First Things Last (After “Incorrigible Grace”)

For my next response to Les Murray’s poetry, I’ve chosen a deceptively simple four-line poem as my starting point. I suspect Murray’s poem speaks for itself. I hope that mine does too.

First Things Last
(After “Incorrigible Grace”)

Saint Vincent de Paul, old friend,
my sometime tailor,
I daresay by now you are feeding
the rich in heaven.
(Les Murray, “Incorrigible Grace”)


Grace gives surprise, like sunshine reversing floods,

like the plenty of a crop we did not sow,

a brown trickle amidst faithless dirt,

or tears that wash unbelief to the ground;


like a home found, unexpectedly, on Samaritan turf,

a harvest of smiles when we have paid only in frowns,

the mercy of a hefty but finite price for carelessness,

of lessons learnt in coins, not in souls;


or like the men who wait at the platform, tablets poised

beneath their noses, soon to learn

from the woman in the beanie with

absolutely nothing to her name.

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