Reg Mombassa’s Cranium Universe

‘House at Beach Road with Kirk’s Bush’ (1974), a painting of a house that his father built, is in pride of place on the kitchen wall of Reg Mombassa’s two-storey home in Glebe. ”I sold that for $350 and bought it back for $12,000 – I ripped myself off,” he says.




No trumpets were blowing
no armies marching
to mark the hour of her death.
No hearse no horses
no marble mountain
to house her small remains.
No line of cars
No river of flowers
no guns fired wildly at the sky.
No oration from the nation 
no flags at half-mast
no words of wisdom from the wise.
No pop stars or princes
Singing her praises
no impersonators
dancing her steps
or mouthing her words.
No!  There was none of this!
Just a silent service 
from time to time
in that tiny church
inside the mind
this quiet room
of flesh and bone
blood and brain electron home
to all the words and deeds
and sights and sounds
of the known universe.
The Cranium universe.
Somewhere in this particle soup
lie bits of my mother,
Waiting to be reassembled:
put together again
and rebaked in some distant kitchen 

(Reprinted with kind permission)

Songwriter, poet, painter, Mambo illustrator, musician and astro- and quantum physics fan Reg Mombassa has just released his first eBook, Cranium Universe

It’s an eclectic mixture of documentary, music CD, video and old-style text book, with print and pictures told through three interactive galleries and fifteen audio-visual clips that showcase his song writing, poems and paintings as he tells the stories behind them. 

The work includes an ode to his late mother Gertrude, whose ashes Reg keeps in a plastic brick on a shelf in his studio.

“My mother didn’t want a funeral,” recounts Reg, who uses his public persona rather than the name Christopher O’Doherty that his mother, English nurse Gertrude, gave him in 1951. 

“Mum didn’t like funerals, she thought they were miserable, gloomy affairs which they generally are.  Before her death she’d stopped going to funerals and told us she didn’t want one so we just had a small wake but no funeral. 

Cranium Universe the poem is an ode to my mother. It rants about the disparity between the funeral of very well known public figures and those of normal people, which go by unremarked. 

“Like the book title, the poem is about how we remember people in our heads.   You don’t really need that huge public ritual or a huge mausoleum to remember them. 

“It’s in the cranium universe that we remember them.  That church, that world, that universe that resides inside our head.  Because if we didn’t think about it [the world, the universe] it possibly wouldn’t exist.”

Cranium Universe by Reg Mombassa, $9.99 from iTunes

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