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The Port of Life

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Queenslanders, unlike most other Australians refer to suitcases as “ports”, possibly derived from the French “portmanteau” (cloak carrier)

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The Port of Life……..a little poem by GOF

The young boy’s port of life
Was light, with just a few
Things like a pocket knife
To carve, as boys will do.

Some dreams and hope for what
In future lay unknown.
They didn’t weigh a lot,
But grew like acorns sown.

It also held some things
From fairy tales he’d heard
Rapunzel’s hair and Kings
Back then didn’t sound absurd.

God filled his port with weight
Of guilt and heavenly scorn
For sins added since the date
That little boy was born.

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The young man’s port o’erflowed
With confidence and knowledge
Deceptive seeds he’d sowed
Illusions gained from college.

Life with too much fiction,
A juvenile facade,
So with silent benediction
He dumped them… wasn’t hard.

The fairy tales went first.
No “happy ever after’
Unless you seek and thirst
Compromise and laughter.

God was the next to go.
With all His threats as well.
The world he came to know
Didn’t need a place called Hell.

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The old man’s port is worn.
Tattered from all the years.
‘Tis not something to mourn
Or shed too many tears.

The contents not to show
The public, or display.
It protects the things I know.
Wisdom gained along the way.

In secret pockets hide
Memories, some regret,
Of loved ones who have died.
Kept lest he should forget.

Old mans port overflows
With gifts from life he led.
Only he ever knows.
With his eyes only read.

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About GOF

"Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it, depends upon what you put into it." (Tom Lehrer)

16 responses »

  1. Did you write this, GOF? It’s lovely and I’ve never heard of “port” as luggage (except obviously 8 years studying French then working over there).

  2. How about that. I had no idea that was the French definition of Portmanteau, because in English it means the blend of two words (like sitcom for example). How strange that the meaning of the word could have been so distorted! (Unless I’m wrong…which in fairness happens a lot).

    • According to AudioEnglish ‘portmanteau’ does indeed have these two diverse meanings…..language always fascinates me. Thanks for pointing out the other meaning to me Lance.

  3. I was aware of the difference, GOF, mainly from being in the RAAF and bumping into plenty of Queenslanders but never understood why.

    Excellent poem especially in dumping God. Signing up for any theory that requires a blood sacrifice seems necessarily primitive to me.

    • Thanks Peter……and it’s amazing how quickly one old Victorian started calling suitcases ‘ports’.after he moved here.

  4. Your first commenter asked the question that immediately sprang up in my mind as soon as I finished reading your poem. I really liked this, and it being your own original work makes it all the more impressive to me.

  5. Robert Browning

    My sweet repose bro-ken,
    By the poetry of GOF.
    I wish he’d lose his pen
    Or simply bugger off.

  6. I grew up calling it a “port” though I was a long way from Qld.- it came from my father’s Patois. I converted to “suitcase” when I went off to uni, out into the real world, and realised that people did not know what a port was! I like your poem very much GOF. It reminded me that when my father was evacuated as a child during WW2 he was only allowed to take his filled port with him. He had to choose very carefully what to put into that port.

    • Thanks Emjay. The use of “port” is the most conspicuous regional language difference I’ve come across in Australia…..I’d not realised that you used it in NSW…….I hope your Dad left a rich collection of memoirs from the amazing life he led.

  7. I “save” my friends’ poems and mail them to myself and then file them in a Poetry file so they will always be there to enjoy. Thank you for your contribution.

    • Thanks for leaving a comment Lauri.

      I have a “poem” coming up next week which won’t deserve to be saved in your Poetry File. 🙂


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