Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Old Heroes at the Memorial Club

To compose a poem on old heroes at the Memorial Club, which has probably been written before, is much like looking at the faces of men in the cockpit of fighter-bombers crossing over a mountain range. Once when enemy planes flew overhead they dropped bread, not bombs. People scrambled to find pigeons wiping their beaks in the cracks of white stones. At the old Memorial club, the diggers wore rubber-soled shoes where once they trudged through engulfing forests of rain. High lace-ups on the Kokoda Trail. Jack boots amongst the goats on the Isle of Crete. Combats in the trenches of El Alamein.
My Uncle Charles once visited the now defunct Memorial Club on the Central Coast. It was nearly midnight before he turned one hundred-and-nine and only a few patrons were playing cards. Perched high on a stool at the bar, his only company was a busty blonde who kept referring to him in intimate terms. Earlier, he had moved amongst the lanes of machines, talking to some old diggers who were hesitant to respond, elbowing each other at the sound of his Kiwi accent. When he found a sympathetic ear in an old bloke called Herb, he proceeded to tell him about his days in the Great War, ducking sniper fire in the desert. The heavy backpacks he had to carry. And in a sideways hold to his head, he demonstrated loudly how a bullet whooshed past like a jet fighter plane. He had found the night amorous and immortal, getting to know Sid and Barney, two war veterans who had supped into their own heroics. With winnings from the poker machines, he shouted beers all around and handed out Churchill cigars, telling them, that he had recently read, War and Peace and Les Miserables. How they smirked and laughed, how they misused their newfound friendship by slapping him hard on the back to a suicidal fall on the floor. Lucky for uncle he didn’t suffer any further indignities. He was cushioned, so the family story goes, inside the soft breasts of the waitress blonde, who called a taxi with the wisdom of her lovey-dovey words.


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Evangelyne

Evangelyne
Published by Australian Poetry Centre, Melbourne

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Helen Hagemann's first literary collection, Evangelyne & other poems, was published by the Australian Poetry Centre in their New Poets Series 2009. She has two e-books, The Joyous Lake & Par écrit: poetry of the feminine @ http://issuu.com/evangelyne/​​docs/joyous_lake/

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