Cane Toad


There once was an ASHer folorn
Who wished he had never been born
He wouldn't have been
If his father had seen
That the end of his condom was torn

It seems obligatory for a normal ASHer to have a cache of depressing poetry. But I am not the former, and therefore I don't have the latter. Moreover, I'm not good enough to write anything meaningful myself, hence all of the following have been borrowed from others.

** This is a Dorothy Parker free zone **

Clancy of the CES

By students of the ANU, Canberra, mid 1980s and slightly modified by me 1987. This is a parody of the famous Clancy of the Overflow by A.B.Paterson, consequently if you haven't heard the original, this won't make any sense. (Note also that CES = The now defunct Commonwealth Employment Service.)

I had written him a letter
Which I had for want of better
Knowledge sent to where I knew him
Down the Woden branch address
He was a public servant when I knew him
So I sent the letter to him
Just on spec, addressed as follows;
"Clancy of the CES"

And an answer came directed
In a writing unexpected
And I think the same was written
With a Pentel or a Bic
Twas his secretary who wrote it
And verbatim I will quote it
"Clancy's not been in for ages
And we think that he is sick"

In my wild erratic fancy
Visions come to me of Clancy
Not sick, but up at Noosa
Where the public servants go
As our traffic jams are stringing
Clancy's stereo is singing
For the fat-cat's life has pleasures
That us workers never know

And the clubs have friends to meet him
And their beery voices greet him
Amidst the rattle of the pokies
And the glasses on the bars
And he sees the vision splendid
Of the beaches all extended
And at night the red lights twinkle
Like a thousand bloodshot stars

I am sitting in my dingy
Little beach-towel as a stingy
Ray of sunlight struggles feebly
Down between the rain-clouds tall
But now it doesn't matter
As the rain begins to spatter
And the spring-time gloom in Canberra
Descends on us like a pall

And in place of waves that break
I see a chocolate coloured lake
Full of random bits of sewage
And the odd limb of a tree
And to keep the food-chain nourishing
For the carp that are a-flourishing
Are sixteen corpses washed down
From Queenbeyan cemetery

And I somehow rather fancy
That I'd like to change with Clancy
Like to take a turn at Flextime
Where you're the boss and don't care less
While he faced the round eternal
Of exam, essay and journal
But I doubt that work would suit him
Clancy of the CES

The Lay of the Three Bastards

[This recitation was allegedly written by Ogden Nash in the late 1930s. The version presented here was current in Australia in the 1940s and differs slightly from the original.]

The First Bastard:

I am an autocratic figure in these democratic days,
A dandy demonstration of hereditary traits.
As the children of the baker bake the most delicious breads,
And the sons of Casanova fill the most exclusive beds,
So my position in the structure of society I owe
To the qualities of parents bequeathed my long ago.
My father was a gentleman, and musical to boot,
He played the second fiddle in a house of ill-repute,
The madam was a lady, and a credit to her cult,
And she liked my father's fiddling - and I am the result.
So my mother and my father are the ones I have to thank
For the fact that I'm the Chairman of the National Mutual Bank.

The Second Bastard:

In a cosy little farm house in a quaint old country dell,
A dear old-fashioned farmer and his daughter used to dwell,
She was pretty, she was charming, she was gentle, she was mild,
And her sympathies were such that she was frequently with child.
In the year her hospitality attained a record high
She then became the mother of a happy infant - I.
And whenever she was gloomy, I could always make her grin
By childishly inquiring who my father might have bin
The hired man was favoured by the girls of mother's set
And a traveler from Sydney was an even money bet,
But such was mother's morals, and such was her allure
The even the Archbishop was not completely sure.
So I took my mother's morals, and I took my mother's crust
And now I am the Chairman of the top Investment Trust.

The Third Bastard:

As a member of a chain gang on a dusty Bathurst road
My late lamented father had a permanent abode.
Now some were there for stealing, but my father's only fault
Was an overwhelming weakness for criminal assault
My father always told me that raping was a crime,
Unless you raped the voters a million at a time.
I'm a debit to my country, but a credit to my dad,
I'm the most expensive M.H.R. this country ever had.

Our parents forgot to get married, our parents forgot to get wed,
Did a wedding bell chime, it was always the time that our parents were somewhere in bed
So thanks to our kind loving parents, we are kings in this land of the free,
Yon banker, yon broker, yon Canberra joker - three prominent bastards are we.

Lament Of The Person Who Is Not Prominent:

I'm an ordinary figure in these democratic days,
A pathetic demonstration of hereditary traits.
As the children of the flat-footed have the flattest kind of feet
And the children of Flo. Ziegfield have a waggle in the seat,
So my position at the bottom of society I owe
To the qualities my parents bequeathed me long ago.
My father was a married man, and what is even more,
He was married to my mother, a fact which I deplore.
I was born in holy wedlock, consequently by-and-by
I was rooked by even bastard who had plunder in his eye.
I deposited, I invested, and I voted at the call,
If I've ever made a penny then these bastards took it all.
But now I've learned my lesson and I'm on the proper track
I'm a self-appointed bastard, and I'm going to get it back.

Petit Testament

By "Ern Malley" 1943.

[Put this one in your suicide note and they'll spend forever trying to figure out what it means. Ern Malley claimed of his poems that "if they face outwards to the reader it is because they have first faced inwards to themselves." Which explains things about as well as can be done.]


7th June 2003 - This poem has been removed due to threat of legal action. I must confess that when I put up this site I never thought I'd face legal threats for posting a nonsense poem written 60 years ago by an imaginary person. To make the thing even more surreal, the poem can be read in full and for free on the site of the claimed copyright holder [I'm fearful to link the site in case of further legal unpleasantness, but the domain name should not be difficult for the astute reader to guess].

