I whistled swaggish, climbed aboard,
Saw Slessor seated in a doze
And yo-ho strode to claim my berth
Somewhere in the theatre rows
Like a wobbly sailor full of mirth
Following a keg with his ruby nose.
Then Bunyip-bound we plunged ahead
And rambled through the lukewarm night
Past bush and rivers grey as lead
And stations bathed in smoking light;
On we jammed and rattled as tight
As an old cedar sideboard full of souls
Caught on a track between two towns,
One small and green and full of song
One fat and black and full of clowns.
No-one spoke; we sat and stared
Like silent birds who never shared
The limits of their lonely sky;
Oh, though we had the urge to speak
We held our tongues and gulped the air
And wore the mantle of the meek.
Then, one by one and all alone
We slipped asleep to twitch and frown
And dream of love and hopes and home
Like lemmings longing as they drown.
by Phil Brown
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Copyright © Phil Brown