It made all the papers out Macedon way
that winter of seventy-three,
how fires were blazing on Pyalong Plain
in spite of a season of dam-busting rain.
Who kindled them? No-one could say.
And yet I’ve a secret that’s never been told
that treats an old swaggie and me.
We came on those fires one bone-chilling night
and, lit by their flicker, we witnessed a sight
’twould make any Christian heart cold.
My mate’d been spooked by the howl of a bird –
“let’s stop until morning,” said he.
And, just as he said it, a beautiful fire
blazed out in the distance, and up a bit higher
there followed a second, a third.
“Companions!” he shouted, and made for the light –
“I’d kill for some hot billy tea.”
Yet at the first fire we found not a soul
besides flaming branches and hell-coloured coal.
“They must’ve moved on for the night.”
We hiked to the next one; and just like the first
it lit the old swagman and me
but no-one beside us. And then I recalled
those tales in the Macedon papers, and bawled:
“these fires, this plateau – they’re cursed!”
Unfazed by this outcry, my mate took a drink
and pushed on to blaze number three
where, sight’n one figure, he said “there’s ya ghost!
Hey mate, stoke the fire, we’ll cook us some toast!”
and threw me a confident wink.
The man at the fire kept piling on wood
not minding the swaggie and me,
and so we approached him; when, lit up in red,
we saw that his shoulders and neck lacked a head.
My mate quipped: “now, this carn’t be good.”
“Let’s grab ’im!” I shouted, and skirted around
as fast as a cat up a tree.
My mate did the same and we leapt sight unseen
colliding mid-air where the ghost should’ve been
and fallin’ like rocks to the ground.
We woke with the clear noon-day sun blazing down.
There wasn’t a spirit to see;
and only the ash-piles that led to our right
recalled the strange horror we’d witnessed that night,
and led us back in to the town.
We need a brand-new song to sing
about the quite important thing
that with our God we're always sure
that victory means peace, not war.
And anyway (ask anyone)
our loving God's already won,
revealing to the world at large
the happy news that Love's in charge.
That's cool - so cool that we should sing
a song for this fantastic king.
Make hooting noises, everyone -
let's all join in the noisy fun!
To show that we love God today
we'll play whatever we can play -
with flutes and drums we'll strike a chord
that celebrates the living Lord.
And if we make a noisy sound
that lifts the sea and shakes the ground,
then streams and lakes will clap along
and mountains sing a mountain song.
This loudness is a giant cheer
for God, who'll be arriving here
to make this world completely fair,
and people equal everywhere.
I start to write, unsure of what will come
to form these lines, like someone with a drum-
or some fool scientist inventing
by numbers. Noise
reverberates incessantly; boys
with sushi sit together
or apart. The sudden weather
while I - quite vulnerable - sense my pride
collapsing like warm water from a bucket.
Fuck it -
I'll speak before my voice
gets lost, and say: had I the choice
between a brand new start, more things to do
and life together, I'd choose you.
I once saw a lady with cheese on her neck
and apples and honey and bees on her neck
and beavers and monkeys and trees on her neck
and elbows and shouders and knees on her neck.
I love you when it's humid,
I love you when it's dry.
I love you when you say the weather makes you want to die.
I love you with your clothes on,
I love you in the nude.
I love you when you step outside and come back home with food.