You can read it, but don't put it in your suicide note, or you'll get sued.

Ten Little Ashers

By jill heather. Posted to ASH Jan 1999. [reproduced with permission]

[UPDATE March 2005 - This is a humourous poem included for the purpose of amusement and is not intended to imply that either the author of this poem or myself in any way advocate or endorse suicide, euthanasia or suchlike criminal acts.]

Ten little ashers went out to dine
   one ate cyanide and then there were nine
Nine little ashers stayed up very late
   one took valium and vodka and then there were eight
Eight little ashers talking about heaven
   one thought he'd test the myth and then there were seven
Seven little ashers chopping up sticks
   one chopped himself in halves and then there were six
Six little ashers not wanting to be alive
   one jumped off a bridge and then there were five
Five little ashers driving in the car
   one breathed carbon monoxide and then there were four
Four little ashers going out to sea
   one had rocks in his pockets and then there were three
Three little ashers feeling oh-so-blue
   one swallowed nicotine and then there were two
Two little ashers went out to have some fun
   one od'd on heroin and then there was one
One little asher left all alone
   he went and hanged himself and then there were none.

Faces in the Street

By Henry Lawson

[At times I yearn for the good old days when one could climb onto a soap box and clamour for a Glorious Revolution - without getting laughed at.]

They lie, the men who tell us in a loud decisive tone
That want is here a stranger, and that misery's unknown;
For where the nearest suburb and the city proper meet
My window-sill is level with the faces in the street --
Drifting past, drifting past,
To the beat of weary feet --
While I sorrow for the owners of those faces in the street.

And cause I have to sorrow, in a land so young and fair,
To see upon those faces stamped the marks of Want and Care;
I look in vain for traces of the fresh and fair and sweet
In sallow, sunken faces that are drifting through the street --
Drifting on, drifting on,
To the scrape of restless feet;
I can sorrow for the owners of the faces in the street.

In hours before the dawning dims the starlight in the sky
The wan and weary faces first begin to trickle by,
Increasing as the moments hurry on with morning feet,
Till like a pallid river flow the faces in the street --
Flowing in, flowing in,
To the beat of hurried feet --
Ah! I sorrow for the owners of those faces in the street.

The human river dwindles when 'tis past the hour of eight,
Its waves go flowing faster in the fear of being late;
But slowly drag the moments, whilst beneath the dust and heat
The city grinds the owners of the faces in the street --
Grinding body, grinding soul,
Yielding scarce enough to eat --
Oh! I sorrow for the owners of the faces in the street.

And then the only faces till the sun is sinking down
Are those of outside toilers and the idlers of the town,
Save here and there a face that seems a stranger in the street,
Tells of the city's unemployed upon his weary beat --
Drifting round, drifting round,
To the tread of listless feet --
Ah! My heart aches for the owner of that sad face in the street.

And when the hours on lagging feet have slowly dragged away,
And sickly yellow gaslights rise to mock the going day,
Then flowing past my window like a tide in its retreat,
Again I see the pallid stream of faces in the street --
Ebbing out, ebbing out,
To the drag of tired feet,
While my heart is aching dumbly for the faces in the street.

And now all blurred and smirched with vice the day's sad pages end,
For while the short "large hours" toward the longer "small hours" trend,
With smiles that mock the wearer, and with words that half entreat,
Delilah pleads for custom at the corner of the street --
Sinking down, sinking down,
Battered wreck by tempests beat --
A dreadful, thankless trade is hers, that Woman of the Street.

But, ah! to dreader things than these our fair young city comes,
For in its heart are growing thick the filthy dens and slums,
Where human forms shall rot away in sties for swine unmeet,
And ghostly faces shall be seen unfit for any street --
Rotting out, rotting out,
For the lack of air and meat --
In dens of vice and horror that are hidden from the street.

I wonder would the apathy of wealthy men endure
Were all their windows level with the faces of the Poor?
Ah! Mammon's slaves, your knees shall knock, your hearts in terror beat,
When God demands a reason for the sorrows of the street,
The wrong things and the bad things
And the sad things that we meet
In the filthy lane and alley, and the cruel, heartless street.

I left the dreadful corner where the steps are never still,
And sought another window overlooking gorge and hill;
But when the night came dreary with the driving rain and sleet,
They haunted me -- the shadows of those faces in the street,
Flitting by, flitting by,
Flitting by with noiseless feet,
And with cheeks but little paler than the real ones in the street.

Once I cried: "Oh, god almighty! if thy might doth still endure,
Now show me in a vision for the wrongs of Earth a cure."
And, lo! with shops all shuttered I beheld a city's street,
And in the warning distance heard the tramp of many feet,
Coming near, coming near,
To a drum's dull distant beat,
And soon I saw the army that was marching down the street.

Then, like a swollen river that has broken bank and wall,
The human flood came pouring with the red flags over all,
And kindled eyes all blazing bright with revolution's heat,
And flashing swords reflecting rigid faces in the street.
Pouring on, pouring on,
To a drum's loud threatening beat,
And the war-hymns and the cheering of the people in the street.

And so it must be while the world goes rolling round its course,
The warning pen shall write in vain, the warning voice grow hoarse,
But not until a city feels Red Revolution's feet
Shall its sad people miss awhile the terrors of the street --
The dreadful everlasting strife
For scarcely clothes and meat
In that pent track of living death -- the city's cruel street.

Parodies of various songs and poems

Last updated: Mar 14nd 2005 All death threats to: Grey Knight

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