An old song of the music hall
I will sing, or none at all,
Though women lift their noses high
When I haul out to cool my throat
A bottle from my overcoat
And say a word to make their feathers fly.
On the hills above Kaitangata
A cord of old man manuka,
I cut it in a day.
Then I got my cheque and bummed a ride to town
For a pan of eels and a woman and a shakedown
And sold my traps for a bucket of White Lady.
Mad McAra, John O’Hara,
Swagger Joe and my dry father
In the marble orchard lie.
Their ghosts at daybreak in my room
Beckoning with a wicked thumb
Ask me for a bottle of White Lady.
When I was kneehigh to a gander
I learnt to fart against the thunder;
Big Mother Joseph broke her cane on me.
When the white Host rides in air
I bend my head and say a prayer
For that old harridan hot in Purgatory.
A burning orphan in the night
I took a wander by starlight
To where the Child in a loosebox lay –
‘Concrete Grady is my name
And I’ll be damned,’ I said to Him;
‘Then I’ll be damned Myself,’ said He to me.
– James K. Baxter