THE PUB AT CRIPPLE CREEK – The Last Shanty Inn
© Terry Piggott
Winner, 2012, ‘Cervantes Arts Festival Poetry Competition’, Cervantes WA.
It stands there still, what’s left of it, amid the rubble stones and grit,
a last reminder of the past that soon will surely disappear.
And even at this distance now, I sense its ancient vibes somehow
and as I reach its sagging walls a presence seems to linger here.
There’s eerie sounds of flapping tin and fleeting shadows lurk within
and seem to flit from room to room in what remains of this old pub.
The creaking sounds when stirred by breeze join with the sighs of windswept trees,
as though this place was filled with life; not overgrown with weeds and scrub.
And even though it’s now a shell, this place must once have cast its spell
on weary men who’d toiled for months, for small returns on efforts made.
And if by chance they wandered in they’d find this place of booze and sin,
where potent homemade brews were sold and hard faced women plied their trade.
Here stories of the latest finds would raise men’s hopes and inflame minds,
with whispers of large nuggets found by miners from a nearby show.
And hopes that had been all but dead would rise again as rumours spread,
convincing some who’d thought to leave, to stay and have another go.
But when at last the gold ran out the old inns future hung in doubt,
the fields were slowly dying now; the gold rush days were gone for good.
And soon the shops were closing down to leave behind a ghost like town,
this pub the only building left where once a dozen others stood.
When doors were closed that final day, they say folks came from miles away,
to reminisce about the past and talk once more of fortunes found.
Excitement though soon died away; the pub forgotten, so they say
and left abandoned from then on to slowly crumble to the ground.
Though ghosts of early mining men must surely pass by here again,
to catch up now with mates long gone and chat about the days of old.
When eager men had walked the track that led them past this old bush shack,
where cunning voices lured them in to fleece them of their hard won gold.
And as I bid farewell at last my thoughts are with the old pubs past,
imagining the noisy scenes of rowdy men and bullock teams.
The dusty tracks and heat and flies with sweating men and teamsters cries
and new arrivals full of hope, while others leave with shattered dreams.
This cavalcade from long before once drifted past the old pub's door,
but soon this window to the past will close for good and then be gone.
And all the secrets trapped within these sun baked bricks and rusting tin,
will sink into oblivion and lost forever, from then on.