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Riding the Cobra at the York ShowJohn Kinsella
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Vol. 26 No. 22 · 18 November 2004
Poem

Riding the Cobra at the York Show

John Kinsella

288 words

Hoodwinked by the flat-lining, inside out
Silver lining of every absent cloud,
A clear day halo, a vulcanised rout
Of dust and eucalypt, diesels and loud
Stereos hyping up an eager crowd:
Addendum to truck and trailer, it rears
Up and contorts, hydraulically proud,
Eyes in the back of the head, cobra peers
Out into the hills and paddocks: it fears

Less with each scream. Down there – about to wake –
Snakes that wouldn’t recognise it – dugites,
Gwarders, pythons, blind snakes . . . this clap-trap take-
All-before-it blow-in whiplash that skites
Loud enough to wake the dead, deny rites
Of belonging. Still, it rouses the prey
To come out into the open, reach heights
Once unimaginable; praise this lay
Society, almost too proud to pray.

Hooked elbow, steel lap-trap, drop-pod lock-down . . .
Centrifuge of senses and kinetics,
On the blow-out, rise up and twist, your frown
Looking down and out at the granite quirks
Of sunset ridges, peripatetics
Of ripening crops, glib orality
Of sideshow clowns, unravelling antics
Of object and shade . . . the finality
Of bent guns in shooting tents, reality

Sublimated and betrayed like roos caught
In a spotlight; centre of tension, soul
Lolling out of the mouth, memory fraught
With unresolved theologies, the roll
Of light and unction dipped in the blurred bowl
Of endolymph, the body osmotic;
This sharp arabesque as elemental
As Hyperion’s car freaking parrots
And judges of the show’s best: despotic!

So cedillas hanging heavy with bi-
Lateral agreement, torque and sentience
Weighed up in slowing, operator’s wry
Perving as limbs unfold, his dependence
On post-rush joy hidden by a grimace:
Vertigo, obtuse valley-lift anchored
By hill’s reprise . . . cobra lodged in conscience,
Iron-clad alibi, convalescing, coiled
Double helix, lime-lit, reloaded – bored.

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