LEAD Action News
LEAD Action News Volume 13 Number 4, June 2013, ISSN 1324-6011
Incorporating Lead Aware Times ( ISSN 1440-4966) and Lead Advisory Service News (ISSN 1440-0561)
The Journal of The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc.
Editorial Team: Elizabeth O’Brien, Zac Gethin-Damon, Hitesh Lohani, Shristi Lohani and David Ratcliffe

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BookLead in Literature:

Poems on Ancient and Modern Hunting


By Colleen Z Burke. The copyright remains with Colleen Z Burke. Reprinted with kind permission. Ravens croak no more, A permit to kill, The shooters and Towards the mountains were published in Colleen’s poetry collection Pirouetting on a precipice: Poems of the Blue and White Mountains (Seaview Press, 2000). See Colleen’s full list of published poems at http://colleenburke.com/publications.php - her books can be purchased Better Read Than Dead Bookshop and some of her poetry books can be purchased at Gleebooks.

[Editor’s note: The following kangaroo hunting poems were chosen because the hunting method involves lead shot, and the moth hunting poem was chosen to compare old and new hunting methods. Bogong moths, hunted for millennia by Aboriginal Australians, on their annual migration to the Southern Alps / Snowy Mountains of South Eastern Australia (the White Mountains of Colleens’ poetry book title) are nutritious and “suited people in a cold climate who needed fat and a burst of energy…[as] 100 grams of bogong moth abdomen contains 38.8 grams of fat and 1805 kilojoules of energy.” See the World Health Organisation (WHO) edible insect story below, for links between insects as food and lead poisoning.]

Back cover note from the book: With brilliant imagery Colleen Burke celebrates the awesome, fragile beauty of the Blue Mountains and the Snowy Mountains. Colleen’s fine writing explores the contrast with the city, and the history and myth that resonate in the landscape. It is a magic book, rich in wisdom and humour. In the splendour and vulnerability of the mountains Colleen traces a landscape of the heart. Alison Lyssa.

White Mountain Poems

Ravens croak no more

“It would be a shame if the coming of the Europeans were

to prove as disastrous for moths as for Man . . .”

The Moth Hunters, Josephine Flood.

The tribes gathered when the frost melted

on the lower ranges of the Snowy Mountains

and thousands of hungry ravens

croaking and hovering around the granite rocks

signalled the annual arrival of millions

of Bogong moths from the north.

 Like a dark cloud the moths settled,

aestivating in fissures, cracks, and crevices.

After the bull roarer and appropriate rites

There was much noise and revelry.

During corroborees

chanting women beat drums

with yam sticks, or nulla nullas.

Others played reeds with their fingers.

Smoke signals heralded

the beginning of the moth hunt.

and groups of men climbed

up to the high granite tors in search of prey.

The moths, stupefied with smoke,

fell onto sheets of barks, nets or skins

and were then carefully cooked,

lightly roasted, so as not to scorch

bodies, or diminish their delicate flavour.

These summer gatherings of the Walgalu

and other tribes beneath the Bogong Mountains

were for sociability, for marriage,

initiation ceremonies

and to settle tribal disputes.

And the devouring of this luscious, fattening

nutritious food made bodies sleek, glossy, even fat.

And now the corroboree site

has been obliterated under the solid

weight of Blowering dam.

The Tumut river drowned.

There are no more corroborees here.

Moth numbers are dwindling

And ravens croak no more around high granite peaks.

A permit to kill                   for Bridie

A bright green

clearing glows through

the greyish bush.

Wattle blossoms

bend to the smell of

abundant water

tumbling down

from high mountains.

A kangaroo stands

alert – sensing

blood on the wind.

Last night

on a nearby property

hundreds of roos were

callously rounded up

for slaughter .

The owner/manager

had a permit to cull -

a licence to massacre.

Silence – shattered by the

sound of bullets screaming into

fragile flesh. Bloodstains

congeal in clear mountain air.

The roo bounds away.

Wattle blossoms shiver

in the quickshadow

of its passing

The Shooters

The pulse of the earth

slow at dusk.

The whispering bush still.

Clusters of kangaroos

listen warily as we move

over the old homestead

scuffing scent of dead roses.

Grass shadows bend to our weight.

The roos jump slowly downhill.

Pause.  The rifle shot is loud.

In a lilt of green old rabbit bones glow.

A roo skull lies awkwardly.

As we walk over the hillside

roos move away quickly

gathering speed

Towards the mountains             for Paddy

Cold air rising


of gum trees

scalloped on

sky glow

A hawk hovering . . .

Abundance of birds -

king parrots, finches

wrens, galahs,

crimson rosellas.

Dark cry of cockatoos

flying home.

Sonorous green air

subdued in sunset.

A roo poised on the

hillside listening . . .

Greedy for this wonder

we’re reluctant to leave

to turn homewards

as though we’ll never

walk this way again.

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