A few poems by Charlee Marshall

The Pontiff's Eyes ][ Another Song ][ Cold Hard Facts ][ Across the Condamine ][ Click - Click ][ The Mosquito Trap ]

The Pontiff's Eyes

by Charlee Marshall
Thangool P.O., Queensland, Australia

I was in the barber's shop one day, (there's only one back home).

And I mentioned as he shore me that I planned a trip to Rome.
And foolishly I mentioned then that all good Catholics hope
To venture to the Vatican and get to meet the Pope.
"What a silly dream," he sniggered. "Has religion turned your head?
Go to mass on sunday morning here, and save yourself the bread;
There'll be fifty thousand pilgrims breathing garlic in your ear
And a figure on a balcony you'll never get to hear...
You've been struck with mob hysteria, it's really made you blind,
The rattle of the rosary has eaten out your mind!
You'll strut around the pubs back home, and every day you'll skite
How you saw some dim Italian and you thought his coat was white."
Well he nicked me with the razor, and he would have whinged some more,
But I pushed his money at him and I bolted out the door;
And, in spite of what he told me, and however strange it looked,
I reckoned I WOULD go to Rome - I had the ticket booked...
So I went and I enjoyed myself - a real fantastic trip -
And on return I sought the barber's chair to risk another clip.
"Ha! Here's the great world-traveller!", he chortled with a bow;
"He's been to see the Pope, you know; he's much more righteous now!
How did you find His Eminence? Come on, don't leave us guessing...
Tell all your wretched barmates how you earned the papal blessing!"

So I said,"It might sound boastful, and a trifle trite to you,

But I went to see the Vatican, and met the Pontiff too;
I know it sounds unlikely, but he saw me standing there -
ME! Of all the thousands packed into St Peter's square!
And his piercing eyes dwelt on me; I couldn't turn away
While he spread his holy benison, and murmured, 'Let us pray...'
Well, we said our PATER NOSTRAS and the crowd began to rise
When again I felt the focus of the Holy Pontiff's eyes;
And I stiffened to attention - if I started to relax
That fiery gaze burnt into me, and stopped me in my tracks!
The crowd before me parted like the billows of the sea
And I realized his Holiness was walking straight to me!
He checked his progress now and then, some sinner to embrace,
"But his point of concentration never shifted from my face."
I sank upon the cobblestones, my breath began to wheeze...
A little pool of water formed around my quaking knees...
This is no idle fantasy - Ten thousand people saw me -
The Holy Prince of Christendom came down and stood before me!
And he placed his hands upon my head and said, (I kid you not)

* From "One Last Shot"
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Another Song

by Charlee Marshall
Thangool P.O., Queensland, Australia

I had fashioned a song of the bushland -
A mirage of rythym and rhyme;
Every word held the sob of the southwind
Blown sad o'er the abyss of time.
I had caught the soft purl of the waters
Caressing the curve of the creek,
And I wrote of the morn's pearly dewdrops,
Clinging still to the night's swarthy cheek.
Sure I thought as I read through the lyrics
No finer song ever was planned,
Then a butcher bird sang in the gully,
And I crumpled the page in my hand.

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Cold Hard Facts

by Charlee Marshall
Thangool P.O., Queensland, Australia

"Move closer to the wall, my son, and speak into the grille,
Confession is the savior of the soul.
If there's something on your conscience, if you're feeling weak or ill,
Confess and ye shall once again be whole!
Ask the Lord for his salvation, it is waiting for your call-"
"I'm afraid I've sinned too greatly," said the voice behind the wall.

"Let's see if I have got it straight - Your wife, her name is Liza,
She's inclined to wear her dresses rather short...
She was bending over looking for an ice cream in the freezer,
When you, behind her, had this lustful thought.
She had to lean way over for she isn't very tall..."
"And I wanted chocolate brickle," said the voice behind the wall.

"Now I know you're newly married,(since you made your vows before us);
But married people sometimes act up thus;
It sometimes spoils the pleasure if the sex is too decorous,
So I see no reason why to make a fuss...
Perhaps your wife objected...Did she try to start a brawl?"
"No, I think she rather liked it!", said the voice behind the wall.

"Then go, my son, I find no blame; your actions may be kinky -
Tell Liza to be careful with her dress
Next time she looks for ice cream, to wear something long and slinky;
Then her husband will have nothing to confess.
We will not throw you out of church - I find no sin at all..."
"Well, they threw us out of Woolworths," said the voice behind the wall.

From "One Last Shot"

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Across the Condamine

by Charlee Marshall
Thangool P.O., Queensland, Australia

There's an old grey-headed stockman
In a unit over town -
He seldom smiles or finds a word to say,
His hands are worn and calloused,
His face is thin and brown
And his eyes burn with the fire of yesterday.
Sometimes the grandkids visit
When they have the time to spare,
They kiss his cheek and say he's looking fine,
But he seldom hears their chatter
For he isn't really there...
He's riding herd across the Condamine.

