Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Australia's Big Things

On the miserable February afternoon
when Paul Bunyip galloped in on a hurricane,
we were reaching above our heads, squeezing the air,
letting the warm water drip onto our foreheads.
The squall drove raindrops through the lorikeets,
nailed them to trees and fenceposts, and ruined the dumplings
we'd left outside to steam.

By the time Paul clapped the hurricane on the flank
and sent it whinnying back to the wild Pacific,
the only thing you could see above the mud
was the tip of Stephan's Needle.
Paul tied sponges to the feet of his blue heeler Babe,
threw a stick til the whole mess was mopped up.
He offloaded three of the sponges in Katoomba
and threw one in the desert.

“I'm thirsty,” said Paul,
pulling a ten-thousand gallon stubbie out of his pocket.
“And hungry.”  After cleaning out our flapjacks
and fruit salad, Paul sprinkled around some seeds
he'd bought from a young man with a cow.
Up sprouted bananas, oranges, mangos, apples
bigger than Babe's head.  He ate most, but left a few
in Berri, Bowen and Yerrinbool, Carnavon and Coff's Harbour
Tenterfield and Thulimbah, and Mundubbera and Mackay.


  1. Wonderful: first stanza, the enormity of the hurricane as he gallops in, second the beneficent power of the superhero getting rid of the thing, and lastly his legendary gift of creating natural wonders. Just love it.

  2. So I googled...bunyip: natural waterdwelling monster in an indigenous language, or now used for impostor...
    I have a feeling Paul was named for the former: an impressive image of the natural forces that shake Australia at intervals, and its pockets of tropicality ... also a great fairy tale, another picture book!
    If I have to crit as in spank you (ref. your Advice to Newbies in NaPo) you could tidy up the symmetry a bit, equal length strophes, maybe some rhyme would make it even better, seeing as you have the beautiful nursery rhyme character pat at the end, the lovely jingle of names.
    I admit I don't know enough to determine the significance of three sponges in Katoomba, but possibly the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains. You have become a total patriot in a fairly short time. I think Australia may do that to people...
    You tell a mean tall tale!


  3. Thanks very much, Arlene and Sorella, for reading and commenting!

    Sorella, I appreciate the suggestions--I know that being critical does not come easily to you, so it's meaningful that you've put in the effort here. I might give the rhyme and meter a shot next week. You're absolutely right about the Three Sisters.

  4. I concur with Sorella. You tell a mean tall tale. And the best part? I think I'll be disappointed if all what you've said isn't true.

    And I love the lorikeets and the ruined dumplings, and the flapjacks and fruit salad.

    Oh, and is there a significance to the 'seeds he'd bought from a young man with a cow'?

  5. Nitika, thanks for the fluff! I was thinking that the young man was Beanstalk Jack, and that he might have had some seeds left over, or saved some from last year's beanstalk. (However, I guess by that point Jack would have gotten rid of his skinny cow. It's worth a re-think.)

  6. You're welcome.

    I'd assumed it would be a reference to an Aussie tale... And yes, he wouldn't have the skinny cow, given that he'd traded it for the beans.