How Jack Bowlin Steered “Jones.” [poem by E. J. Brady]

[Editor: This poem by E. J. Brady was published in The Ways of Many Waters (1899).]


How Jack Bowlin Steered “Jones.”

(As told by Barwon Joe.)

Jack Bowlin wuz the joker’s name,
A sailor chap wuz ’e,
Who left his ship, the Golden Flame,
To run away from sea.
Jack Bowlin wuz the feller’s sign.
No greener chap I do incline
To think you’d find than ’e.
’E kem to graft with Bill an’ me
Last week at Cockatoo.
Sez Bill to me, “I bet,” sez he,
We’ll ’ave a lark or two:
This sailor bloke, what smells o’ tar,
’E’ll shortly find out where ’e are
Along o’ me an’ you!”
Sez I, “Ole man, that’s true;
We’ll put this joker through.”

So Bill ’e went an’ saddled “Jones,”
An’ whispered in ’is ear:
“Do n’t break this sailor’s bleedin’ bones,
But buck ’im good an’ clear.”
An’ “Jones” ’e neighs ’is cunning neigh:
That ’orse ’e knows ’is blessed way
About, you need n’t fear;
“Jones” was n’t born last year,
My oath, you need n’t fear.

’E says to Jack, sez Bogan Bill:
“We don’t get paid ter sleep,
So mount yer ’orse, an’ then we will
Go out and count them sheep.”
When Jack sees “Jones” ’e turned jist red:
“I ain’t sailed ’orses much,” ’e said;
“His decks is pretty steep;
Port ’ard and stiddy keep
Until I gets aboard!” An’ Jack
’E grips the stirrup tight,
An’ climbs on “Jones’s” blessed back
Wrong foot instead of right.
Oh! Bill an’ me ’ad like ter die,
For “Jones” ’e looked as meek as pie:
E saw the joke all right.

But Jack ’e faced the ’orse’s tail,
An’ as ’e scratched ’is ’ead —
“I’m ’anged if I can make ’im sail
Starn fust like this,” ’e said.
An’ then ’e turns an’ shouts to us:
“Say, messmates, ’old the cuss
Until I get his rudder-head;
I ’m green side up instead o’ red!”
(Them wuz the very words ’e said.)

“I’ll get about!” but “Jones” ’ e saw
’T was time to take a ’and;
’E ’ad n’t studied sailin’ law,
But ’ e could understand.
’E put ’is ’ead between ’is knees
An’ chucked towards the bloomin’ trees
His busted belly-band —
Oh! “Jones” could understand.

An’ then ’e stood stock still, till Jack,
Who ’d took a flyin’ trip,
In ’arf-a-’our or so kem back
An’ lit on “Jones’s” hip.
Jack Bowlin’s face was pale as death,
But soon as ’e could get ’is breath
He shouts: “Shove off! ’Bout ship!
Hey! Let ’is blank bow-anchor slip!”

“All ’ands aloft!” “His steerin’ gear
Has gone to — Inverell!”
“Jib-sheets blowed loose!” — sich langwidge queer
I’m dashed if I could tell.
’T was “Stiddy! Hard-a-lee!
Wo-back, you silly brute! Let go!
Port helm! Stand clear! Wo, Moses — wo!
Beam seas! an’ blank ground swell!”
I’m dashed if I could tell;
No more could Bill as well.

“Jones” ’eard ’is captain order ’im
“Go ’ard ahead!” an’ went,
An’ as ’e struck the sunset’s rim
His blessed back unbent.
We see Jack sailin’ through the sky,
An’ may I — strike me dry! —
If we know where ’e went;
We never got no scent
Of where that sailor went.

Poor Jack, ’e ain’t come back as yet
To work at Cockatoo.
’E’s flyin’ still, I’m game to bet,
Acrost the ’eavens blue,
Or else ’e ’s got ’is ’arp an’ crown,
An’ thinks ’e ’d better not come down
Till “Jones” ’as shifted through —
’T is maybe better, too.

For “Jones” ’as never moved, I swear.
’Is ’ead between ’is knees:
That cunnin’ ’orse is bravin’ there
The battle an’ the breeze.
’E waits all day, ’e waits all night,
’E waits, no doubt, for Jack to light —
Oh! “Jones” ’is duty sees;
He’ll brave the blessed breeze;
My oath, he is the cheese.

E. J. Brady, The Ways of Many Waters, Melbourne: Thomas C. Lothian, 1909 [first published 1899], pages 121-124

Editor’s notes:
Inverell = a town in north-east New South Wales; used by E. J. Brady as a rhyming substitute word for “Hell”

lee = the lee side of a ship or other vessel (the point or quarter towards which the wind blows on a ship); or, in a wider context, away from the wind

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