Kenneth Slessor

(27 March 1901 – 30 June 1971 / Orange, New South Wales)

Thieves' Kitchen


GOOD roaring pistol-boys, brave lads of gold,
Good roistering easy maids, blown cock-a-hoop
On floods of tavern-steam, I greet you! Drunk
With wild Canary, drowned in wines of old,
I'll swear your round, red faces dive and swim
Like clouds of fire-fish in a waxen tide,
And these are seas of smoke we thieves behold.
Yet I've a mind I know what arms enchain
With flesh my shoulders . . . aye, and what warm legs
Wind quickly into mine . . . 'tis no pale mermaid,
No water-wench that floats in a smoky main
Betwixt the tankard and my knees . . . in faith,
I know thee, Joan, and by the beard of God,
I'll prove to-night thy mortal parts again!
Leap, leap, fair vagabonds, your lives are short . . .
Dance firelit in your cauldron-fumes, O thieves,
Ram full your bellies with spiced food, gulp deep
Those goblets of thick ale—yea, feast and sport,
Ye Cyprian maids—lie with great, drunken rogues,
Jump by the fire—soon, soon your flesh must crawl
And Tyburn flap with birds, long-necked and swart!

Submitted: Thursday, April 01, 2010

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