United States to redeem and remake the west in the image of the agrarian East [No-no-no-no-no! as Gus would say], & 3 – An irresistible destiny to accomplish this essential duty [& ya can bets ya boots, we’ll kill anyone that gets in the way!”

The Christian “Bible” ‘they’ supposedly followed, was written by about 40 people and was started about three and a half thousand [3.5K] years ago, in the Middle-East. Many of the 1,189 or so chapters, were written long after the events took place. Some from memory, some from other earlier texts. This segment from ‘Ecclesiastes’ has been made into a well-known song worldwide & until recently, I thought of it as a wonderful song of patience & empathy.

Now, I think it’s a ‘wrong-un’ in its basic concept of lifestyle advice, supporting – even insinuating the need for – hate, breaking, killing, tearing and war.

“To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to count as lost, a time to keep and a time to discard,
a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”

A time to kill? A time to hate? & a time for war? I don’t think so Sunshine! Back to the corner dunce-seat with Homer Simpson, whence thou belong-est! Thither-thou how-now? In fact, the underlying concept in this section of Ecclesiastes is very early-European in its arrogance toward others, and its support of violence as a ‘negotiation-tool’.

For the Christian explorers, the morality of their ethics seemed to alter to take in their exploratory lifestyle (one hand on the Bible – the other with a gun), with a hand on the heart, and Manifest Destiny inscribed on their minds [‘Hey-lookout!’; Takes on a whole new meaning!]. Oh-yes! The major European Churches gave their support/blessing to such activity in Papal Briefs apparently [of course! More people; More money flowing in from superstitious folk, regarding that final trip to who-knows-where].

This style of ‘exploration’ certainly works well for land acquisition as we’ve seen in Oz, the USA & other former indigenous lands worldwide. In fact, the USA & Mexico’s long-term issues stem from the wars the colonial English made against Mexico, in an attempt to take over their lands also. Unfortunately, for them – Mexico already had an army and guns etc too!

FYI; The Western world is currently worried about China taking over land and peeps they see as part of China from ancient times. Yet, England went to war against Argentina for the Falkland Islands a few years ago & no-one batted an eyelid! Have a look at where the Falkland Islands are – in relation to England – and tell me Commie-China is Bad and the West is Good! Feck-me!

Back to Colonial-Europeans taking over everywhere they land: “Yes sir! We have ‘manifest destiny’ on our side: which means, we can & should take over any lands not being used ‘productively’ – as We know productivity [& we can see where that sorta philosophy has got us now, ‘Henry’! The entire friggin Earth is sick! Thanks for that!

Mexico, was not filled with happy, sunburnt, peaceful folk like many of the lands they ‘found’ anew, and grabbed. [NB! An addendum to this wonderful very fortuitous philosophy, says; We (with the Church’s blessing!), can use the heathen natives as Slaves; to make the land productive, if needed – which was also very lucky – for Us. Thank-God – God was on our side!”

On the other hand, or, meanwhile in Australia, “Amazing Tales and legends of Aboriginal Australians”, written by David Unaipon, whom gathered and translated various beliefs and legends in the 1920s; also, from memory & ancient oral traditions, much older than the middle-east stories. None of them involved wars for land or possessions, or killing entire towns for ‘Sinning’, strangely enough. The articles he wrote, were commissioned by the Universe of Adelaide [Great work UoA]. That work included: “Australian Aboriginal belief in a Great Spirit”, and we might easily imagine such stories/beliefs came from somewhere in the 65,000+ years before Jesus, Mohammed, the Mormons, Scientology, Buddhism etc were ‘born’. Apparently, The Great Spirit lived daily among his people here from ancient times & the entire nation of separate Tribes lived within the ancient laws as part & parcel of everyday life.

You & I can now see why He sent a ‘messenger’ to the Middle-East, [and not Australia] just by looking at the history of bloodshed & wars there, for the entire period of the bible’s ‘bloody’ history. The Middle-East mob needed a miraculous-person/peace-maker, to stop the history of hate & killing between the Tribes and Clans. Unfortunately, the mainstream society there didn’t see the miraculous chance for peace & ‘shot the messenger’, causing even more hate & violence in the lands right through to today’s issues in the area.

