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What monument is raised to this dead king?
His subjects are long gone to dust.
No grand refrains, by bards composed, to sing
Of wisdom and of rule so just.

There are no songs or statues, just this stream,
With limpid pools that mirror all
The clouds at day, and stars at night that gleam
And flicker as the curlews call.

Does in that scarred old gum his spirit rest —
Dumb sentinel upon the bank?
Or does it sleep in reeds where wild ducks nest,
By these still waters where he drank?

Upon his chest he wore his crescent plate;
No crown he wore with jewels and gold.
No court intrigues would mark this monarch’s fate;
No noble history writ or told.

With axe and vine he scaled the tallest tree.
With spear and shield his battles fought.
But could his dead eyes see this place, would he
Be saddened by the changes wrought?

For though the creek still flows by grassy banks;
Still paper-barks its pools surround —
So close the traffic flows in endless ranks;
All day and night a ceaseless sound.

But on some nights when light from sickle moon —
A silvered breastplate in the sky,
Shines on the mist that cloaks the still lagoon,
And breezes through the reed beds sigh,

Then all the souls who called this creek their place —
This warrior and all his kind
Who lived here in the past, this clear stream grace,
For King John creek, these spirits mind.

King Johnny – a “King” of one of the Moreton Bay Tribes.
The creek near Caboolture, where he regularly fished and
hunted bears his name.

Copyright © Dennis N. O’Brien, 2011