Gratitude and Grief

Katie Noonan's Elixir & Michael Leunig


(with additional lines by Leunig to his original poem)



I want to go to la-la land

And have a holiday;

In la-la land they’ll understand 

The thing I have to say.


I’ll rent the little wonky shack 

That overlooks the bay

And wait until it all comes back, 

This thing I have to say.


And then one night I’ll bow my head

While strolling on the sand

And say the thing that must be said

Out loud in la-la land.


I want to go to la-la land

I need to get away

In la-la land they’ll hold my hand

And let me out to play.


I’ll look up to the stars at night

And sing a la la song

In la-la land it’s happily all right

And joyfully all wrong.





Don’t fret too much for the departed

Even though they leave you broken-hearted


Have no fear 

They will reappear.


When you’re alone and unprepared

They will just turn up. Do not be scared.

Be still. Do not turn away;

There is something wise they’ve come to say.


To you and to you alone;

Some plain and simple thing already known

They will touch you and say,

'It's all right, everything will be okay'.


Or something just like that, short and clear 

Then casually they'll turn and softly 


Leaving you elated and in perfect peace:

The meaning of life and death will then increase.


And your love for the departed one will grow.

There is so much you will get to know

About love that is unassailable

So long as you make yourself available.





Little tendrils of the heart 

Curling out and groping

Seeking little things to hold

Wiggling and hoping 


Little tendrils of the soul

Delicate and perky

Seeking little surfaces

Peculiar and quirky


Little tendrils, little tendrils 

Innocent and plucky,

I pray that you are careful

And I hope that you are lucky




Love is born

With a dark and troubled face,

When hope is dead 

And in the most unlikely place;

Love is born

Love is always born.






In the cradle of his mother’s arms a baby lies 

Warm and sheltered from the time when they 

will come apart

Gazing from the hidden world into his 

mother’s eyes

From where the holy secrets tumble down 

into his heart.


Then with this heart so full of hope he travels 

in the wild

But soon is set upon and cruelly beaten to the 


And wakes upon the ruins of his innocence 


And there his sacred revelations in the mud

are found.


Tears of blood and anger flowing from his 

wounded eye

From his violated mouth the song of disbelief

In his shattered memory a shattered lullaby

But from his broken heart flow gratitude and 





(with additional lines by Leunig to his original poem)



Peace is my drug;

It stops the pain.

In safe reflecting rooms

Or in a lane,

Or in a park,

I will lie

And have some peace

And get high


Peace is my love;

And peace is kind

I do not search

And yet I find

I do not need

To understand

Peace comes gently

To my hand


If it’s pure

And there’s a lot of it about

I overdose

And pass out

And dream of peace:

My favourite thing

When nobody wants me

And nothing’s happening.



(with additional lines by Leunig to his original poem)



Magpie, magpie, dive on me,

Swoop down from your holy tree;

As I pass the flower bed

Stick your beak into my head.


Magpie there out of the blue

I looked up and it was you

Clear beautiful and wise

life will take you by surprise


Magpie, magpie, make a hole,

Through my head into my soul:

As I pass beneath the sun

Bring my troubled head undone.


Magpie, magpie it is spring

Is my soul a happy thing?

As I pass around the tree

Make a hole so you can see.





I shot a smile into the air

It fell to earth I know not where

Perhaps on someone else’s face

In some forgotten quiet place.


Perhaps somewhere a sleeping child

Has had a happy dream and smiled

Or some old soul about to die

Has smiled and made a little sigh.


Has sighed a simple final prayer

That lifts up gently in the air

and flows into the world so wild,

Perhaps to wake the sleeping child.






When the heart

Is cut or cracked or broken,

Do not clutch it;

Let the wound lie open.

Let the wind

From the good old sea blow in

To bathe the wound with salt,

And let it sting.

Let a stray dog lick it,

Let a bird lean in the hole and sing

A simple song like a tiny bell,

And let it ring.





I wonder,

Will it all click into place?

I feel it might.

I had a glimpse 

That things could all come right.

I’d wake up 

On a sunny, slightly roostered morn

And wouldn’t realise at first:

That rightness would take time to dawn.

And gradually

The thing would start to gleam;

This worried life I’d had, 

This awful world, this painful mess -

It was, in fact, a kind of dream.

The penny would just drop 

Into my hand,

The penny that I’d lost so long ago,

And all the peace withheld, and blocked from 


Would start to flow.

The gentle hum, the gold and silver light 

Would all resume

The faeries and the pixies, 

The particles of dust 

Caught in the sunlight in my room.

I’d pick up where I’d been so rudely interrupted;

I’d have it back again for keeps,

My dog, my brilliant grasp of life, 

My backyard and my paddocks full of time,

The world all glad around me 

My rightful place,

My joyous leaps.



(with additional lines by Leunig to his original poem)



The path to your door 

Is the path within,

Is made by animals,

Is lined by thorns,

Is stained with wine,

Is lit by the lamp by the lamp of sorrowful dreams,

Is washed with joy,

Is swept by grief,

The way to your care,

Is a broken line,

Is a broken sleep,

Is a simple sigh,

Is blessed by the lonely traffic of art,

Is known by heart,

Is known by prayer,

Is lost and found,

Is always strange,

The path to your door.