I Wonder Who Owns the Fourth of July

There’s a brigand in my bones
and I don’t know why.
I wonder who owns
The Fourth of July.

Birthdays in peril:
the yankee doodle
dandy fiddle
and the lookout squirrel;

the flag on the hat;
the rabble house
where pilgrims spat
on brigand shoes
and buckles;

and the biggest
birthday to a star
was tapped with spigots
and toasted more
than bread:

it’s bones,
worn down to why,
to stealth on the stones
of theft going by
from house to house
in snarling shoes:

all vacuum, no dawns,
my domain and I:

no windowsill rose,
no worlds without end -
wild bones of why -

no estates of day,
no engines of towns
but windless mills
that once danced gales
to the sawdust huddle
of wicks of why -

mavourneen of mirrors
and vanishing walls,
I smother in the cradle
of smiles from you.

How adamant the hills!
where galleys of guns,
widows of iron,
their rivers undone,
sweep through,

and no palm’s strewn
for a toothsawn
whisky hodown’s
hammered fiddle
and the banjo’s cry
grinding the stones
of shoes of prey

as the big earth wheels
breath’s gardens by
in a doorstep robin’s
orange eye –

plumage polar
and boulder hidden:
an Armageddon,
a Stonewall to the sun’s
stampeding colour

in the claiming gorge
at the banjo’s edge
of pilgrimage
to a clinking camp’s
vain parliaments,
that scupper the lamps
with the palest guns,

and brief Brigadoons
with auld lang synes
dying into the day
plunge out;

shout why.
Birthdays and bones.
Birthdays and bones.
I wonder who owns
the Fourth of July.

* Birthdays in peril: b. Toowoomba 1924; diagnosis, cryptic chronic interstitial cellular breath and bone breakdown.
* mavourneen: of the great Gaelic migrations.
* Brigadoon: This 1947 Broadway musical was a fantasy adapted from Germelhausen, a story by the 19th Century German writer Friedrich Gerstacker. The German story was about a concealed community that lived only for a day each century and, when it vanished, seemed to take the world with it. The idea was visualised in Brigadoon.
* Stonewall: the geographical place where “Stonewall” Jackson (1824-1863) withstood the Union army for nine months at Shenandoah, at attritional cost to both sides, and from which his nickname derived.