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Similar in theme to ‘I’ll pull down your fences’ from the previous year, this 1991 poem was inspired by a reading of Basho (The Narrow Road to the Deep North in a Penguin edition).

Put not your trust in me, o traveller
No maps have I for a lost soul
But walk with me if you will
While our road is one
As the trees shed their burden

Copyright Simon Kidd

Written in 1990 in an iconoclastic mood.

I’ll pull down your fences
I’ll plough up your fields
I’ll shatter your icons
I’ll bury your maps
And lead you astray
On untrodden paths

Copyright Simon Kidd

Introduction – a timely publication?

Having begun it several years earlier, I was inspired to finish this tongue-in-cheek poem about time travel during the 2017 ‘Philosopher in Residence’ program at the school where I was teaching. Dr Sam Baron (then at the University of Western Australia, now at the Australian Catholic University) has a particular interest in the philosophy of time, and during his week of residence gave a public lecture, as well as presenting at the Philosophy Club and engaging Middle and Senior School philosophy classes in stimulating discussions.

I think I’ll build a time machine

I think I’ll build a time machine
I’ve been putting it off, but now I’m keen
I’ve had enough of the here-and-now
I’m getting out and I’ll tell you how

Having delved in clandestine arts
And made a collection of suitable parts
A splendid contraption I will create
With a platinum dial to set the date

Mr Wells himself could only praise
What I will make in a matter of days:
Velvet upholstery and sprung suspension
No roughing it in the fourth dimension

Gone will be my erstwhile complaints
Re irksome chronological constraints
I’m dreaming now of things I’d see
My apparatus having set me free

Just think of all the historical gaps
That time travel could fill perhaps
Scholars will seek me out for sure
When bygone events remain obscure

Perhaps I’d learn how Tut expired
And after lunch, if I weren’t too tired
I’d seek out some first-class instruction:
In nuts-and-bolts pyramid construction

Don’t you think it would be pure bliss
To lend a hand at the Acropolis?
Or tour the agora and shoot the breeze
In company with Plato or Socrates?

How about a day at the Roman Forum
Observing niceties of senatorial decorum?
‘Watch out, Julius!’ I might shout
As Brutus takes his dagger out

I could settle an old theological dispute
A doctrinal riddle that’s ever been moot
Were I present as they rolled the stone
Would I find Jesus standing or prone?

With Leonardo I’d remain a while
Trying to fathom his model’s smile
Could I from her own lips glean
The secret of her enigmatic mien?

And what about that old canard
The authorial claim of the Immortal Bard
‘Listen Will!’ I might demand
‘Are these lines in your own hand?’

I fancy myself as a time-travelling sleuth
Uniquely positioned to uncover the truth
A pipe-smoking timelord with flat feet
The Doctor Who of Baker Street

Already I hear the obvious objections
About making past-tense corrections
Could the turning back of clocks
Precipitate chronic paradox?

If the present is the culmination
Of each preceding situation
Then meddling in anterior events
Would likely entail serious consequence

Take, for example, the following case
(Which might become commonplace):
I visit my father in his childhood home
And ‘delete’ the ancestral chromosome

Not only would you think me bad
Invading the past to murder Dad
Could I even accomplish that
Had I dispatched him ere he begat?

And what if I gifted to a younger me
The blueprint for chronical mobility
Could I be said to invent my device
Not once, but twice, or even thrice?

And furthermore, consider this:
If days of yore no longer exist
My attempt to evade ineluctable fate
In premature extinction may terminate

I might resolve, upon reflection
To try my luck in the other direction
Pursuing, as it were, a different enquiry
Beyond the hour of my eventual expiry

Gods of time might think me ingrate
Refusing to accept a terminal date
Unsatisfied with my allotted span
A mortal threescore-years-and-ten

On second thoughts, it might be best
Not to put these things to test
The ancient myths a truth do tell:
Such acts of hubris don’t end well

All things considered, I must postpone
And muddle through this lone time-zone
I’ll store components for the duration
Pending subsequent consideration

3 August 2017

Copyright Simon Kidd

Every young woman I see
Reminds me of you, Beloved
Her face a moon
Her radiance a reflected beauty
But Love, drawing me forth
Bids me find the elusive Torchbearer
For when Dawn breaks
Who will desire a lamp?