D. Unaipon & our 1st-people’s ancient stories certainly never mentioned that there was ‘a time for hate, war and killing’ that I know of, or could find. [FYI: Unaipon wrote so eloquently because he’d studied Latin and Greek and loved to speak and write ‘properly’.]

Excerpt from David Unaipon’s works: “Wonderful is the soul of man. A capacity for the Great Spirit of the Eternal God. Go back into those ancient civilizations and review the wonders. Those sensational discoveries in the valley of the Nile or in the jungles of Indo China, or let your mind be carried away to far off Peru or Yucatan, or think of the grandeur that once was Rome’s, the glories that once belonged to Greece. Amongst these ruins are monuments and fragments of magnificent temples erected to their gods. These are evidences that go to prove that man is a worshipping creature irrespective of color, language, or clime. The only difference is, as a nation’s conception of the Great Spirit, so is their form of worship,” (Unaipon, D., cited in Muecke and Shoemaker, 2001).

It is worthwhile remembering here that while Mr. Unaipon was writing so eloquently and with such passion, many Australian Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders [not to mention the South-Sea Island ‘slaves’] were being used as ‘non-human’ slaves and having forms of genocide practiced against them in various other parts of Australia – because they were black-skinned, didn’t speak English, and lived a very different, ‘nature-al’ lifestyle, from what the colonials thought of as ‘normal’. It seems v-much, like Manifest Destiny was of a mind here also.
Unaipon goes on to speak of the differing ways of worshipping in grand buildings and Cathedrals worldwide and says of his own people:
“Not so with the Aborigines of Australia. We build no place of worship, neither do we erect altars for the offering of sacrifice, but, not withstanding this lack of religious ceremonies, we believe in a Great Spirit and the Son of the Great Spirit. There arose among the Aborigines a great teacher, Narroondarie; he was an elect of the Great Spirit. And he spoke to our forefathers thus:

‘Children, there is a Great Spirit above whose dwelling place is Wyerriewarr. It is His will that you should know Him as Hyarrinumb; I am the Whole Spirit and ye are part of the whole, I am your Provider and Protector. It has been my pleasure to give you the privilege to sojourn awhile in the flesh state to fulfill my great plan. Remember (porun) children (nukone illawin), your life is like unto a day, and during this short period on earth you are to educate yourself by your conduct to yourself as a part of Myself and your conduct to others, with the knowledge that they are part of Myself.

Live as children of your Great Father. Nol kal undutch me wee (control your appetites and desires). Remember never allow yourself to become slave to your appetite or desire, never allow your mind to suffer pain or fear, lest you become selfish, and selfishness causes misery to yourself, your wife and children and relations, and those with whom you come into contact. Selfishness is not of the Great Spirit.

Cultivate everything good, moderation in food and pleasure, be generous to others, develop a healthy state of mind and body. Body and mind governed by good and pure morals with kindness for others, remembering that they are a part of that Great Spirit from whence you came (Unaipon, D., cited in Muecke and Shoemaker, 2001).

I also came across this little gem from our NT, ancAu peeps when I was researching to teach at a Uni, back in the day. An simple initiation code from the NT: A study of initiation ceremonies in Arnhem Land showed that in most groups, the following ‘code-of-behaviour’ was taught to the young men at initiation: “This is what the first old men told us. In some areas it is the old women, not the old men, who administer this part of the ceremony.”

“Do not be greedy. Eat a little and give to others, especially to old people, to women, to sick people and to strangers ‘coming by’. If someone brings food near you, do not say: ‘Give me, I’m hungry’ Just sit there.” (To do otherwise is ta dikku or ‘raw mouth’, meaning uncouth)
“Do not steal other people’s food”
“Do not steal other people’s belongings.”
“Do not tell lies; speak the truth.”
“Do not talk back to old people.”
“Do not swear”
“Do not grumble.” (This was not included in all groups.)
“Do not laugh at strangers”
“Do not laugh at women”
“Do not stare at women”
“Do not ‘ask’ a woman [do-ya-wanna-tumble] if you happen to meet when hunting”
“Have a ‘strong heart’, ngoi dal”.

