A Local Oil

by Alan Gould

And up jumped Jackie blowhard, who reeked of cattle dung,
Just lobbed from the wild Monaro where the women eat their young.

Where the lakes of sump-oil clot in an auto-wrecking lot
of Queanbeyan, that Bordeaux of the South,
two scabrous vintners squat, each one a sorry sot
as he lifts a bottle to a tethlon mouth.
   O, it is not rum or cognac, it is not gin or kvass,
   it’s the Queanbeyan shiraz, pronounced sheer-ass.

So you stop and watch this crew as they fix their eyes on you
and wave you to a seat with broken springs.
As one offers you a chew of the suppurating brew
the other clears his ragged throat and sings,
    “Get it in yer, boy,” he gurgles in a voice both thin and sparse.
    “It’s a Queanbeyan shiraz, yer hear?  Sheer-ass.

“They can show us swimming pools of the reds of Kaiser Stuhls
or bring us brimming vats of dark Tanunda.
But we’ll think them effing fools with the palates of stuffed mules
and will not touch their oil for love or plunder.
   The bottle for our table, the juice of real class
   is the Queanbeyan shiraz, that’s right, sheer-ass.

“The Queanbeyan shiraz is no vigneron’s ersatz —
it can lift the duco cleanly from your cars —
and has no counterparts to see an engine starts
or put the smile on surly commissars.
   It’s the stuff to give you stomach when you’re up the Khyber Pass,
   the Queanbeyan shiraz, my oath, sheer-ass.

“By Queanbeyan’s black river where the teenage alcos shiver,
where the water is so greasy nothing sinks,
and you meet some gaunt survivor with his devastated liver
who corners you to stand him several drinks,
   buy a bottle of that wine that puts all others out to grass,
   the Queanbeyan shiraz, nah, mate, sheer-ass.

“And so, McClarenvale, put your vineyards up for sale,
Orlando, Seppelt, Blass, throw in the towel;
We can see you turning pale, you hard men of Saxonvale
and hear Mildara’s melancholy howl.
   For the bottle has arrived that you never will surpass,
   the Queanbeyan shiraz, let’s hear!  Sheer-ass!”

“You eye each vagabond, sniff their ‘ichor demi-monde’,
then down it, but decline a further round.
And slowly you respond, “Gents, I am not quickly conned ...
I’m sure this juice is all that you propound.
   Why, if I knew no better, then I’d drink another glass
    of Queanbeyan shiraz, pronounced sheer-ass.

“But lately there’s been rumour — this will not improve your humour —
of further brews in this Monaro line.
There is one they call The Tumour — it’s a burgundy from Cooma,
a real nitric acid of a wine.
   So keep your feeble poison, your alcoholic farce,
   the Queanbeyan shiraz, pronounced all ass.”


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