Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Wooden Berry Punnets

They were standard half a pound
of berry freight, ply-wood punnets
filled the carriers and trays in sound
held container vessels designer set
by treed-nature's making, till the plastic
of the sixties replaced these naturals
with the extruded fossil-fueled mastic
designed to be obsolescent on call.
They would now be seen as organic;
crafted wood of pine for raspberries,
or strawberries, any of the fantastic
spring small fruits, all rubus species
that filled a punnet to crown it round
with the fast-fruit raised of good ground.



We broke down the wooden punnet crates
Into shooks, then dismantled the shooks till
We had those prime construction materials
Punnet-crate boards, had for free, with which
We made whatever it was our imaginations
Required; all our prototypes went unpatented
And forgotten, like the early usage of a word,
Only more seriously in play - with bonus used nails.

Friday, November 18, 2016


Image: Great Uncle Charl Arthur Knoll (1900-1985) abt 1916


With a hoe in the orchard he surely could make or gainsay
Sense of the world; for as his fatal blade at their taproot
Rendered weeds up and over to their last judgement day,
The wind and the sun or the cloud and rain was this moot

Court for time-paced thoughts, savouring trial answers for
All the rank problems of the world, which made for this trail
Of upset in wilting weeds stretching back behind him that wore
Their surrender in respect to his blade, for their rankness ailed

Them now, and this clearing of feral greenery off a hirsute earth
Gave him evidence for a potency the world seemed to have lost
Where work proved his manual strength, showed him up as worth
More than it paid, more than its product, still cheap for what it cost

Him just as it took his youth away, took his strength, took of his arms
Making fruit trees productive, a land fertile, and him doing no harm.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

In The Light Of Burnt Lime

LIME - burning lime

our noses were too clean
with white powder

with too white powder - the biting
alkaloid talcum of Lilydale
was agricultural lime,
powdered burnt-lime

and used by the local ton
on the farm skin,
spread to conform all rank growths
with an oxide - making

a caustic climate which blew
down the familiar winds as air
we breathed -like feelings burnt
off- in those longreaches of soul,
stretched out, then branded
by one’s father’s scorn

any slight love - like rain,
any show of affection -
any unwanted eye-moisture,
would turn our lime heated,
and a glare would grow out of
public sight - a chemistry of fear,
so, fear mongered, fear flared
in our poor heritage vats,
and then, the family hopper,
empty of other largesse,
could only give scorn to
all it did not, wanted not
to understand

this alkaline culture
was, of a course, chock
full of antipathy to fame.

Pah! that any of us
should seek, let alone
have any limelight!

we were raised as if
fame was the thing we
were most in danger of

as if what we most needed
was the purging burn
of scorn, children raised
on the alka-line of
negligence, burnt off
from any flowering -
by a generous limelight
of the scorn
we covered ourselves in

white was pure:
If you drew attention
to yourself you got
belted to the white

mock acid: opposite acid
if you made sensitive art
or wit
you were mocked

not just mocked, the word
scorn seems apt. A word that
appears to have grown of a scar
- a joining of alkaline burns

I myself learnt not
to seek the limelight,
not any limelight! it was
no blacker not to try

I was a mock scholar,
a mock son, mock sibling.
unhappy at home.
unhappy at school.

I couldn't see any reason
to be notable or for why
I should apply myself...

so much lime was applied
I was lilywhite in scorn

scolded in scorn -
in shire-proud lime -
any live plant in the way
was burnt

as the spreader blanketed
its white alkaline cosmetic
in concentrated caustic and
the hydrogen ions re shaped
the familiar landscape,

nothing could get
to be puffed up or be
allowed to be boosted except
the ph measure of our
home-grown fine-wrought
poppyseed-tilth of soil.

I did want to be tall, but to opine,
or to be notable, got you burned.

- flowers were picked in the bud.
- notoriety got you in glaring trouble.

we never let
real poppies grow,
so then we never had problems
with any too tall

we just withered all
desire for the limelight
in the scornful blanket
of local infamy

like Mum the amateur thinker
scornful of all those
paid intellectuals as the most
educated of idiots when what
she wanted most desperately was
to have had an education

or brother Melvyn deriding
the mudbrick of artists at Monbulk
when he wanted to be
an artist in kites like Hargreaves

or Dad's Philistine laughter at
the poor Jewish boy who reddened into
blood visions of mad poems under the
mulching grindstones of berried straws

that reminds me of
one of Dad's old histories: -
the family son told in a biting boast
how his brother, my Uncle Jack,
as a boy would climb up high
out to jump from a branch
of a tree in their creekdam,
saying: "Look at me!"
wanting attention like a human,
but Dad, with his sister & brothers
proudly scorned and reviled Jack
up his needy box, at pains
to scorch his pluck,
they turned their backs on him
in scorn - as if
he was showing his willy.

so the lime spread, and
spread lime whited us out
over broad shouldered acres

'Fame' was for others,
just as light was not for us

It was better to be cowed
denied, to an ignoble common
of a caustic limed dirt...

like public infamy only
far more cosmetic.

