Strange bird, what strange bird is he?
Cassowary, currawong, curlew, he trumpets
In a bucket, he gives me time to breathe
The silence of the creek bed, the stillness of the leaves,
The tang of sunburnt dust and cracked brown mud,
He gives me space to see the shush-shush breeze
Sift the leaves——this is the beginning——
His dark head poised, he waits for reveille.
We’re on a journey——don’t leave, don’t leave——
The skid of burnt rubber from soft track to asphalt,
The perfectly orchestrated twelve gun salute.
He gives me room to speak of mysteries
I remember——the kids blow dandelion clouds,
Weave daisy chains in the stained grass,
Hunt four-leaf clover under a gothic canopy of apple trees,
The conversation starts and is never nearly over
‘Til it’s over! This is it! Chop his hair off,
He’s still a clown and we are forever what we are,
The point of it, the joy of it, the whole god-damn of it!
He plays taps like it’s the lullaby of Bourke Street.
after Abel Meeropol (aka Lewis Allan)
and Scott Tinkler’s “Folk”, Wangaratta Jazz 2009