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The Republic of Religion

  • 13 May 2019


Selected poems


Buns, boys, buns

I'm Monty. I walk these streets with a paper bag.

What you got in the bag, Monty?

Buns, boys, buns.


I'm Mrs Sparrow, I go bent double

behind my old pram staring under my eyebrows.

I pick up treasures thrown away.

Nobody calls out to me.


I'm Tom, Black Tom. I sleep in the powerhouse

I catch snakes and pull out their fangs with pliers

then I wear the latest one wrapped

round my black waist. I never

change my singlet. In the pub they hate me

when I introduce a snake. Here's Joe, I say, Joe Blake.


Me, I'm a champion footie player

I duck and blind-turn all along this footpath

I take screamers and the crowds yell:

Up there Cazaly!


They call me Bessie, that's not my name.

I walk the supermarket aisles with my dog, Mackie.

He carries my cardboard box for the shopping.

Once I saw Rolf Harris there and told everyone.

Another time I saw Jesus Christ. He thanked me.


I'm Horrie, the radio man.

I carry my big ghetto blaster on my shoulder.

It sings to me all day beside my ear.


Just call me Mister Icarus. I used to teach. I would

tell stories from the Greeks if people would only listen.

I carry a briefcase and always

wear an army greatcoat storm or sunshine.


My name is Possum. I wear a greatcoat too

and bring the cows in every evening for milking

across this highway in the Rises.

I ride the last cow and the cars toot.


I'm a horse. Really I am.

They call me Tobin Bronze that won the Cup.

I trot or canter I gallop along this street straight.

Sometimes I shy away from nasty people.


The many old streets have run into one in time

the walkers all come tumbling now together

as out of Monty's paper bag.

They've been up close to the sun with their prams

and greatcoats, songs, snakes, cows, horses, Jesus

Christ and ghetto blasters and are now

quietly gathering among my piddling memories.


Buns, boys, buns, they are saying.




I moved to the Land of Magic

I moved to the Land of Magic

found it full of mumbo-jumbo


I bounced to the Kingdom of Rhythm

too many ups and downs


I went eagerly to Warm-and-Fuzzy

soon bogged down in treacle


I trekked to the Republic of Religion

it was open only on Sundays


I suffocated in Ideology Land

choked in Hypocrisy's Realm


I passed a place where men went masked

they struck me down with flagpoles


in the outlandish Land of Sheer Outrage

I was mocked for mentioning respect


I asked a wise man where I could find

the Land of Music Love and Art


nowhere, he said, it's all been banned