By John Dickson, The Westsider Newspaper Poet Laureate and winner of the ‘highly recommended’ commendation in the Betty Olle Poetry Award 2018, proudly conducted by the Kyabram and District Bush Verse Group.

    You’d never notice Bronchia

    It’s a nothing little town

    Overshadowed by a mountain

    Underdressed in shades of brown

    A river ran right through it

    A measly little leak

    Not stream, not brook, nor rivulet

    More dampened ditch than creek


    A stranger passed through Bronchia

    This man of rocks and earth

    Had met the council late at night

    To tell them what they’re worth

    ‘This hill you turn your backs on

    This hideous brown lump

    Is a licence to print money

    It hides a fortune in its hump.’


    The stranger said ‘It’s magic,

    This lumpy browny goo

    It converts to light and power

    And riches for the few

    The few who know its value

    And you could be that few

    If you pay me for the secret

    I’ll tell you what to do’


    Mayor Seymour Plug had appetites

    Always waiting to be fed

    Whether at another’s table

    Or in another’s bed

    When he heard the stranger say this

    The pig in him rose up

    A way to sate his hunger

    A constantly-filled cup


    The council was just like him

    Always looking to make hay

    To maximise their incomes

    In any slippery way

    They grinned across the table

    They allowed themselves a smirk

    How good is lots of money

    Without doing any work?


    But the stranger had a coda

    He warned of future tears

    He signalled future problems

    But it fell upon deaf ears

    He said this clay was lethal

    If too much of it was burned

    But they’d already started spending

    The money it could earn


    And they paid him what he asked for

    And they sent him on his way

    They were drooling at the prospect

    Of a permanent pay day

    No-one heard his warnings

    His cautions were ignored

    These avaricious greedheads

    Were measuring their hoard

    Plug was in his element

    The town was doing well

    The villagers distracted

    By a needy clientele

    Greedy for their mountain

    Of magic dirty dirt

    The council thought it endless

    And they mined it ‘til it hurt


    From everywhere the cash poured in

    And they filled up every truck

    From this pile of wealth-in-waiting

    This magic mucky muck

    It smelt like it was dug from

    The bottom of the grave

    The scrapings off the sewer pipe

    The guano from the cave

    The council just ignored the fact

    That the magic soil soiled

    For the more it lined their pockets

    The less they had to toil

    Plug of course was first in line

    And second through to ten

    Taxing everything that moved

    Then taxing it again


    And then it was all over

    The magic was all gone

    When customers from everywhere

    Discovered what goes wrong

    When too much muck incinerates

    It burns holes right through the sky

    It fattens up the air we breathe

    And we all begin to fry

    The villagers had had enough

    Of their council’s dirty snouts

    Where trickledown was promised

    There was nothing but a drought

    Now the income stream had dried up

    And they were left without a cent

    It was time for Seymour Plug and Co

    To tell them where it went


    Plug could hear the townsfolk stir

    But there was no way to explain

    How the loss that they were feeling

    Had become the council’s gain

    Add to that the anger

    Of those who bought the sludge

    Never knowing what might happen

    When they burned this deadly gudge


    The council met in dead of night

    Once more to hatch a plan

    To escape the town with wealth intact

    For every sticky-fingered man

    But the mountain had its own ideas

    And from its hacked-out side

    It twisted, creaked and changed itself

    Into a deadly muddy slide


    The gudge poured down the mountain

    And filled the river bed

    It oozed and spewed and rumbled

    Towards its destiny it sped

    The council heard its mighty roar

    But would not change objectives

    To get out clean, their wealth intact

    For this gluttonous collective


    Town clerk Fop was first to go

    Quickly drowned in goo

    Dog catcher Barry Fudget

    Went swiftly that way too

    Then Wobbleman from drainage

    Then Spinifex from parks

    Then garbageman O’Blimey

    Then Meter Peter carked


    And that left greedy Seymour

    Caught reaching for the door

    Slowed by bags of readies

    He had stashed beneath the floor

    Refusing to let go of them

    Plug was quickly overun

    The goo that made them wealthy

    Now brought them all undone


    And that was it for Bronchials

    Their town now too maligned

    So they bought new homes in Poshton

    With what the council left behind

    The moral of this story

    The lesson to be learned

    Is beware of streams of riches

    That you haven’t really earned.


    © Verse and illustration
    John Dickson 2019

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