Ashes Poetry - cricket

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David Fine, Ashes poet in residence in Australia 2006-7

England vs Australia.
Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney 2006-2007

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Five-Nil - Brisbane ~ First Test

Courage Of Convictions

Some good, some bad, and some ordinary
people the wrong side of the law to hold
their breath against the creak of deck, rope and
canvas; fixed blank stars slowly alter course
to form a rough southern cross. Realign antipodes

Of lives, destiny and political aspirations.
Now history. Not then. No recompense,
No going back to a dense world of pre-Dickensian
poverty and country-house cricket, a betting game
played for highish stakes fixed by judge and jury
to add to their amusement. A stay of execution
meant no return till the end of each testing sentence

Whose surf, shore and hinterland are unknown,
prime and aboriginal – not the first southern cross,
secret rivers more muddied and altered by distant secrets.
Imprisoned by nothing but the land’s fresh horizons
how could all survive, endure and flourish?

Today twenty-two flannelled fools replay
Australia, set to court failure
on no other grounds.

Kate Grenville’s novel The Secret River, published 2005 about William Thornhill, a convict sent from London to New South Wales less than two hundred years ago.

‘We’re the right side, we’re the right side, we’re the right side over here.
We’re the left side, we’re the left side, we’re the left side over here.
We’re the middle, we’re the middle, we’re the middle over here.
You’re the convicts, You’re the convicts, you’re the convicts over there.’
Barmy Army Chant 2006-7 Ashes Series


Woolloongabba they come from far
they come from far to play to play
Woolloongabba Woolloongabba

Waters whirling winds in our hearts
Wind still whirling whirling waters
Whirling fight talk place noisome boys
Warriors outdo warriors outdo out do

place to talk fight die share and drown
warrior-boy lacerated placentas
of fight-talk-hope in whirling waters
Woolloongabba Woolloongabba

According to Cricket Australia’s official guide to the Ashes Series, The Gabba, venue of the First Test at Brisbane, derives its name from Woolloongabba, which may mean “whirling waters” or “fight talk place” in the Aboriginal language of Woolloongabba

The Blacksmith and The Dancer
End of Day One Australia 346 for 3 A Flintoff 2 for 42 R T Ponting 137no

Down they come, twenty-four hammering blows
Run up against the anvil, crease to crease;
England’s finest, leader of tall strong men
Pounds a flat pitch to make something from nothing.

Thor’s great maul hurls down from the north
Red-hot ingots which bounce and spit
Off the anvil to thud pain and fury
Even into the cuffed gloves of his keeper
Three pitches distant from the beginning.

Those in the middle dodge hurtling force,
The smell of singed leather beneath noses
Sears their minds long after danger passes
Till an opener edges heat and is gone.

The dancer comes. Small, slick-quick tip-toe feet
A ballet pump or conductor’s baton
In his hands against Thor’s redoubled thunder
Strong enough to break his own braw bones
In full pursuit of forging victories.

The dancer banishes other tradesmen.
No interest but the blacksmith’s anvil,
Each hammerblow a pirouette, paso
Doble, cock a snook at the once red-hot ingot

Dulled with dancer’s taps as worn floors
For clubbing once clubbing has been done.
Sore feet and hours from Hobart unto Accrington,
The dancer and the blacksmith each know the score;
One or the other of them must be broken.
The dancer needs the smith to play
As the smith the dancer’s touch
To end the dancer’s say.

Glen’s Song
Day Three England 157 all out GD McGrath 6-50

Every breath you take
And every move you make
Every small mistake, every risk you take
I’ll be watching you

Every single run
Every sledge when you turn
Every game we play, every ball you stay
I’ll be watching you

Oh, can’t you see
You belong to me?
How my hard heart aches
With every play and miss
Every waft you make
Every edge it takes
Every smile you fake, every aim I take
You’ll be watching me

Since you can’t play you’re lost without a trace
I yell alright, appeal straight in your face
You look askance, but your life you can’t replace
It feels so cold, walking back to your disgrace
Keep on trying, bunny, to touch my accuracy.

