Light Verse

Ian Richards

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The Ballad of the Thistle

The First Act

Did you ever go up to the Thistle?
There's a plaque propped up on the wall,
Where they eat pies of gristle and then wet their whistle,
And drink in the quiet of it all.

Some drink to forget the disaster,
And some drink to remember the fallen;
And some thirsty bastards just like to get plastered
And visit that place I'm recalling.

I'm recalling a time that's lost
(And maybe a time to come),
When Union Jock who worked down at the docks
Started each day with a cold one.

Now, Jock was a bit of an animal.
He could burp like a ram with the bloat,
He'd sink piss like a fish, hold it in like a camel:
You could tell that he was a good bloke.

His singlet was black and was lousy;
He was well known for never saying "when",
Yet his grey flannel trousers looked just like a wowser's,
And he came in exactly at ten.

First he leaned and sipped jugs to the bottom,
Swayed around with his Digest and picks,
Walked at lunch-breaks to work, then rushed back to get rotten,
And was flying by quarter to six.

Maori Tama and van Dyke were his cobbers,
And even that Harry from Oz;
In the Mulgrave back-bar every man's free to slobber,
And all go the same to the bogs.

All but Jock! Well, what do you reckon?
At his stand in the midst of the hubbub,
He'd drink out of one jug and piss into a second,
And so he brought class to the pub.

It's a shack strung from corrugated iron,
And some rooms with a brown, beery smell.
There's the footy to hear and the lino to lie on:
That's the Thistle and heaven as well.

And the beer! Bittersweet--even Sundays--
DB sandwiches, amber fluid, it is said:
"Let the hops sink by inches to fill up your undies,
And the warm yeast rise into your head."

When working, true hard men don't sweat it,
And strong feelings are only for queers;
But relaxed at the Thistle, they'd get paralytic,
And then say they'd "had a few beers."

The Second Act

On that day Jock was drinking by tonnage.
It was something to see, that man's thirst;
But the sight of the damage was such few could manage
Without having a few bracers first.

Jock was drinking the others right under
The table, while eating some peanuts...
Too much chippies?--a wondrous, thunderous chunder
Arose from the bowels of his guts.

"Not a problem," the others were thinking,
Jock could yodel with less than a shrug.
Once he'd chucked up his lunch in the beer he was drinking,
Then drank it back out of the jug.

Jock retched, and he knew what to do.
Coming up was a technicolour yawn.
When you're going to spew, it's best to shoot through;
Chunder's fun when it's seen--not when worn.

Jock crossed lino and doorway and corridor
For that place which I'd hoped I'd forgot,
And no one was sorrier than that porcelain warrior,
But still he held on till the grot.

The grot was a hole with a throne,
And a urinal known for its splatter.
But to some it's been home, talking on the white phone,
Or to those with a Woolies' bladder.

Jock heaved as he got past the door,
And brought up his breakfast all whole.
But before he'd spit more, he sped over the floor,
And got half of it into the bowl.

Jock was puking with unprecedented power;
He lost his lunch, though he'd nothing to spare.
It seemed hour after hour, a reverse golden-shower,
Pausing only to come up for air.

He tossed even a dinner--uneaten!
And, well...cutting this short might spoil it;
But Jock could not weaken, he just barfed like a cretin,
And coughed his whole self down the toilet.

Jock's head, then his arms, went from sight
With the flow of regurgitated grog.
His feet faded to white; it's amazing to write,
He was born again into that bog!

"I reckon," Jock called from the well,
"I'm about to become a bereavement?
But when it came to a yell, I'm without parallel;
It's good to have had an achievement."

The Third Act

Alas Jock!--as a drinker a purler,
The best bloody bloke in the joint;
But now as a hurler he'd gone down the gurgler,
And was somewhere beyond Moa Point.

To the boys it was proud and full on; it...
It was hard to see Jock's empty shoes.
At that mighty big vomit, the whole thing turned chronic;
After Jock, there came the deluge.

It exploded from every face,
With a sigh heard across the whole nation;
Puking, pissing and farting--using each orifice
In an orgy of evacuation.

