EduTech Research Project
The Brandon University Tribute Series
The Unreleased Files of
Robert W. Brockway, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of Religion
Brandon University, Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
Original poetry with accompanying photos and art
from the Brockway archive
IT'S ALL THERE
MY GOATSKIN WATERBAG
I DON'T KNOW, REB TEVJE
DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE
LIFE'S A BOARD MEETING
THE WOODLAND JOURNEY
To Poems Volume Two
Back at ten,
The long days
And long years.
And no one back there
Anything more horrid
Than a trip to the dentist
Anything more dull.
They tell you at ten
Not to wish your life away,
Are the happy times.
But somehow you always do
That wish you get.
You there in the photograph!
I remember you!
We knew each other well long ago.
I cannot run so fast now.
I get all out of breath.
I cannot run half as fast as you.
Yet, I knew you once so well,
And think of you often,
Sometimes with longing,
Sometimes with regret.
You're just a fading memory,
Woven long ago mid drifting tumbleweed,
And swirling dusty devils far away.
I also think of palms along the shore,
And cool sand crunching.
But I grew taller and you stayed small,
Becoming, as it were, an image in my mind,
Recorded in the yellow photograph.
Flourished on a firm foundation
Of sloppy schlamperei
That was the secret,
The Germans, Magyars, Slovaks, Szeklers,
Managed to get on
Incompetence was the answer
Never win a war,
Rulers whose wisest words were
Ich bin der' Kaiser und ich mochte Nudeln.
An offence to
Though Freud claimed to find them,
Strauss and Lehar cancelled them out,
And the Grinzing Hofbraus helped.
"Das war best!"
Then, with a wistful smile,
He waved Auf Wiedersehen
And took the train for East Berlin.
“No,” I cried, "I won't be Gunga Din!"
Gunga Din, with his goatskin waterbag,
Grinning, grunting Gunga Din
Hovering right flank rear when the Tommies charged in
No, it's glory I want,
Lead the charge with flashing sabre,
Drive the Pathans back,
And raise the union jack at Gandahar!"
But it wasn't to be.
I’d a humbler role to fill,
Go among the wounded with that goatskin waterbag,
Not much else to give,
A swig of green water, nothing more.
Others led the charge,
And others won the fight
And saved the day.
Yet, strange to say,
There are few who now recall the Afghan War
But someone wrote a poem for Gunga Din.
Oh Holy One of Israel . . . where were you then?
It's Auschwitz, I mean.
Where were you then?
I read and could not make myself believe.
And so I went,
All the way to Cracow,
All the way to that cursed town
That's known as Oswiecim.
And I saw.
The barbed wire.
The obscene sign:
Arbeit Macht Frei!
All the way to Poland.
Just to see that sign.
And later watched "The Fiddler on the Roof".
The same Jews, the Polish Jews,
The Jews whose children died at Auschwitz.
The Jews who did the crime
Of bearing Jewish children.
Adonai adonai! elehenu!
Shema Israel, Adonai elehenu!
And you didn't answer, Holy One of Israel,
Rock and Redeemer!
At Auschwitz you were silent. . . silent were the skies.
Down the rabbit hole: But where is it?
not in my lady's chamber.
Where did he run to?
Where did he flee to,
flummoxed with agitation?
Alice, where are you?
Did you really see him go, hopping,
hopping, hopping down the rabbit hole?
Where's the dreamland, the magic land,
Alice, please Alice, find the rabbit hole
and let me follow him, follow him
down, down down to the furious duchess.
Art by Robert Brockway
We must pass a resolution,
keep up the standards and mind the budget!
Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil! Ein Reich
Ein Volk Ein Fueher!
Alice, where's the rabbit hole?
You found it. . . please, please, where is it?
Where are the streaming banners, the
skirling pipes, the jangling horsemen,
the burnished knights?
We must make amotion,
We must discuss the budget.
The enrollment for next year. . .
Please Alice, sweet Alice. . . tell me where you
saw that frantic rabbit.
The sparkling streams ripple down the
slopes of Orohena Roa, and Loti found his
maiden, toasty brown and nude, swimming
in a pool.
Down the rabbit hole, the rabbit hole. . . to never never land.
The hussars swing their ladies at the
Schoenbrunn and the old emperor, sad of
eye, wistfully thinks of Sisi.
Swing round the capstain, sailor
Way haul away we'll haul away Joe.
There are dishes to be washed,
and floors to be scrubbed
And meanwhile I'll wander up Liliha Street and
gaze at the Koolaus . . . . the African violets and
bougainvillea are bright in May, the Pikake
is white in May, the hau trees bloom in May
And Kalakaua' s dead. . . . . . . . .
Koni au koni au i ke wai.
Damn that rabbit! Where did he go?
flows like deep waters,
the quiet depths
of the sculptor's soul
the swirling waves
to buried mystery
Pack on back, boot-shod, and broad brim hat
I took the pebble-strewn trail; on I marched, striding, climbing,
through the pine forests
beside the bubbling rippling streams,
on in the depths of dark woods
and through the deep grasses of quiet glades
Until at last I came to where
two tall pines cast shadows on the deep waters
of the crystal lake.
And there I found two dented Pepsi Cola cans
and an empty O'Henry wrapper.
Blithe, merry elfin skipped through the sky,
Tripped o'er the tree-tops, soared o'er the sea.
Bright speck of starlight, winsome and shy,
Danced down a moonbeam, joyful was she.
She was all beauty, piquant her smile,
Gay, fairy queen with a silvery crown, "
Sat on a mushroom, playing a viol,
Bright as the sunlight, mischievous clown.
Deep in the forest, aeons ago,
Rode forth a knight on his tall courser white,
Heard magic elfins play soft and low,
Followed the strains and was filled with delight.
He loved the elfin, charmed by her lay,
Her hair was golden; his beard was grey.
Centuries after, in a new age,
Men tramped the forest carrying staves.
Filled with a fury, burning with rage,
They were all madmen; they were all knaves.
Fierce was their zeal, with fire and pitch
They were aflame and drunken with power
Strong was their lust to murder a witch,
Led by a knave who kept a lord's tower.
Deep in the woodland, by an old town,
Spied he a crone with a sharp, beaky frown.
Gaily he seized her, laughed at her cries,
Then saw the elfin deep in her eyes.
Many years after, woodlands were few.
Vast sprawling cities spread o'er the world.
Men flew the skies, and towers were new
Wars had been many, strange flags unfurled.
Witches and elfins were all in the past,
Queer superstitions no one believed.
This generation, they said, was the last;
This tragic world could not be retrieved.
World without magic; world without kings,
World without knighthood, world out of tune.
Harsh, ugly noise, the new world sings.
Man's flaming rockets fly to the moon.
still there are fools who will leave bowls of food
For blithe, merry elfins who live in the wood.
Joy comes in little things,
the crash of waves on a beach,
and you, all snug and warm in your cot,
the patter of rain on the tent,
or hazy city lights at dusk when
the low sky drizzles.
Joy's seeing the bright petals of
a deep blue flower, fleecy clouds.
Joy's trudging home through snow,
the crackle of fire.
Joy's having nothing to do tomorrow.
Joy's feeling peace. . . fulfillment,
the remembrance of having done well.
Joy's love, the whispered word,
the gentle squeeze of your hand
by someone near and dear.
Joy's remembering when all of it
Photo Research, Transcription and Webpage Design by
William G. Hillman
Assistant Professor ~ Brandon University
Text compilation and supplementary notes by
BACK TO THE BROCKWAY CONTENTS PAGE
BACK TO THE
HILLMAN BU EDUWEB RESEARCH PROJECT