Every breath you take
And every move you make
Every small mistake, every risk you take
I’ll be watching you

With apologies to The Police ‘Every Breath You Take’

The Lap Of The Gods

Andy’s on the blower to his missus in Jakarta
To accelerate the thunder due tomorrow afternoon.
She knows a rain doctor who dries out golf courses
To pilot this bad weather which can’t come too soon.

The Barmy Army take the Gabba with gamps and umbrellas
To make the most of Ricky Ponting batting way past his bedtime.
Queensland and England desperately need precipitation,
State and nation wager all on the imminent arrival of their Cloud Nine.

Of course it doesn’t come on schedule, ignoring devout Christian prayer.
Level Four drought measures squeeze the last drops of moisture from the bone-dry air.
“Conserve natural resources, drink tinnies to piss on those dirty washed-out poms”
Won’t help out-of-town dried-up apple farmers avec ces pommes sans terre.

Maybe a scientific warning of incipient global warming
Could turn Brisbane’s Gabba into a tidal lagoon.
Climatic chronology and geomorphology
Might well lead to underwater cricket all too soon.

Tomorrow it’s onto Adelaide, Mighty Mighty England already one down.
Drought restrictions still enforced; one side or the other about to drown.

England 2nd innings 293-5 overnight, still over 300 runs behind.
“Only rain can save Australia now” Barmy Army chant
“All Sunday they prayed in churches in Queensland for rain” ABC producer


Five-Nil - Adelaide ~ 2nd Test

The Adelaide Oval - 1st December 2006 – end of play England 1st innings 266/3

If you've not seen it for yourself
think Worcester New Road, the view
across the River Severn, Torrens,
sun catching the water in its safe
hands, cathedral behind, an inspiring
article of sporting faith,
then add some. Disneyland
which folk round here rate England's chances
between slim and Buckley's

We shall see, shan't we?

Paul Collingwood
98 not out overnight Adelaide, Second Test Day One.
ct Gilchrist b Clark 206

I shan't get out to this man,
It's not just I'm English and he's Australian,
I shan't get out to this man.
It's not just he's done me too often before,
(last match a century in reach, just needing a four)
It's hard enough to hit the ball, never mind score,
I shan't get out to this man.
Earplug his incessant chatter,
concentrate on being a batter.
But don't get too clever, over after over
I shan't get out to this man.

Even if I reach fifty or more,
will I ever feel secure?
Australia's most venomous creature
spits and coils with every ball,
I shan't get out to this man.
Bones soak under a long hot shower,
having defended hour after hour.
The splash of water reechoes the mantra,
I shan't get out to this man.

Catches Win Matches
Adelaide Day Three – end of play England 551-6 dec Australia 312-5

I swear I saw it come straight off the bat
A small red dot growing to fill the sky
and ready myself to hold its descent,
feet well apart, steady, hand-eye practiced
co-ordination triggered to make the catch.
Arms above my head, a high-board
diver sure to end the ball's spin, tuck
and revolutions with a perfect re-entry
to soft sweatless cushioned pail-like palms. Welcome
a mob of celebration. Mates stare. I dropped it.
I don't see how. A safe pair of hands,
maybe I lost it coming out of the stands,
the red and white flags of Saint George
a dragon of distraction that swallowed
opportunity in a fiery display of Engerland.

Ponting’s hook was dropped at the boundary when he was his own age, early thirties.
He completed a big century. That miss probably lost England any chance of winning.

Adelaide Day Four – end of play England 551-6 dec Australia 513 England 59-1

At times it must be like climbing onto the moors,
dog tugging the lead when mists and rain slip paws.
Hard to see, know where you are,
stumbling into rocks, bogs, uncertain of paths
that could lead to nowhere or circles,
worried you'll be out here beyond nightfall.
Whatever you do the elements take their toll,
sap the spirit till it seems easier to give up;
the familiar world twists cruelly strange.
You climb each hill, break its back before
it breaks yours, seven times
for one hundred and nine long runs, dogged
against these hounds you never let off the leash

Matthew Hoggard, a qualified vet, loves to take his collie onto the Yorkshire moors.

The Sick Team

Adelaide Day Five – Australia won by six wickets

Red Rose, thou are sick!
The Indivisible Warne
That beats you in flight
When you bat without gorm

Has spun out thy draw
Of English joy;
the Green Baggies’ will
Does thy life destroy

With apologies to William Blake The Sick Rose

O Rose, thou art sick!
The Invisible worm,
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed
Of Crimson joy;
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

Blake also wrote, of course, Jerusalem.

