Vance Palmer

(1885 - 1959 / Australia)

The Road to Roma Jail Poem by Vance Palmer


It's a long road, a cruel road, the road to Roma Jail,
birds in all the branches mocking as you pass,
the spiteful little soldier-bird, the stupid old jackass,
crying 'One, two three of them; riding head to tail'.
On the long road, the cruel road, the road to Roma Jail.

Crookedly the track runs beneath the grassy skies
silver shines the mulga, golden glows the plain,
Bullocks in the barley-grass start and stare again,
stockmen at the station-yars, watch the white dust rise,
but one man, jogging on, dare not raise his eyes.

Pride of life and wild blood, all must pay the toll,
stolen horses' mouths are hard as misers hearts
none knew where the end is once the journey starts,
and Steve rides a long ride to reach a bitter goal
where black imps, grinning imps, hover round his soul.

It's a long road, a cruel roaadm the road to roma Jail,
a trooper rides behind you, a tracker rides before,
your hands are tied, your head bowed, your heart and body sore,
and high above you in the blue the homing wood-duck sail,
on the long road, the cruel road, the road to Roma Jail

Submitted: Thursday, April 15, 2010

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