20 August, 2011, Airey's Inlet, Victoria, Australia
Tony Wilson's read this poem out after main at the opening night dinner. It has been cut down and edited and published as picture book by Scholastic Australia. The illustrator is Lucia Masciullo.
On the wild grassy plains west of Old Humpty Doo
Lived the moodiest, mopeyest, saddest Emu
Just why he was sad, well he didn’t quite know.
But he was, so the other birds called him, ‘Emo’.
‘I hate running fast,’ he would say to his brother
‘I hate coming last’ he would say to his mother
‘I hate living here at the top of Australia’
‘I’m Emo the Emu, the world’s biggest failure.’
Now most emus grow up to more than two metres
And most emus are not the fussiest eaters,
But Emo the Emu he slouched with a hunch
And only ate Cedar Bay Cherries for lunch.
‘I hate eating weeds,’ he would say to his father
I hate eating seeds, grasses mango and guava’
‘I hate living here at the top of Australia
I’m Emo the Emu, the world’s biggest failure. ‘
On all types of days and in all types of weathers
Emo the Emu wore dark winter feathers
He wore his crown plumage long over his eyes
And rattled off lists of new things to despise
‘I hate kangaroos,’ he would say to his teachers
‘I hate all of youse with your strange emu features
I hate the goanna, the dunnart, the snake
And what’s with koalas - the noise that they make!
‘I hate the green tree frogs, the frilly necked lizards
I hate a wild dog from its nose to its gizzards
I hate how the crocs here are all a bit snappy
I’m Emo the Emu, and I’m none too happy
On the red desert plains south of Angurugu
Emo bumped into a kangaroo who ...
was sheltering out of the heat of the day
And made the mistake of just saying ‘g’day’.
‘G’day?’ muttered Emo, ‘A good day it’s not!’
I’ve walked forty miles and the sand is too hot
I hate this warm weather,’ said Emo morosely
I should watch the evening forecast more closely
‘I hate the outback and its endless blue skies
I hate all the dust and I hate all the flies.
I don’t like this hear and I don’t like Australia
I’m Emo the Emu, the world’s biggest failure!’
The kangaroo snorted, ‘Hey buck up there, matey,
A pleasure to meet you, my friends call me Katie.
I doubt you’re a failure, I doubt you’re so bad
I just think that Emo the Emu is sad
I’ve noticed you use the word ‘hate’ quite a lot
Well how ‘bout we ditch it and give ‘like’ a shot?
And as for Australia, you surely can’t mean it?
You must not have travelled and properly seen it.’
Katie the Kanga, she jumped with elation
‘What’s say we travel around the whole nation!
By foot or by car or by truck or by bike
Until you admit that there’s something you like.’
Emo the Emu - he tried to say ‘no’
But Katie the Kanga convinced him to go
The first place they stopped was the rock Uluru
That grumbling bird and that red kangaroo
‘Isn’t it truly, divinely superb?’
Said Katie the Kanga to Emo the bird
Emo just shrugged and stared down at his toes
‘I guess it’s alright, yeah, it’s okay I s’pose.’
They headed off east through the rich Darling Downs
And sat on verandahs in quaint country towns
When they reached Townsville they donned swimmers masks
And swam with the coral the fish and the sharks.
‘You must surely love it, or my name’s not Kate’
Admit that the Barrier Reef is just great.’
Emo just shrugged as he picked at his nose
‘I guess it’s alright, yeah, it’s okay I s’pose.’
They journeyed to Sydney, that city of lights
That city that hums through the days and the nights
They sailed Sydney Harbour and boarded the ferry
And Katie said, ‘Matey how extraordinary!’
‘The beach out at Bondi, the Sails and the Bridge
Don’t you think Sydney is just ridgey didge?’
Emo the Emu was hard to impress
‘I s’pose it’s alright, yeah, it’s okay I guess.’
They trekked the high country, with brumbies and snow
Then shot down to Melbourne to take in a show
The famed Twelve Apostles,’ said Kangaroo Kate,
‘But don’t count too closely - you’ll only find eight.’
Emo the Emu looked down at his socks
‘I guess they’re alright, yeah, they’re okay for rocks.’
They paddled the river in Tassie’s South West
A wilderness up there amongst the world’s best.
From towering headlands they saw a Great White
Cruising the coast of the Great Aussie Bight
‘Look at this coastline, the view from these cliffs.
Admit that you like it, no buts and no ifs!’
Emo the Emu breathed in the salt air
‘I guess it’s all right, um, are we nearly there?’
They did the last bit in an old camper trailer
The long rugged coastline of Western Australia
From Perth and the karri trees down in the south,
To open cut mines with their open cut mouths
‘Isn’t this lovely, oh dark prince of gloom?’
The kangaroo said as they pulled up in Broome.
Emo the Emu, just furrowed his brow
‘I think that I’m ready to head for home now.’
On the wild grassy plains west of old Humpty Doo
Emo caught up with his mob of emu
Including his mother and father and brothers
And sisters and cousins and aunties and others
‘Come here!’ shouted Emo, ‘Come here and meet Katie!’
We saw the whole country, did me and my matey
‘I liked it down south and I liked it out west
Sit down and I’ll tell you the bits I liked best
I liked it up north and I liked it out east
I can’t even think of the bits I liked least’
‘He said the word “like,” whispered Emo’s stunned mother
‘He said the world ‘like’’ said the birds to each other.
He said the word ‘like’ said the Kangaroo Kate
‘He said the word ‘like’ where he once would say ‘hate’.
With stars spreading wide over Humpty Doo skies
Katie and Emo they said their goodbyes
‘I had a good trip,’ said the smiling emu
I had a good trip and I hope you did too.’
‘Kinda I guess,’ Katie joked to her friend
‘Sorta quite good, in a way, by the end.’
This poem was edited and published as a picture book. You can purchase Emo the Emu here