a tricky place (the annual fete)

Poem #29 from Small Town Kid

Back to Small Town Kid – Introduction


the c-of-e churchyard
with its granite tower and solid isolation
is a tricky place

draped in solemn appearance
and with an air of long abandonment
held lazily in the overgrown waving
of dry grass
dilapidated outbuildings
leaning posts and loose wire netting
hardly hint at a time before neglect

it seems small now
almost shrivelled
lifeless

~

once a year
it happens once a year
the noise shatters the afternoon
as an old ute with two loudspeakers
attached above the roof of the cabin
does circuits of the town
and can be heard in a garbled blur
from three streets off
and not much better up close

but it doesn’t matter what they’re saying
because we already know

the preparations have been happening
for days
and we’ve watched as the main arena
has been swept clean
the fences mended
and mountings for the short logs
beaten into firm position
for the woodchoppers to go at it

the bunnies are to start at nine or ten
and the call winds down
backwards
to zero
before the scratch-marker swings his axe

the o’toole boys are unbeatable
and will put the blade
through a short log from left to right
first on one side and then the other
leaping off the mountings a single stroke
before those with a nine second start

we know that the clowns
will be moving their heads
slowly from side to side
tempting us to put a ping-pong ball
inside their gaping mouths
and that the bamboo hoops might be rewarding
if one would only fall properly
around the prize

and that knocking down blocks with a ball
is easy
until you have just two left standing
while pinging ducks with a slug gun
would be a piece of cake
if they would stop moving so fast

we tasted the fairy floss last year
and pronounced it good

there has already been talk
about sneaking away from mum and dad
to smoke a secret cigarette
and about which girl might be tempted
to try a first kiss or…

there may be a sausage sizzle this year
if the grass isn’t too dry
for the risk of fire

the merry-go-round is reserved
for little kids
and all of them will be there
with people from town
and from the local farms
chatting in groups
and walking in their good clothes
through the heat of the evening

to the spinning wheel where there’s

four tickets left for a shilling
who wants these last four tickets
and any pick of the prizes on the third shelf

we can’t spin the wheel till we’ve sold
the last two tickets

are you ready

spinning now

it’s number twenty-five blue
who’s got twenty-five blue

come on up elsie and help yourself
to something from the third shelf

~

this churchyard is a tricky place
in its abandonment

it looks like nothing has happened here
for a very long time


© Frank Prem 2009

Small Town Kid Poem 30: state of the art

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6 thoughts on “a tricky place (the annual fete)

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