I’ll be taking questions at the next session lol 


‘Fess-up’ (confessions of an author)

John M Wenitong [alias Pemulwuy Weeatunga] 31-07-20

In 2011, at 57 y/o, & after ‘a series of unfortunate events’, I found myself out of work, out of sight & out of (my) mind  One of my beautiful children, Yeady, suggested I write ‘stories’ while I was having mobility issues. I said that I’d never written fiction as such, before, but Yead suggested I could write, as I had a great command of English and had read any & all fiction & anything else of interest passionately. Also, YVW reminded me; I had done a lot of research to teach Uni students in the Aboriginal Studies course a few years previously; a ton of great info…

Yead was right. I was always a library hound back in the day, pre-online info, reading historical accounts of my world and country’s events & peeps, even during work lunch hours if possible. From teen to adulthood I have read non-stop, since I started reading Phantom comics as a child. I also completed a degree, over 10-yrs while working at a Uni, in Aboriginal studies & Literature; for what it’s worth – which was, being able to teach ancAu Studies 

So, back in 2011, I wrote what I thought was a fair story; with a start, a middle full of supernatural & super-hero action, and a formidable ending, & then asked my partner to read it – Please! It was quick – it was short: “Are you going to allow the characters to speak?” she said quite seriously. I was stunned! ‘Of course!’ I thought feeling stupid, but then realized the joy in the ability to create human-like characters that speak for themselves – and for the author (naïve new wanna-be author or what? ). I allowed the characters a voice & enjoyed the hell out of it! 

On checking what was available online in that genre – ancAu fiction by & for ancAu peeps – I found nix: nil, no fiction, no series, about, by, or for our ancient Australian readers or anyone else. There were fiction stories to do with ‘our’ mob and its culture, though all were written by non-indigenous peeps. There were, lots of non-fiction: awful facts and sad accounts and tales that told of an awful treatment [by the ‘Ghost-people’: from the FfC books], that were written by the mob; but no genuine fiction?

I decided then to write a few tales that might show a different viewpoint of ancient Australians and the sacred lands they cared for so well for so long. They were written for my people, my country, and the world that know mostly negative stereotypes. I also hoped the series would encourage our youth to see fantasy/fiction as another genuine career path and, a way of getting the very real historical angst out and into the ‘airwaves’, via the Fiction genre.

Thus, after 4-yrs of fully-focussed writing, including a year of camping under the stars throughout Oz, with my red cattle dog ‘Trumby’, the Fethafoot Chronicles was created. I had the usual writer’s angst, of trying to ensure I had created a decently written/edited tale: that a character didn’t come back from the dead & speak! That spacing & spelling & grammar were ‘correct’. Finally, I sent them all to an Aussie proof-reader/editor whom was just starting out in the biz, and received the Professional eye needed – prior to making a large fool of myself as just another idiot indie-publisher with delusions of being capable  Thanks again Paul

After reading his suggestions, for close to 1,000,000 words in the 10 stories, and accepting or not, his various suggestions (which came with explanations over 6-months), and losing around 250,000+ words, I attempted to find a Publisher for 18 months or so; sending both electronic and hard-copy manuscript and required covering documentation, to the entire worldwide publishing peeps; including every group in Oz. Most answered. Most were rejection emails. Many were incredibly helpful. Two of the larger Publishers got back to me, encouraging me not to give up; said that the series’ genre was bare of material in Oz & worldwide, & that they ‘liked’ the stories. “Unfortunately, I was an unknown Australian, with an entire series & not just one book,” they said politely. I was massively encouraged by the responses. Most would-be, wanna-be new authors, without an Agent [impossible to get in Oz, let alone $-afford] get an auto POQ&DCB [piss off quickly & don’t come back] tactful rejection, apparently.

Early 2012 & seeing my children reading e-books online, I found an online e-publisher in the USA, where I could publish the series as an e-book at quite a good cost for service. Little did I know that I would then have to re-read each tale, as it was converted from a Word doc to an e-reader format. Several of the tales took several turns of toing & froing via email to get it right; one story took 8 goes! It took a year to proof every book and by the time everyone was happy, especially um-wah, I’d read each tale over 40 times.