There's a blue-eyed girl he married
Comes smiling through his dreams,
She's buried in a sleepy country town.
For she couldn't bear the lonliness
of western droving teams
And the Phantom of the Outback struck her down.
Now the welfare lady calls in,
She brings him all his meals,
With now and then a pension cheque to sign -
But she'll never know the hunger
And the longing that he feels
For the taste of dust across the Condamine.

There's a creaking of the saddle
And a twitching of the rein
The smell of sweat and horses on the trail,
And his eye is on the leaders
As he checks the drive again
And whistles to old Bluey at the tail.
He grips the ragged cushions
Of the lounge between his knees,
His waving hand is counting one to nine;
But he's ridden many 'jumpers
With a better turn than these
At rodeos across the Condamine.

There's a nurse comes every Friday
To listen to his heart;
How can she know it's roaming far away
From that frail and tired body
Where once it was a part -
A host that it will beckon to one day
. On some misty summer morning
He will heed the call to go
Where skies are blue and stars will always shine,
And a smile upon his waxen lips
Will let the neighbours know
He's home at last across the Condamine.

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Click - Click

by Charlee Marshall
Thangool P.O., Queensland, Australia

"I'm knitting a shawl for my son", she says.
Click; click. Slow...then quick;
The fingers stiff and the eyes grown old -
"It's autumn now and it might turn cold..."
And the needles click and click.

"A shawl for my boy...", and her memory fades,
Click; click. Slow...then quick;
To the years of her youth and the rising sun,
And the dare of the dance when the harvest's done,
And the needles click and click.

And the golden yarn tumbles down and down,
Click; click. Slow...then quick;
Forging a bond from this present day
To the time-warp filching her mind away,
And the needles click and click.

She dreams in a pattern of plains and purls,
Click; click. Slow...then quick;
Her eyes not seeing the darkened room,
Her ears not hearing the drums of doom,
And the needles click and click.

"He's a nice young feller, my son", she says
Click; click. Slow...then quick;
And the smile on her face seems to glow and fade,
Like the final clue of some grim charade,
And the needles click and click.

Does it matter her labour is cast in vain?
Click; click. Slow...then quick;
Should I whisper again that her son is dead
As I straighten the cushions behind her head,
And the needles click and click.

Ah no! It's the warmth of her love that counts,
Click; click. Slow...then quick;
So I say it looks cosy and stroke her hair,
"How pleased he will be", and I leave her there,
And the needles click and click.

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The Mosquito Trap

by Charlee Marshall
Thangool P.O., Queensland, Australia

In the far-off north of Queensland - a nostalgic, might-have-been's land
There's a wild ferocious creature roams the sultry tropic night,
Making frequent depredation on each lonely outback station
And creating consternation by the fierceness of its bite.

Round the swamps in late December it can easily dismember
Any tourist that is fool enough to stumble in its way
And it's not a crocogitter or the fabled bunyip critter
But the true Queensland moskeeter that you have to keep at bay.

When the cattle hear it coming with a sort of distant humming
They rush down to the river and they roll themselves in mud;
Through a rubber boot or Blutcher will the creature persecute ya
It will ruin your flamin' future if it gets to suck your blood.

Now, one night when we were goin' through the jungle east of Coen,
We pitched our tent at twilight on a little grassy flat;
It was supper I was getting as the sun was quickly setting
And my wife put up the netting - for you must remember that.

I was writing at the table (just as well as I was able
For the page was damp and soggy and the pen was losing ink)
When my love discerned a bitee buzzing round her shortee nightee
And she thought in ghastly fright he may be looking for a drink.

Well, a trap to catch an otter, her friend Gwen in Mudgee got her -
It was lying near the pillow, so she quickly set the teeth,
Latched the bar across to crank it, then she folded down the blanket,
And with tender touch she sank it in the bedclothes underneath.

Let's forget about the mozzie, he was just a dream; (or was he?
Is he up there in the ceiling laughing off his rotten head?)
But just focus on the writer who's a horny sort of blighter
And who shortly thought he mighter liked a snuggle-up in bed!

His passion makes him bolder, so he taps a sleeping shoulder,
And he moves a little closer lest his chances should escape,
When there comes a crash like thunder and a crunching sound downunder,
And his screams created wonder from the Fitzroy to the Cape!

The last pages of his journal fill with agony eternal
As his dictionary is plundered for superlatives of pain -
Not of bruising or of swelling, or the leap from bed he's telling,
But the hot tears slowly welling - when that trap ran out of chain!

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