Earth & Elsewhere

Ian Rockel


Introducing this new collection, renowned actor Ian Mune describes it as a journey through a dreamworld, fragile under threat of dissolution. But our journey becomes one of discovery, he says, leaving behind an old and dying home: “It may seem grim, but is actually a journey toward hope, leavened with humour.”

Ian Rockel lives in Devonport, a few steps from the harbour and a short stroll to his favourite secondhand bookshop, where he enjoys losing himself among volumes and daydreams. A published historian, Ian was formerly a museum director. This is his fourth collection of poems.

In addition to his introduction to Earth & Elsewhere, Ian Mune has contributed four paintings which feature within the book.

SKU: 978-1-99-000712-5 Category:


Ian Mune’s Introduction

We don’t have to go far into this new collection, Earth & Elsewhere, to realise we are on a journey through a dreamworld. And it is a very fragile dreamworld, under threat of dissolution, much of it the fragility of today — the weather. But is it the weather of the planet or the weather of the soul?

The collection is in three parts and their titles give some sense of the journey: Scenes from a world going past, Going, and Elsewhere.

The world going past is a dying world:

… from the last passage
of enemy, storms, quakes,
pandemics, floods, droughts:
and a diminishing sun.

And …

Bear Island
sank beneath the sea
together with species.
Ships report polars
miles out to sea.
Inuits scatter.

A world we are busy destroying through avarice and neglect:

We hear depths of the sea
rising against us;
throwing back
sludge, we tried
to fill the basin
in an effort
to create a platform
for more houses,
cooler than the cooking homes
of West Sydney …

And …

… we failed to pause
the influx of locusts
across Africa,
stripping the continent
and setting off armies
of survivors in search
of a weak entry
to Europe,
lighting flares on borders
with those that would not
have them, or anyone, but themselves.

The structures we have created to give our existence shape, if not meaning, seem little more than a crushing bureau-cracy …

… curling in my ear,
Coster licked my brain:
‘If you would permit
my taking residence
in your dried and shrivelled
I would permit an occasional
drop above regulation.’

It is a droll humour, but it helps sustain us.

… I cheered my soul with furniture …
Sometimes a chair
would follow me
into the cinema.
Staff told me
they’d had complaints
about the rattling.
Then there was the small matter
of some not keeping bones in order.

But there will be an end …

No angels greet my final week,
only news of storms and wars.
A satellite views our neighbour as a furnace,
night skies in Sydney crackle with flames …

… an end at times imposed, at other times seemingly chosen. A transition, perhaps, but when it comes, is it Death?

Into a bunch of flowers
I died
in the last great day,
sun booming overhead —

Certainly we know it by its name, but after the transition our journey becomes one of discovery …

How fast the dream goes past
of a life that seemed my own,
but now, in outer space,
all those incidents
are folded
and thrust away.

Leaving behind an old and dying home …

Late residents of old Earth
crowded to watch last flickerings
of fires
as oceans overcame them.

Leading to a realisation that …

It was quite a good companion,
while warm.
Unfortunately, its trillion years are up.

Taking us to …

In silence I see
the universe about me

… held to me only
from sense of memory

and belief that others, like me,
float through space,

glide towards another world,

And in this blind space …

These wings have no weight,
yet, wrapped around me,
they brake my aerial voyage;
I am aloft ….
The wind above
shifts behind me,
and, winged, I move again:
I am another being.

Going where? …

… waking on changed scenery,
cleft hills curled back against
marvellous planes
lined with stream, lake and forest,
and beyond a ridge
saw people rising some height off ground.

Then I sensed I was nowhere
near Earth,
nor would ever return.

But …

… through the narrow streets
of midnight;
I find a way
through webs
where gardens used to be.

In so many of these dreams
I pass people I used to know
but seal lips, in case they’re dead.

In the wilting flowers
they pause to let the black coats pass,
and practise smiles; unnoticed.

Is Death in fact a new birth?

The wind here
does not fray thin tissue
nor scatter trees;

rain, in infinitesimally
small drops,
silvers landscapes.

A second,
then we are dry
and flowers bloom.

It may seem grim, but is actually a journey toward hope, leavened with humour.

I have been the fortunate recipient of Rock’s poetry for about sixty years and note that as the lines have become shorter and the ejection of unnecessary verbiage more rigorous, the humour has become more insistent. It makes me giggle, and giggling casts a warm light in such a dark world, so I can comfortably exhort you to … enjoy.

— Ian Mune

About the author

Ian has worked as a teacher, museum curator, editor, librarian and historian. As well as his poetry, he has published historical essays and wrote a history of spas in New Zealand. He lives in Devonport with his wife Jean.

Additional information

Dimensions 210 × 148 mm