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- Poems by Suzanne Ortuso -
 BCA Copyright © 2000
Hobart Town Hall - 62 Hobart Eisteddfod 2012
Splintered shafts of winter light glisten on Town Hall chandeliers
The room is quiet.
Reverend in its memories of past performance
Legacy of great artists
Amy Sherwin was a ‘Tasmanian nightingale’
Singing on the Town Hall stage in 1887
To an overflowing audience of four thousand admirers
Midst fireworks, cheers and peals of bells from Trinity Church
Splintered shafts of light glisten on chandeliers
The grand room lies in readiness for childish voices to grace its stage again
Waiting in hope of unveiling a new ‘Tasmanian Nightingale’
To join the legacy of great artists.
I love to live inn Margate as seasons come and go
When winter comes there’s misty days and hillsides capped with snow
Spring brings forth new gifts to share, and sounds of bird song fill the air
Sun kissed meadows glistening streams, Stars at night chase golden moonbeams
In my tree house way up high, I watch sweet summer passing by
I wish these days would never end as autumns round the river bend
And yet it too brings special days of rustling leaves and morning haze
Reminding all that winter soon will come one snowy afternoon.
I remember well that beautiful spring day,
An ordinary day, A Saturday, no school
Just endless hours perched high in a backyard tree with my poetry book and Birdsong
Sometimes I joined in singing their calls and trills,
If I kept very still pretending not to notice
One or two would quietly fly into my folded arms,
Content in morning sun
‘Come down now’ mother called from garden path
‘It’s time for a bath and pretty dress
I’ve a surprise – you’ll never guess’
It was a beautiful spring day,
 An ordinary day, a Saturday no school
A train trip, a grey stone house, a greeting by tall gentleman with long white hair
‘Are you aware Madam, I accept students only by audition?’
‘To be fair’ mother cried ‘She has ambition’!  My eyes grey wide, I wanted to hide
‘Can you sing something’ the old man muttered
‘Bird song’ I stuttered
It was a beautiful spring day
An extraordinary day a Saturday no school
The kind wrinkled face of a singing master seated at grand piano
Guiding me through scales and tones as high as birdsong
And mother’s eyes full of hope and delight
As the teacher arose from his stool
Quietly took mother’s hand in his, kissed it and announced
‘Madam, All’s to begin’
Theatre lights dimmed as the curtain arose
A chorus appeared singing ‘Anything Goes’
A musical evening starring ‘Aunt Mavis’
Our family seated with tickets she gave us
I’d given good reasons not wanting to go
‘A cultural evening will help you to grow’
Said mum, as she dressed me in black tie and suit
At least she excused me from practicing flute
As I blissfully dozed in my comfortable seat
I felt something prodding and grabbing my feet
Gently lifting me up in the air
A ghostly figure cried ‘come if you dare’
All of a sudden he said ‘Fred’s my name
Ghost of the Royal I’m not new to fame
In ‘84 with the theatre ablaze
I saved what l could, I was famous for days’
‘I ran to the stage and lowered the curtain
It’s firewall saved the hall- that’s for certain
Now for your pleasure please be my guest
Hold on and enjoy the ride, I’ll do the rest’
Into the circle and up to the dome
Past sculptures and cupids he showed me his home
Then backstage we ventured and into the pit,
Past sconces and music stands, piano and drum kit
‘Aunt Mavis was marvellous’, mum said with elation
As everyone rose for a standing ovation
Fred shook my hand as he whispered ‘good by
Its been fun my friend but now I must fly’
Theatre lights shone as we entered the aisle
‘I really enjoyed it’ I said with a smile
But safely at home and tucked warm in my bed
I felt something pulling and prodding my leg
I belong to the world
My heart lives in many places faces
In my mind’s eye span continents
Faces from the past are etched on a myriad of emotions
I live to learn, to give comfort and peace
A moment of joy in a wilderness of sorrow to borrow
From great minds words that bind humanity in
Goodness, sincerity and love
Melodic scales, vocalize, lows and highs, teacher’s wise
Breath support, you’ve been taught, concentrate, emulate
Vocalize, teacher’s wise
Feelings count, tensions mount, emotion first, endless thirst
Use your eyes, teacher’s wise
Perform your best, forget the rest, works been done, battle’s won
Bare your soul, achieve your goal
Through lows and highs, teacher’s wise
Mum said I couldn’t have a dog. 'The backyard is far too small
And ‘who’ll take him for walks and play ball’
I wanted to tell her I felt lonely sometimes, and needed a friend
But no matter how I cried and tried, mum just wouldn’t bend
One day an old stray wandered into our garden
He was spotted brown and black, I called him Zack
He came each day to play behind the shed with me,
In places where mum couldn’t see
When the holidays came, mum said I could fish in the creek
She packed lunch and ordered me home by three
We had great fun just Zack and me
All of a sudden the sky grew dark
Heavy rain began to fall down
We ran so fast I tripped on a log
I fell asleep there, guarded by the dog
When I opened my eyes, I was safe and warm in bed
‘An old dog dragged you home by your shirt’, mum said
‘He’s sound asleep by the fireplace,
We’ll look after him’ she smiled, with relief on her face
Have you noticed the rose bud, blood red on the mantelpiece, or the golden
glow from the hearth, or the laugh and melancholy of someone close
Have you explored the outer reaches of imagination or walked in rain,
embraced moments of struggle, endured their pain
Have you smiled at the old man, lonely in the park, or thrown a coin to
Sunday buskers, trying to impress
Craved solitude for creation’s sake, searched endlessly for its murmuring
Have you smelt the pages of an old book, or new book
Felt the unexpected touch of a lover’s hand and sand between toes on a winter beach
Where dreams are shaped as tides ebb & flow
Have you sang the last lied or the first, rehearsed life’s manuscript with a free mind to find meaning
Sat by the glimmer of candlelight through the long hours of evening
Waiting, waiting
Splintered shafts of light peep through the attic window
Stirring me from dream beginnings
Moonlight gleams
In this half light of memory and imagination
I see his old face, wrinkled, smiling, kind
He was my singing teacher, preacher of times past
‘The golden age’ of purity
Voices from the soul where sound begins and ends
He was master of solfege and inspiration
Shafts of light stream before me in a soliloquy of bewilderment
Flashlights of cameras, photos, interviews
Town Hall chandeliers, masterclass neons
Captured moments of grandeur
But I am a child
Moonlight pours onto my bed, at its foot a book lately read
‘Singers of renown’ Callas, Tebaldi, Melba
With heavy head of childish thoughts, glimpses of secrets
God holds dear
