Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE DEVIL ON THE ROCK, by G. M. SMITH

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THE DEVIL ON THE ROCK, by            
First Line: There's a rock out in the never
Last Line: Of old-man kangaroos.
Alternate Author Name(s): Grey, Steele
Subject(s): Death; Drinks & Drinking; Dead, The; Wine

THERE'S a rock out in the Never
On a desolate mulga range
Upon the travelling stock-route
Through Winton and Stonehenge

Where an enterprising party
By the name of Paddy Donn
Went out to start a business
In Eighteen ninety-one.

He started out from Brisbane
With a load of precious stock
To start a backblock shanty,
And he settled on the rock.

He was his own distiller,
And there must have been a ton
Of chemicals and vitriol
Went out with Paddy Donn.

To most the overlanders who
Passed that way with stock
Paddy Donn was better known
As the Devil on the Rock.

He got a call-bird up from town
Who was good at cracking jokes,
A thing quite indispensable
To lamb-down bushy blokes.

She was graceful, tall and clever,
And for lambing took the cake,
And was known out in the Never
As the lovely Wide-awake.

And Pat served out chin-lightning
To all thirsty souls who came,
But if they didn't relish it he
Would get there all the same.

For Pat was enterprising
With an eye to number one,
He would introduce the card or dice
And lay the donah on.

To get away from that fair Queen
They stood but little show,
And she would pluck them pretty clean
Before she'd let them go.

There were few could boast of leaving
There with silver, gold, or cheque,
But there were a few could boast of
Coming out a total wreck.

And the business seemed to flourish
With the Devil on the Rock,
For the drovers made good money then
At overlanding stock.

But those who drank too freely of
His chemicals and dyes
Saw black and crimson serpents
With blue tongues and fiery eyes.

An odd one perhaps would wander off
And die out in the bush,
But as a rule the half-mile was
The limit of the push.

Then Paddy's business suffered when
The public got a shock
With the number of the skeletons
Round the Devil on the Rock.

But Pat would always ring it in
To blokes there on the booze
That they were only skeletons
Of old-man kangaroos.

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