Bali Executions

The Editor,
Jawa Pos.
16 March 2015

Dear Sir/Madam,

To the President and people of Indonesia:

I write to draw your attention to the millions of Australians who are daily offended, humiliated and shamed by actions of our present Australian government, especially in international affairs. I do not want to dwell on details, but the people of Australia are offended by their government’s policies and actions, internal and external, possibly equally as much as you may be offended in Indonesia. Our Federal Government has very low electoral support in Australia.

Millions of us are aggrieved by offenses to Indonesia: in respect of asylum seekers, telephone-tapping, territorial integrity and law. Similarly, there are millions of Australians whose lives have been enriched through knowing Indonesians like yourselves, through the influence of your culture here, and through visiting your beloved country. Because of the warmth of our hearts towards your people, every offense of our government and people towards you is felt as an offense to our own hearts. When you are hurt, we hurt, too.

In thinking about Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, two of our people who are sentenced for execution for drug offenses in Indonesia, I ask only that you think not too much of the crassness of our government, or of the bawdiness of the Australian revelers who profane your beaches, but think of those of us, in Australia who respect and love you. We are many. If nothing else comes from this letter, I want you to know that. Truth is, in the environment of one of your prisons for ten years, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumuran have undergone a personal and spiritual transformation that would benefit almost every member of our own government. It is a great credit to you that this has happened.   I thank you for it. We need such examples and exemplars in the very fight against the evils of drugs that both our nations pursue.

I make no judgment in the matter: it is not my job, nor that of any other Australian. You have your judges: it is their job. I simply want to tell what I have told, and pray that, in whatever way justice may be done, our nations continue to grow both in love for, and in understanding of, one another.

Yours Faithfully,

Melvyn Cann.

Philosopher Emeritus,
La Trobe University,
Victoria, Australia.

 also sent to the Indonesian Ambassador to Australia

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Pomegranates & Nightingales


As pomegranates bleed from open wounds
So is my heart for you.

As pomegranates blush, soft light of moon
So is my flesh for you.

As pomegranates fall, kiss earth beneath
So is my life for you…


As nightingales sing, caged in walls
So is my song for you

As voiceless bird-wings flutter soft spring water
Trembles my soul for you

As nightingales gather soft dry grasses
Build I a nest for you.

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This is a healing poem
It speaks the wounds of those who would do well yet offend others
It sees the palpitations of the fearful and the mortifications of the guilty
It rakes the coals of burning passion
It stakes the hearts of greening mountains and the flowing waters of compassion
It steals a quietness over children weeping the loss of ancestral pride
and the fear of those
who died…
It rattles the bones on the throne
and the cardamom in the soup
And confections molten and slagged
It peels and it heals
with the touch Divine
of Him who died at this Easter Time…

I climb sweetly to my bed
for the poem my mother read

And sleep overtakes me…

Melvyn Cann, Benton’s Cafe, 4 April 1995.

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Cockroach Stew

There’s nothing new
As cockroach stew
A-bubbling on the stove

It’s not the fare
For the unaware…
A very treasure-trove

Of bits and spices
Quite as nice as
Chilli con Carne
Or ‘Rats in the Barn’

or ‘Birds in a Nest’
Or what other pest
Might infest
The best
aurant ,
Breeding it’s song
in the grass ever long

It cannot approach
the shining black roach
With it’s feelers
so groping and stark

A stone on the path
And a crumpled remark…
Evil stains this clean bath

They write in the blood
Of nuclear bones
a Latter-day Flood
and the soft ringing tones

of a dinner-gong calling
To cockroach stew
and autumn leaves falling
in a world ever new.

Melvyn Cann – Benton’s Cafe, 29 May 1995.
On reading that cockroaches might be the only creatures
capable of surviving nuclear holocaust…


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Each New Birth

For Sharon and Michael

Don’t curse the days when we were born,
When silent death fell from the skies
And vaporized the hopes and dreams
And told the truth amongst the lies
That war is hideous
And hate insidious
The power to self-destroy
Is born each day
Without a stay
In every girl and boy

And yet we celebrate each new birth
The greatest joy on all this earth.

Melvyn CannPoem of the day
Benton’s Cafe9 August 1995

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REVIEW of Whispered Shadows

Melvyn Cann’s review of Whispered Shadows:
a recital of shakuhachi with marimba, rim drum [and hidden soprano] @ Migration Museum, Adelaide 1st March 2015

Serendipity brought me to Adelaide at the weekend, at the beginning of the Adelaide Arts Festival, and Serendipity brought me to a concert at the old chapel at the Migration Museum in Kintore Avenue. It is hard to imagine, in the whole of the Festival, that Serendipity could have chosen better. It was such an holistic experience, that I am reluctant to write about it, for fear of limiting the memory of it in words far less powerful than those of the Zen-like poetry of Anne Norman, that threaded its way through her magical performances on Shakuhachi flute, aided by the immaculate poetry of Ryzsard Pusz on Marimba and drumhead, and Sarah Wilmot, voice. Continue reading

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Melvyn’s music links

We cannot yet put music clips here… coming soon.

In the Meantime, please enjoy this video clip of Melvyn busking in Lygon st Melbourne

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