Diane Hine

(25 July 1956)

Lucretius Meets Platypus*^


Lucretius Mud lay in a stream
draped across semi-submerged fallen branches.
He took shallow breaths.
Bushfire smoke, infused with vaporized eucalyptus-oil
tumbled down the bank like rolags of carded wool.
Leaf-boats packed with ants drifted
by his bemused right eye.
His left eye, open below the water watched
drowning ants struggling to climb aboard.
‘Man overboard! ' he slurred. He amused
himself by repeating this several times.
Tannin water sluiced his gummy tongue.
A swirl of brown water solidified into a duck-billed platypus.

‘Who are you? ' asked Platypus.
‘I’m………., ' replied Lucretius.
‘Why are you here? ’ asked Platypus.
‘I…….forget, ' replied Lucretius.
Warming to the task, Platypus lifted a webbed foot;
‘What year is it, who’s the prime minister,
how many fingers am I holding up and what’s
the meaning of ‘this’! ? ' he demanded.
Lucretius was stumped.
‘Ah……, ' said Platypus, adding:

‘The boy stands on the burning deck
without a good excuse.
His name could be Melchizedek
but probably it’s Bruce.’

Lucretius’ interest was piqued.
‘That’s quite good um………..may I call you Duck-bill? ' he asked.
‘Thank you Bruce and I’d rather you didn’t’ replied Platypus.
‘Oh……., ' said Lucretius, adding:

‘The boy lay on the smoky grill,
“Good on ya! ” cheered the crew,
and all on board the ‘Ducky Bill’
enjoyed a barbeque.’

‘Sorry, have I said something wrong, ' asked Lucretius,
noting the dismayed expression of his companion.
‘No Bruce, it’s not your fault. It’s a common misperception that
I have a duck bill, whereas in fact I have rubbery spade-shaped
snout covered in soft skin, pliable and fleshy around the edges
and with nostrils at the tip rather like your own’.
‘I do apologize, ’ said Lucretius, ‘let me try again:

‘The boy asked, “May I leave the grill? '
The mate said, “Hangabout,
this dredger isn’t ‘Ducky Bill’
you fool, it’s ‘Spadey Snout! ''

‘Thank you Bruce, I prefer that version. You’re right,
my snout is an effective dredger in the mud…..’
‘Mud? ’ exclaimed Lucretius, ‘Yes – my name is Mud! '
‘Don’t say that, ' protested Platypus, ‘I like you very much!
Let’s be friends until our dying-day,
which in your case could be today.
Allow me to confer the honorific of Monotreme -
Why, if my cousin Echidna was here…..’

‘Echidna? ' exclaimed Lucretius, ‘Of course! I came here
to study ants and echidnas too because they eat ants you see.
I’m an archaeologist really, but it’s a long story….’
A damp breeze skittered across the water
spinning woolly smoke into finer and finer strands
until it disappeared. Lucretius gratefully flushed his lungs
and the duck-billed platypus dissolved
in a swirl of ash brown water.

Submitted: Saturday, March 08, 2014
Edited: Monday, March 10, 2014

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

Lucretius Mud is a character from the series of poems marked with an*
Platypus is a character from the series of poems marked with a^

Comments about this poem (Lucretius Meets Platypus*^ by Diane Hine )

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  • Thomas Vaughan Jones (3/26/2014 5:29:00 AM)

    Whatever you're on, I want some. Oh to be sixty years younger, I would love you to the end of each poem.
    Fluid, funny and totally titifallarious. I'm sure I have a duck billed platypus poem somewhere. (Report) Reply

  • Dinesh Nair (3/15/2014 6:43:00 AM)

    I am still pondering over your unique pace here in selecting your themes! This wonderful poem with astounding diction on the he meeting and the lively discourse between the duo is fascinatingly Dianeian as ever I proclaim. (Report) Reply

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