I have a friend who is a very serious poet. One day I mentioned I was working on a children's book that was a spin-off from an artistic commission in which there is a carved wooden book with the title 'Wombat's Nasty Secret.' It would have both prose and poetry.....
"Oh yes!" he said impatiently. "I can see it now, Willy Wombat and his little bush pals and their wonderful adventures tripping through the flowery undergrowth.... Hasn't it been done to death by now? No-one will publish anything like that."
"Well this is different. Right now I am working on a bit about a wombat being torn apart by mongooses."
"What!" he shouted, leaping from his chair. "Mongooses! No-one will buy anything like that!"
But I immediately understood that I had something good. That's what its like to be a contrarian. And here is a preview in the form of that fragment of an epic poem appearing therein. If the occasional line refers to something vaguely recalled out of TS Elliot or somesuch, it was intentional. But I haven't been able to find the source try as Google and I might.
The Story of Hard-Hearted Harry
A Cautionary tale for Self-Serving, Psychopathic, and Otherwise Criminally Inclined Wombats
It was Hard-Hearted Harry, the scourge of Tocumwal
Hard-hearted Harry the hairy-nosed wombat
The hairy-nosed wombat who wanted it all.
Which is never enough for some people it seems-
The kind you avoid like the plague on the street
And never get shut of in disconsolate dreams
The king of the rackets, the police in his pocket, kahuna of crime.
He was the biggest, baddest, most feared, capo of capos
To rule Shepparton and Morwong at least
And maybe also Gagebrook
In his time.
His loan-sharking business might grab your attention
His suit only knows
How he coldly foreclosed on the orphan’s estate
How neatly he snaffled the poor widow’s pension
And committed other outrages
Too numerous to mention.
His burrows were found at prestigious addresses
Marked with black X’s on all of the maps
With chauffeurs and butlers and chiropodists’ services
Underground caviar and gold-plated taps!
But alas for his lifestyle; a criminal faction
Had arrived from the States
To take over the action.
They were slinky and long and kinky and lean
The most malevolent gang of Hawaiian mongooses
A still- living wombat could ever have seen.
Implacable, merciless, never defeated
They telephoned Harry their itinerary
Who famously answered (expletive deleted!)
“We’re coming your way with a courtesy call –
We’re tired of your hare-lip and catcalls and taunting
We’re going to give you much more than you’re wanting:
The bigger the wombat the harder he falls
You hairy –nosed wombat who wanted it all.”
They searched out and found him to harry and hound him
And slowly the murderous circle closed round him
Of unspeakable shirts and untuned ukuleles
While he pleaded and threatened
And thrashed in the melee.
He whined and he wheedled, cajoled and he blandished
And brandished his claws and slashed with his teeth
But for each bloodied battler that cut and retreated
A half-dozen more would slink in off the street.
How he laid about bravely, his blows thudding down
The shrieks of the wounded upsetting the town
But on pressed the Hawaiians, like the Bloods AND the Cripps
The names of their black pagan gods on their lips.
He slipped and their chief murmured ‘Aloha Harry ‘
And “Kamehameha, lest we forget thee!”
As he braced for the kill. But Harry arose and again laid about
With claws and with cudgel knocked more of them out.
Again he went down and ….. all earthly travails
Must end for the worst and the bravest heart fails…
He came up for the third time and with one final wailWent down in the forest of bottle-brush tails.
Some morsels of Harry were all that were found
That half-filled a matchbox
Collected by keeshonds that scoured the ground
Where the battle was fiercest.
The coroner queried the size of the sample
Sadly shaking his head
“Not enough for a knackwurst. I cannot conclude
Or imply that poor Harry is dead.
Perhaps he has bunked to more hospitable climes
Where mongeese and wombats partner in crime
And plumbing runs champagne......
And the sun always shines……”