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This poem is taken from PN Review 28, Volume 9 Number 2, November - December 1982.

'The Burnt Ones' Rodney Pybus

For Patrick White, who wrote of 01 KAYMENOI . . .the burnt ones (the poor unfortunates)

They were neighbourly. Good neighbours.
The fortunate have them everywhere
like beautiful children or intelligent parents.
Her advice came over the backyard fence
in tentative bundles done up with prefaces-
'Albert and I've been wondering whether . . .
you may not want . . . We're not sticky-beaks . . .'
then her nostrums about cats and the summer fleas
of Christmas; there were sage hints
on the pruning of oleanders and the care
of frangipani or grapefruit trees, admonishments
on nightmare spiders that might be lethal
in the bathroom, or even in our sleep.
Unwitting condescension slipped from her skirt
of diffidence; our ignorance she found exotic.
...


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