The toilet backed up--someone blundered--
The room flooded yellow and brown.
In tsunami's of crud, on the seat's edge they hunkered,
And some jokers fell off and were drowned.

But the others were tough; they just laughed
(Though the smell left a few of them reeling).
Then they built a quick raft, used one bloke as a mast,
And sailed for their lives for the ceiling.

One man down in the scum was a plumber:
Just a loner without any mates.
He whipped out his plunger and unblocked the chunder;
A whirlpool swept into the lake.

Then the hard men were caught in a funk,
As the waters churned round in a slush.
They needed more grunt, going down with the punt,
And they knew they were going to be flushed.

"SOS--save our souls!" cried one fellow.
"I'm too young to die in this fashion?
Between see-you and hullo, is there no more than yellow?
And trying to slurp down your ration?"

Too late! They were wetting their pants,
Like a halfback who's caught in a maul.
Their whole lives flashed past, like a try-scoring chance,
Showing nothing that they could recall.

When the room became dry, they were gone;
The wharfies had followed old Jock.
Trouser stains, an old pong, aftertastes lingered on,
And a silence that fell like a rock.

So, if you ever go up to the Thistle,
You can see where the old boys blew it,
And new guys on the piss'll talk of monuments to this...
And how one day they'll get around to it.

The Buttersworth-Family Outing

Ten from the family Buttersworth
Planned a great picnic time;
Dad left the clubrooms after the rugby,
The bottle-store he shot in was grubby.
He slipped and sat on an empty stubbie,
And then there were nine.

Nine from the family Buttersworth
Weren't worried they'd be late.
At a friendly township they were passing through,
Old Aunty Sherl said she needed a pooh
And she got gang-raped in the public loo,
And then there were eight.

Eight from the family Buttersworth
Found the paddock where they'd been heading.
Uncle Sid had a new cell-phone, the high-flyer
Called New York as he climbed the fence's live wire--
So the national grid set his pants on fire,
And then there were seven.

Seven from the family Buttersworth
Loved togetherness in the sticks;
Big-sis' Sue found a dope-patch the cops forgot,
So she thought it'd be cool to escape to the grot
And roll up a joint of paraquat,
And then there were six.

Six from the family Buttersworth
Climbed trees where they could skive.
Johnny's Playboy made his undies blossom;
Bark scratched his balls each time he'd toss 'em,
So he tried to root a sleeping possum,
And then there were five.

Five from the family Buttersworth
Looked out on the gully floor;
When they coaxed poor Mum out of the foetus
Position, none said for heavy eaters
The bungy cord stretched a few extra metres,
And then there were four.

Four from the family Buttersworth
Decided to commune with the trees.
Jack tried too hard to be empowered, he
Went too far with the sacred kauri,
Said the lawyer for the homicidal Maori,
And then there were three.

Three from the family Buttersworth
Let off crackers for something to do.
The double-happys were just the job,
Till some angry cockies fixed little Bob's
Hit by the local Mongrel Mob,
And then there were two.

Two from the family Butterworth
Went home from where they'd come.
The papers praised Grandma as a four-minute miler,
They didn't comment on the noises while her
Legs were torn off by the neighbour's Rottweiler,
And then there was one.

One from the family Buttersworth
Had an ACC lump sum.
Everyone said he got too much, cos he
Caught a plane and flew to Ozzie,
And reckoned he'd found a much better pozzie,
And so there were none.

Japanese Notes

A sweet high-school girl from Shibuya
Had a motto to which she was true, yeah:
For Louis Vuitton
You could get sat upon--
But for Gucci she'd actually screw ya.

A geisha who lived in old Gion
Was so famous, her name was in neon.
She knew all the best arts,
But her favourite old farts
Were the ones that she just had to pee on.

An Englishman fucked an old whore he
Picked up one night in Dotobombori;
But she liked it clean
(He was into machines),
So he went home and joined the young Tories.

A gaijin-teacher who lived in Osaka
Found his shit just kept on getting darker.
He said, "If it comes to pass
In my eikaiwa class,
Then I'll tell 'em it's my magic marker."

Copyright Ian Richards, 2008

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