You were loitering, friend; I got a call
from The Saxon Castle , our only decent pub,
‘There’s a potential trouble-maker come to town.’

I speak through my magic-time-tube, since I’m dead.
My palely florid French is good Australian.
For punishment they sent me back to Charleville.

This is it, friend. Not such a hick joint as you think.
Half my friends are Public School Boys; I get cards
postmarked Venice. This is a proper country town.

I came to the boil too soon. Why didn’t I simmer
as a Second Empire Poet. Some drunk asked me
in your Marble Bar, ‘You a Calathumpian Dago, Mate?’

That’d be Basil; he’s been rude ever since he discovered.
he had a pansy name. There’s a big guy writes in the papers
says our land is set aside for mystic poetry.

I gave it away at nineteen; even Jesus kept it up
till he was thirty-three. Underneath the railway arches
far from some Grand Place I foreswore Europe’s heart.

I don’t go a bundle on this Multiculturalism
but hospitality’s something else. You can be Français
or anything, but just keep telling us we’re tops.

I said: There’s the Carpet Moon, Théodore de Banville
at the Oyster Bar; there’s blood slopped at Sedan
and The Being Beauteous Album , ‘le bruits neufs.’

Everyone’s got a hometown. I was sent away to school
with a thousand dollars in my pocket from kangaroos
I’d skinned. Uncles Eric and Neville never came back from France.

Where is your Bibliothèque Nationale? I asked, and they
directed me to The School of Arts. The Emperor
is with his ‘spectacled Accomplice’ and his smoke.

It’s a privilege to have a great French Poet here
in Western Queensland, but as my old headmaster used to say
‘Thank you for coming, and how soon will you be leaving?’

The blond soil, the nevergreen, the eucalyptus smoking
in my eyes. What’s happened to the Ardennes? I’m
playing chess with Ras Makonnen in a louvred Sleep-Out.

The Jesus ewes are lambing and we round them up
on Harley-Davidsons. It’s a work-day, Mr. Rimbaud,
don’t you go frightening the drinkers and the parrots.

Applause. Oblivion. Tumours. Absolution!
The je I called un autre , the democratic feet
beneath the table! Jusq’ à Charleville, I’m dancing.

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