I revel in the moonlight of this moment and dream
Child song
Sweet charm of child song breathes life into spring air,
Music’s poetry and eloquence create soft moments to share,
No graces match the quiet bliss of youth’s refrain,
For a moment pause, feel music’s spell, it’s power to move
Music arouses every passion and inspires,
All who hear it, greater joy acquires
No graces match the quiet bliss of youth’s refrain,
Revere this moment, feel music’s spell, it’s power to move
For Jenny
Living as softly hummed tunes or thought in the mind
Soothing, exhilarating, comforting,
Source of freedom
As a bird soaring
Living in the sounds of child song
Unique voices, innocent, profound
Source of freedom
As a bird soaring
Alive from ages past,
When a shepherd panned his sorrowful lament
Blending music into time
As a sound soaring
Through disappearing dusk comes serenity
Free form, shadow less calm,
Offers solace to the lonely heart where solitude resides
And Handel of a world long past
Asks ‘Art thou troubled’?
Who does not seek serenity
A spiritual place where pure thoughts pave a path
To ultimate change
Where Handel of a world long past
Writes of the plane tree
A returning ebb tide brings serenity 
Sea birds fly home as light dulls
And moon shadows dance minuets on the glistening shore
Intricate patterns of night emerge
Slowly stars mass overhead  as I rush home to watch a horror movie on tv
Mischa Burlacov 1884 - 1965
Founder of the first Australian Ballet Company
As recalled by my teacher
His studio was situated underground
Along the esplanade of Circular Quay
Down steep dark stairs sudden illumination
Disclosed candle lit glass enclosures
Displaying ballet costumes he said were ‘Pavlovas’
He sat in a fraying tapestry cloth armchair
A stocky figure clasping a long cane
Beautiful face, years etched in thick lines
Deep set blue eyes piecing bright
Long red scarf, waistcoat, worn black ballet shoes
The room smelt stale of sweat, moist hair, amongst other odours
Dancers crave, for belonging of place
Nearby a corner embellished with ancient piano, sat Eva, alert
Draped in long sequined cape, costume jewellery and black lace
Awaiting Mischa’s commands
The glow of flickering candelabra from the piano
Cast textured patterns on decaying whitewash walls
In quietude, no words spoken, class warmed up, stretching
Arm and leg beyond their strength preparing mind and soul
For a glimpse of  ‘genius’ that was the old man
Mischa’s greeting came after first exercises at barre
Raising his cane to demand attention speaking softly
‘You are here to work to your potential to gain technique, pride
For the ultimate prize,  personal satisfaction
Beyond that is illusion’
In what manner does love enter our being,
At first a conjurer changing dormant emotion into turbulent disorder,
A masquerade of heightened fancy,
An imaginary illusionist, an imperious intruder
Then, after a whirlpool of impassioned torment,
Love seeks definition, diffusion.
In what manner does love offer solace,
In it’s purest form, when acceptance of its reality and many colors
Elevate the heart to a special place,
Free of boundaries and conditions, a single majic,
That can lead us to a path of  power to transcend
Even deaths embrace
Genius prone, that’s us,
Living in a chasm of life few understand,
The dwelling place of melancholy,
Once accepted, never the same.
Where challenge and obstacle are inseparable companions
Obscure thought demands obedient tolerance
No comfort zone to console, only a childhood remembrance.
Genius prone, that’s us.
Empowered with choices behind a comfortable surface
Invisible to all but the mind’s eye
Ceaseless encouragement to create a masterpiece
Where none exists,
Self sacrifice to achieve the highest ideals
No comfort zone to console, only a childhood remembrance.
Violin Man
He welcomed me in with words of goodwill
A gentleman introducing himself as Phil
A collector in the musical instrument sphere
I had come for a purchase to start my career
The room housed a piano covered with scores
Of operas and music in numerous drawers
Unstrung violas lay scattered around
Like unsung soldiers waiting for sound
Cellos like guards stood in corners upright
Polished and gleaming caretaking the sight
The ambience elevated this joyous occasion
Appreciative I felt to be in his persuasion
The ceiling was hung with brass coloured hooks
Each held a violin in various nooks
Covering the floor boards in uneven measures
Were numerous books housing numerous treasures
He offered me tea or a glass of red wine
Then proceeded to play for me what could be mine
The choice was onerous to say the least
Made even more so as his playing increased
Violins lined up - some new some repaired
All seeking an owner to love - one who cared
Who respected the mellowing tone caused by years
Being used to interpret masters love sweat and tears
I couldn’t decide I was not a musician
Of calibre able to make this decision
I asked him to choose I was still but a student
He grinned as he promised me he would be prudent
He fell deep in thought as we drank the red wine
Considering me for what seemed a long time
At last I was handed the one he selected
The case looked so old I felt quite dejected.
He refused any payment saying it was his duty
To pass on an instrument of infinite beauty
To be kept in safe keeping down through the ages
Loved and maintained throughout life’s many stages
I departed that day feeling none the wiser
Maturity and years have been my advisor
Now at the end of my brilliant career
I reflect on his wisdom - the duty is clear
Dedicated to Philip Taylor 
Evening at Plenty
Left at the New Norfolk sign post
On through endless rolling hills, crimson peaks outlined in late afternoon sun
Quickly losing frail warmth, disappearing into distant ravines
Narrow winding roads edging around ancient jagged mountainsides
Damp earth awaiting darkness
Suddenly a valley stretches in front of me
Vast low lying river, ever flowing, rushing downstream carrying branches and debris in monotonous rhythm
Through distant fog I see the farmhouse. A lone yellow light flickering quietly through thick forest gums illuminate vague human outlines – waving welcoming family figures standing on the porch
A barefoot child greets me at the gate bursting with news “guess what’s for tea – Dad killed a lamb this arvo and it’s in the oven – Mum’s made treacle pudding, custard too and chocolate cake for supper”
“School bus wont come if it snows tonight – Oh please can we stay up” the children chant
A neighbor stops by, says the river’s high – stays for tea and a hand of cards
Too soon fire’s ember warns me of the approaching hour, laden down with eggs and country fare I bid farewell
Travelling cautiously I enjoy the dark and still, ready to stop for a dawdling porcupine, a stunned wallaby
Turning into the highway I merge with city traffic
Billowing grey smoke from the paper mill rises forth in front of me
My thoughts turn to the realities of the new week

