It is only foolishness 

to disobey an 

outlaw   a rambling 

gambler with a manly 

heart   dismounting 

he dropped the knife & 

fork   upset the milk    


Emptied flour out of 

bags   breaking tins of 

eggs   game to put his 

hands on me   I threw 

up my arms & laid 

down laughing (cry surrender)

scattered like rain rolling 


Downhill   the ground was 

very soft   a wet spring 

mustering mosquitoes

I straddled him &

rolled both spurs into 

his thighs   the drought of 

a dry season shattered   


Blooming beauty   a 

mouthful of dust   one 

drop of blood   the narrow 

hipped lustre of morning

the intervening 

space quick as thought

a wild vine climbing


People said he was a 

decent gentleman (no 

common trooper or fat 

necked bailiff)  I was 

branded as plain as the 

hands on a town clock   

I am not to be pitied


I let him go   any 

muff can pot a guilty

man   any woman 

knows it is possible 

to swear a lie   

I will have as many 

more tomorrow   what 


Pleasure I shall give

fearless free & bold

the only charge ever 

proved against me is 

that I cannot catch 

myself for fear of 

bloated body snatchers






Notes on the poem

Blanche’s valentine is a found poem using words and images from bushranger Ned Kelly’s famous Jerilderie Letter, written in February 1879. A transcript of the letter can be found on the website of the National Museum of Australia here. Kelly’s words are rearranged and given new meaning voiced by a young woman, Blanche, a fictional character loosely inspired by my Cornish great-great-grandmother.