Elegy for Joshua Hardy


Joshua Hardy

Elegy for Joshua Hardy

This is not a poem about loss,
it's about planting one foot in the turf
and wrapping your leg languidly
around a plump Sherrin before tea.
Tilt, twist and pivot,
send that leather bean soaring
high towards the Eucalypts.
Sorry Albert – ghostly gums;
there's still no better way.

This is not a poem about loss,
it's about promise beyond a vulgar epithet.
Eulogia is 'high praise', but there's nothing Greek
about these speeches, this music,
the ferrous dust that covers my brogues.
Stop trying to possess him,
claim him, covet your story,
talk it away with the Christ
or the hackneyed straddling
of 'Two Worlds'.
He didn't walk between them,
he just was,
and ever shall remain,
a man not a slogan.

This is not a poem about loss,
it's about screaming so softly
that you feel your lungs
pressing against your sternum,
tossing the dirt in the hole
and having it blow back into your eyes.
You know the Waratahs still stare back at me
rotting, rancid bracts
quizzically turning in,
vital but death red.

This is not a poem about loss,
but it is surely not about 'high hospitality' either.
Stringy barbecued duck
and the comfort of community
are as useful as ginger-orange juice at the market,
lukewarm bitter in an aluminium can,
Eucalyptus smoke waved over the body
or a freshly printed pamphlet.

This is not another poem about loss,
don't you dare make a scene.
Be easy.

The Rubbish Country

The fire started on the rubbish country,
resinous marma grasses don't burn hot.
Lizards, mice and birds manage to scrape by
among the feather topped spinifex tufts.
The wind whipped the front toward the Mulgas
ruffling the Buffel grass, stubborn green weeds
– the last thing rooted after a dry spell.

Endemic, the leprous cascade rumbled
leaping bush to bush, climbing smooth gum trunks.
They held bolt upright, sometimes toppling
onto motley clusters of cellophane.
Canopy met churned stump, prickle and dirt
a teratoma of hair, nails, teeth, fat,
cannibalistic cancer of good things.

Eddies conduct the awful percussion
into the night, casting ash flecked off
timber ribbons high enough
to warp the moon.

It could have been a fiction.
You have to know that I myself
did not see the flames burnish the land.

Before long, boots will tread over fresh shoots,
sink prints into blackened mud.
I know the Mallee roots will live on,
but not the Mulgas.

The Blowhole

Wind licking igneous ripples
that stubbornly hold their ground,
a few lengths deep those rocks go.
Whittled away and blown over
into sharp candied shapes.
Honeycomb protrusions
briefly harbour the salty air
before it dances astray,
bristling past the thin coat
of brine, weeds and dust. 

The Sou' Westerly whips whitecaps,
but under the cliffs it is dry.
There, crabs burrow into the sand,
children tread over shells
with jellied sandals and rash vests.
If you run your hand along the stone,
you coarsen the skin, rub earth in
to keep the oil company.

Around the bend is the blowhole;
It spits foam and bile up
over the rocks before it
settles a crud on the flat.
Rampant waves coast
into the tepid enclave.

The foam obscures the ripples
that must run and break
slap the rock, change course and
compete with the incoming.

'Do not walk on the rocks,
this is a dangerous area.'

Dougal Hurley

Dougal Hurley is a postgraduate law student at Melbourne University.

Image: Joshua Hardy, a Melbourne University student who died after an October 2014 street bashing outside McDonalds in St Kilda Road, Melbourne. 

Topic tags: Dougal Hurkey, Joshua Hardy, modern Australian poetry, fire, nature



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Existing comments

Holding hands with my three year old grandson at The Blowhole. Exquisite - all three.
Pam | 06 July 2015

Beautiful imagery. A joy to read ALOUD. Thank you Douglas.
Patricia Taylor | 07 July 2015

How can any poet write a eulogy for the life of Joshua Hardy and not mention the role alcohol played in his demise? With every passing day I become more and more aware how desperately Australia needs the upcoming generation of indigenous Australians to produce leaders of courage and distinction and here is one such lost because of the grog.
Uncle Pat | 07 July 2015

Lovely stuff
Steve Clark | 07 July 2015

Elegy for Joshua Hardy
What a superb and poignant poem about the anguish and struggle of grief. Well done, Dougal and I am sad for the loss..
Susan | 07 July 2015


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