Gregory North

The Mighty Illawarra
© Gregory North, 2005

I am the mighty Illawarra and I am so bored.
To say that I'm felicitous, well that would be a fraud.
I never used to feel like this, I used to be content,
To watch the sea and feel the breeze, with nothing to resent.
I'd warm my cliffs by morning sun and wash my yellow sand,
I nurtured woods and animals that flourished on my land.
I saw the seasons come and go, the wild and the calm,
And even southern busters seemed to cause me little harm.

But now I'm bored unceasingly, and bored in ev'ry way.
I'm bored on sev'ral levels – bored by night and bored by day.
A strange sensation in my guts, a hollowness inside,
has got me feeling older, like a part of me has died.

I think I know when it began, its not so long ago,
well not for me, I've been around a year or two, you know.
A day like any other, or at least that's what I thought,
except for some emotions of an unfamiliar sort.
I wish that my embarrassment could just stay undisclosed,
but unexpectedly my Wongawilli* was exposed!
From then on I felt different and it keeps getting worse.
This boredom here inside of me, it haunts me like a curse.

'Cause now I'm bored unceasingly, and bored in ev'ry way,
I'm bored on sev'ral levels – bored by night and bored by day.
A strange sensation in my guts, a hollowness inside,
has got me feeling older, like a part of me has died.

My Wongawilli's* shrinking and there's parts of me that leak.
It's spread into my Bulli* and my American Creek*.
Now I suppose it could be stress that's eating me inside,
but there is nothing I can do and no place I can hide.
I feel it in my Tongarra* and my Balgownie* too.
From Picton through to Berrima, Coalcliff to Jamberoo.
And now it seems I'm hearing things – a never ending din.
This boredom's got a hold of me and I may never win.

Yes, now I'm bored unceasingly, and bored in ev'ry way,
I'm bored on sev'ral levels – bored by night and bored by day.
A strange sensation in my guts, a hollowness inside,
has got me feeling older, like a part of me has died.

I'm slowly feeling weaker and I'm now more prone to breaks.
It seems my youth is over and I've got these belly aches.
These nasty tummy upsets just seem destined to increase,
so please excuse my rumblings and my noxious gas release!
There's been the odd explosion that I'd rather not recount,
like Appin, Bulli and the big one under Kembla's mount#.
I really felt unwell that day and nothing much has changed –
an ongoing depression as my guts are rearranged.

And still I'm bored unceasingly, and bored in ev'ry way,
I'm bored on sev'ral levels – bored by night and bored by day.
A strange sensation in my guts, a hollowness inside,
has got me feeling older, like a part of me has died.

I am the mighty Illawarra, and I am so bored.
I'm bored in all directions and it cannot be ignored.
I've come apart at ev'ry seam and feel so sensitive,
but from this whinging I should try to find the positive.
Well, maybe somehow, in some way my suffering has brought
a benefit to someone in a way I'd never thought.
I hope that is the case and that it hasn't been in vain,
and boring here inside me might have been to someone's gain.

Meanwhile I'm bored unceasingly, and bored in ev'ry way,
I'm bored on sev'ral levels – bored by night and bored by day.
A strange sensation in my guts, a hollowness inside,
has got me feeling older, like a part of me has died.


*Wongawilli, American Creek, Bulli, Tongarra and Balgownie are Illawarra coal seams.
# Underground Gas Explosions:
    Appin Colliery 1979 – 14 dead
    Bulli Colliery 1887 – 81 dead
    Mount Kembla 1902 – 96 dead

This poem was performed at the 2004
Mt Kembla Mining Heritage Festival
and won the major prize.

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© Gregory North 2010. Photos by Andrew Bosman and Gregory North. Updated 
August 2010