Book Review; COMB THE SKY

•July 27, 2015 • 2 Comments

The Reverend Hellfire presents this review of fellow-poet,

Cathoel Jorss‘s latest Volume of Verse

for your enjoyment and consideration.

Cathoel Jorss; the Moon and her Priestess


Comb the Sky With Satellites

It’s Still a Wilderness


Many years ago, Cathoel made a little statuette

I was fond of.

On a little bit of plank serving as a plinth was mounted

a toy-sized, model wagon,

the sort of thing kids used to pull along by a piece of rope.

Only in this case the rope was frayed and broken,

the draggled pieces lying next to the wagon,

and one of the wheels had come off too. 

The title of this forlorn little masterpiece of whimsy,

was inscribed on a plaque attached to the plinth and read;

“If Poets Ruled the World”


Remembrance of that little statuette came to me the other day, 

as I was perusing the latest volume of verse

 from Australia’s larger than Life, unsung

High-Priestess of Poetry,

the fabulous Ms  Jorss.

cathoel winter muffin

Whimsy is never far from the surface in Cathoel’s work,

a gentle bemusement at the-way-things-are,

but there is a harder edge to her recent work than

was apparent in her earlier work “Going for the Eggs”.

This is as it should be. The world has moved on since then,

much blood has flowed under the bridge since those more

innocent times and we are all, perhaps, a little harder edged

than we used to be, wiser than we want to be.


Funny to think of the late nineties as more innocent times,

but in a way it was true;

The Cold War was over, the Last Crusade against Islam hadn’t begun.

Perhaps the Next Century would be different from the Others,

we almost dared to hope, not some silly, hippie Age of Aquarius thing,

but some better paradigm arising from the lessons learnt

from the 20th Century’s madness.

It wasn’t to be,of course, and we have to deal

with that Reality every day.


One of the ways of dealing with that is Poetry.

Cathoel New yorkPizza

You can see this in Cathoel’s work. Poetry is the tool with which

she both records the world, capturing evidence and clues

in her travels and the tool with which she seeks

to understand it.

Through the algorithm of Verse she analyses the data,

and like a shaman of the Word she then seeks to re-order

the unbalanced system confronting her.

Her poetry becomes a kind of healing magic,

the process of understanding,

is as important as the conclusion reached.

Through her poetry the poet becomes a still centre of calm

while the Universe whirls around her.

Cathoel Jorss; the Moon and her Priestess

“inside a lit candle I am twelve

and everything is this.”


Don’t let the whimsy fool you into thinking

she’s a wuss or a wimp.

There’s a bitter barb to this gal’s tongue, her satiric venom

gets directed to some well deserving targets.


rivers of joan

I don’t choose to grow old, as it happens

though I’ll die

chin and cheekbones still intact

no garbage compactor can dent

the grinning roundness of my upright breasts

bouncing back from every attack

like clowns with concrete in the foot

even in death, I will not perish

like many foods

years later by excavator

I’ll be dug up, immortal in parts

and still fresh, like the curate’s egg


Eat hearty! There’s much meat on the bone here.

Dig deep! There are many little verbal jewels

lurking in the rich earth of her verse. Even the simplest poems

in this collection deserve re-reading and consideration.


You will find honesty, wisdom, humour and

the ability to capture in words

the essence of every situation.

This is after all, what Poetry should be.


so, there is a heaven:

the sky remembers everything we’ve said

every single call

every bulb of gas

the sky has eyes, the eyes of governments

twitching at the ends of stalks

missing the point yet seeing all

cathoel jorss comb the sky

Now buy the book.


memories Wtitle


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The Reverend Hellfire..

speaks for himself.


The Sanctuary for Unpopular Species

•July 19, 2015 • Leave a Comment



“If it moves shoot it. If it doesn’t chop it down”

-Traditional Australian saying,

(The Australian Dictionary of Folklore, 1970)

“Everything perishes, Nothing is Lost”-Ovid


I started a Sanctuary for Unpopular Species.

Someone had to do it.

Why undertake this thankless task, you ask?

Part of it is probably due to my Love of Lost Causes,

e.g. Anarchism, Poetry, the Environment et al..

