Blowfly Grass

By Les Murray b. 1938 Les Murray
The houses those suburbs could afford
were roofed with old savings books, and some   
seeped gravy at stitches in their walls;

some were clipped as close as fury,
some grimed and corner-bashed by love   
and the real estate, as it got more vacant,

grew blady grass and blowfly grass, so called   
for the exquisite lanterns of its seed,   
and the land sagged subtly to a low point,

it all inclined way out there to a pit   
with burnt-looking cheap marble edges   
and things and figures flew up from it

like the stones in the crusher Piers had   
for making dusts of them for glazes:
flint, pyroclase, slickensides, quartz, schist,

snapping, refusing, and spitting high
till the steel teeth got gritty corners on them   
and could grip them craw-chokingly to grind.

It’s their chance, a man with beerglass-cut arms   
told me. Those hoppers got to keep filled. A girl,   
edging in, bounced out cropped and wrong-coloured

like a chemist’s photo, crying. Who could blame her   
among in-depth grabs and Bali flights and phones?   
She was true, and got what truth gets.

Les Murray, “Blowfly Grass” from Subhuman Redneck Poems. Copyright © 1997 by Les Murray. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC, www.fsgbooks.com. All rights reserved. Caution: Users are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and downloading is strictly prohibited. The right to reproduce or transfer the work via any medium must be secured with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

Source: Learning Human (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1998)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Les Murray b. 1938

POET’S REGION Australia and Pacific

Subjects Architecture & Design, Landscapes & Pastorals, Nature, Arts & Sciences, Relationships, Home Life

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Les  Murray

Biography

Australian poet Les Murray grew up in poverty on his grandparents’ farm in Bunyah, New South Wales, a district he moved back to with his own family in 1985. The recipient of numerous honors for his poetry, he has published collections including The Ilex Tree (with Geoff Lehmann, 1965) and Dog Fox Field (1990), both winners of the Grace Levin Prize for poetry; Subhuman Redneck Poems (1996), winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize for . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Architecture & Design, Landscapes & Pastorals, Nature, Arts & Sciences, Relationships, Home Life

POET’S REGION Australia and Pacific

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.