The Forests 2000 Poetry Prize was conducted in 2000 by CHIPSTOP. Our judge, eminent Australian poet, Judith Wright died shortly after she selected the winners of the contest. We are grateful for her support in our campaign and we are all the richer for her life.

The Forests 2000 Poetry Prize
Judge: Judith Wright

Equal First Prize
Janeen Samuels, Hamilton, Vic Tree
Denis Kevans, Wentworth Falls, NSW The Anzac's Incense

Second Prize
Catherine Moore, Braidwood, NSW

Equal Third Prize
Frank McMahon, Ainslie, ACT Vista and Lyre Birds
Jenny de Garis, Cottesloe, WA
Gloria B. Yates, Petrie, Qld
The Choice

Highly Commended
Venie Holmgren, Pambula, NSW What Shall We Say
Sarndra Smith, Dunedin, NZ
New Age Tree Fellas
Fiona Rankine, Tatura, Vic
Wall of Silence

Shane Arden, Bega, NSW Screaming Cut
Zee O'Cathail, Spearwood, WA chips
Mark Miller, Shoalhaven Heads, NSW
Sugar- Gliders
Heather Grant, Huntfield Heights, SA
Goodbye Trees
Ian Wallace, Hawker, ACT
Gabriella Ferre, Huntingdale, WA
If only

Junior Section First Prize
Will Bakes (13), Kyneton, Vic
Rainforest Poem

Second Prize
Jenna Maher (12), Ocean Grove, Vic
The Possum


The Poems

TREE - Janeen Samuels

You do not flinch
Even when the next swathe falls
Beside you;
Only sigh a little
While the green tangled fallen
To sad brown matter
On earth scraped raw as ulcers.

Even when your birds fly up
Screaming, into a sky too riven to hold them
And furred creatures in your hollows tremble;
Even with the blade turning at last towards you,
You stand
Quietly fulfilling your part

- drawing life from the sun;
breathing life to the air -

As if you will live forever.
A faithful citizen
With no eyes for the tumbrils
Not hearing the bones breaking
Nor tasting the thick fumes from the pyres.

Oh! if you would only shriek
When your roots are torn from Earth,
Thrash your arms in frenzy;
If you could march, you dumb
Wood Upon the Tyrant....

But you are silent
Made as you are made:
To stand only, to breathe
Waiting for the blade.





"Yes, we heard their voices murmur, as the streamers broke and flew,
"I'll love you forever, and forever I'll love you",
Did we live and die in madness, in a waste-land over there,
Just to see Australia's forests churned to woodchips over here?"

A boarding house in Sydney, an old man sitting there,
The smoke of burning gumleaves drifting around him through the air,
"lt's my incense, mate" he tells me," it comes from down the Coast,
The gumleaves of the forest, the ones I love the most.

''This incense was my wedding gift, it was our wild bouquet,
We breathed in deep the incense, before I sailed away,
A net of moonlight drifting across her face and hair,
And the incense of the gumleaves drifting around us, everywhere.

"She'd parcel up the gumleaves, and she'd post'em far away,
We sweated on the postie, and his parcel, on that day,
In silence we would gather, and breathe the incense in,
The incense of the gumleaves burning in our dixie tin.

"The acrid stink of battle in our incense sped away,
And scenes of home and loved ones, entered in, as bright as day,
And we heard their voices murmur, as the streamers broke and flew -
"I'll wait for you forever, and forever I'll love you".

"Now I stumble through the nightmare of a forest we once knew
And I thought I heard her saying - "Sonny, Sonny, is it you?"
But when I turned to greet her, just a splintered stump I saw,
And the refuse from an army that has won the forest war.

"I had hoped to find the moonlight, as it rested on her hair,
All I saw was litter burning and the smoke fumes everywhere,
I had hoped to smell the incense that was always in the green,
But I only smelt the chain-saws and the stink of dieseline".

