Manatee, manatee, all is manatee. I mention this because the author’s likeness of Ned Kelly in his home-made armour adorning the cover of Cliff Forshaw’s A Ned Kelly Hymnal (Paper Special Edition) is demonstrably not Ned Kelly at all, but a manatee, and a manatee wearing a jilbab at that. The manatee is a religious beast by nature, sheltering behind its faith from the slings and arrows of man’s inhumanity to manatee. (That’s a Kit Wright joke by the way, I didn’t just make that up.)
The final photograph of Kelly, bush-ranger-bushy-bearded, the whites of his eyes:
Eyes peeled like hard-boiled eggs. Flecked red.
Yellow. Black-dotted. Jaundiced, downcast or lidded;
hooded with flame, day’s end or blood.
Or pool-balls, yours, spotted, on the edge of the pocket:
one good crack (stripes, then on the black)
and they’re lined-up, potted.
Sidney Nolan’s Kelly portraits, old Wanted posters, ‘the price above that head dolorous with silver haloes’:
Helmet or bucket?
Kick it. Fuck it.
What’s it matter when
eight thousand pounds
press on four men’s heads?
Transvestism and the Molly Malones. Kelly gang member Steve Hart’s similar inclinations. De Valera smuggled from prison in a dress, in more recent times. The Glenrowan shootout. The hanging. And, by way of epilogue, Nolan’s ‘Death of a Poet’ in
Death-mask or bust. Kicked the bucket.
Right now he’s just something in the trees,
round as a gourd, shiny on top,
bald as baked clay, a terracotta pot.
Or one that’s bloomed, blown, grown scratchy dry;
breeze-rustled beard ready to fall to scrub,
dead-heeled by some passer-by.
This blog of course takes a strongly anti-nepotistic line, but wriggles off the hook of promoting one of its (its?) friends by insisting we’re not really a friend of Cliff’s at all, and are only pretending for as long as it takes until he returns that tenner he owes us.
I warmly recommend this book. Write to him at c.forshaw at hull.ac.uk if you want a copy.
Photograph shows the author helping to launch a beermat (no really).