The Duck's Guts

I come up frm th bush t'work in th mill,
only got th job through a mate.
I jus walked in.

New car, new house, kids,
always scratchin fr a dollar.
Me first pay come
and I over and seen th staff foreman,
they've give me too much fr sure,
it was a month's pay in me old job.
But no, th real deal.

I was very green, I cn see that now.
But I was frm th bush, like,
and I'm here and I know nothin about nothin -
I didn't even understand what unions was about.
So these blokes are walkin out th door
but I jus stayed put.
House and car, th luxury of me pay packet,
I weren't givin that up.

I didn't go in with th safety.
I supported em with that.
But th big strike itself, a bloke jus com in,
said get out, turn that off,
and I jus... no, I'm here t'work.
That's what y'did in th bush, worked and stuff,
so when I was in there I was goin t'work.
I couldn't understand it.
I was very green.

I had t'use me noggin t'get past th picket line.
I was on me own gettin in there,
but th Pulp's a big place.
Th day th police broke th picket,
went shepherd fr us,
I lost a bit'f skin that day,
but that was all part and parcel,
it made you a bit tougher in there,
and I wasn't ever a piker anyway,
if they wanted t'fight over that, well yep,
we did that, but that was alright.
I give more than I got.
Copped one in th moosh now and agen.
Lost a bit'f skin here and there.

After they went back, yeah, it come t'blows a few times.
There was a few standoffs.
Y'got called scab, y'was always called that,
and because I wore th forestry green frm me old job
they'd call me th little green scab.
There'd be five or so on top of a machine,
leanin over, all singin out,
so I'd start up with sheep noises, goin baa and stuff.
I didn't help meself

It was never forgot.
And th sad thing is, a lot of em are nice people.
This bloke round th corner, now,
he hates me guts. Still.
Have me guts fr garters if he could.
But there was dead-set union blokes,
a site co-ordinator fr one,
would sit in our crib and talk t'me.
Because I'd fronted em.
This other bloke put his hand up t'work
and he jus dodged about and stuff,
and na, they wouldn't talk t'him.

But I never took a backward step.
After she was all over these union heads,
up they come and said would I join,
we need blokes like you.
I got respect because I rode it right out,
even though what I done was th opposite
of what they stood for.
And I joined, yeah,
I went back t'th union I was in before th strike.
I did put up with a lot of shit, but,
and I was a scab in some eyes right t'th end.

I ended up in th Finishin, a work group leader there,
still goin strong at th shutdown
and copping shit t'th very last day.
But I'm not about t'grizzle -
she was th duck's guts, me time at th Pulp.
I always believed in a good day's work fr a fair pay
and I got on there. I pushed, I admit that.
Plus I could talk t'th bosses - I learned that in th bush.
Some blokes called it brown-nosin - well they cn get stuffed.
That time put us on our feet.
I don't have no regrets.

Other poems by Pete Hay

Sunset on the Irish Festival
Girl Reading Lorca at the Mirador San Nicolas
Flower Cone

Interviews with Pete Hay

Conversations: an interview with Pete Hay and Richard Flanagan (1995)
A conversation with Pete and Anna Hay (2003)
Island to island: an interview with Pete Hay (2011)



BEACH, Eric: Weeping for Lost Babylon
DE PAOR, Louis: Goban Cre is Cloch/Sentences of Earth and Stone

Launch speeches

MATHISON, Robyn: To Be Eaten By Mice
ROBERTS, Bruce: In the Church of Latter Day Consumers
SANT, Andrew: The Islanders


Half-Time with Stout John
Port Arthur: Where Meanings Collide
What I did on my Holidays
Notes within Shadow