The big wet in Queensland
brings a truckload of bastard flies,
to my town, my house, and my ears.

They bustle their way through
any doors left ajar, any window
unscreened, any mouth left open

in disgust at the sheer numbers
involved in the fly army,
invading our sensibilities

and ensuring the continuation
of the Australian monotone, Strine
we’re all card carrying ventriloquists.

The flies descend enmasse on food,
in drinks, buzzing up a storm
and getting cornered in every room.

Any attempt at napping in the heat
of the afternoon is met with a posse
of flies, the din of which increases

the more you want to sleep.
The only time they disappear
is when the fly swatter is raised,

or the can of Mortein is poised
for the attack on Louie and co.
Those eyes don’t miss a beat,

and don’t get me started
on the dying fly, the pathetic bursts
of buzz, the contorted spasms

of the nearly dead, which then gather
in piles behind couches and in crevices,
where the vacuum turns a blind eye.

But, you mustn’t blame the Hoover,
I’m telling you, sucking up flies is no fun,
and then there’s maggots,

in the rubbish bin, hogging out
on detritus, stinking the place up,
reminding us of our final decay.

Flies, damn flies,
enough to make me go ballistic.

32 thoughts on “Flies, damned flies and ballistics

  1. Flies? Shit that’s nothing! What about the mozzies! Loved the poem GB, timely, fun and very Aussie.
    BTW, I dug out my copy of ‘Lets Talk Strine’ (bought new about 1962) a week ago, and here you are referring to it! Snap! haha!
    I spent some evenings with Alastair Morrison about 1978 at Wollombi NSW where he had a shack in the bush, and we shared a bottle of red or ten while we solved the world’s problems… actually, I must admit in retrospect, we failed.

  2. Oh yeah, I really hate those flies.

    I think in Qld we just accept that flies, buzzing and maggots are a part of life (unfortunately). I’m also completely driven mad by the buzzing of a dying fly – we often get them in the bedroom at night and the buzzing goes on and on … I don’t dislike many living things in my space, but flies are one of them!

    1. It would be easier if we didn’t have dogs Tracey 😉 but that is the price you pay for furry friends (my dog Sheba refuse to use the doggy door so the door stays open a lot – letting the flies in).

  3. Next to cockroaches and bedbugs, maggots are my dread. *shudder* I’ve learned a new thing, ‘strine.’ I have never heard of this before. Over here on Newf, they have a dalect and they actually have the Newfoundland Dictionary. Is there such a thing in Oz for your dialect(s)?

    This were my favourite lines:

    But, you mustn’t blame the Hoover,
    I’m telling you, sucking up flies is no fun,
    and then there’s maggots,

    in the rubbish bin, hogging out
    on detritus, stinking the place up,
    reminding us of our final decay.

    1. Thanks Val 🙂 There is the book that Stafford refers to, but there are others I am sure – the name Strine is just the word Australian compressed (the way some of us speak). They say that Australians speak in a monotone because we try to keep our mouths from opening too wide (to stop the flies getting in, hence the monotone way of speaking and the compression of sounds. We also have many unique Australian words that confuse visitors – hence the colloquial dictionaries available.

  4. Oh, I feel for you guys, I really do. Those buzzy little bastards would drive anyone to insanity. I love how you have connected the drone of the fly to Strine. That is perfect. You are so clever.

    When I first arrived in Australia in the late 1970s one of the first things I saw on TV was the Louie the Fly commercial. ‘Straight from rubbish bins to you…’ I’ll never forget how catchy it was. I’ll never forget how the number of flies in the Aussie bush freaked me out. Very different from Scotland.

    Hope the Mortein keeps those little buggers away from you.

    Happy Australia Day, my dear friend!!!

  5. A very appropriate Australia Day poem, Gabrielle – pesky, pesky critters – and I agree with Stafford about the mozzies – we have been plagued with both holidaying in north-east Victoria which has not had any flooding, so I can only imagine the plague in flood-ravaged QLD! Commiserations. bb

  6. thats exactly how i feel about fleas i finally managed to get them all out after the cats were besieged last fall, and with flea multitudes and juxtaposed life cycles it sure wasnt easy
    great poem gabrielle!


    My mamma says
    Don’t worry boy
    The fly is just a firefly
    If your ear sees the light
    No matter its look
    Climb on top of the vertigo
    And you’ll be the flyer
    Among all flies
    That are buzzing
    The melody of the fire

  8. look, this is the secret of australian flies^^

    “..In the streets, the garbage lies
    Protected by a million flies
    The roaches so big
    You know that they got bones
    They moved in and made a tenement home..”

  9. Thank you for bringing the reality of the situation here to me in the States. People often only think about the water, but that much water can bring all kinds of things outside of the obvious damage. Love your poetry. Sorry about the flies. Hopefully the frogs will have a feast.

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