Reflections by the Tortoise Pond Pt.2

Reflections by the Tortoise Pond

tortoise ponf reflections green border

Pt 2. Oasis

I was feeding strips of red, raw flesh

to the Tortoise Pond’s ancient inhabitant

the other morning, and reflecting,

as I like to do for a minute or three,

on the peace and tranquillity

of my humble back yard garden,

an untidy Oasis in the suburban Landscaping,

a Feral Eden in the Cultural Desert.


Above, the Sky wore her winter-robe

of deep azure blue

The Trees in keeping with Tradition,

were garbed in the green and gold livery of their Tribe.

Below, the sun-dappled ground was a shifting mosaic

of jet and gold, through which there stalked

a scattering of bush-turkeys,

solemnly engaged in their ancestral pursuits.

A bright-eyed Butcher bird, a quick female plumed

in grey and brown,

perched on a wooden stake nearby,

eagerly awaiting the occasional bloody gobbets

I tossed her way.

Above me a raucous murder of Crows

voiced their disapproval

of the whole tortoise-feeding process

and what was clearly a wanton waste

of the Food of Crows, owed them

by Ancestral Privilege due to the Nobility of their Line.

Unlike the opportunistic Butcher-birds though,

they are far too cautious to ever approach

any human, even me,

and thus they must wait until I leave

before they can flap down and retrieve

the Offerings I carefully place

on branches and in the sacred forks of trees.


Meantime the Crows register their disapprobation

of the delay by dropping sticks and twigs upon me.

In the pond’s mirror surface

I can see these glossy cynics hop and dance

far above me, silhouetted high against the sky,

each crow a villain straight from Shakespeare

in their black stockinged leg,

like a Richard or Macbeth

for Life too proud to beg.

tortoise in shade sharpened

Lounging nearby the pond,

lying indolently in the sun,

a scarred, orange Tomcat ignores the activity.

A former stray and savage hunter of birds,

he has been taken in, fed and “civilized”

for the sake of the local wild-life.

Now no longer a mere “feral” cat,

hissing and skulking at human approach,

but now aware of his status of Companion,

and assured of his food

he forbears to hunt anything,

other than the occasional rat, for sport.


Still, it is early days in his rehabilitation,

I wouldn’t trust him too much out of my sight,

So I take care he is fed regularly and well,

so that most of the time

he’s busy sleeping off his last meal.

Yes, the Peace of my little Eden is bought,

subsidised you might say,

much as the PAX ROMANA of the mighty Roman Empire

was bought, that is; not so much by force of arms,

but by the regular feeding of the Hungry “Barbarian” tribes,

perched on their borders, with donatives and pay-outs

bribes and incentives.

tortoise foot and mealy worm

Indeed, most of the “Barbarian Invaders” of those Centuries,

ie., Those who are held to hold much of the responsibility for

the “Downfall of the Roman Empire“, were not so much

“Invaders” intent on looting and burning, but more like what some Politicians would today call,

“Economic Refugees”

who were merely looking for somewhere to live.

No, these Invaders didn’t want to overthrow

the Roman system. They just wanted to be a part

of it’s Prosperity and shelter within in it’s relative Security.

Much like, for example, the many Mexicans and South Americans

today tunneling under the USA borders, or the multitude of Africans/Afghanis/Indians/ etc., desperately crowding onto rusty hulks/junks/dinghies to take a gamble at crossing the Mediterranean/Indian/Pacific/etc Sea/Ocean/River, or where ever the arbitrary Line in the sand is drawn, the Line that defines

 the Invisible Economic Boundary between what is known as the First World nations and the Third World nations, or if you prefer, the Rich countries and the Poor Countries.

Roman Hi-definition Entertainment was second to none in the ancient world

Roman Hi-definition Entertainment was second to none in the ancient world

Things were muchly the same in Roman times. Constructions like Hadrian’s Wall were built as much to regulate Trade, Tax and Migration as they were to “stop the rampaging Barbarian Armies”.

The Roman immigration policies were so sophisticated they could even handle “mass migrations” of whole tribal groups at once,

moving them en masse to areas depopulated by plague or war

or to open up new land for development.


The system started to break down when King Theodoric wanted to move something like two hundred thousand or so fellow Goths, (basically his whole kingdom), across the Danube and into the safe, prosperous Roman Empire and as far away as possible from the ever growing menace of the Huns.

The Huns it should be noted, were real raping/burning/pillaging/eating raw meat style Barbarians, with a fondness for scarification and skull deformation, unlike the Goths who had been living next door to the Romans for a couple of hundred years by now and had picked up some table manners in the meantime. They were also by this stage some denomination or other of Christian, apparently not the right sort, according to Orthodox types, but still..

The Roman Emperor of the time, a non-entity whose name escapes me,

was not at first against this mass migration plan of Theodoric. Plague had ravaged the Balkans so the Goths could be used to quickly repopulate the ravaged provinces, and it was agreed the young men would be drafted into the Roman Army, (split up and spread out amongst the Legions so they don’t become a problem), and be granted citizenship upon discharge. It was a win/win situation.

Science Magazine

Roman soldiers forming the “Testudo” or “tortoise” whilst storming barbarian stronghold.

Alas, the deal broke down. The Roman Governor in charge of supplying the migrating Goths was corrupt and in debt, embezzling much of the denarii supplied for feeding the Hungry Horde,

and charging extortionate sums for the little grain he did provide,

seizing property, selling Gothic children into slavery,

and in general, robbing the lowly, contemptible barbarians blind,

whilst writing letters to the Emperor complaining how ungrateful and troublesome these Goths were.

There was much grumbling and it was only with difficulty that Theodoric maintained control over his people.

But matters deteriorated further when it became apparent that many of the young Gothic men had not turned in all their weapons at the border as agreed, and retaliated by killing an obnoxious Roman functionary or two and looting a grain Warehouse while they were at it.

Next thing you know there’s a rampaging Gothic Horde on the loose

within the Empires borders, leading to a series of pitched bloody battles and Unfortunate Events that changed the course of European History forever.

Soon the Western half of the Roman Empire was the Gothic Empire,and several other promising, emerging Tribal Confederations

are thinking of pursuing a similarly aggressive business plan. The Vandals will begin their long trek to find somewhere warm under an African sun, the Franks are already starting to act snooty and french and about the only thing everyone in Europe agrees on is how barbaric the Huns are.

tortoise ponf reflections green border

But these turbulent reflections are a world away

from the placid waters of my pond,

on whose mirror surface I can see myself reflected,

and through which now pokes the pig-like snout

and the curious, calm, yet somehow smiling,

jet & golden eyes of my gentle, reptile companion.

tortoise waiting below surface


a square peg Jpig


May KP Handbill w Mad MaidsJPIG


rev one eye

The Reverend Hellfire is a practised Performance Poet,

strangely President of the Kurilpa Institute of Creativity Inc.,

and an ordained Minister of the Church of Spiritual Humanism

AND the Church of the Universe.

He is but a  Jellyfish upon the Tides of Life.



~ by reverendhellfire on May 24, 2015.

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