Related to that also is my Sympathy for the Under-Dog,

a personality trait once said, like our “Larrikin Streak“, to be part of the Australian Character. Possibly there is also an empathy built on a romantic recognition of the similarity of our mutual conditions, for does not the Poet himself exist on the Margins of Society, a despised and misunderstood Outsider?

Whatever. I have declared my humble plot of Suburbia to be a Sanctuary for Unpopular Species, and by whatever mysterious”bush-telegraph” they use,

 word seems to have got around the Community of

 “wee, sleekit, cowerin’, timorous beasties”. Thus hence they come hopping, flapping, and scurrying,

like poor, harried Quasimodo himself

seeking the Bell-Towers of Notre Dame Cathedral.

Possibly a process of Elimination or Exclusion is occurring, and rather than being drawn to the Sanctuary, they are in fact being driven there by the General hostility of the Neighbourhood, my property being an island where they are neither chased off with a broom, set upon by a dog nor poisoned on the sly.

Here a bush turkey can build its mound unhindered and raise its young in peace. Here possums can sleep in the roof without fear of being kidnapped by some dubious “Wild-Life Relocation” specialist and sold to greyhound racers for bloody “Live-baiting” practices.

Here the flying-foxes may gather and squawk in the trees at night without being bombarded

 with loud-disco music and fog banks.

The Crows raucously announce the Dawn and a small flock of Sacred Ibis who have recently appeared in the Sanctuary, solemnly stalk the lawn seeking grubs.

Even my humble tortoise has been considered a “pest species” in the past and murdered in their hundreds by “keen anglers” for the crime of taking bait.

tortoise looking away in rain crop

The Myth of Australians loving their Wildlife

Australia has/had a unique ecosystem which evolved more or less in isolation for millennia. The occasional stray latecomer (the aborigines, the dingo) arrived at long intervals, allowing time for the Environment to adapt and find a place for them within the web of interdependence.

You would think that the unique status of the Australian environment would engender some sort of National pride in the current inhabitants,

and a desire to preserve this precious Heritage.

Far from it.

From the moment of European colonisation, official policy and the majority of popular sentiment tended to the opinion that it was a patriotic duty

to rip up trees and kill off the native wild-life and aborigines.

(The esteemed Dame Mary Gilmore‘s recollections of those days

provide a shocking eye-opener.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

An early attempt at terra-forming, the end result was to transform Australia into a simulacrum of the well-watered Land they left behind. Of course this attempt failed and the blasted, poisoned Land we are left grappling with today is the result. Still, they keep trying.

Newman and cronies

Newman and cronies

In Queensland, for example, under the recently deposed Newman Government, land clearing rates reached new highs, setting a planet wide record in fact, as earlier legislation to protect bushland was repealed or set aside. Nature reserves were opened up for prospecting, cattle grazing, shooting and “economic development”. Bats, crocodiles and other problems species could be dealt with in the Old Way again (see opening quote)

No, the only time Australians show concern for the native wildlife is when they’ve driven a species to the edge of Extinction. At which point they start feeling all sentimental

and not a little guilty and start setting up “Reserves” for the last few specimens, and storing their genetic material in case rich “extinct-exotic-animal” Collectors of the Future

should feel the whim to clone up a few Bilbies.

Why till the 1950‘s at least they were killing emus (you know, the national emblem? See it on coins and coats of arms and stuff) in the hundreds of thousands! Crows, Eagles, Wombats? Pests! Shoot ’em.

Truckload of koala skins, Clermont QLD, 1927

Truckload of koala skins, Clermont QLD, 1927

Even the Koala, a supposed National Ikon was hunted to the edge of extinction until recently. Even today it is afforded no special status if it gets in the way of progress. Recently for example, in Redland Bay, one of the last local pockets of surviving koalas were put further under threat when a local, Council-approved housing development cut down a vital row of trees (known as a “wildlife corridor”) in order to make a few more bucks. There was some community protest at this, but down that way they’d still vote for the Country Party if they could, and more residents seem interested in driving off the local flying-fox colony which is lowering house values so badly (sic).

Kangaroos? They’re still culling them in Canberra, gives the army something to do when they’re not meddling in Middle-Eastern politics, doncha know?