The English Disease

Like syphilitic medieval kings, England
suddenly went mad. No apparent cause,
no seeming attempt to stem noble pause
in bedlam's frenzy to lose without stand.
Fumbling wickets tumbled from their own hand,
Misery’s drubbing unconceived before
they gouged their own wounds to bone. Running sores
of needless cuts, hooks, pulls and slashes banned
by dressing room: empty-headed retarded
births within teeming middle of crisis
induced by syphilis's half-brother, hubris.
The day’s sure draw before all this started:
licentious defeats grow infectious,
chaste play's honour fouled by these haughty lechers.

Initiated by Greg Baum’s remark on venereal disease and England batsmen the following day in The Sydney Morning Herald

Return To Understand
The Adelaide Oval Wednesday 7th December 2007 – the Day After

return to understand
go back to the emptiness of defeat
you might learn something

seats tipped-up, crowd roar gone
a cockatoo, songbirds call above
drumble of traffic, clang of scaffolders
dismantling temporary stands
you demolished with your batting

A smear of dried ice-cream
stench of spilled beer around the bars
a nasal trail into the arena
its wicket perfect as it always has been

Why have I taken you here?
No flags of Saint George. No
Wigan, Norwich, Cheltenham
and Towcester turned to crumbs
under the Australian sun.
No sign of ourselves.

The scoreboard retells the story
168 for 4, a six wicket victory
they won't take down for a while

Taste the simplicity of defeat
ing yourself. Swallow its emptiness.
Stay till you understand
how never to fail yourselves again.

Day of The Dead

on the occasion of the 8th Baggy Green Dinner, Saturday 2nd December, 2006 Adelaide and in commemoration of the Fourth Test 1929

Seven days hard yakka, they rise from the Ashes,
individual heroes all in teams to test their
undivided mettle. Close finish at the close,
seven days hard yakka, still they rise for the occasion.

We worship the memory, the more their breaths are done
short or long in the field, Jackson to Bradman,
White to Hammond, all eleven of each side
split by a dozen runs after seven days hard yakka

in a field near a river watched by many,
attended by empire from a different era,
depression and bodyline still to come,
Adelaide will always welcome its heroes

whose ghostly sprigs clatter down
and up pavilion steps. Some quick, some slow,
some two at a time, some quiet, near funereal,
a tattoo as sure as any scorecard of exploits

to become players of today. You may say
they do not bear compare with yesteryears’
titans, god-bestowed elegance of performance
to mist over the grind of seven days hard yakka.

Turn for confirmation and you shall hear nothing.
Nothing from them, for other matters call
at the end of their days, boots, pads, bats
sweated armoury, undone yet not yet stowed away,

half-abandoned, stranded in an unwashed canvas
of labour against dressing room tiers
bear witness to these invisible spectres
off to share a few cool ones with posterity they created.

A Statto’s Note From The Fridaliser
“The highlight of England's second innings of 383 was a 262-run partnership for the third wicket between Hammond (177) and Douglas Jardine (98) - on the least controversial of his two tours of Australia.” Cric-info. Hammond’s 177 was the highest score by any English batsman at Adelaide until Collingwood’s 206

Five Nil - Perth ~ Third Test

Perth Players

The Demon Panesar

You become yourself as you reach the crease
Gently poised paces, all limbs leaned to slight
Opponents’ fraught intent. Deft, accurate,
no whimsical flight; quick arm at its height
injects lethal charm to bewitch them out.
You need show no mercy until they leave.

5 for 94 Australia’s first innings of 244

Desert Island

Left, deserted, undefeated
how might you have done more?

Chance your arm, get out sooner
yet not your fault for other’s failures
to heed circumstances as found.

The innings end might seem a rescue
from a desert island you never wanted to leave
but like Robinson Crusoe you too had to depart
having grown accustomed to a place and its ways.

Mike Hussey 74 no out, top score of 244

Silence in Court

Australian fielders ceaselessly chatter between balls.

‘Will do, Ricky.’ ‘Test match cricket.’
‘On the money, Warnie.’ ‘Easy, Pigeon.’

