The History of Mr Howard

By | 2 February 2001

Give me back the smell of pencils
Monday morning in their boxes
the mucilage and ink in inkwells

the Mercator’s above the blackboard
with half the world in red
give me back that ‘firm but just’

preceptor of my childhood
who filled our lives with copperplate
and knew precisely where he stood

give me back the flap of canvas
the tall ships southward under sail
give me back the quiet explorers

heading for the centre
accompanied by faithful Jacky
searching for an inland sea

give me back my heroines
Grace Darling, Florence Nightingale,
Mrs Chisolm with her girls

give me back old Cobb & Co
the miracles of Bendigo
where everyone made good it seems

and Ben Hall too to lend some colour
give me back the picturesque
the fading warrior with spear

staring always at the sunset
and thoughtful on one leg
give me back the wars offshore

so notably conducted
give me back the nineteen fifties
where once we all ran small garages

or kept a corner store
and Mr Menzies lived forever
and each night loyal behind our fences

we’d turn the lights out right on ten.

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