Then, I found an Australia publisher to publish the series as paperbacks; and the proofing & editing began again. Of course, the edit/proofing for e-book formatting did most of work, and it was mostly formatting the content for paperback. Thank all the Gods for the “Moshpit” peeps!

Over the first few years of publication, I spent a lot of time daily, and some $, just keeping the series head above water in the dog-eat-dog world of today’s fiction-for-sale world. However, the promo-$ spent earlier have paid off in readers, and less promo-work for me. Interestingly, the highest number of readers – so says Google Analytics – are e-book downloaders, in countries with dark-skinned people that were once forced to learn English in the Colonial exploration days. Today, I have the series in most libraries in Qld., the National Lib, and everywhere else that will take them.

I didn’t write the books to make a mill$, or become famous, as per above, but royalties have finally paid for the e-book, self-publishing costs, after 8 years. Now for the paperback costs, lol 🙂 I have another 25 or so, stories on-the-go, and hope to publish some of those prior to rejoining the Mother’s ancient Wheel in time.

May our Mother and our sacred land’s Great Spirit bless you and yours at this time,

Pem; masquerading as John Weno 🙂 

Goanna Dreaming

A short tale of a Spirit-being with a tail 🙂

Goanna Dreaming
The dream’s arid landscape appeared utterly tangible. I stood on a burnt-orange and yellow sand Desert beneath a cloudless azure sky. It was daytime, though the bright sunlight and desert heat felt like allies rather than the adversaries they are. In the distance I glimpsed a telltale dust-column rising and the portent of Predator flashed to mind. Simultaneously came a sense of cunning: of something to be feared by the wise. It moved haphazardly, as if searching for a particular scent. Mine – I was convinced – and my dream-self readied for fight or flight.
Then a reverberation rose to overwhelm the approaching threat. It was a natural sound, heard before but unnaturally loud. It was the unique whisper of moving sand. I turned to the swelling noise – so unswerving I could guess its aspiration – and, in an explosive rush of strewn sand it appeared…
1: Pre-electric lifestyle
Reflecting on sixty-plus years, there’s no doubt that I was a naïve and plurri lucky Murri. Because of mum’s mum – who had sixteen children and understood the efficacy of the three R’s – readin’, ritin’ and ‘rithmetic – I too attended school daily: without fail. From year one at Primary to year ten at High school. Still, my heartfelt life and passions in those early years – pre electricity – were outdoors under the wide central Queensland sky with friends, cousins, brothers, uncles and aunts galore it seemed. In the bush, in the sea, beside rivers and creeks and around any natural fresh-water we roamed. In that space each moment was edification: every action or allusion aimed at gathering or hunting.
I didn’t become aware of racism until I started work and even then rarely. That may have been because of where we were raised. Where – if memory serves correct – actions spoke louder than class, skin color or race. Most families knew each other by sight or through acquaintances and, most respected any neighbour be they black, brown, yellow or pale pink. It seemed such differences mattered little as long as one demonstrated decent morals and ethics. For children it was a warm friendly world, the opposite of a big-city child and infinitely away and apart from our extended relations living within Reserves.
Were proof of naivety required, my first visit to a bank in my hometown on the central Queensland coast, to open my very first bank account in 1969, reinforced such claim. My hard working, single-parent mother had ordered me to this task and though extremely nervous I went. In those days it would be a unique child to say no to mother and never to dad: unless one had some type of death wish. More scared of mum’s wrath or disappointment than my own fears, I duly arrived outside the intimidating building and made my abruptly, hot-flushed and reluctant way inside.
I remember peering nervously around at the neat clean, shiny-painted very tall walls, bearing the latest fittings and artificial lighting: glancing surreptitiously at the non- indigenous, well-dressed customers that looked confident and comfortable. My tummy started doing flip-flops, my palms grew sweaty, my face hot. Nek-minute! My trusty feet had whisked me outside and nothing could make them re-enter that
unfamiliar territory. My naivety didn’t end there. On a trip to Mt Isa, onboard a Greyhound bus, a song I hadn’t heard before played on the radio.
“They call the wind Mariah,” it was called, and from the lyrics, I assumed that I had to learn another language for people to understand me and me them in ‘The Isa’. “The rain is Tess, the fire’s Joe and they call the wind Maria,” the song instructed my innocently confused mind.
In 1979, while working as an Aboriginal Health Assistant for the Aboriginal Health Program (AHP), based in Rockhampton (Rocky), central Queensland – I found that being of aboriginal descent carried with it deeply shocking historical and personal implications.
When an Aboriginal Health nursing Sister mentioned that we were on the way to visit the ‘Reserve’ at Woorabinda (Woori), I wrongly assumed we were visiting aboriginal families that lived close to an animal ‘reserve’. Imagine my shock-horror when the non-indigenous Sisters pulled off the road to enlighten my bewildering naivety. When they explained what had happened and where we were about to visit, I abruptly burst into tears. It was embarrassing, although I couldn’t have stopped the tears for love nor money.
The fact that the wonderful ‘fair go’ country I had grown up in, had imprisoned its own people behind barbed-wire enclosures and forcibly stopped them from practicing their culture and language knocked my ingenuous ‘socks’ off. Galvanizing that, a respected elder from Woorabinda explained that my mother’s family frequently visited the Reserve in the horse and buggy days; to visit two of mum’s sisters that had been taken from her family of sixteen and incarcerated there.
As soon as I was able, I rang and queried mum as to why she hadn’t told me any of this. Mum wasn’t one for beating about the bush. “Are you completely stupid boy!” she said. “I had five children to bring up by myself after your father gave in to the booze. Aboriginal children were being taken off their families willy-nilly at the time. I told everyone we were Sri-Lankan on your father’s side and South-Sea Islander on mine. Anyway, I would have thought your uncles or aunts would have told you all this by now!” she said gruffly, and then laughed at my sudden education, lightening the mood between us.
However, I would never again be that naïve youth my school-friends and family had known. Disillusionment lit pathways in my mind that I hadn’t known existed. I vowed I would always stand up for aboriginal Australians and, do any and everything possible to support ‘our’ advancement into the modern Australia that I thought I knew and had been so deeply, quietly proud of.
I leapt to this new path, listening to any and all elder’s stories of life before and after their people were rounded up and forced into these alien spaces: with no regard for ancient traditional boundaries or religious practices. I began to spend lunch hours at the local Library, reading historical accounts of first contact and the violence, which accompanied that. Indignation grew exponentially the more I learned.
One of the major problems stemming from enforced imprisonment was alcohol abuse and the relative issues that drug caused our violently subjugated people. I retained

