settler’s mess

Having spent some years before the mast
  He became skipper of a flute
Resumed his savage habits.
He closed the yawning gap in the map
Passed meticulously that fateful autumn and winter
         Almost continually

                                                               …            extraordinary.
                                                 In his commodore’s brocaded frock and louche
Hand, broad buttoned and boned
                                           Captain’s ribbon and Banks’s red
The rhythm of the deck,
                                          black sick.  Built breeches
Bays, rivers, islands, Knatchbull, rube lip
                                                                                 Buttery ensign
Navy naval castoffs
         Bathurst to Mount York
    Insanity of the will as opposed to the intellect: ‘moral
                     Widow of King Bungaree
                                                              Due ceremony for your bogus title
                                                   Your early smile
Cicatrice your beautiful shoulders bastard
                                                        Gurgling affection from the swish branches
Darling’s soft pneumonia
       Mesmerised by his London Lion quilltip
Duterrau    French paintings of pearl buttons
                                                                                        So many English faces
Brig Cyprus, overland on shoulders to Emu plains
                Torture is personal, mudguts
Raised by Robert Percy Simpson, learn English
Early ‘aussies’ with cocky high court Sulphur
hairdos, framed by the sparkling dust as young
Athenians, well loved lambies, Macarthur’s face like a ramp

Night, fresh seal, importunate blood braids
                                                         Thomasine, Henrietta, day school in Sydney
      Where we think
We put the bones of Gracie
we’ll have a derby day – top hat abstraction
The Melbourne headmaster is in the explorer room
                                                                    Fingering some important gob
       Of nickel

His dirty daughter Vicky contemplates
The green head of melba, medusa, touching the
    Ridges and gulches of the paintings
Saturday morning upholstered with the silks
And dressing-gowns of Chinese Australia.

Duncan Hose

Duncan Hose is runner-up in the 2009 Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize for New and Emerging Poets. He is a poet and postgraduate scholar, currently living in Melbourne.

More by Duncan Hose ›

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