SHRAPNEL - Tom Skeyhill Poems


Poems » tom skeyhill » shrapnel


I was sittin? in me dug-out,
        An? was feelin? dinkum good,
Chewin? Queensland bully beef,
        An? biscuits ?ard as wood.
Me dixie was full up with tea?
        It wasn?t lady?s brand?
But there ain?t no tea plantations
        In this bloomin? ?eathen land.
I was just about to ?ave a drink,
        An? was thinkin? of the day
When we used to sink the pints,
        An? bust up all our pay,

When, boom! I nearly choked meself,
        I spilt me bloomin? tea;
I saw about a million stars,
        An? me dug-out fell on me.
They dug me out with picks and spades?
        I felt an awful wreck?
By that bloomin? Turkish shrapnel
        I was buried to the neck.
Me mouth was full of bully beef,
        Me eyes were full of dust;
I rose up to me bloomin? feet,
        An? shook me fist an? cussed.

A Sergeant says, ?You?re lucky, lad,
        It might ?ave got your ?ead;
You ought to thank your lucky stars.?
        I says, ?Well, strike me dead.?
Some bloomin? Turk gunlayer
        ?Ad slapped that shell at me;
?E spoilt me Queensland bully,
        An? spilt me bloomin? tea.
?E smashed me bally dug-out,
        An? buried all me kit;
I swore if I reached ?Connie?
        I?d revenge that little bit.

I was walkin? to the water barge,
        Along the busy shore,
An? was listenin? to the Maxims bark
        An? our Big Lizzie?s roar;
I could see that khaki cluster
        Around the water tap,
An? was kiddin? I was ?ome and dried,
        When down comes the bloomin? shrap.
I ?eard a loud explosion,
        Above me bally ?ead,
An? a bloke, not ten yards distant,
        Flopped sudden down?stone dead.

?Ave you ever seen a tiger snake
        A-dartin? from its coil?
?Ave you ever seen the brown fox
        A-dashin? through the toil?
?Ave you ever seen the lightnin?
        When it flashes all around?
Well, they were slow beside me
        As I flattened to the ground.
I crawled be?ind some boxes,
        But got an awful scare
When a shell lobbed fair among ?em
        An? there was timber in the air.

I crawled from out the debris,
        An? lay pantin? in the sand;
Then I cussed the Turkish shrapnel,
        Every Turk upon the land.
But when they knocked off firin?,
        An? I?d recovered from me fear,
I started for the trenches
        Like a bloomin? prairie deer.
I?ve ?ad some narrow shaves, but that
        ?Ad fairly took the peach;
I bet I?d rather die o? thirst
        Than risk that Shrapnel Beach.

We were sittin? in the firin? line
        A-playin? Auction Bridge,
As we took a spell from fightin?
        Just in front of Walker?s Ridge,
When a shell burst on the parapet?
        It made us feel quite ill.
The sentry on look-out says,
        ?One over to ?Beachy Bill.? ?
We scattered just like rabbits,
        An? lay along the sap,
Then when we got our scattered wits
        We cussed the bloomin? ?shrap.?

We cussed it when it busted
        A yard or so outside;
We cussed it when it missed us,
        A ?undred yards out wide.
With shrapnel an? with cusses
        The air was pretty thick,
With oaths an? sand an? bullets,
        That?d make a navvy sick.
A captain crawled up swearing,
        His oaths were worse than ?Damn;?
When a shell case clipped ?is ?ead off,
        An? the sentry says, ?Grand Slam!?

It?s always bloomin? shrapnel
        Wherever you may be,
A-sittin? in yer dug-out,
        Or bathin? in the sea.
If in support you?re lyin?,
        Fightin? in the firin? line,
Or sleepin? in reserve,
        You?ll catch it every time.
Shrapnel and Deadman?s Gully,
        At Courtney?s Post, and Quinn?s,
Pope?s Hill, and Johnson?s Jolly,
        That deadly shrapnel spins.

There?s ?Beachy Bill? in Olive Grove,
        Somewhere an armoured train;
The guns on Achi Baba,
        They cause us grief and pain.
Khelet-Bahr, an? Sahr-el Bahr,
        At us they ?ave a slap,
An? if they catch us nappin?
        Down comes their bloomin? shrap.
The Goeben and the Breslau,
        They try to knock us silly;
An? Chanak, ?on the Asian side,
        Sends down her Willy-Willy.

I don?t mind bombs and rifles,
        An? I like a bay?net charge.
But I?m ?anging out the white flag
        When the shrapnel is at large.
An? when I gets to ?Stralia,
        An? ?ears the whistlin? train,
It?s the nearest pub, for shelter
        From shrapnel once again;
But until I gets back safely
        I?ll bet me biggest nap
That I?m ?anging to me dug-out
        When I ?ears the bloomin? shrap.