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Shelley Hansen - Lady of Lines

The Poitry Competition

2nd Prize - Open Written Section - 2014 CJ Dennis Toolangi Poetry Competition

This poem was my first foray into the CJ Dennis working class vernacular. It enters the world of Bill, the "kid" from Melbourne, around the time of the first World War. From Bill's point of view, the poem speculates on a conversation he may have had with his best mate Ginger Mick ... and just how he came to be known as "The Sentimental Bloke!"

A note of reference - these days referring to a woman as a "tart" is less than complimentary. However it was originally short for "sweetheart", and in common use during Dennis' day as a term of endearment.

The Poitry Competition
(c) Shelley Hansen 2014

I'm 'ere wiv pen in 'and, an' feelin' pore.
Me thorts 'as done a bunk fair out the door.
I've got a sheet o' writin' paper - blank.
"Wot for?" I 'ear yeh arstin' me. "Wot for?"

It's orl becors o' Ginger Mick, 'oo sees
an item in the local rag, so 'e's
come up wiv this fool notion that I write
some poitry fer money – if yeh please!

Sez Mick, "Now Kid, this competition 'ere
is worf its weight in gold – it sez quite clear –
Ten quid fer winnin' poim – so I think
yeh'd best be gettin' revved up inter gear.

"Why me?" I sez. "Why don't you 'ave a shot?"
Sez Ginger, "Kid, don't tork sich tommy rot!
It ain't no use me wastin' all me time –
I tell yeh – wot it takes I jist ain't got!

Bill! Spare me days! I knoo it from the start –
this tuff-like tork o' booze an' stoush an' tart
don't sit the same wiv you like uvver broots –
Yer jist a sentimental bloke at 'eart!"

"A sentimental poit? Me? Fair go!
'Ere's me 'oo thort I 'ad a bit ter show
frum stoushin' down the back o' Little Lon ..."
But Ginger interrupts, "Yer wrong, yeh know!

Now Rose an' me", he sez, "we 'ave a larf –
we keeps the best, an' blows away the charf.
But if I started wooin' 'er in verse –
she'd send me ter the Funny Farm. Not 'arf!

That's me. But you – yer diff'rent, Kid. I've seen
the way yeh moons about wiv yer Doreen
an' torks about the starlight in 'er eyes."
"It's true," I sez, "that bonzer peach is queen!"

"Yeh see," sez Mick, "yeh'll win it if yeh writes
them things yeh spouts at 'er on moonlit nights.
An' when yeh strikes it rich I 'opes an' prays
yeh'll be a bloke 'oo'll set 'is mates ter rights."

An' when I strikes it rich? Ar, strike me pink!
The way 'e spouts it out wivout a blink –
as if 'e thort that poitry appears
like magic, when I picks up pen an' ink!

I'm up the pole, I'm ponderin' in vain
the poitry of sun an' moon an' rain.
An' thinkin' I'd would rather be like Mick
when 'e goes courtin' Rose of Spadgers Lane.

The world is black an' white fer Mick an' Rose –
jus' workin' 'ard ter make a crust. Gawd knows
there ain't much poitry in 'ungry nights.
There ain't much time fer fun. An' so it goes ...

I dunno why I think these dilly thorts
uv Romance. Me an' Doreen ain't the sorts
ter live the 'igh-falutin' life – that's clear.
But when she looks at me, me 'eart cavorts!

Doreen! 'Ow can a bloke as thick as me
'ave landed sich a clarsy tart as she?
I want ter tell the world each bloomin' day
Uv 'ow she fills me universe wiv glee!

An' 'ow she bootifies the mooch o' day,
an' 'ow we went downtown ter see that play,
an' 'ow 'er 'and 'eld mine down on the beach ...
Let no toff stror 'at coot take 'er away!

Ar, spare me days ! Wot's rattlin' in me head
is - wait! Wot if I writes it down instead?
Some poit coves git famous! Wot if I
could make meself a forchin - like Mick said?

I 'opes I win! Wot if they publish me
an' puts it in The Bulletin fer free
like Banjo an' like 'Enry 'ad their start?
I'd larf at Mick then! Bli'me – so would 'e!

I sees it now. The swell coves dips their lids.
I'm signin' ortygraphs fer little kids!
The ocshuneer is sellin' orf me books
An' millionaires is shoutin' out their bids!

Ar, strike! I'm orf me beat – no flamin' joke!
But still – me thorts keep flittin' ter the foke
an 'undred years frum now. Will they recall
the verses of "A Sentimental Bloke"?

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