Jack Howard – Kaniva Christmas


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Studio 3:44 Jack Howard Songs For Longing – The Poems Of Dawson Hann EP. Moderately common. Available new in digital form.

Recommended Version.






Coming home at Christmas,
Chasing a western sun, I reach Kaniva,
Last of the Wimmera wheat towns,
And feels like it too,
When you’ve made hard miles to get there;
Shunned once more by spring rains,
Perhaps thought unworthy, being that close
To the edge of elsewhere.

Bethlehem might have been a dump too,
Equally unsuited to miracles.

In Kaniva, a shagged-out sigh
For the season of nativity
Is miracle enough itself;
On stooped verandah posts
Tied tinsel hangs like threads
Torn from a lost pageant.

On one house, snow edges windows
Smeared with the grime
Of dust and flies; underneath,
A dilapidated cardboard Santa,
Wired to God knows where,
Winks its lights at the day’s brightness.

Out front, a sign announces:
“Upholsteries done – Free Quotes”;
A face peers hopefully, just glimpsed
Darkly, through stained glass.
There’s doubtless good trade here,
Re-stuffing unstitched things.

And a rusty warning on next door’s gate:
“Bewar of the Do..”
But the yard is as silent as absent letters.

Further west along the highway
You reach the Tatiara, “the good country”.
Though hardly blessed, the gums here
Are sparse but strong, a place more propitious
For landing, parking and hitching a sleigh.

No lowing livestock can be detected, though,
Or mangers worth stopping for on your way.


Adelaide, January 2001.

[Dawson Hann]