General Poetry posted September 9, 2015

This work has reached the exceptional level
Blank Verse contest entry

Only in Australia

by kiwisteveh

As only Aussies can, they took a thief,
and built themselves a hero, by the name
of Captain Starlight, legend of the West
of inland Queensland's dry and dusty heart.


A dozen years ago, we took a drive
to find the site of this bush-ranger's lair,
but none had thought to warn us that the road
was racked with corrugations; driving, slow.
"An hour," they'd said. "You'll make it in an hour,"
but one had turned to two before we reached
that lonesome spot, a rocky little wart
upon the face of brown and spreading plain.

We stumbled from the car and found a place
to spread a blanket, wary of the threat
of snakes and insects. There we sat and ate
amidst the nothingness, and eyed our goal.
To climb, or not to climb, the stony path
to Starlight's lookout? After all, we'd come
so far for this.... but still, our will was weak,
the dog was hot and stressed and time had flown...

We stayed on level ground until the sun
descended through horizon's haze and set
the western rim on fire, a blaze that spilled
across the vast expanse of outback sky.

With glory at our backs, into the dark
we drove in silence, lost in our own thoughts,
until a shout, a sudden squeal of brakes,
and there, upon the road, a ghostly pair
were caught in headlights' glow, and stood transfixed.

"They're pelicans," I murmured. As I spoke,
the giant birds had turned and lurched away
in great, ungainly strides, with wings outstretched
to catch, at last, an updraft, and to soar
into the blackness of the Queensland night.

And now the spell was broken, how we laughed
as we recalled the magic of the scene -
the clumsy beasts that lumbered down the road
and flew, on wings aglow, into our dreams.


Blank Verse Poetry Contest contest entry


Harry Readford was an Australian bushranger who acquired the nickname Captain Starlight after being identified with a character in the novel 'Robbery Under Arms.' His most famous (infamous?) exploit was the theft of 1000 cattle and taking them through the desert to South Australia for sale. Although he was later arrested for the theft, he was acquitted, ostensibly because the jury so admired the audacity and magnitude of his feat. More here:

Pelicans are not uncommon near waterways in inland Australia, but it was a surprise to come across this pair apparently asleep in the middle of the road!
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