Poetry by Georg Mertens : Turple the purple Frog - Chooks - Dessert 1999 - Plodd's Birth - Cicadas - Being Rich - Hayfever - The Giant and the Universe




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Recent Poems (click here)

"This is No Poetry" -
A collection of Poems published 1998

Poems from the Cold Mountain (Han Shan)



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b y

G e o r g MM e r t e n s


My poems do not rhyme. They are close to the Japanese "haiku", fables of Aesop or what is in German called "Gedichte", usually translated as "poems", but meaning literally: something very dense and compact.



C O N T E N T S :

(click on title to forward)


Turple the purple Frog


Dessert 1999

Plodd's Birth


Being Rich


The Giant and the Universe




------------------------------------------ (G. Mertens, Katoomba 2002)


They are jumping around in the world

of cool pools

The colour of fashion is green

The blue ones want to be green,

the purple ones want to be green,

the yellow, and red ones,

they all want to be in fashion: green.


For all blue, purple, yellow and red frogs

there is only one means

to change to green: effort.

With effort they can cover up

their natural colour

and turn green

so green,

you hardly notice the colour underneath


So Turple, a middle sized frog,

was ashamed of his purple.

He saw other frogs,

saw only their amount of green

and tried his best

to be like them.


One Tuesday he was so tired

of his efforts

around his greenish friends

always in need to cover up.

He wished

he had at least one friend

who wouldnít mind

his purple spots.


He went out to the poolís edge

to look for another one

with a purple spot.

He was in for such a surprise!

Nearly every frog

had another colour showing underneath!

The purples and also the blues,

the yellows, the reds,

they were all shining through,

some in big spots, some in small.

He decided to dare it:

to be all purple next day.


Feeling totally exposed he went out

leaving all stiffness and effort at home.

He noticed frogs in his own home pool

he had never seen before -

and they noticed him,

the purple ones, half purple ones,

and all the other colourful ones.

He made friends with purple

even yellow, blue and red ones;

friends who didnít mind his colour.

How good it felt

to be able to be your own colour.


Who cared about the ones

with their green frills,

their green make up,

their green suits and collars,

their green brand names,

their green figures

their green titles and positions

and super green friends

their green cars and houses,

their green noses

and their green smiles!


They donít even know

how good it feels

to be your own colour.


And he discovered:

He didn't like fashion much

and - frogs are beautiful people!  







CHOOKS --------------------------------(G. Mertens, Katoomba 1998)


When you look into the eyes of chooks

you understand:

they don't understand


When one finds a seed and picks

the others start picking

when one is itchy and scratches

the others start scratching

when one feels like a sand bath

the others will have one too

It looks so stupid

they just imitate

not caring why


Just like us

This year are stripy shirts in fashion

Last year high heels were in

this year nobody wears it

A few started power walking

now they are thousands


Everybody looks first

what the others do

Nobody seems to have

an own taste and own needs


Like chooks

You look at them and understand:

they don't understand

Not much brains

no personality.

Written after having been the day in Sydney.





DESSERT 1999 ----------------------(G. Mertens, Katoomba 1999)


Cheese cake today.

I got a natural one

with no artificial flavouring, colouring or preservatives

but only:

Neufchatel cheese

lacid acid bacteria

biscuit crumb

emulsifier 322

antioxidant 306

skim milk powder

thickener 1412,

cornstarch, gelatine,

food acids 270 and 330

vegetable gums (410, 412, 414 and 415)

water added

No artificial colour,

flavours or preservatives.

Yes, I specially looked

that I got a natural one


Somehow a funny aftertaste

probably a bit much of 414.

Cakes are today so complicated

You never know

which number gives the taste






PLODDíS BIRTH --------------------(G. Mertens, Katoomba 2002)


Plodd looked around

underneath he saw a dark hole

black earth

above he saw the big open sky

blue and white clouds

he turned and saw mountains

dense forest

to one side he saw the sea

to the other he saw grasslands

soft hills

and in front of him

he saw a city


He thought

I have several options:

to go underneath like a mole

grow strong claws to dig

or go high up in the air

grow wings and fly

to walk through the forest

to climb on trees

to run through the open grassland


to buy a car

drive every day to work

and work in one of these offices


He could do anything

everything was open

but he had to decide.

what would you do?