Dedicated to Josephine


Pearls of glistening raindrops on my window lie

Clouds are gathering quickly, lightning flashes by

Birds are scurrying back to nest and safety in the eaves

Gentle wind turns westerly and rustles through the trees


Thunder rolls around the hills, the woods begin their sigh

Across the valley dark descends I hear an Eagle cry

Through specs of light hail smashes down the landscape turns to white

From my attack window I enjoy this wondrous night


Da Angelo


The best place for pizza and a glass of fine red

On a trip to Hobart, the brochure read

A freelance reviewer as yet unknown

First stop da Angelo my new skills to hone


The ambience immediate as I entered the door

Past take away crowds and children galore

Licking gelato with joyous expression

In an instant I felt an enormous regression


He seated me quickly shook hands passed the menu

My pen at the ready scrawled ‘what a great venue

Atmosphere, music, smells could not be better'

In front of me promptly a plate of’ bruschetta


Piping hot garlicky olive pieces

One after one my great hunger increase- ed

My writing aside I ordered four courses

I’m thinking there’s something in alien forces


Gnocchi spaghetti veal dishes supreme

Each morsel a mouthful a gastronome’s dream

The merriment heightened as tiramisu’

Was served by Angelo, out of the blue


Offering thanks and explaining my visit

My review expressing ‘the place is exquisite

The pasta ‘al dente’ cooked to perfection

The menu holds pages of every selection’


I could not express what I’d felt in that place

Nor the genuine welcome I’d seen in his face

Whilst not a Michelin star to be seen

In my book da Angelo’s the restaurant queen




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Hobart Town Hall
Child song
For Jenny
I belong to the world
Mischa Burlacov
Violin man
Evening at Plenty
To Josephine
Da Angelo