Wayne David Knoll © Saturday 14th December 1996

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Shopping Without

grocer's orders

Every Tuesday morning the Silvan grocer delivered last
week's order to the stove-warm hubbub of the farm kitchen;
bicarb, tartaric acid, salt, vegemite. jelly crystals, junket,
golden syrup, peanut butter, hundreds and thousands,

gravox, butter, arrowroot, sealing wax or washing soap
-and it could really be gross, John Bull rolled oats,
50 pounds of flour in calico bags, of sugar in hessian,
weeta flakes in the 50 pound cardboard carton.

in picking time the picker's orders were rung
through the Burleigh PO and brought out
in a separate box the grocer readily made
a packet up on weekly house calls

the grocer liked to look ready, his grey apron on,
a pen behind his ear and a willingness to serve.
He'd get any product Mum wanted in, taking a memo
as if he was a serious-minded politician

he'd nod his head and say: 'I'm sure we can
manage that. Yes! You're right Mrs Knoll!
I don't know what the place is coming to,
as if it mattered to him as he toted up the bill

if I was home from school
he'd say as if it wasn't obvious
"Off school sick, lad!' with deadpan delivery
'Mind you eat and get better.'

Then he would take the money
with the handwritten order
for next-week's pantry restock
and current conversation;

For all lists made as busy grocer's orders
were the only way in we ever entered his talked-of shop
as if to travel out to have such commerce would
make us ill at ease, be indignity and disgrace.

The Green Green Bank Of Our Lives

Burbank: Green In the Bank

As budding
plant breeders we checked out Luther Burbank in our Newne's
Pictorial Encyclopedia.
For image in pictures, or vision in words.
My brother Melvyn
got youthfully excited and read it out to me
-the same Newne's Encyclo which I lately found out calls prescient
William Blake's
prophetic poems on The spirit of the West: “the ravings of a madman.”
Newnes backed Burbank, but
we knew
of Luther Burbank before we ever read about him and
he CERTAINLY didn't seem a madman to us back then. For
all our commercial plants seemed to have his touch
berries were varieties bred by him.
Boysenberries, Youngberries, Loganberries,
Thornless Youngberries, Lawtonberries;
let alone nectarines, Shasta daisies
or Burbank potatoes. He was the
Mr Plant of the Universe,
Creative Botany, The Genetic Genius, and
Biological Einstein.

A Monbulk-Silvan
We knew Santa Rosa
plums and Shasta strawberries,
climax of America.
It was also lately when I found
John Dos Passos’
poem biography of Burbank
-in section called "The 42 Parallel"
in his novel "U.S.A."
where he calls him

[I quote verbatim]

The Plant Wizard.

Luther Burbank was born in a brick farmhouse in Lancaster, Massachusetts,
he walked around the woods one winter
crunching through the shinycrusted snow
stumbled into a little dell where a warm spring
and found the grass green and weeds sprouting
and skunk cabbage pushing up a potent thumb,
He went home and sat by the stove and read
Struggle for Existence Origin of Species Natural
Selection that wasn't what they taught in church,
so Luther Burbank ceased to believe moved to
found a seedball in a potato plant
sowed the seed and cashed in on Mr Darwin's
on Spencer and Huxley
with the Burbank Potato.

Young man go west;
Luther Burbank went to Santa Rosa
full of his dream of green grass in winter ever-
blooming flowers ever-
bearing berries; Luther Burbank
could cash in on Natural Selection Luther Bur
Carried his apocalyptic dream of green grass in
and seedless berries and stoneless plums and
thornless roses brambles cactus---
winters were bleak in that bleak
brick farmhouse in bleak Massachusetts---
out in sunny Santa Rosa;
and he was a sunny old man
where roses bloomed all year
everblooming everbearing

America was hybrid
America should cash in on Natural Selection.
He was an infidel he believed in Darwin and
Selection and the influence of the mighty dead
and a good firm shipper's fruit
suitable for canning.
He was one of the grand old men until the
and the congregations
got wind that he was an infidel and believed
in Darwin.
Luther Burbank had never a thought of evil,
selecting improved hybrids for America
those sunny years in Santa Rosa.
But he brushed down a wasp's nest that time;
he wouldn't give up Darwin and Natural Selection
and they stung him and he died
They buried him under cedartree.
His favourite photograph
was of a little tot
standing beside a bed of hybrid
everblooming double Shasta daisies
with never a thought of evil
And Mount Shasta
in the background, used to be a volcano
but they don't have volcanos
any more.

They devalued our pound Sterling, and then decimal-minimised us,
and repainted us
global. So we
imported cheap, "Green Revolution" berries
from Turkey, Egypt, Mexico,
anywhere where labour is cheap
and the people green,
till our hybrid was
the uneconomic old hybrid
and community atomised.

And then, I realised,
the evil as an evil of our past
(the rotted-basalt krasnozem soils)
a few eons ago, Silvan
was a part of a
volcano too.

Nature And Rebellion

raspberry blue mould

Overripe raspberries glut into a turn
in only the third week of harvest
as daily drizzle slows any pickers
the crop begins to melt into
the ground like an ice cream
bought for you too early,
-before you could get there

the off-flavours increase in
a slur of dripping unberries
the softened fuzz of globules
changes colour till they make
blue whiskers and ducky hairdos
as rebellious as a good punk reaction
going bad in neglect in wet times.