The platypus? Woolworths recently built a supermarket over a platypus habitat at Maleny, despite pleas to maybe, you know, move the whole thing forward a couple of metres? But no, even in “alternative” Maleny, deep in the heart of the Hippie Hinterland,

Profit and Progress hold sway unhindered. Despite vows by locals to boycott Woolworths and run it out of town, Convenience won out over Conscience, and two years later Woolworths is still thriving in Maleny, though alas, the same cannot be said of the Platypus..

Kangaroo Cull

Kangaroo Cull

Domesticated, Endangered or Feral

Some years ago, indeed, in the very first Sermon to appear in this column,

I noted, somewhat facetiously some people may have thought, that future choices for other species are limited to Endangered, Domesticated or Feral.

( )

Domestication of Emus. Well, at least they're not extinct, right?

Domestication of Emus. Well, at least they’re not extinct, right?

As Time has passed I am more and more struck by the Truth

contained in that simple, slightly awkward poem.

Any species that has managed to survive the European Onslaught, and successfully adapt to the Urban Environment inevitably attracts the distinction of being labelled as a “Problem” species.

Bush turkeys, possums, crows, Ibis, flying foxes,

have all in recent years

been labelled vermin by a sizeable segment of Suburbia, who believe they should be exterminated like the rats we brought with us. (Though generally advocates call it “culling” rather than “extermination” because it sounds more scientific and rational.)

Yet these species are neither a health risk nor a threat to Human Life. Neither are they, in the suburbs, any sort of economic threat. The sole cause for the frequent calls for their culling by animal haters is that they are, in some form or fashion, a “nuisance”

Oh, well! I mean.. a nuisance! Yes, that seems like perfectly adequate grounds to call for a species’ extinction.

bush turkey hard at work

bush turkey hard at work

The poor old bush-turkey is a classic victim here, guilty of no more than raking through garden soil & leaves with their powerful claws, yet they attract an hostility out of all proportion to their “crime”.

In this regard I note that 99% of all my hate mail is due to my

once expressing sympathy for bush turkeys.

( )

We should be admiring their ability to survive, adopting them as totems and mascots for football clubs. But no, they use foreign species: the lions, the rabbit-ohs, the tigers, the list goes on. The Cane Toads for god sake, the epitome of invasive, noxious species is the emblem for QLD Rugby League teams.

Only the solitary Adelaide Crows fly the flag for native species.

The Australian Raven has been falsely accused of being a

The Australian Raven has been falsely accused of being a “lamb-killer” and hunted accordingly

Long term the Unpopular Species Sanctuary‘s strategy is basically a holding action. A policy of last ditch desperation, to preserve as much as possible in whatever small pockets you can establish. The Reverend advises you, dear reader, to do likewise.

The Flood is coming and we need many Arks.

turkey shadow 2


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July KP Handbill VSN4 FIREJPIG


tai chi hand strawberry circle

The Reverend Hellfire is a practised Performance Poet,

President of the Kurilpa Institute of Creativity Inc.,

and an Ordained Minister of the Church of Spiritual Humanism

AND the Church of the Universe.

Why Not?



•July 12, 2015 • Leave a Comment


This classic screed from the Reverend is now presented in a remastered  delux edition. Enjoy monsters..



The Sea is full of Monsters

who have never heard of Poetry

though Heroic Verse resounds in fact

with references to Them.

They provide a convenient antagonist

for every adolescent Argonaut or two-bit Beowulf

to build their reputation on.

Leviathan and Kraken both,

their numbers are sadly depleted,

entered on the Endangered list,

perhaps soon to be deleted.

angler fish civilized

Yes, from Scylla‘s point of view

Heroism is just another “Fishing Story”,

you know, like, the-one-that-got-away ?

And as for all those ferocious, fire-breathing Dragons?

Just harmless lizards every one,

ruthlessly hunted to Extinction,

by trophy-hunting, testosterone fuelled, medieval rich boys,

who liked to kill for Fun

and called it Sport.

Their inbred descendants devolved today

to blowing horns & bothering foxes.


Still the Sea is full of Monsters

who have never seen a Cadillac

yet many there amongst them believes

that such a Thing exists.