It’s their way. Habitual as galahs
or car horns in the Eternal City,
as much to gull foreigners
as egg patriotism on.

The driving gavel of Pietersen
sends leather to the benches
and silence in court.

Kevin Pietersen, 70, top score of 215

The Art of Batsmanship by Matthew Hoggard MBE

1. Play Straight
2. No fancy stuff
3. Hold the stroke
4. Especially if you miss
5. Don’t forget to tell ’em
Sod off

Circus Tricks

A mid-off in the middle of the pool,
he waits for batters to toss a fish:
the lunge, leap, rush and scurry,
somersault, dive, fall, roll and parry,
comes up ball and applause in hand.

Only batters wonder
if they’ll run out of fish
especially if Symonds,
The Performing Seal,
hauls in a catch

Every Australian
wants to be Matthew Hayden.
Giant stride forward to meet the ball,
great arc of willow becomes a maul
to tonk the poms into the back
of burke, the outback and beyond.
Every Australian
Wants to be Matthew Hayden.

Second Innings Hayden hits 92.

Adam Gilchrist
Has often played and missed.
It’s when he connects
That the bowler regrets
ever bowling
into the hurdy-gurdy
whirligig six-hitting

Second dig Gillie hits 102 not out, the second fastest test century ever.

Grump, grump, grump I'm Glen McGrath,
Grump, grump, galumph, galgrumpalumph, I'm Glen McGrath,
I'll bend your ear from here to the dressing room
And back again, over after over till you edge or miss
The point of my delivery.

Essex Coastline

Harwich, Frinton, Clacton,
Brightlingsea, West Mersea,
Maldon, Burnham, Southend.
From the scapula of the Stour
to the humerous of the Naze
and the Thames phalanges

Alistair Cook
gets all Essex over the ball;
its coast the shape of his elbow
stretching across East Anglia.

Essex player Cook scored 116 second time round.

Those That Go Against You

In the cool shadowed privacy
of the dressing room sanctuary,
bats are hurled, windows smashed
with more force, anger and intent
than any maximum smite from the middle.

It never hit the bat.
Clearly missing the stumps.
The umpire’s finger,
not the acumen of the bowler,
sends you on your way.

Rage and fear routs the calm certainty
behind all due care and attention
in adjudication summoning
benefit of the doubt
not to give you out.

The quiet ones always seem to receive
the rough edge of the rub of the green,
standing as a suspect at the crease
in a line-up of an identity parade.

Umpires’ fingers sawed Andrew Strauss’s legs at least twice during the series.
In other words made a mistake in firing him out. He accepts this without demur.
Methinks he protesteth too little.

Captain’s Dilemma

I need to bat well
bowl well, field well,
take all my catches,
help choose the team,
set fields, raise morale
when we’re down,
enthuse, cajole, console
and kick arse, royally
whenever necessary
and appropriately.

Ensure I do all I can
to ensure we play as a team
where everyone does the best they can
to win, or at least draw.
What on earth have I let myself in for?

A task that Hercules
would leave for others
more knowing of a hero’s

The English Ashes Hopes Blues

We don't need no Aussie Scoreboard to tell us the Ashes are gone.
We travelled here with the urn inside our hearts,
At Brisbane we didn’t get off to the best of starts,
On the final day the promised rain just didn’t come,
we don't need no Aussie Scoreboard to tell us the Ashes are gone.

Won the toss on a dead flat pitch at Adelaide,
Never mind dropped catches and poor selections
However well Paul Collingwood played
The rest of them threw it away in the second knock,
we don't need no Aussie Scoreboard to tell us the Ashes are gone.

Lost the toss at Perth but bowled them out for 244
Then our turn to bat and we didn’t match their score
Second innings Hussey, Clarke and Gilchrist all got tons
Now to save the Ashes we need to hit 560 runs,
we don't need no Aussie Scoreboard to tell us the Ashes are gone.

Ode To Contest

Behind the bowler’s arm, scoreboard obscured,
Cloudy day, rain forecast but unlikely,
England’s prayers rest with God Almighty.
Two tall hopes nearly out before they’ve scored,
Fred survives, a tide of drives floods the boards,
Stupendous risk for six hooked off Brett Lee,
None down at drinks, game on, yet unlikely.
Braced danger-laced half-centuries yield applause
That courts the final strike. Five quick blows
Ends it all. All Australia rejoices;
Reclaims their men who reclaimed the Ashes
Against time and England’s proudest voices
Stilled. Half by half by half each candle’s ghost
Bleakens the dark hearth burnt out by your host.

