romanian literary monthly

~Tania Miclau: „The Man from Sydney Town“

It was a man from Sydney Town, who arrived in Ironbark,

The jarring coach left him behind in a cloud of dust and the coming dark,

Wiping down his shirt and pants, he noticed the mud covering his load,

In this small town only a few tin sheds lined the road.

The sound of cockatoos echoed, and the sun glared,

Parched, he headed for the local pub, as a drink is what he fared.


The barman was short and cleany shaven, with his welcome very clear,

His shirt was stained but sat comfortably, and he took another gulp of beer.

He noticed the neatly dressed chap sitting awkwardly at the bar looking a bit grim,

Filling up a pot, he set it down in front of him,

“Drink up mate, you looking a bit pale. This sun can get ya out here”.

With only a nod for reply, he went back to his beer.


There were some despondent blokes sitting at the bar,

Most with their heads down, wearing wrinkled shirts and one even with a scar.

Feeling a nudge, he turned to see a man sit next to him,

His long black beard to his chest; all tangled and needing a trim,

His clothes were matted and covered in wool with daggy tails*,

The smell was so horrifying, and he wrinkled his nose to no prevail.


“That bastard, giving me the cheque in the boot”** the hairy bloke spat,

Slamming his blade shears on the bar, he grabbed the pot and took off his hat.

The man from Sydney Town pulled away as this man drew nearer,

“Excuse me kind sir, perchance you may know my uncle who is also a shearer ?”

The young boy reminded him of his stingy stationmaster, who was a lout,

Winking at the barman, he planned to catch this city lad out.


“I will ‘elp ya, if ya taste these here grubs. A delicacy they are”,

The barman winked back at the shearer and placed the plate on the bar.

All the fellows in the bar were now standing around, and began to linger,

There were two grubs on the plate, yellow in colour and thick as a finger.

He looked at the barman, who nodded in approval,

Putting the whole grub in his mouth, he swallowed it in disapproval.


“Ya won’t s’pposed to swallow it, just taste it mate”, the shearer lied,

The young man jumped up “You have poisoned me ?” he cried.

He flung the plate up in the air and suddently felt queasy,

Groping at his throat, he ran around, showing at the others who looked uneasy,

“Damn you. You’ve tried to kill me with your dirty poison” he spat in despair,

He swung a punch, but missed and fell over a chair.


He threw the chair at the barman yelling, “Take that murderers”, and began to choke,

The shearer grabed him by the arm, “Calm down mate, it was a bloody joke “.

“You poisoned me, that’s no joke”, he yelled,

Grabbing hid throat, he grabbed for another chair compelled.

“Come sit down and da beer is on  da house” the barman chuckled,

Not listening he ran outside for fresh air as his body buckled.


And now as he sits down with his fellow work mates in the park,

He tells his story again and again, of his visit to Ironbark.

“Them country folk are not too bright,

They tried to poison me, but thank the Lord I was strong with might”.

Now if his story is believed or not, there is one thing to keep in mind,

That folks from down Sydney Town can be a bit behind.


* With daggy tails – with lumps of dirty adhering to the wool of the tail.

**Cheque in the boot – if a stockman woke in the morning to find a cheque in his boot

that meant he was sacked.

( From Australian folklore )


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