“It makes sense,” they say, “We can’t be here

in the Universe all alone!”

And like ink in swirling water,

Rumour spreading darkly

speaks of Alien probes and hooks,

Mysterious Abductions

and weird lights in the Sky above.

angler fish wild

Opinion as to their future remains divided;

it is uncertain if Global Warming

will drive old Myths and Legends

to Surface once and for all,

or drive them deeper, ever deeper,

forever vanished from the Public Domain.

Poor Monsters.

One thing is for certain though,

we will create new Monsters to replace them,

more terrible by far,

who will not know their place

and will devour the Human race.

sea and rock sunset li8ghts


Squarey says drink&swim


tai chi hand strawberry circle

The Reverend Hellfire is a practised Performance Poet,

still President of the Kurilpa Institute of Creativity

and an Ordained Minister of the Church of Spiritual Humanism

AND the Church of the Universe.

What the hey!



•July 5, 2015 • Leave a Comment

funeral angel


grave yard cheery

We found the Crematorium at last, tucked away in a hidden valley

in the outer suburbs, an unsuspected Oasis of Peace

surrounded by Freeways and Arterial Roads.

It was a lovely morning amongst the tombstones.

Gee-gaws glittered and glistened, wet with dew on children’s graves.

Butcher birds and magpies filled the air with song,

oblivious to human preoccupations like Death and Progress.

I crumbled some of the red dirt between my fingers. Good volcanic soil, and well mulched with human blood and bone. It would make good farming land, but land prices being what they are, if the cemetery wasn’t here they’d probably put up a housing estate.

A typical Chapel & Monument to Modernism..

“A typical Chapel & Monument to Modernism..”

The Chapel itself, as is always the case these days

with such secular civic shrines,

was a monument to Modernism.

Untouched by Classicism, every architectural device/feature or conceit associated with religion or spirituality had been banished, there were no naves, no arches or architraves, no stained glass, no columns,

no statue or altar,

no Medieval Gothic taint remained.

The building was essentially anonymous. It could have been anything, a car show-room or a lawyer’s office or a Holiday Villa.

The best feature of these sort of structures is that typically they have a large glass feature wall, allowing them to replace the usual religious iconography with “the cheap showiness of nature”. And indeed, being able to stare at the trees at such times is a definite plus

and you can ignore the buildings lack of personality.

Typical modern chapel surrounded by the cheap showiness of Nature.

Typical modern chapel surrounded by the cheap showiness of Nature.

The female Funeral Attendants from “Valkyrie Funeral Service“, dressed like dour Russian flight attendants from the Eighties,

monitor the proceedings thru the latest video-surveillance equipment.

Strategically placed cameras cover every angle of the chapel

with KGB-like efficiency.

The Head Valkyrie draws the attention of one of her colleagues to something on the screen and they zoom in to Quadrant 3. She whispers instructions thru her head-set’s microphone

to some unseen Agent. Have they moved to seal some gap in the perimeter, I wonder? The Security aspects seem a bit disturbing. What are they expecting? Gatecrashers?

An Display of unseemly Weeping in Sector 7?

Swiftly an Operative is despatched with a box of tissues

to contain the Outbreak..


The Cut-and-Paste Celebrant, pirating somebody else’s unacknowledged Intellectual Property, tells us to let the Deceased’s

death inspire us to make the World a better place,

or words to that effect. I can’t help but feel that they’re expecting too much. I mean, the Deceased was ok and will be remembered fondly, but it’s not like they were Gandhi or Spartacus or something.

But I suppose the State Certified Celebrant must say something

to justify their fee and the time annexed

by the droning of their bland platitudes

at least gives people a chance to compose themselves

for the real Ordeal; the harrowing Speeches

delivered by those closest to the Deceased.


Grief-wracked words wrenched from the Heart, desperate strugglings to explain, to encompass, to acknowledge the sum of someone’s Existence. Sincerity and Diplomacy battle to find a balance

in the scales and do it in 5 minutes

because Valkyrie’s clock is ticking.

(Lest a feather-weight of bitterness find tongue to tip the scales.

Now not the time for old rancours. Wait for the Wake!)


Fortunately for me at least, this time I am not down in the front row,

my grieving shoulders on public show,

nor am I speaking on the Departed’s behalf.