Cricket Australia

She reads a book in the driver’s seat
of a bright yellow Ford Falcon XR6.
Another down the road inspects cuticles
in a Pontiac Firebird GTO.
There’s a phillipino ready to go
in a 4x4 Nissan Murrango.
Outside the Waca
you can get high
on the air-conned fumes
of all their nail lacquer.

Flocks of self-preening birds
in their beaus’ muscle cars,
smoothly smoothing feathers
waiting for their sweaty fellas
to come from watching cricket.
- it’s a mate’s thing.

Do they dare mention
what they watched on television?
Adverts for penile dysfunction
to the blokes they promised
to love, honour and obey?

Or better just to ride his mean machine
in hope of greater things to come
from their green and golden cockatoo’s coxcomb?

How dare they ask the question,
however well intentioned,
without ruffling their sweaty fellas’ plumage?

Books in burly hands in the privacy
of their partners’ Micras, would these great
Australian men wait quite so patiently
for their girls’ return from the best of five
Ann Summers’ lingerie party?

Five-Nil Poetry - Melbourne ~ 4th Test

The G, The MCG aka Melbourne Cricket Ground

No village green or country paddock,
the mower misses the long grass wrapped
around the roller and peeling sight screens
pushed over for winter, benches tipped up,
in brass-plated memory of Roger or Ethel
who spent many a long afternoon
eskie or thermos to hand and oblivion
their world conversed by, yet reflected in the blank
replay lcd switched off from instant history
far above the swaying tree line
in Section Gods of this immense roman gladiatorial
arena past and future argue the toss with Janus
who should put thumbs up or down. At the heart of it all
lies an empty field; meadow hay scythed, grass grazed out.
Twenty-two yards, wicket to wicket,
tenth of a furlong, a chain
to tie bat to ball, a landscape
of former empire, medieval origins,
acres ploughed through the mind,
one hundred and five thousand assemble
here to worship.

Warne, Shane Keith
born 13 September 1969 test match debut January 1992
Upon passing his seventh hundred test match wicket
(To the jig, The Sailor’s Hornpipe)

Warnie’s balls turn square, KP hit ’em in the air.
A six or out, there is no doubt.
You get a funny feeling one side’ll be reeling
Ev’ry time Warnie’s balls turn square.

A leggie of Clarrie Grimmett’s accuracy (+ some hair)
The wrong ’un, hard to pick, howzat when flummoxed through the air,
The flipper and the toppie, zooter and the slider
Plus the chatter: yells with looks, asides and pleas,
(the only time the bloke’s down on his knees.)
A Clarence Darrow George Carman at the crease,
No umpire on earth however stoney could say no,
Another baffled if reluctant victim tries to dilly-dally but he has to go.

Next-man-in’s almost out before he’s in.
The legendary magician’s mesmeric legerdemain’s sure to snuff him.
He knows he’ll have to face a flighty camisole tease:
A sinner’s glimpse of fleshy orbed fruit rouged to tantalise
Unveils a hirsute off-the-shoulder Australian hero’s chest
Full of tricks the antipodean baccus of temptation doesn’t divest
Before the silly fool with bat and pads knows he’s transgressed
The blond cherubim’s spinning finger umps him to rest.

Warne, S. K., made his Ashes debut in 1993.
A burgeoning waistline ever since indicates increasingly adequate social activity.
Shoulder strapped, lucky charms, his daughter’s bracelet,
The bald truth’s patently clear, he should really try to face it;
Whatever schemes and dreams of schemes are whirling on within,
The top of his head is not quite what it used to be.
(In fact qua this rhyme, each attempted betting shop remedy to hold back follicular entropy,
His pate, contra fullsome midriffs, pulls or appeals, is ready to turn woefully thin.)
Harum-scarums with mobiles and diuretics,
His simple way with words schtums clever-dick critics,
Through thick and thin he’s always gone back
To his mark: A three-card trick-sy four-step run

That flummoxed Fat Gatt with the ball of last century,
At the lees of his career, the ikon’s tank’s pretty near empty.
Lo, he gambols past Strauss, A. J., namely Seven Hundred
And another One. (Parade-book poms mentioned in dispatches:
A walk-on, walk-off part to line-up in honour of his last five-for.)
Forget the waist and the hair or your age. Heed guru Terry Jenner’s old adage
If you’re good enough, you’re old enough - Let him rip his ripper one last rip:
We’re all sure to miss all its extra extra supradextrous wristily hot-digity extra
mischievous zip.