"Yes, we heard their voices murmur, as the streamers broke and flew -
"I'll love you forever, and forever I'll love you",
Did we live and die, in madness, in a waste-land over there,
Just to see Australia's forests churned to woodchips over here?"




WOODCHIPPING - - Catherine Moore

When we have chopped and chipped the last of the
Old trees, and turned them into disposable
Objects to be used once and then
Discarded, we can take the empty space that for so long was home to the plants
Creatures who depended on the diversity of the forest for their survival and
Heap it up with
Piles of rubbish, the
Produce of our
Negligence and



VISTA - Frank McMahon

It's there, at least what's left of it.The line
ran back inside the station gates.You'll see
a pile of torn up sleepers stacked behind
that mound that used to be the platform. We
all knew it had to end - you can't cut much
from scrub as thin as this. But still, two trucks
of whipstick every day's not bad. We ran
six lorry loads a week until we cut
the Churchlands Hundred out - good money, and
we needed it - you know our rainfall - years
we didn't get our seed back. Then the sand
began to shift.The saltbush held it down
for quite a while, but then the stumps went too -
good wood, brought in a bit, but, then we found
we had to cart too far and sand drifts slowed
us down for hours and by the time they closed
the railway down the town and district seemed,
well, opened up - but dusty. Some of us
remember how it was - all mallee - nothing much
to look at I suppose,
but, you know,
different - green.



LYRE BIRDS - Frank McMahon

es, some are still around
- a few.
Listen, that one sounds
Just like a chainsaw. Lovely birds -
Great mimics too



HERITAGE - Jenny de Garis

poem written in the karri forest,
'Giblett Block', near Pemberton, WA

In this forest
she-oaks filter dawn,
brush the furry-leaved hazels,
shine at the snotty-gobbles.

Tall trees sing to the wind,
open to chill rain,
dip and wave their canopies,
hum like the sea.

Their tops spin leaves
in space it has taken
six of my lifetimes
to reach

Sounding the thin, high
notes of temple bells birds
call territory of leaf, bark, twig.

Where rotting branches deepen
the forest floor continues
its exploration of form
- thrusts fungi in mini umbrellas,
waxy clusters of fingers.

In the giving hollows
of the oldest trees
night-life renews its
strength in curls of sleep.

At a particular moment
- perhaps tomorrow -
men of my species
will move. Ant-like
the bites of their
oil-driven chains
will empty the air




THE CHOICE – Gloria Yates

I was woken last night
by a voice in my head
it was giving me orders:
"Sleep faster!" it said

"Wake up to the daylight -
the signs are not good:
there's a hole in the sky
acid rain in the wood

They're chipping the forests
they're chopping the trees
and old Mother Nature
is down on her knees."

But there's blur in my eye
and there's grey in my hair
and the hole in the sky
is beyond my repair.

I can't fight the system
it's useless to weep
so I turned in my bed
and I went back to sleep.

But all through the night
I could still hear that voice:
"Sleep faster! sleep faster!
Wake up to disaster!

- you still have a choice!"



WHAT SHALL WE SAY? - Venie Holmgren

And when the last of the old ones
has disappeared, the last
of those great leafy temples has fallen,
what shall we say,
having forgotten that rich community,
vibrant with life
with family groupings of trees of all ages
of mosses, herbs, grasses & shrubs,
of colour and pattern, of form
in unnumbered variety
and yet unexplored treasures-
medicinal plants for our healing -
gene pools for our food -
of homes for the greater glider,
the powerful owl, potoroo, pygmy possum,
tree frog, bandicoot and bettong,
the shy spotted quail thrush,
and the painted brilliance of the tiny pardalote;
when all of these are dimming memories
in the heads of our elders, handed down
to those who still have ears for listening?

