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This poem is taken from PN Review 49, Volume 12 Number 5, May - June 1986.

Four Poems Les A. Murray

FASTNESS

I am listening for words the eldest
of three brothers must have uttered
magically, out of their whole being

to make a sergeant major look down
at the stamped grass, and not have them stopped
as they walked, not trooped, off his shouting
showground parade, in the brown
fatal clothes and pink boots they'd been given,

to retrieve their own horses and vanish
bearing even the unloaded strap rifles
the Government would still be pursuing
a decade later, along with the brothers.

I have come as far as officials
and sergeants ever came, telling their
hillbilly yarns: the boy-headed calf,
...


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