Almanac Poetry: Souvenir Postcard – Photographed by Mr Henry Poil – Wangaratta, Victoria, April 9 1865

The “postcard” concerned, taken of Morgan after his death by shooting, 1865. [Source: available on a number of internet sites.]


Souvenir Postcard, Photographed by Mr Henry Poil, Wangaratta, Victoria, April 9, 1865



Mad Dan Morgan – dead –
propped up in a chair,
dirty curly black hair and beard,
eyes opened, Colt revolver
placed in his right hand …



After the posthumous ‘sitting’,
his beard was flayed from his face,
head shaved then hacked off,
tossed round the room
by exuberant police,
rolled on the floor
like a bowling ball,
then soaked in salt water
and wrapped in hessian.
Unsurprisingly, it arrived
in Professor Halford’s hands
at Melbourne University
in too poor condition
for scientific study.



(Acknowledgements: first published in Tamba magazine, 2017; then in Orpheus in the Undershirt, Ginninderra Press, 2018.)



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Kevin Densley is a graduate of both Deakin University and The University of Melbourne. He has taught writing and literature in numerous Victorian universities and TAFES. He is a poet and writer-in-general. His fifth book-length poetry collection, Please Feed the Macaws ... I'm Feeling Too Indolent, will be published in late 2023 by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Other writing includes screenplays for educational films.


  1. “Over the border to rob and to plunder,
    Over the border went Morgan the bold,
    Over the border, a terrible blunder
    For over the border poor Morgan lies cold.”

    The Victorian police boasted Dan Morgan wouldn’t last a week after crossing the Murray into Victoria; they were correct. Morgan, whose real name was possibly John Fuller, was a damaged individual. An illegitimate child,born into poverty he drifted into crime early on. Subsequent brutalisation in the penal system produced an individual who was not to be ‘ fooled with’. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, unknown in that time, may have been a factor in his behaviours.

    ” Shot like a dog in the bright early morning,
    Shot without mercy who mercy had none,
    Like a wild beast without challenge or warning,
    Soon his career of dark villainy’s run.”


  2. Kevin Densley says

    Many thanks for your input, Glen – interesting as always; I particularly liked your inclusion of the vivid song.

  3. G’day Kevin.

    ‘Over the Border’ is probably the best known of the tunes about the shooting of Morgan. Like all folk songs there are variants with some words changing but i cited from the one i was most familiar with. It has 7 stanzas.

    Keep up the good work.


  4. Kevin Densley says

    Cheers – thanks Glen!

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