Peter Volkofsky | Author & Life Coach

Peter Volkofsky is an author, spoken word poet and life coach. In 2017, Peter published his thriller Mia's Magic Wand. In 2015 he published Beautiful Quest as an Ark House imprint. Peter has been married to his wife Penelope for thirty-three years and together they have reared seven children.

Catalytic (cat•a•lyt•ic)

(adj.) a process that precipitates an event

The Vision

Individuals and teams reaching their goals.

PETE'S BLOG

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Christmas Gauntlet

World soaking through, dreaming, failing loving

Purpose straying, hope betraying

Angering so-over joying

Happiness, pleasing.

 

Agonising, pretending, water off duck's back

Getting over, moving on

Money powering, laughter healing

Silly, stupid-ing: toads of Toad Hall.

 

So are you and you are so, sowing your family—even your mother

Sorry, not my mother of course

Hoping for saning insanity: nihilism in fact...

What else is there?

 

You! The one birthing, always birthing

Gauntlet throwing-down

Pregnant mother-giving-birth-centre stage

Star, animals, baby-watching-family.

 

Street-people-soaking

Dreaming hope-love-joy

'If this doesn't matter, nothing matters!'

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Coming Home

‘…Lying down again, he lifts his feet up and tries for another nap. EJ walks over with a cushion. He pushes it behind his neck, closes his eyes and meditates on a passage from the book of Isaiah: ‘Comfort, comfort, O my people—’ but it’s going nowhere. Instead, a statement from Ecclesiastes comes to mind: ‘Though a man lives a thousand years twice over but doesn’t find contentment—well, what’s the use?

A scream is coming, Paddy knows that much, from somewhere deep. What he doesn’t know is when and where it will happen. Now—in the middle of a hospital—is not a good time and place. Mia and Oksy have had their fill of screams.

It will have to wait. He will have to keep the outside part of himself open for business while the inside part is swollen and bleeding, something he’s learned how to do, especially when he’s around the wrong kind of people. Not that there are any of those here.

But some screams need time: months, even years, before they find their way to the surface and are let out through a living, breathing throat. Paddy’s is buried so deep it mightn’t even make it. Most likely it will hang there in the depths, like a pregnancy, and be carried with him to heaven where all un-screamed screams get to bury their faces in the breast of their mother. He can’t believe this—quiet tears are flowing—it’s his mother he wants. He falls asleep.’ (Mia’s Magic Wand p. 418)

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Fatal Shore

A happy marriage
A beautiful beach on a nice day
A death trap for a spectator who knows
Nothing of the rips, sharks, storms, rocks
The necessary woundings that made this dreadful
Wonderfully irresistible, lovely, deadly, unspeakable—song.

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Dad Music

I'm six and half years old, a nuggety kid who can ride a bike faster than my brothers, except for my older brother, who sometimes beats me—actually he almost always beats me. But that's okay cause my dad rides a horse in the sunshine. It's a great grey animal that's lean and hard and chomps on swede turnips so loud its teeth echo like a drum, so I keep passing it turnips over the fence. I might as well, cause I hate them, but the horse loves them and I so love that sound.  It's like the music of my dad's deep-set eyes that tell me God is good, even though—and Dad will never live long enough to find this out—I was badly hurt by a stranger a year ago. It happened when Dad was busy praying and trying to get mum healed, which he almost did, I think. He's pretty good, even with things like that.

But more of Dad. He also has a big hat that shades the world; a lean body, a tanned face and a woollen tie, which I love the texture of and always want to touch, but never do. They're so full of happiness, that lean body, tanned face and woollen tie—like all three of them are a trinity that can do anything. Then there's his mischievous grin, which says I'm a great prize he's won— so let's dance a little!

I'm ten now and we're chasing wild sheep in a thing called a Landrover through thousands of acres of scrub: those trees are really flying. The sheep slow down and now it's my turn. Out the door, onto the push bike and into the scrub, bringing the sheep back to the wool-shed. Only one problem: my bike's lost a wheel and Dad's driving off into that ocean seaweed of bush. But it's okay, we've got it sorted, Dad and me can do anything! Even make a bike ride and laugh under a blue sky.

I'm seventeen now and travelling fast in a Belmont ute on a long road of red gravel embedded in bitumen: me, Dad and my two brothers, squeezed across a bench seat in a January cooker for one hundred and sixty kilometres, between the red soil mulga block and the black soil saltbush block. Dad's quieter now. I try not to look into his eyes so much. But he's done pretty good, so far, I think. Like, mum's passing was tough, we all know that, and so was the drought: especially that one where he almost lost everything. I never really knew that; he didn't actually say that to me.

And right now, he's smiling and pointing at a puddle of mud and a green tinge of grass on the side of the road, and laughing at those wedge-tailed eagles at a piece of road-kill, walking awkwardly away to let us pass: as if we are simply a nuisance at their dinner table, which I suppose we are. And we hate and we love this trip—Dad and us like sardines—but it's on the way to becoming one of my forever and ever trips: the famous Byrock to Bre.

Time has passed again and I'm at a big old cathedral talking about Dad. The floodgates of grief are opening. The pall bearers are here. I'm walking out, and on the way, an awe-struck looking man with a weather-beaten face is taking me aside and speaking of Dad like he was the greatest priest he had ever met, like Dad—without even trying—had caused him to think that God loves him and that God is beautiful.

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Who Is The Fortunate Son?

Number One Son plays loud music, angry but somehow sweet; which I like the sound of but don’t catch the lyrics, cause I’m the old dad these days and he’s in high school blur-land. I could tell him about bands like that, which I liked when I was in school, but there’s no way I’m going there; don’t want to be one of those kind of dads. Even so, it’s awakened something in me, like a breeze from a secret place of young mates, motorbikes, footy and a girl who doesn’t even know who I am.

