On Drought and Crime Fiction
The hawk’s a comma in our air,
which means a thriller’s hatching there,
some morsel up for a kill,
and magpies carol with opinions
to their avian companions
the measure of this thrill.
But O, the crows are unimpressed,
who take the longer interest,
And fear the plot is very thin
and though the good guys win
one notes the Dry that’s settling in,
how everywhere it’s settling in.
It’s true, diversity is down,
the coarser species struggle on,
our trees like twisted girders.
Yet lady sleuths in orange suits
hotfoot our slopes in their pursuits,
to solve the casual murders,
The watching crows who lack that zeal
Must nonetheless pursue their spiel,
Can plots be safe, and yet risqué?
Are stiffs so very everyday?
If villains exit right, well hey,
what reason for dismay,
except this Dry is here to stay —
Was this the hillside years ago
where wildflowers in tense flambeaux,
starred each in its is-ness?
What was it in the mind allowed
each breathing creature’s amplitude,
its hallowed ground of business?
The plain-chant of the crows in chorus
promptly puts the case before us,
that casual cadavers,
chopped by chef’s own cleavers
provide the climax that is clever,
where clues abstracted from saliva,
at last must blow the lady’s cover
while proving she’s a shrewd observer,
Of homicide’s palaver.
The hawk is falling like a thought
Upon some nothing caught up short,
a plot is neatly sprung.
But crows keep up their diatribes —
Don’t spare us detail that describes
just how this victim’s hung.
Give us that moiety of blood —
that titillates our neighbourhood,
where corpses are convenient food
in every raptor’s livelihood,
persist the serious crows
who like to discompose,
pronounce the moral crows
who moralize, but not in prose.
Also by Alan Gould in this issue
was born in London and has lived in Australia since 1966. He worked as a nuclear physics technician and agricultural labourer before becoming a full-time writer, occasionally teaching and writing journalism. He has published numerous volumes of poetry and fiction including the novel To the Burning City
(1991). His work has been awarded the Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry (1981), the Foundation for Australian Literary Studies Best Book of the Year Award (1985), the National Book Council Banjo Award for Fiction (1992) and the Royal Blind Society Audio Book of the Year Award (1999). More information can be found at his website