26.4.09

Sunday Poem and Preamble



I wrote this poem after reading 'The True History of The Kelly Gang' by Peter Carey and it is dedicated to him.  I threw out the traditional ballad structure and just let it tumble out as if Ned and the boy's were galloping like fury through a burning forest.  The final words are actually ascribed to Ned and the picture is from Wikipedia taken the day before he was hung at the age of 26 years by dogs and cowards.
Oh, one more thing, it needs to be read aloud in an Aussie accent.  Nah warries mate!

The Ballad of Ned Kelly

for peter carey


All I can say is
she gave me a grievous wound,
but of such wounds
it seems to me
the wounded take a goodly part.

To be so begrudged
of such injury
seems to stop up
with clay and wattle,
the breathing hole of the soul

I know this:
A man’s true measure is
 to stand foursquare and true
to his brief and vital calling.

Let the wild dogs run
upon the sun-bleached hill.
Let them run the pump
of their own rich hearts
down all the long days.

This rusty webley resting
in my bloodstained hand
gives me small comfort
in these dust blown days
when my heart creaks
like new boots.

That black-eyed devil
stallion kicking against
his hobbles runs me to the
range, the outer ring
of all my days.

I have lived
with a true heart
in this world of
false men.

My mother
I have honoured
down the long seam
of years binding her
to shameful death.

Your shame you
strutting English hens and cocks!

I  curse you for
the weasel scum you filth
upon the dusty plains,
 you whipping boys
of powerful men.

Come not near
on your wandering English horse
you who patrol the water’s edge.

This Irish boy will
fill your mouth with dirt
that you may
trot the faster
to your doom.



...and when these times have blown
into some gentler history
and I,  a legend,  populate the valleys
 with the wind of my becoming.

Thus speaks the widow’s son:

I’ve done time in the dusty lowlands
sweating out a living.
Been through high mountain passes
searching for some meaning.

Heard the banshee wail
in the dark hour
before the dawning.

Fell for a sweet irish girl,
took her for my wife;
lost her too
when I stood up for something
more than living.

Stood upon a scaffold
straight and true,
noose-necked as wild men are
by outlawry and the
wiles of crooked politicians:
Noses snuffling in their
little trough of power.

Some might say:
 A tale of bloody banditry!

Others: A flame raging
through the wild bush
or a son seeking love
from the stony places of
his father’s heart.

A dish of bloody revenge
and strife perhaps?

Let this be my last word
upon this adjectival world.

'Such is life.' 

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