lived experience with that socially accepted drug through my father, who turned to alcohol after losing a child, while mum turned to Jesus and women’s liberation. Mum taught us lessons that my alcohol-fuelled, often violent father and I never forgot. Dad – because mum knocked the well-known and feared ‘grass-fighter’ down and out with her stove-top clothes iron (the nearest thing to hand), and myself – through her quiet dignity and refusal to take a backward step from bullies. Tyrants of any persuasion or authority were silenced with honesty and dignity, without ever raising a hand in violence: unless lives were at stake.
In line with the AHP’s move into peer-driven education and awareness programs, I was sent – with twenty or so ATSI Health Assistants from across Queensland – to Brisbane’s Community Health Centre of Biala. There, to gain a certificate in Alcohol and drug counselling. In fact, a two year University Social Worker’s degree condensed into three months for AHP staff – so desperate was the perceived need and, so lacking in knowledge and empathy were the relevant Government departments: considering the majority of us had never finished primary, let-alone secondary school. The only positive was the paper that allowed us to work semi-professionally with local medical and health professionals with and for our people in need.
Back in Rocky, the various psychological approaches and artifices learned, proved useless in real-time situations with our honest, woeful abusers. However, the insight into Western drug addiction strategies opened my eyes to the substantial differences between the two societies I grew up in and with. I witnessed the wall between theory and practice, between theoretical thinking and hands on experience: between indigenous and non-indigenous cultures in black and white clarity. We found hard work – in education and awareness, with client and extended family – to far exceed Western-thought, individual-based strategies.
Thus – with several dignified local elders – I threw myself into setting up and running an alcohol and drug ‘in-house’ counselling service. Because of my valued education (I could read, write and do basic math), and my confidence with professional/Public Service whites, I was elected President, Secretary/Treasurer and Senior Counsellor of the Company we set up to work with relevant Government departments. We had an office-come counseling service called “Yumbah House”, and an MoU with the local base hospital to offer clients a stay in one of the State’s detoxification centers in Brisbane, Townsville, sometimes NSW, to kick-start their rehabilitation to society and sobriety.
Yumbah House enjoyed a glowing reputation that inaugural year. It was the first time an identified all aboriginal service had attempted to aid the many sore and sorry abusers in our area. We were respected to the point that we could go anywhere at anytime, with complete immunity to the social upheaval that was the norm; both for the Woori mob and the City Murris from other Reserves. I soon realized, ‘that’ turmoil would be the norm in any community where forty-seven plus Tribes were forced to live together: behind barbed wire in dry semi-desert country with many of the internees being strangers to these sacred lands.
Yet, in supposedly violent, anti-social Woori, I was allowed, even encouraged to set up a 16ml film projector on the bar of the wet-canteen pub, on a Friday evening after work. I showed cartoon type education-awareness films on the affects of alcohol on