And gazing on that drabness
of monocultural monotony
our greed has created,
shall we then say
to those who come to ask the questions;
yes, this is how it always has been?




the fairy tale wood chopper
with an axe over one shoulder
is long gone now

there are forestry giants
more than tree top tall
whose reach is all

these conglomerates can
cover the globe they have

with log haulers & loaders
dozers & skidders

once the fight was fair
with a tree fella here
& there maybe a small mill

the odd wolf killed
& then only big & bad
whereas these days

it's anything goes
that gets in the way
there's blood on those

woodchips & the clear
felled undergrowth
land laid waste



WALL OF SILENCE- Fiona Rankine

Hideous mechanised monsters
blank-eyed and lumbering,
level ancient forests,
leaving behind desolate landscapes
veiled by corporate lies,
sanctioned by all who stand aside,




cutting through, my peaceful dream
today I heard the forest scream,

agents of malignant greed
cutting through majestic trees,

roaring dozer, barking saw,
cool dark forest is no more.



NO... TO CHIPS - Zee O'Cathail

So, they want woodchips,


And the salt rises
the land is bare,
no birds singing,
roos stand and stare
at the wide horizons
no cover from the gun,
no branches for our children,
no shade from the sun

forest height gone
no leaves will fall,
and they've got woodchips.....




(in a forest threatened by logging)

Walking at dusk,
I hear the dull whirr
and snarl of the caped mouse
as he monkey-grips
strips of loose bark
and licks the sweet sap of wattle.

My torch-beam wheels from him
and glides with another as he parasols
to a leafy, neighbouring branch -
I've never seen wingless
flying mice before!

Later, the trapped beam
inside my head
is haunted by their wild
protuberant eyes -
all the time they say to me:
We are here, this is enough.



GOODBYE TREES - Heather Grant

"Tomorrow," said my Grandpa,
"the forest trees will fall.
we will go today,
to pay our final call.

We'll see them as they are.
Remember what they were.
Before the loggers come,
Before despoilers stir."

And so we walked among the trees.
We heard the birds who sang above.
We gazed at little lizards.
We gave them all our love.

The morrow chain saws came.
The lorries passed our door,
Gone, gone were all our trees.
The forest was no more.

A man may fell a tree,
to build a home and yard
and leave the rest to grow.
Is that so very hard?

My Grandpa now is passed away.
I am old myself.
But once I saw the trees,
in all their primal wealth.

My little ones will never see it.
Theirs the barren hill and creek.
Chips of woods have robbed them.
That is why I have to speak.



HAIKU - Ian Wallace

falling trees
wreathe an Earth
accepting of mindless waste
and energies



IF ONLY - Gabriella Ferre

If only bugs could speak.
What would they say?
What would they think?
What would they do?

If only the birds could speak.
What would they say?
What would they think?
What could they do?

If only the forest could speak.
What would it say?
What does it think?
What could it do?

If only we would speak,
What could we say?
What should we think?
What will we do?



RAINFOREST POEM - Will Bakes, age 13

When loggers come in to town,
Big trees are cut and come tumbling down,
Branches and leaves are burnt on the ground,
While animals die without a sound.

The earth is poisoned in the air,
And that gives politicians a scare,
Because people are wandering round in fear,
But the answer it lies right here.

Chainsaws scream and fires burn,
Enough to give any one a turn,
Cutting trees down without fear,
Not enough time to shed a tear.

But then we find out,
The forests are going,
And our life support system is slowing and slowing,
And the plants and animals there going too,

What happens next?
It's all up to you.



THE POSSUM - Jenna Maher, Age 12

As the small possum gnawed at a small tree,
It flicked its tail and squeaked with glee.
It never thought danger would come,
So it chewed some more as though eating a plum.
Its ears pricked up, it tilted its head
It knew right away danger was ahead,
With a flick of a tail and a small quick step,
It took to the ground and away it crept.
Along came the humans and tore the trees down,
And when it came back it finally found,
That it had no more home, no food, no shelter.
It may not even have a future.
It slowly fell down to rest its head.
After days of starvation,
It was now dead