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Digger

‘E’s an ‘andsome bloke, is ol’ mate Luke,
wiv ‘is peelin’ sunburnt nose,
‘e’s six-foot-two, frum Humpty Doo,
an’ farmin’s all ‘e knows–
but when the call fer arms went round,
the cobber showed ‘is colours,
an’ now ‘e’s ‘ere on forrin ground,
wiv ‘is fellow bushwhacked brothers.

‘E’s ‘andy with a bayonet,
an’ lazy wiv salutes;
e’s sandy-‘aired an’ filthy-tongued, yep–
Aussie thro’ an’ thro’.
‘E reads ‘is letters slowly,
frum ‘is little wife back ‘ome;
an’ dreams uv breezes blowin’
thro’ the gumtrees uv ‘is bones.

Yesterday, the brass rolled round
an’ asked fer volunteer’s,
fer a drongo they can sacrifice,
an’ it’s Luke’s ‘and wot appears–
“I ain’t afraid uv dyin’,”
‘e sez, gatherin’ up ‘is clobber,
“If it’s me time, then it’s me time,
jist tell me wife I love ‘er.”

At the appoin’ed ‘our
Luke springs out frum our trench
an’ in three steps it goes sour
an’ a bullit finds ‘is ‘ead.
But fer ‘our’s ‘e keeps on breathin’;
a ne’erendin’ raspy wheeze,
‘til we’re all jist prayin’ “cark it.”
When ‘e does its quiet an’ we know that ‘e’s at peace.

‘E wus an ‘andsome bloke, wus ol’ mate Luke,
I remember ‘is face when ‘e died:
the bullit tore ‘is right eye thro’
an’ in ‘is left: a smile.
Cos ‘e’s ‘eadin’ back to Humpty Doo
‘e’s ‘eadin’ back to ‘ome;
jist ‘is body left rottin’ on forrin soil
a gumtree uv ‘is bones.
Jist ‘is frame bleached white on a forrin beach.
A gumtree uv ‘is bones.

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