the human body, while folk around me drank on regardless and raised cheery voices and glasses to our efforts.
Which is how I found myself on the banks of the Mackenzie River, at a site favoured by local clans for generations of generations. I was with a group of newly ‘dry’ Woori clients on a counselling retreat, where I could encourage detoxed clients and begin guiding them toward employment, to keep the drug-addict’s eternal temptation of idle hands at bay.
I remember being exhausted after that first day of setting up camp. What, with organizing food bedding and the four hour hot dusty drive from Rockhampton to Woori, with no air-con in those days. Then chasing around after the clients at Woori, who’d said they’d come but had forgotten the date and finally, onward to the Mackenzie River: all on thick, red bull-dust dirt roads.
At the site they’d chosen, our clients were happy to sleep on bedrolls and swags on the ground around the campfire. However, being the ‘boss’ as they called me, I thought it apt to have my own shelter – a one-man tent – set up on a small hillock, a little distance away from the group. As I lay my weary head down that evening, little did I suspect that this was to be a night of choices that would change my life, as much as knowledge of the abhorrent Reserves had done. I drifted off to the warm sound of chatter echoing off the river’s still surface…
2: To sleep; perchance to…
…It was the unique whisper of moving sand. I turned toward the growing noise – so unswerving I could guess its aspiration – when in an explosive flurry of sand and sound, it appeared…
My wildest dreams could never have imagined such dignified presence as stood swaying before me in glorious living colour. The Egyptian-Greek manifestation of the mythical Griffin stood transformed into an aboriginal warrior and sand-Goanna. This spirit being, with the head and shoulders of an aboriginal man and the body of a mega-fauna sized Megalania prisca spoke soft and gently. It moved with grace so full of restrained power that my fear collapsed in awe. The words were an ancient language that fit the dreamscape, yet I could understand it.
“The false thing coming will tempt you with fame fortune and flattery, but know this man of dust! Beneath its neatly polished world-wise exterior it is insipid, without substance or passion,” it said, chin-lipping toward the closing dust-trail that un- nerved me so. Then one of its leather-skinned legs, armed with long sharp curved claws reached out to stop in front of my stomach. “There is bad-thing that must come out for you to fulfil your destiny, man of dust,” I heard it say. I flinched, but more words of wisdom assuaged my apprehension and I consented to its gnarly claws within my body.
A wordless sensation later, the claw reappeared gripping a writhing amorphous mass and though I had never felt its influence, I abruptly felt a sense of wellbeing: a rapturous glow of perfect health and, at least half a bodyweight lighter. The Goanna- man lifted the claw up so it could see what it had caught and then it ate that mess, triggering a scream of frustration from the other presence; that was clearly, bluntly

