Redfern speech
Type
Poetry

The PM and me

As a boy with Keating
just after the Redfern Speech
he looks as soft and innocent as a three day old chick.
Keating doesn’t look bad either.
He calls me uncle, but that’s a joke.
I’m no uncle, though who else is there to ask?
He wants to know what the word rapport
means, pronouncing the ‘t’. I explain. He asks:
‘So can you have a bad rapport with someone?’
‘If it was bad then you’d probably have no rapport.’
‘So rapport is a good thing? Do we have rapport uncle?’
I am startled by the question.
‘I think so. Don’t you?’
‘Shit yeah,’ and he answers seven across.
He tells me when he worked for the fish market
they paid him in crabs, which is why he went back
and robbed them. Never earned an honest dollar
in his life, he declares with misplaced pride
in the rite of passage of these years.
I find the Keating photo and print it out.
He shows it to everyone.
Me and the PM. The PM and me.
It’s a where are they now
moment.
A star struck boy ignoring the gravitas
and the weighty advice, looking at the PM’s suit.
In his mugshot the hardened man,
and the eyes of the boy who has seen
too much go to waste
who wouldn’t be paid in crabs.

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Mark O’Flynn has published three novels, most recently The Forgotten World (2013), as well as four collections of poetry. His most recent book is White Light (2013), a collection of short stories.

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