Instead I merely join the Rabble standing down the back, the Outer Circle of well-wishers and fellow-travllers who have come as much

to support the Living as to bear witness to the Passing.

Not Family perhaps, but Tribe at least.

Community is a boring word that’s used these days a lot, but I still prefer to call it Tribe.

The word seems more Primal somehow,

more archtypal, closer to the Essence

of why we were all there.

The Speakers bravely battle thru to the end of their Herculean task.

The Celebrant slides smoothly back into the spotlight,

like a snake into a warm patch of sun

and brings the show to a close

with a well practised line of glib patter.

The curtains come together and hide the coffin, but strangely without any sense of closure accompanying the act. An anti-climactic gesture.

Why is that, I wonder?

I don’t know. Music plays. We wait respectfully for the Family to pass, uncertain whether to make eye-contact or to look at the ground.

graveyard sunny

Outside, as is always the case at these events, the crowd relaxes and there is a minor explosion of conviviality. The Weight of the Ceremony has been lifted from them, the smokers light up and for a moment the Deceased is forgotten and the crowd socialises and catches up with old Faces.

It reminds me of a Primary School playground when the kids have just been let out of class. All that repressed emotional energy and behavioural etiquette in class is for the moment put aside and briefly they escape to be just kids again.

So also for adults when escaping the ritual solemnities of the funeral ceremony. They have been reminded that it is good to be alive. We chat and smoke amongst the gravestones in the morning sun.

Too soon though it seems the dour Russian flight attendants and part-time KGB operatives are telling us to move along, there’s another funeral scheduled and we are taking too long.

“Miss Aerofloat” Competition, 1982, Leningrad.

As always I am offended by the brutally efficient haste with which these Establishments move you off the premises so the next paying customer can be processed. It gives a bit of a conveyor belt feel to the whole operation. Simple human decency, I would have thought,

would have them schedule the funerals at decent intervals.

But Time is Money, and so Valkyrie run their operations

on the same principles as the McDonalds drive-thru.

We’re talking Volume. Order served in three minutes or your money back..Want Fries with that?



*Authors note: This is a composite funeral experience drawn from a number of occasions & exposure to a variety of “Celebrants”

and their ilk.




reverend profile red

The Reverend Hellfire is a practised Performance Poet

President of the Kurilpa Institute of Creativity

and an ordained Minister of the Church of Spiritual Humanists

AND the Church of the Universe.

He’d go to your Funeral.


Feeding Time at the Tortoise Pond

•June 28, 2015 • Leave a Comment

tortoise in shade sharpened

Feeding Time at the Tortoise Pond

Somewhere deep within the murk,

There the cautious Tortoise lurks.

Out of shadows and the gloom

Suddenly two bright eyes loom!

A pause..

A snap of yellow jaws!

A glimpse of webbed claws

and then..

Just as quickly

He withdraws.

tortoise foot and mealy worm




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The Reverend Hellfire is..

..ahh you know the rest!



•June 21, 2015 • 1 Comment

Whilst the Reverend dances in Celebration round the Solstice Fires,

we resurrect from the vaults this classic poem of existential angst and redemption.




“It’s Surface Tension“,

I told my co-dependent friend

and only ally in the World.

“That’s the only thing that prevents us

from sinking into the deep, dark depths of Disaster,

Debt, Despair and Despond,

those Dark Waters, that, by any reasonable expectations,

should have swallowed us up long ago.”


“Yet we continue merrily skating over thin ice

that melted back in Spring!

No. We’re like those insignificant insects

that skim the surface of creeks and ponds.

Their mass is so slight

that they can’t break the Surface Tension

created by the pond’s molecular bonds.

The water merely dips and bends beneath their feet.

Similarly with us. Our Sufferings are too light-weight

to make an impression on the Universe.

There is no Grandeur or Gravitas in our tiny struggles

to weigh us down, and so, unnoticed, we stay afloat.”

water spider

“Saved by our own Insignificance”,

she shrugged, and handed me a joint.

“Saved by our own Insignificance”, I agreed,

and took another toke.

water spider2


the Qickening


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reverend profile red

The Reverend Hellfire is a practised Performance Poet,

President of the Kurilpa Institute of Creativity

and an ordained Minister of the Church of Spiritual Humanism

AND the Church of the Universe.