ignored. The being turned away – job done I guessed – and as its long lizard tail swung to follow, it levelled several wavelike sand dunes half my height with miraculous ease.
“Wait! Please!” I called, desperate to talk, to know more. The being paused and turned its head and shoulders toward me, giving me a view of the entire massive body that took my breath and trapped hesitant, graceless emotion in my throat.
“Please? I just – I only um – wished to say ah – thank you!”
The Goanna-man grinned and turned away, then laughed: a hearty chortle that dissipated into that sound of shifting sands, then nothing.
My rejuvenated self felt so airily light, I fancied I could float up into the sky – to fly if I wished! I also sensed the need to face this predator off the ground, using any advantage height and space might give in a running battle. I rose slowly into the clear desert air, and to my utter surprise the hunter rose with me, allowing the first proper view of it. It had taken the form of a man, though in my present exhilarated state, I knew it to be a shape-shifter: one that used its victim’s experiences, memories to allay the innate fears its presence evoked.
It appeared as a pale-skinned, European-type man-of-the-world wearing a beautifully cut suit and matching tie, wearing a trilby hat. It carried an expensive-looking briefcase and hand-carved walking stick. With a confident twirl of the stick and a tip of the hat, it came on jauntily: unable or unwilling to disguise the arrogant core that shone from its eyes and demeanour.
In a flash, understanding of the Goanna-man’s warning dawned. I saw my ancient people’s attention to the sacred spanning centuries of generations. There was no comparison between the shallow world offered and the depth of the Dreamtime and its Laws. I made a choice there and then and flew away as fast as this dreaming allowed.
I heard the cunning thing shout desperately about the gifts, riches, fame and fortune that I was throwing away in an ill-conceived rush of emotion that had, “…nothing, you fool! Nothing to do with real life!” I heard echo across the sands behind me as I raced away through the desert air. What followed was sound reinforcement of my choice being the right one – I was to find – as waking reality and ‘real life’ emerged from the unique revelation…
3: A blessed Murri
I woke in my tiny tent feeling like a brand-new being: a freshly recharged human being spirit; ‘as humans were meant to be’, I thought. I shot out of the tent and ran flat out toward the river, where I leapt into the air and into the water in joyous celebration of the dream and its portent. As I rose from my impulsive baptism, I heard laughter ringing out. My clients were standing on the bank cackling and laughing at my actions and, as soon as I was out, they queried the meaning of my early morning dash and leap.
I explained the dream and how light and refreshed I felt, and an awed hush fell over the group.

“Ere! Look! See what was ‘der, movin’ roun’ your ten’ ‘der boss! Real ‘hearly-part ‘dis mornin’ eh!” I was told, as I was led back to my tent.
Surrounding it were the tracks of a large Goanna that had repeatedly circled my sleeping, dreaming form. I was told I had been blessed.
“’Dat Totem ‘por ‘dis area ‘ere – ‘e is ‘at ole Gwanna-man!” one of the men explained earnestly, to nods and grunts of agreement. The tracks were so fresh we were able to follow them down the hillock to a large tree close to the water. One of the men indicated a spot halfway up the trunk, where a huge sand-Goanna – almost as long as I was tall – yet clung to the tree-trunk…
Sic igitur
It took awhile for that incident to gel, although I understood that something extraordinary had occurred. I felt cleansed. I observed our first people’s values, set against the Western world’s impetuous mêlée to bind time, to possess the tangible, to gain individual fame and fortune: and to dominate.
Sometimes harsh, sometimes joyous, often confusing – life has defended that dreaming experience with an integrity that held me steady. The experience fashioned my life to death and onward, to the circle through which our spirits come and go.
Riches, material possessions, appearance and self-centered superiority are illusory goals, the dream avowed. I have seen nor experienced any single thing to make me doubt that ancient wisdom. Neither do I expect to in what’s left of the times allotted my sacred journey on sacred lands…

Native animal rescue, Vic. Oz

“It’s almost a conservation utopia — but even Mt Rothwell can’t get rid of the rabbits. Their numbers got as low as 12 almost a decade ago, but when the drought broke the population exploded to around 17,000. “For many of those years it was just a dust bowl,” Ms Rypalski said. “Then when the rain came and the vegetation went past our knees the rabbits just exploded.”