Paul Kelly
Riddle Poem Three from the Kelly-Hoard

Hello again. The answer to last month’s riddle poem – I’ve been shut up a long time in a dark place/ Flung from my fellow… – was “An odd sock”. I haven’t heard of any alternative answers yet.

My sister-in-law was onto it straight away. “Something to do with footwear,” she said, after just a few seconds’ perusal. My niece, on the other hand, was led into dead ends by what she called the poem’s “gloomy tone”, and was disgruntled to learn the answer was so mundane.

I, myself, am generally hopeless at riddles; my brain freezes at brainteasers. For instance, I couldn’t get this rhyming riddle someone sent me recently and had to do a quick internet search so I could get on with my day:

I’m the part of the bird that’s not in the sky.

I can swim in the ocean and yet remain dry.

Like the above couplet, today’s poem rhymes. To my mind the answer is easy. (But then, I wrote it.) I’m more interested in making a good poem than a fiendish riddle. I just want the pieces to fit. That’s all art is, in the end, I suppose – getting the pieces to fit.


I started out from house to house

And then I crossed the sea;

Changed colours, shapes and sizes,

Outran the century.


Many metals in me meet,

A wonder who wastes and saves.

Water’s where I meet defeat

But I’m useless without waves.


I can hold all Shakespeare,

The King James Bible, too.

Maps and rings and songs and things

But I’m best with just X and you.


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Paul Kelly is an Australian songwriter with more than 30 albums to his name. He has published a “mongrel memoir”, How to Make Gravy, and an anthology of his favourite poems, Love Is Strong as Death.

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