CICADAS --------------------------------(G.Mertens, Katoomba 1998)


We played music at the wedding:

I will do my best

announced the celebrant

I hope you can all hear me

the cicadas are so loud


And they were loud!

my ears hurt

but strange:

even the softest notes

carried well

every word stood out clearly

as if I had two sets of ears

one was hurting

the other perceived

the softest noise


I never forget

The two never mixed

never interfered

like being two people

with different ears  




BEING RICH --- -------- ------------ -(G. Mertens, Katoomba 1996)


Yesterday I visited this rich bloke

Lives in a mansion

You can't see the house from the road

Talks about money

How much he has to pay

Security cameras everywhere

Full of anxiety


Coming home

I decide

I want to be rich without anxiety


What I want from a rich life:

Having enough

of what I use everyday

and what I 'm always looking for

pencils, rubbers, little spoons

Buying food

without looking at the price

Being able to be generous

and give tips

I guess

it would cost me

twenty, thirty dollars a week more

Yes, I can afford that


And I would like

every day

lots of breaks for cups of tea

focus on doing what I like

And: really do it!

Yes that would be a rich life

I think I can afford that

Better than being insured

shares and worrying

like this poor rich bloke!


The weekend before we had to play music at an Australian food company's annual general meeting. For dinner we were shoved into a litlle room, which had hardly been cleaned up. We found on the table an interesting piece of reading (surely not meant for us to see): a booklet with all the directors present including a photo of each, their duties, brief history and their yearly salaries.
That was 1996. The lowest salary was $100 000.
As a food company most of them were cheerful fellows; they know each other and loved food. These were the ones earning 100 to 300 grands a year. Above this salary the few seemed isolated figures reminding us of a stiff Westpac function the week before.
One person was different; we had noticed him before - he seemed like a stranger among friends: The general manager (salary 1 million plus shares of 3 million). He didn't communicate really to anyone, although everyone was polite to him. He held his legs clasped sitting opposite his ever smiling wife to whom he didn't talk. As far as we could read in his history he knew nothing about food and the industry, but had a past in insurances and several banks. He still belonged to the board of directors of a bank (another big salary we assumed).
We read he had to attend 4 board meetings a year and give a talk there. We imagined he can pay a secretary and some professionals who know more than him to write his speeches and he actually needs to do absolutely nothing. He can even appoint someone to chose who should do what.
There he was, knew nothing, rich, stiff and unhappy, no friends in his own company and had the right to make all wrong decisions with no consequence to him, but a big payout after resiging.

In 2010 the same company made News about cutting the farmers pay for milk by nearly 50%, making the farmers virtually getting broke. And I knew: The decision was made by another ignorant idiot (the "financial" successor of the one we met) who had very likely never even seen a dairy farm, knew absolutely nothing about the industry, but had a sheet of paper in front of him how to save and invest. The decision was probably bad, as bad as the decisions, which drove the US to the financial crisis driven by similar arrogant know nothings. -


This is another poem which influenced me, like Turple the purple Frog:

Over the next 2 years I rearranged my activities and got used to ask: what do I enjoy most?
I call it today: semi retirement - doing the things I like.
I also stopped buying cask wine, decided to select good cheese, enjoy quality instead of quantity.
I save lots of time not running around looking for the single rubber in the house; the essential things are now plenty of at many places.
Financially I am still surprised. It virtually didn't make a difference.
As rich as I need to be.




HAYFEVER -----------------------------(G. Mertens, Bellingen 1988)


The tea is still a bit hot

I sniff my nose

it's hayfever time


This strange disease

when it's coming up

it connects

with feelings of past years

when it was coming up

- impossible to call back

at other times


Annoying nose

forgotten feelings


This weird reason

for this remarkable afternoon

remembering past times





THE UNIVERSE AND THE GIANT ----------(G.Mertens, Earth 1998)



We believe

our universe is billions of years old

and that it will collapse again

in a big crunch

in some other billions of years


Now imagine:

Our universe

would be just the size of earth

and where the sun is

- you know how far it is to the sun -

there would be another complete universe

- - 0 - - nothing in between

Never any light would make it

from this big banged universe to ours -

too far, too long.


Now let me tell you:

Our universe is actually

only a cell of a giants toe

Every atom of this cell is a galaxy

(the giant knows about the cells)


Our sun system is just a quark

- he is as advanced in knowledge as us

Of course he doesn't know

about trees and us people

or even earth


As for us

and for all what we don’t know:

Tiny forests and people

might live on some of OUR quarks!


Like all giants

this giant renews his toe cells

every thirty billion years

and a giant lives for about

seventy thousand billion years -

We hope he never hurts his toe!

Although -

consequences would happen slowly


This giant lives on a planet

within a solar system

and looks through telescopes

existing of billions of galaxy atoms

You can imagine that the giant's universe

lasts for a very very long time


Probably his universe pulses like ours

from a big bang to the crunch

being quiet for a long time

and then pops again


like a seed

the common rhythm of all nature



There is no logical reason that anything of the above is not true.





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