“Solstice Blessings to all my loyal Friends & Followers.”



•June 14, 2015 • Leave a Comment




Never trust a mutated Ape I say.

Which is, after all, the basic human status,

though many are apt to forget that fact.

Anyone around you starts giving themselves airs

like they’re the Lords of Creation or like

their shit smells better than any other animal, you just tell them;

“Never trust anything thats more Virus than Ape”,

which, according to the latest available

up-to-the moment research,

could be said to be precisely where Humanity hangs

from the Evolutionary Tree.


Yes we live in exciting times, scientifically speaking,

and many new discoveries bring light each day

on what and who we are and our place in the Universe.

For example, look at the person next to you; 10% of their body weight is made up of bacteria, skin mites, hookworm, amoeba and assorted fellow passengers. Kind of makes you look at them different, don’t you think?

We’re used to thinking about ourselves as a discrete organism, but really we’re more akin to a coral reef. To be fair, they’re not really just passengers. Like the Barrier Reef, the human ecosystem is a complex and delicate web of interdependence we’re only just beginning to understand. The Bacteria in your Gut ain’t Happy, then Serotonin levels start plummeting and You ain’t Happy either.

Parasitic Infestation adds considerably to total body weight.

Parasitic Infestation adds considerably to total body weight.

Indeed, recently, cutting-edge doctors have taken to deliberately infesting their patients with hookworm in a bold attempt to cure such unpleasant conditions as Crohns Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

But the happy flora and fauna of the Human eco-system are ultimately still but fellow travellers, like the moss that grows on a turtle’s back. It’s when you get to the Viral Level that things get really interesting and incestuous.

Far smaller than your average bacteria (which it also infests) the Virus is barely alive, a few strands of DNA in a shell

looking for a home. Yet they interact with all other living organisms and affect the course of evolution in ways which

until recently have never been suspected.

For as they hop and skip between hosts, mutating wildly the whole time, Virii like to “cut and paste” bits of DNA in the process, incorporating and swapping pieces of genetic code as they leap between host species.

So Evolution, as it were, is not merely vertical but horizontal, and how all this genetic cutting and pasting and snipping and swapping has affected Life’s development we are only just beginning to speculate.

Already we know of a number of cases of parasitic organisms that change their Host’s behaviour in ways that facilitate their own reproduction cycle. Eggs hatching in the brain, fungi growing out of the eyesockets of doomed grasshoppers, sufferers seeking waterholes where the spores spread..these things are known.


Language is a Virus“, William Burroughs famously declared and the crazy old junkie may yet be proved right. Myself I have at times suspected that Love itself may have a viral origin, a side-effect of something like Syphilis.

Why not? Latest Genetic Research has discovered that vast swathes of the Human Genome,

previously dismissed as “inert” DNA, shucked off stuff that didn’t really do anything, are actually a vital part of our species’ Development. Rather than being inert, this genetic material exists in a sort of Hibernation, waiting to be activated should circumstance call for it.

In fact we are heirs to a vast Genetic library accumulated over the Millenia.

Following closely behind this realisation was the discovery that something like 10% of our genetic make-up is of viral origin.

Yes, the virus your ancestors suffered from back in the Stone Age is part of your genetic makeup.

Now, seeing as how only something like 4-5% of our genetic content is shared in common with the Neanderthal, our nearest, though sadly extinct, mammalian relative, looked at from a certain perspective, that makes Humans more closely related to certain types of virus than the earlier proto-humans. Possibly the same virus that wiped out the Neanderthal caused “Humans” to mutate.


Actually this Viral Heritage may well explain some of Humanity’s more unpleasant characteristics, which have been concerning me of late.


Homo Sapiens Indeed!

More like Homo Infestatus– the Virus Mutated Ape.

monkey and i pad in bath

For more info on virus human interaction go to




reverend profile red

The Reverend Hellfire is a practised Performance Poet,

President of the Kurilpa Institute of Creativity and an ordained Minister of the Church of Spiritual Humanism AND the Church of the Universe”

“All houses are built on shifting sands.”



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