If I’d asked, Number One Boy would have showed me lyrics like these…

‘What do I got to, what do I got to do to wake you up?

To shake you up, to break the structure up?

Cause blood still flows in the gutter…’*

So, I’m secretly blaming him for taking me back here, reminding me of the still very alive in-love-with-anarchy boy that I am. And, the decades roll back in time and I walk across the dusty lino of home and there’s mum in her chair, crying over a newspaper with a picture of Aussie soldiers boarding a ship to Vietnam. It has to be 1968, my almost-in-high school life. I keep walking. Mum doesn’t usually cry much. Whatever that is, it looks bad. Let’s go find the dog, the rifle, the bike and some pigs to shoot.

But it won’t go away. No too far down the track and it’s back to ditto: same year, same floor, a news broadcast is interrupted. A guy called Robert Kennedy has just been shot—um, didn’t they just shoot that King guy? None of us says anything, we just listen and go on. Mum would have wanted to say lots of things, but it’s hard to say much when your body is about done.

A year has passed. I’m in class watching a clergyman in a rippling black robe walk towards my room. I know what this is. It’s mum’s turn now, she’s finally gone—and me and my brother are in the principal’s office, sobbing. It’s so hot and stuffy and embarrassing. Everything dies in this world. Just have to go hard, as fast as you can, before you’re done too.

Year ten comes around and I’m back in class, keeping the head down, waiting for the bell. Yes! Out in the sunshine and off to listen to that music on the common room stereo, which I would love to own—but which the Rat Pack effectively own.

Not that I care. I love the music, which this bunch of shaggy haired year-eleven guys put on the turntable whilst they float in the deepest of the deep time of high school land.

These boys look like they might bash you, but I doubt it. I sort of don’t exist to them, cause I’m only just out of year nine, in year ten. And they leave my big brother alone and he leaves them alone. I think they’re impressed that my brother has rippling muscles—and later—were impressed when he knocked out a fella out with one punch.

Today, they notice me hanging close, but I think they understand that it’s cause they’re playing Fortunate Son. I so love that crisp, raspy voice and the unashamed mockery of The Establishment right here in a school.

‘It ain’t me, it ain’t me,

I ain’t no military son, son, Lord

It ain’t me, it ain’t me

I ain’t no fortunate one, one…’ **

I don’t fully know what they’re singing about, but I get the sentiment that the bosses are kind of like predators: there’s a fight going on and I’m with the Credence boys and the Rat Pack.

Years pass and I’m embedded in a movie theatre soaking in the The Matrix and hearing Number One Son’s music again—understanding more than ever why he likes it so much. No way I’m telling anyone this, but to my mind the lyrics are a mixture of Zep, Jethro Tull, Credence and Rodriguez… on steroids: and I’m loving being in the year ten dreaming again: longing for some kind of happy anarchy life where I can go bush, shoot pigs, marry the girl I’m falling in love with, who doesn’t even know who I am—and hoping I don’t get drafted into the wars. Like what Rodriguez is singing about…

‘Gun sales are soaring; housewives find life boring

Divorce the only answer smoking causes cancer

This system’s gonna fall soon, to an angry young tune

And that’s a concrete cold fact…’***

The school era is coming to a close, and to be fair, this school has been good to me. I’ve loved much of it and hated some of it. But on this particular morning we are told that we need to ‘find our station in life.’ The implication being that if we find our place in the system, it will look after us. A cold shiver runs down my back and I want to vomit and run away. It’s as if part of me is thanking God for the Rat Pack, my big brother and my mum and dad who all know this is not true—who have protected me from this filthy lie that’s trying to own me.

What annoys me most is the assumption that life’s pains and problems will be managed reasonably well if I just acquire enough wealth, and be democratic and polite: ‘trust the system’ in other words. What annoys me even more is the assumption that I would be dumb enough to believe that.

And yet—here tonight, while I write this blog—the message is still being put out there by highly educated, intelligent people; suggesting that democracy, science and good management will make us better human beings and—to put it crudely—‘save the world’.

It wasn’t so-called ‘jail birds’ and ‘low socioeconomic people’ who gave us Auschwitz, it was a sham Christian society, sociologists, doctors and scientists who gave us Auschwitz. When will we learn? Rage Against the Machine, Credence and Rodriguez were right: humans and systems will always fail us, so let’s stop pretending.

I could be wrong but I suspect that a big part of the outrage in our world at the moment is the annoyance at the assumption of our leaders that we are dumb enough to believe that if society is western, Christian-ish, democratic and scientific enough, we will acquire all the power and knowledge we need to tame the terror and eliminate the darkness. But it’s been tried and done and failed a thousand times. George MacDonald warned us that the ‘quickest way to make a child bad is to try to make them good.’ How scary then if we try that coercion stunt on an entire society.

Walter Brueggemann reminds us: “In every affluent culture it is believed that enough power and knowledge can tame the terror and eliminate the darkness.” ****

 

* Rage Against The Machine. Wake Up, 1992. Produced by Garth Richardson. Songwriters: Tim Commerford, Zak de la Rocha, Tom Morello, Brad Wilk

** Credence Clearwater Revival, Fortunate Son, 1969. Album: Willy and The Poor Boys. Produced by John Fogarty.

*** Rodriguez. This Is Not a song, It’s An Outburst: Or, the Establishment Blues. 1970. Album: Cold Fact. Produced by Dennis Coffey & Mike Theodore

**** Walter Brueggemann, Spirituality of the Psalms (Fortress, Augsburg, 2002), p. 29.