Shicker, I S’pose [poem by “Dryblower” Murphy, 1926]

[Editor: This poem by “Dryblower” Murphy was published in Dryblower’s Verses (1926).]

Shicker, I S’pose.

I’m writing this rhyme on an East-bound ship
(The pilot will bear it back);
I’m taking a once-in-seven years’ trip,
And in seven days’ time the Queenscliff Rip
Will punch this passenger smack.
For a month, maybe, my pen will pause
And my muse neglected dose,
But the average bloke and his average rib
Will say as they miss my nom-de-nib —
“Shicker, I s’pose!”

Your average bloke is a knowing cove;
He knows what the poets are;
He “wunce knoo a bard on the ‘Bullerteen’”
Who over in Noo South used to lean
On his old man’s shanty bar.
And he’d always say, when a week went by,
And this Byron didn’t compose,
When there wasn’t a line from his pal McSpree
He’d say, as he opened his empty “B,”
“Shicker, I s’pose!”

The household butcher can go on the jag,
And nobody misses his meat.
If you’re short of sausages, steak or chops,
There are plenty of excellent rival shops
Farther along the street.
But the man who on Sunday reels his rhymes,
Voicing your weals and woes,
As the vacant space on the page they eye
Hears in their smug, Sabbatical sigh,
“Shicker, I s’pose!”

You can’t have the measles, you can’t have the mumps,
You can’t get maimed in a mine;
You can’t pay a tenner to Dr. Bung
To feel your pulse and test your tongue,
Without there’s a wowser whine.
If into your room for a workless week
A trained nurse comes and goes,
The same cocksure, suburban sage
Sighs, as he peeps at your verseless page —
“Shicker, I s’pose!”

The publican sells his beers and wines,
Whiskies, gins, and rums,
And now and again he takes a spell
Where schnapper and gar expire and smell
And the prawn long-perished, hums.
Nobody cares when he trips from town
In crayfish-smelling clothes,
And nobody says in a sermon sleek,
“Dear me, he hasn’t been seen for a week —
“Shicker. I s’pose!”

Nobody cares if a grocer sails
Afar on the bounding blue,
His substitute will sprinkle sand
And tickle the till with a good right hand,
As substitutes will do.
But the Sunday poet who longs for rest
Where the girl mixed-bathing glows,
Can be perfectly sure the public say
“I don’t see his name in the paper to-day —
Shicker, I s’pose!”

So this, O, reader’s the reason I
On the grey Dimboola’s deck,
Write you a rhyme as the pilot waits
Bumping against our Plimsoll plates,
A salt-encrusted speck.
You’ve substitutes and pubstitutes
And prettily they compose,
So, till I return from the holiday seas,
Will you kindly stifle that ancient wheeze —
“Shicker, I s’pose!”

Edwin Greenslade Murphy, Dryblower’s Verses, Perth, W.A.: E. G. Murphy, 1926, pages 109-110

Previously published (with some differences) in:
The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 27 February 1916, p. 6

Editor’s notes:
B = The Bulletin

Byron = Lord Byron (1788-1824), English poet

gar = a needlefish found in brackish and marine waters of the Eastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Baltic Sea; also known as garfish (Belone belone) or sea needle (“gar” may also refer to any of several fishes, of the genus Lepisosteidae, found in fresh, brackish, and sometimes marine waters in Central America, the Caribbean islands, and eastern North America; also known as garfish or garpike)

hum = reek, regarding something that emits an unpleasant smell

jag = a spree, binge, or period of overindulgence, especially a drunken spree; a state of intoxication arising from the use of alcohol drinks or drugs (may also refer to a sharp point, a barb; to cut, jab, pierce, prick, slash, or stab; to catch fish by using an unbaited hook)

Plimsoll = Plimsoll line, a waterline marked on the side of ships, which must be visible above the water (so as to prevent ships being overloaded, subsequently settling too low in the water, and thus being liable to capsize in turbulent seas); named after Samuel Plimsoll (1824-1898), a British Member of Parliament who campaigned to make such waterlines compulsory by law, so as to prevent the heavy loss of life caused by ships being overloaded

rib = woman, wife (a reference to the Biblical story of God making Eve out of one of Adam’s ribs)

shicker = drunk

tenner = a ten pound note

Vernacular spellings:
knoo (knew)
Noo South (New South; as in New South Wales)
wunce (once)

[Editor: Corrected “chops.” to “chops,”.]

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