for my late cousin Ernest
A bleat of lambs on Junee’s
naïve hills, a kind of white
foam in the dark; the clash
and slam of locomotive carriages:
stubborn cymbals of the Gods or
an ordinary torment? Such hyperbolic
music, I may have caught the railway blues!
How the mind repeats itself;
baked beans, heaped on my enamel
supper plate, chipped as any
conscience, o Nightshift
can your cruel roster!
I should have locked
the garden gate against
those volatile intruders
who swung their Eveready
torches over my lawn sculptures –
I tooled them all myself : a gathering
of penguins, swans, flamingoes
guarding the hydrangeas!
Louts kicked them down and
hurled them round and sprayed
them all with shaving cream (I have
the tin to prove it ), then darkened them
with thrusts of soil – can’t they read – are
they so illiterate – my signs that clearly
say No Trespassing No Hawkers. I sob
inside this rhetoric of slaughter!
Ethelred Malley is a 2nd cousin of Ern Malley. He was a railway worker [chief shunter] at Junee NSW in the 1960s. As a garden sculpture artist he won local and regional prizes for a series of painted wood carvings of penguins and flamingoes, amongst other subjects. Ethelred started writing the occasional poem during night shift teabreaks at the Junee Junction. He was married briefly to Laurel, a railway ‘buff girl’*. Ethelred had a special fondness for cousin Ernest’s poem “Night Piece”.
* a ‘buff girl’ was a woman who worked in the buffet dining carriage of such trains as ‘The Spirit of Progress’.
34: CHILDREN OF MALLEY IIPoetry Editor Liam Ferney
Released 1 December 2010
Index of Poems
The guest poetry editor for this issue was Liam Ferney, reprising his role as editor of CHILDREN OF MALLEY (2005). Both issues pay tribute to the progeny of hoax poet Ern Malley, whose ghost still haunts Australian poetry. The true identities of the Children of Malley II have now been revealed.