23 May 1995

Copyright Simon Kidd

I wish I knew how to be wise
And have that knowing look in my eyes
Remaining silent while you nattered
As though I knew what really mattered

I’d never chat about the weather
Or discuss TV when we’re together
Always wearing a benign smile
Eternal bliss would be my style

I’d radiate endless compassion
Forgiving all, as is the fashion
A fathomless well of generosity
In love, unbounded precocity

I really think I’d have a flair
For worry beads and matted hair
I’d hover inches above the ground
Odour of sanctity all around

My aura would light the darkest place
While mortals worshipped my radiant face
Transfixed by supernatural beams
Flowing like Himalayan streams

Now and then I’d emit a platitude
While those around would melt in gratitude
Dumbstruck by my ethereal emanation
The fruit of yogic bowel elimination

But if you bowed to kiss my feet
(I think that would be really neat)
You’d better not smudge my toeless sandals
Or comment on my holy love-handles

If your chakras had some obstruction
I’d offer my course in karmic reduction
Having a diploma in kundalini power
All cards accepted, pay by the hour

I’d burn incense and chant a mantra
All legitimate and based on Tantra
Tutelary deities could well preside
I’d keep a few on the side

While priests and sheikhs and rabbis slept
I’d meditate like a true Adept
Transmitting subtle healing vibes
Like the ancient Tibetan scribes

If I were wise I’d have no care
My whole life would be a prayer
No tiresome rules to bother me
I’d commune direct with divinity

I’d have no truck with full prostration
Or other forms of mortification
Knowing Maya in her other guise
New ways of binding with golden ties

Self-abnegation is for lesser beings
Fasting, bowing, cleaning latrines
Can’t you see it’s below my station?
On the path to Realization

Yes, I wish I knew how to be wise
But I might just have to compromise
I’m not in that vaunted league you see
I’ll have to settle for philosophy

Copyright Simon Kidd

What! Did you not know?
Were you never told?
That once upon a throne you sat
A royal nursemaid to attend your need
Servants waiting hand and foot
To fulfil your every whim

And when the walls were breached
They dressed you as a waif
A foundling were you made
Royal blue eyes behind a scowl
A noble countenance beneath a cowl
And while you turned the sods in spring
You slept and dreamt you were a king

Make haste to your patrimony!
For your country is in disarray
Your subjects seek a restoration
And you must assume your kingly responsibility

29 April 1995

Copyright Simon Kidd


Some people write odes in praise of joy, the West Wind, or Grecian urns. Being dissatisfied with the limited nature of such objects, I decided to write an ode to end all odes. And what could be more comprehensive, more limitless, and more all encompassing than Being itself.

I wrote the following in 1987, after a second-year philosophy exam. Having memorized the technical jargon of Thomistic metaphysics, I was compelled to regurgitate it in poetic form. My muse clearly had her tongue in cheek when she possessed me on that occasion.

Ode to Being

O, to be Being,
To wander in transcendental somethingness,
In orchards of substance to rest,
And down a draught of luscious prime matter,
From the ivory goblet of reality.
No! Don’t talk of potency, potency is not,
I have room in my soul only for act,
For that which is, and cannot not be.
O, Being, Being! … Thou Adulteress!
Your very existence mocks me,
And yet, bids me lie down with you
That I may gain immanent knowledge
Of your all-encompassing itness,
And sample the magic of your metaphysical mysteriousness.
I toss and turn on a bed of non-being
Lest some accidental change befall you,
And you become other than yourself.
But I realise this is impossible,
And you really must forgive me;
Poor, imperfect existent that I am,
You are never more than an analogy to me.
But there are others who will persecute you,
Will sell you into base univocity;
Or, with hearts of stone, turn you into an equivocal otherness.
And there are those who will steal up behind you at night,
And reduce you to a phenomenalistic jelly
A neurological impulse in the mind of some Cartesian axeman
O! Being, Being …
Don’t let them rationalise the fullness of your absoluteness,
Or idealise the reality of your realness.
For no one can be better than you,
And I cannot be without you.
How could I ever universally doubt you?
My first, my last … my Being!

Copyright Simon Kidd