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My Mate Dusty


It was purely by accident that we met that day, strolling down Boundary Street1.
He was a little unkempt, asking people for money, with no shoes upon his feet.
I approached him and asked him if he’d like coffee and cake instead.
‘Yes my friend’, he replied, ‘but could I change that to a coke and chicken in bread?

We sat and talked for a bit, I guessed he was a little younger than myself.
He told me he came from up Cherbourg2 way, when I asked him about himself.
`I’m pleased to meet you,’ I said, ‘tell me, what is your name?
‘They call me Dusty, or Nathaniel – but they sound so lame’
‘My real name is Djurebe Gundo and I’m a champion boxers son’.
‘Really?’ I replied, ‘tell me ‘bout his career and what he has won?’

So Dusty took a long slow sip from his icy can of coke.
He looked down at the ground and he said, ‘what I’m about to tell you is no flamin’ joke’.
“My daddy was a great boxer, his name was Jeffrey Dynevor3
Back in ‘62 he won gold in Perth4, at the games for the old empire.
Today they’re called Commonwealth Games, me dad faced off to Ghana’s Samuel Abbey,
It was the final between two giants, but it was my dad who was the least shabby”.
I went home that night and I googled it, and sure enough, he was right.
His father was a champion Aboriginal boxer that would always win the fight.

A few days later Gundo (Dusty) came in again to visit us in our West End gift store.
“Hey, I forgot to tell you something”, he said, “I’ve got to tell you lots more”,
“My Daddy taught me boxing and I became really, really good.
But a nasty chap harassed my sister and he was extremely rude.
With one punch I hit him and he went down on his knees,
I admit the hit was deadly, then I saw him – what had I done, oh geez,
They took me to the big house and I spent many years inside,
But I had a dream about my ancestors that I want to confide.
I stepped a little closer as he prepared me for what he had to share.
A tear appeared in his eye and he said, ‘ let’s go outside and get some fresh air”.

As we walked he told me about his dream that came to him inside.
He shared about a museum telling stories for his people to fill their hearts with pride.
He told me about the many who came before him, who excelled at all sports.
Aboriginal hero’s that we should all celebrate, his dad, Lionel Rose5 and sorts.
From Goolagong6 to Mundine7 to Freeman8 and Adam Goodes9. Some names I’d heard of from all the mobs, clans and hoods.
Then he turned to me and said, with a twinkle in his eye.
‘Did you know my grandaddy bowled against Sir Donald Bradman10 and this ain’t a friggin’ lie.
I said, ‘you fair dinkum?’ – tell me when it happened and what was his name?’
‘It was in ‘31 at the new Gabba – against New South Wales was the game.
Bradman was facing up to fast bowler, Eddie Gilbert11, my granddaddy, who was having lots of luck.
He just bowled Wendell Bell the opening batsman out for a duck.
Bradman batted up and Eddie did his thing.
He bowled so fast, you could hear the balls soaring zing.
The fourth bowl was so fast that it hit Bradman on his belly.
The impact knocked his bat off and he truly turned to jelly.
Then came the bouncer, Bradman clipped it on the way.
And the top edge went straight into the air, and Waterman caught it and that ended Bradman’s
day’.

A few years have passed since we ever caught up again with Dusty.
People have told us that he passed to the other side, his body, tired and rusty.
He had shared many deep things with me over those early years.
He went for months being completely sober to drinking far too many beers.
I now miss him dropping in to see us and our special yarns.
He had a cheeky smile that ladies would always be charmed.
When he mentioned his seventeen children, I almost fell to the floor.
How on earth could any man keep up with that incredible score.

So to finish up this life of Dusty, Djurebe Gundo’s story.
I’ll keep my promise to him to honour his family with the deepest respect and glory.

~ Greg Dodge © 2021

Listen or view this poem here – written and spoken by Greg Dodge

Footnotes

  1. How did Boundary Street get it’s name?: https://au.sports.yahoo.com/the-dark-history-behind-brisbane-street-names-085139596.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAJEb5DlUSFTc-NXJPrX0REC81OuZysgDeGyfhZ05Mvliy5GbxzPFRjyE-e2VoI8GdH4ZQ-xfD4PC-lfI5DNZkR111SvqXHq-5TkCfwCNfykxxwzfCAriBHt8lpjxlSdpN6aSm139Kz3BOeelyMd0Kafc-ujeSFxx4JlI25hXiPJu
  2. Cherbourg: https://cherbourg.qld.gov.au/council/our-history/
  3. Who was Jeffrey Dynevor?: https://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/514875
  4. Empire Games 1962: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1962_British_Empire_and_Commonwealth_Games
  5. Who was Lionel Rose?: https://www.australianoftheyear.org.au/recipients/lionel-rose/68/
  6. Who was Evonne Goolagong Cawley?: http://www.evonnegoolagongfoundation.org.au/about
  7. Who is Anthony Mundine?: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Mundine
  8. Who is Cathy Freeman?: https://www.nma.gov.au/defining-moments/resources/cathy-freeman
  9. Who is Adam Goodes?: https://www.australianoftheyear.org.au/recipients/adam-goodes/1144/
  10. Who was Sir Donald Bradman?: https://www.bradman.com.au/sir-donald-bradman/
  11. Who was Eddie Gilbert?: https://www.cricket.com.au/news/eddie-gilbert-sir-donald-bradman-indigenous-cricketer-queensland/2014-11-06

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