Swagman

The Swagman’s Rest by Pro Hart

Touch my hand

bones splinter in the dirt

think of the wind over the sea

and places bandicoots skitter in the eve

I was once a good man

with shining rope, glinting gun and a plan

although the map’s not one you can see

and my words came smooth, debonair, like lies

 

My final shouts rang true though

if anyone cared to hear them

and I washed myself in the sound

‘Oh Nell, my love, I wronged her.’

the drink has taken stronger men

and left better women stranded

but I broke her heart and stole her wine

the child we’d made, abandoned

 

When it came time for him to die

alone he was, in bracken

the river was so loud that night

she felt the baby quicken

perhaps he called aloud those words

Nell, she didn’t hear him

upon his head she put a curse

and found him in the morning

 

To free his twist in memory’s embrace

we left a blank and humble cross in place

lost now to all but she:

Sandy Dan the Swagman, we

tied ropes across his grave

of bleached bloodwood, as dead as he

and while mountains rise against the sun

no more a-roving will he see

 

Day 18. I enjoyed this prompt: First, find a poem in a book or magazine (ideally one you are not familiar with). Use a piece of paper to cover over everything but the last line. Now write a line of your own that completes the thought of that single line you can see, or otherwise responds to it. Now move your piece of paper up to uncover the second-to-last line of your source poem, and write the second line of your new poem to complete/respond to this second-to-last line. Keep going, uncovering and writing, until you get to the first line of your source poem, which you will complete/respond to as the last line of your new poem. It might not be a finished draft, but hopefully it at least contains the seeds of one.

I used “The Swagman’s Rest” by Banjo Patterson. It ended up with an odd, off-kilter rhyme sequence but I like it

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