Published in Overland Issue The Oodgeroo Noonuccal Poetry Prize · Uncategorized Highest Quandamooka entry: The bunyip of Bummiera Cameron Costello Eastward from the mountain haze across the bays enduring gaze Over soft white sands that surround the sleepy islands shore Through tea trees softly swaying is a lake neath a bunyips playing Its evil eyes forever preying, preying on those that dare explore On the poor and wretched souls tempted by the islands bounty to explore The bunyip grins and nothing more T’was a flowering arve of spring that fate bore an unfamiliar thing A lone hunter who did sing, sing ancient songs from times of yore Through tangled tea trees he lurched, where thereupon a log he perched All the while his dark eyes searched, searched for game but none he saw For gifts of game to deliver on his noble quest, but a silent lake was all he saw A lake and nothing more The weary hunter’s mind took reflection his heavy heart taunted by recollection Of deep sweet loves perfection and the eternal promise to her he swore That when the great tribes of the east gather at the Mountain Feast On the coming of her age he would be her suitor by right of law For the greatest proven hunter gets his choice of bride by law – She smiles and nothing more ‘But wait! What noise pon yonder snaps my daydream thought?’ he wonders ‘Some forest game worth pursuing or mere mind apparitions to ignore?’ Then to his great surprise, from the bubbling lake before his very eyes Emerged every hunters hallowed prize, Bunyip: fabled beast of fear and awe Vanishing in the bushes, Bunyip: King of terror, fear and awe – Trees and nothing more The haunted hunter turned to fleeing from the terror he was seeing For no other living being, that hunted the beast had escaped its jaws Then he suddenly stopped in a forest clearing, thinking my reward for rightly spearing The prized beast would be a hearing by the Chiefs to my claim bestowed by law My claim as greatest hunter to take my sweet loves hand as right by law – her hand and nothing more Now deranged by loves sweet potion, like waves of the storm surged ocean He tersely turned with moonstruck motion toward his fearsome foe afore And through the gloomy growth his creeping, grew into swift and agile leaping, All the while the hunter keeping cautious pace with the Bunyip in the fore Until there in sight was the Bunyip fossicking unaware in the fore – standing and nothing more The hunter sensed his moment here and with the Bunyip still and near, Raised and reared his mighty spear taking aim with all the skill he could implore And before the bunyip sensed his prying, the hunter sent his sharp companion flying The silence shattered by the crying – a bellowing bloodcurdling roar Then the muffled sound of moving bushes, and then another terrible twisted roar Silence and nothing more ‘The mighty beast is hit and sickened’ quoth the hunter as he quickened Without care or caution through the thickened barricade of bushes in the fore With bullish bravado he was racing, ducking, jumping, climbing, chasing When he froze to find himself facing a stone-faced totem standing on the forest floor The sole gaunt sentry guarding the bounds no man shall go beyond by law The eerie totem and nothing more Above him storm clouds rumbled, sinister forest spirits grumbled Heavens teardrops tumbled – omens of the lot the Ancients had in store? The whip of a wicked wind chilled him, filled him with fateful choices, obey the ancient voices? Or revel in the ripe rejoices and rich reward the Bunyips capture bore The hand and heart of his meek sweet Miboo and his amulet she always wore Ancient voices and nothing more The Ancient’s dire droning was drowned by the Bunyips’ grim groaning The bellowing beasts’ morbid moaning heavy knocks on deaths black door And the weight of the Bunyips wallowing like a sweet siren had the hunter following He succumbed to the black swamps swallowing and betrayed the Ancients’ law Pushing past the frowning totem to forbidden forests from where no man returned before Rain and nothing more The hunter sensed the bunyip slowing and with each step his courage was growing He surged up and onward knowing, the mighty beast was sickly poor Despite the weary warrior’s body aching he forged the dark, dense bush unbreaking The Ancients’ guidance faded and forsaking as the creature’s capture guiled him more and more And grew over him like the gruesome swampland that drew him far from the soft white shore Swamp and nothing more Then it appeared – frail and fumbling over a ledge the foe was stumbling The Hunter smirked at the creatures bumbling and hopes for victory began to soar He slowly drew all the strength stored inside and thinking of his future bride Mustered all his might and cried leaping over the ledge to best the beast so sickly poor And his nulla came crashing down to pound and crush his cowering fabled foe so deathly poor Broken nulla and nothing more The confused hunter thought ‘What is this? Surely something is amiss’ From behind blew a horrible hiss, could his plan have held a flaw With a sudden blow he was turning – a slash to his legs – intense burning Pain seared through his soul now yearning to be saved from deaths dark door Another blow and he was sent crashing down toward the forest floor – Falling and nothing more The blow sent the Hunter sprawling, he was toppling, tumbling, falling, To the Ancients’ mercy calling, to deliver him from the evils of the more. As if to answer his hopeless praying he plunged into a fetid bog decaying Sludge and muck sent spraying, oozing through the Hunters every pore Blinded in soggy mud oozing into every pore – Mud and nothing more In circles he began turning his dread filled soul now burning His sickened stomach churning from the evil that he saw Madness devil dreaming, the Ancients’ high-pitched screaming The tears of heaven teeming – a putrid pit of bones and stench and gore Of poor and wretched souls tempted by the islands bounty to explore – Bones and nothing more The hunter started scrambling, a deluge of deranged delirious ramblings His instant regret to gambling with the Ancients’ natural law In the gruesome pit he kept slipping over bones and skulls kept tripping The defeated trembling hunter turned to face the Bunyips deafening triumphant roar Face to face with the terrible beast and the fearsome figure that it tore – Fear and nothing more And the Hunter’s eyes grew wide with terror as he realised his error One so fatal that it would haunt the sleepy island forevermore A curlew’s dreaded dirge commenced the grieving, for so foolish was his believing For it was I – the Bunyip who was deceiving, deceiving him from my tricks he never saw For this mighty hunter was merely the hunted, as I crush him beneath my claws Darkness and nothing more Eastward toward the mountain haze across the bays enduring gaze Over soft white sands that surround the peaceful islands shore Through tea trees softly swaying is a lake neath a bunyips playing Its evil eyes forever preying, preying on those that dare explore On the poor and wretched souls tempted by the islands bounty to explore I grin and nothing more Cameron Costello More by Cameron Costello Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. 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