James Orrock: ‘Ghost Train Fire, 9 June 1979’

Ghost Train Fire, 9 June 1979
For John Godson, Damien Godson, Craig Godson, Jonathan Billings, Richard Carroll, Michael Johnson, Seamus Rahilly and Martin Sharp

Just for fun Sydney and the Bush took off
to a harbour-side carnival of thrills and spills
by train beneath the Coat Hanger’s gunmetal fretwork
or ferried in green-cream livery over emerald depths
past Joe Lynch’s five bells to the squealing neon lights.

On the run the Godsons and the Waverley boys passed
through the toothy maw of a lunatic clown
to its buffet of delights: River Cave romance, Coney Island bedlam,
Mighty Mouse jolts, Big Dipper vaults, dodgem smash-ups,
centrifuged spew on hung shirts against Rotor-spun walls.

In the sun a topless Mr Sin rode on a saffron yellow shell
held up by a black knight with an allen key, ballyhoo rookery,
bent coppers, on-the-take beaks, greased pollie palms,
oiled strippers, midnight pokies, sly grog swillers, smack packers,
coke snorters & heavy knuckle rorters game for a kerosene payday.

After it was done the tiny purple fishes kept playing
around the pylon fissures as the last ghost train riders
rise above a smoke-stink vale of tears;
an infernal machine has them waiting with the Resurrection Man,
His robe dipped in blood, flaming sword in hand.

James Orrock


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