Admidst chuntering trundling, The Grauniad's Nietzsche-in-Chief
Metaphysical Mighty Mike Selvey sniffs
‘No game’s over till the fat boy spins.’
I’ll buy that, gimme me one more, Skip.
Good on yer, Warnie, hands ready on knees at slip,
Rub haloes with Saint Richie
At the end of any spell in the commentary box above.
May it please Father Time
To both Bless and Love
How your balls turned square!

V- 8 Batting

aussie cars come with muscle for extra hustle
to cover the ground across the states.

hear them burble, roar and hurtle
past bystanders awash with their dust.

in Queensland they understand
these unwritten rules of the road.

big blokes with big strokes
smack the ball and keep the score

accelerating towards a vanishing point
of vanquished oblivion

foot flat out down the wicket
the Hayden-Symonds 279

has all the go you need to show
a howling good motor

the poms innings defeat
looms large in its rear-view mirror.


Ghosts of ghosts of ghosts. The moving hand
Having writ will move on. Each stroke of the pen
Is a mark to be recorded but not taken back.
It is edgier than the blade.

The English batsmen, nothing to lose
Having lost the greatest prize, play at playing.
Their strokes not worthy of themselves
nor their imagination. Out.

Bat under arm, an envelope sealed of a letter
They never wished to write:
An imposition in detention,
It is signed, sealed and delivered.
The long slow empty walk to a lost pavilion.

Ghosts of ghosts of ghosts,
The originals swear under their breaths
To weep real enough tears.

Fifty Ways To Lose The Ashes
(after Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover – Paul Simon)

It’s bad to be defeated
All too easily.
We travelled here with such high hopes
To end in misery.
It could have been much worse though how
I cannot see.
There must be fifty ways
To lose the Ashes.

A negative strategy made it
Harder to win,
And by the same token opponents
Reckon you’re about to give in.
We bent right over
So you could give our arse a good kicking,
There must be fifty ways
To lose the Ashes.
Fifty ways to lose the Ashes.


Play the Australians.
Pick Geraint Jones
Ahead of Chris Read.
Don’t prepare for the Gabba,
Ignore Monty Panesar,
Madness at Adelaide,
Led t(w)o the Waca.

Over a hundred thousand
Have paid to be at the MCG.
Even a fourth Aussie victory
Will seem a little empty,
Now there’s nothing we can do
To make the series live again.
A win is still a loss;
You don’t need to use
All those fifty ways.

Maybe it doesn’t matter
If we go and lose five nil.
We’ve already lost what we
aimed to fulfill. We can’t change
Those first three games,
There must be fifty ways
To lose the Ashes.
Fifty ways to lose the Ashes.


Play the Australians.
Pick Geraint Jones
Ahead of Chris Read.
Don’t prepare for the Gabba,
Ignore Monty Panesar,
Madness at Adelaide,
Led t(w)o the Waca.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Five-Nil Poetry - Sydney ~ 5th Test

Harbour Bridge – 00 00 Monday 1st January 2007

a city and land defined by sea, a far greater bridge:
Flinders’ circumnavigation barely left its moorings
from Donnington dominion. Seventy-five years
is nothing more than a life-time bearings.

Over and under, each passage changes yours
a fraction of a second or degrees more abruptly.
Switch clocks to a different time on the far shore;
the click of rail tracks, ferry boards and
circular quay calendar make each journey
a new year for someone far or near;
Greek, Chinese, Korean, Indian, Mediterranean, Slav, Thai
the city a pell-melled canteen of tongues,
not just UK nor colonial Australia,
an anglo-celtic nuptial ring,
a two century skin to countless millennia
of aboriginal lands: hard to come to terms with
what Cook first saw when missing harbour
or original cooks sixty thousand years earlier,
each passage bearing changed their being.

