Jan 26

A crackling morning.

Crisp orders are issued on the edges of the cove.

A torpid grey gull hangs on a heat-bar in the blue above the head of a statue of a man called Arthur Phillip.

Marble pale, bewigged, he is a statue of a man.

There a rude red ensign that wears a union jack, wilts on a sail-less mahogany vessel.

Some distance off, a kingfisher, on a branch, red, white and blue feathered, flinches,

to see a long, hardened-by-fire spear, set with teeth, whistle through the air into the pasty white back of a European poor devil,

taken, bless us, naked under a hot antipodean sun.

Runts of men, small weary convicts, pus-faced, weep a little blood.

Their backs bleed as do the backs of their eyes.

Some cats with nine tails jig about, do a dance in the air, like butterflies.

Rufous soldiers sweat up, itch badly in heavy melange uniforms.

Have a good scratch, fellers.

It's a marvel all this.

Marvellous to trace spoors of strange marsupials, and to watch, edgy-eyed, heavy scattering squatters,

those who plant stiff-leather boots onto the land, any land they care for, or not care for.

'Spread out,' says the beneficent governor, bis dat qui cito dat, one arm uplifted, aping a statue he once admired.

Far back in the black brush of the bush, whites of eyes roll.

Wallaroos and pademelons and marsupial bears and aborigines are trepidatious and thrilled by it all.

What a fine, very fine, first Australia Day this has turned out to be.

Errol Kidd

If you have any comments on this poem Errol Kidd would like to hear from
you: amadeus@eisa.net.au

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