Laughing-Jacks [poem by Rex Ingamells]

[Editor: This poem by Rex Ingamells was published in Gumtops (1935).]


(Written after a Trip from Cobdogla to Morgan by Canoe)

The laughing-jacks lurked on both banks to chide
At our presumptuous little Odyssey;
With sudden scornful outbursts to deride;
To slander us with harsh cacophony.
Amid the shaggy branches of old trees
They perched themselves unseen, or half in view;
Their spells were ancient tribal sorceries —
Or might have been, such confidence they knew.
They jibed at us at night where we made camp,
And found us objects of sheer ghoulish mirth;
But they forgot us when the lazy lamp
Of the full-moon dream-drifted over earth.
Then in the dawn they, boisterously laughing,
Turned enmity to banter and to chaffing.

Rex Ingamells. Gumtops, F. W. Preece & Sons, Adelaide, 1935, page 25

Editor’s notes:
cacophony = discordant or harsh sound (for example, a cacophony of calls, cackles, or yells)

chaffing = to annoy or irritate (it can also refer to rubbing hands together to keep them warm; or to something, usually skin, made sore, worn, or irritated by rubbing)

enmity = hostility or hatred; an animosity between enemies

laughing-jack = a kookaburra (a bird also known as a “laughing jackass” due to the sound of its call)

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