Every one of us history.

after commissioned fireworks and similar paraphernalia
are dustcarted and dumped without the trace of sulphur,
the world becomes again what it was before,
edged on a little further from its origins.
Rail meets gunnel, steel the sea,
Kirribilli, Neutral Bay, Karra Point,
Mosman, Manly, Watson’s,
Pyrmont, Balmain, Parramatta,
all points compass Circular Quay.

Nothing’s left
in the dark seasons’ wind, rain, flood
tides and fogs, steamer horns stygian
clatter trains anchor chains stretch rust
knuckling the bridge under. Till there’s no memory
of loss to see. No arch, no towers, only the initial trade
from rock to rock to haul the heady scent of cargo;
oils, ghosts of spices, wheat, sheep, cattle, carts,
hides and fleeces, unwashed, chaffed, settlers too,
awash within the pattern book of antiquity’s development
the bridge paid its tolls to. Behind these knolls
spectral churches ring in celestial didgeridoo.

From the mist
watch the ferries dance their first footings
to dawn’s indigenous tune.

Stuart Clark

Not that you’d notice him for seeing,
the sort of bloke in the office
who always comes to work on time
to a tidy desk all parts done efficiently
Pays the drinks kitty and sweepstake
and tells the sharpest stories about the bosses
(not that you notice him for seeing.)

The sort of bloke troubled mothers of errant daughters
pray they’d bring home and yet leave them well alone.
That bank managers take to, perhaps trusting too much too.
Eyes that remember distant birthdays and colours of others eyes.
The sort of waiter you can ask what’s best on the menu,
tip well, and instinctively say thank you to,
and instantaneously forget in our ever-rushed lives
too busy to notice him for seeing.

Nothing too complicated nor too much
to do for others. As his arm comes over
batsmen fear any minor deviations
- not that you’d notice them for seeing.

An Old Scorebox Operator Laments

The game isn’t what it used to be,
nor the creaking knees for climbing creaking stairs
to ring the changes, today they score too damn quickly
for me. Joints need regular lubrication and maintenance,
mine, not just the machinery.

O how I yearn my Slasher MacKay
and Bill Lawry. You could open, pour, lubricate a long cool one
before they dreamt of hitting off the square. Put your feet up.
O my MacKay and my Lawry of not so long ago!
Maybe fifty between lunch and tea, maybe.
Well-oiled by then, time enough
to find the papers, makings,
roll a gasper to inhale each ball
safe in the surety it’d die on my lips

before they turned the old scoreboard over.

Last week they pinned a sign above my head.
‘Living legends don’t smoke’ without mention
to Boof or Warnie - two of the worst.
Gilchrist, Symonds. Hayden and Langer
started it all under the gimlet eye of Waugh.
They score too damn quickly. Rickety
old me ricketing up those rickety stairs,
reels, numbers and boards. And sometimes
I forget to move on the score;
lost, staring at the beauty of it all.

Thnx Justin, Glen and Shane

No tears in their eyes
As they say their goodbyes.

Emotional men. Their passions controlled
Their destinies to excel themselves
For mates and their country.
Weeping publicly is for Oscar ceremonies,
Not the proud bearers of the Baggy Green.

Tears came alright
At times of uncertainty, injury,
Loss of form and controversy.
They wussed from our eyes
Alone, facing torment
To achieve after failure.
Each sob made us stronger,
Bolder, harder, far older
And yet more kind,
Appreciative of hard yakka.

Thank you, Australia

No tear in our eyes
As we say our good byes.


Dad, spend more time with us.
Pick up from school, act the fool,
be the long one instead of mum
when we don’t do what we should’ve done.

You’ve missed us, we’ve missed you.
Watch us grow up,
achieve the new.

Run, skip and dance
from dreams and memory
to your final match, here.

Born after you first tugged down
the baggie green:
stare beneath its brow
at the games we play on the pitch,
your last catch
our farewell to you.

Shane, Glen, Justin
your turn to watch,
spectate, not make the spectacle.

Our turn to show
what we can do,
a little girl
her blue dress cartwheel

Cartwheel Cartwheel Cartwheel.