AUSTRALIAN BUSH POETRY

Australian Bush Poetry is poetry with good Rhyme and Meter that is written:
(a) by an Australian; and / or,
(b) about Australia, Australian people, places, things and way of life.


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Stumped

The box-gum on my footpath grew up through the powerlines
its branches needed trimming every year,
with age the shady lady broke way out of its confines,
the council had enough now it's not here.

They thought of public safety as the tree had posed a threat,
especially in a summer thunderstorm.
It seems bare on the footpath as I look out with regret,
next summer it will be a trifle warm.

The workmen came to chop it down one weekday afternoon,
the mulched the leaves and branches that same day.
They spoke to me at five o'clock and said they'd be back soon,
Tomorrow they would take the stump away.

Tomorrow came tomorrow went before long weeks had passed.
They didn't come back when they said they would.
I thought they were too busy and had left my stump till last.
What once was verdant green was now dead wood.

The council sent a letter. They had brand new trees to plant
replacing all the box-gums they'd cut down.
The stump still on my footpath, I rang up to have a rant.
The next day there were no more stumps in town.

I'll miss my shady lady, in the summer I'll be hot,
I'll miss the cooling canopy of green.
With an educated guess I'd say council has forgot,
to plant a tree where my box-gum had been.


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Disinfected

A fly from off the garbage can
lands on my kitchen bench
and leaves behind the legacy
it picked up in the stench

of germs and decomposing meat,
fish heads and rotting fruit,
from faeces of the dog next door
and other things enroute.

It bites a bit of biscuit,
crawls on a coffee cup,
and even leaves its tawdry trail
on my clean washing up.

I've scrubbed and disinfected,
I've swept and washed the floor,
so next time when you come inside
PLEASE SHUT THE BLOODY DOOR!


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The Storyteller

He's here to tell a story, when it comes to fairy tales
grown men crowd the publican who fills their mugs with ales.
They sit around him at the bar to listen and drink beer,
pretending they are heroes as they fill up on good cheer.

There is silence as the barman tells a stranger of his battles
and how he won against the odds to keep his goods and chattels.
Small details complicated, they drink thirsty for adventure
wrapped up in the excitement they sit verging on dementia.

He talks of sport and politics, of women, climate, war,
of violence and desire, and of blood and guts and gore.
With a fondness for the echo of applause that fills his ears
the barman feels important as he fills them up with beers.

He's the centre of attention like a monarch on a throne.
He commands the crowded room, but inside he's alone.


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The Swagman

Old Bluey was a swaggie who
had travelled on the road,
with his worldly goods all bundled.
He had no fixed abode.

Possessions swung across his back
secure in calico,
a waterproof sheet and blanket
in his swag were set to go.

Dark blue it was to hide the dirt
with clothes, needle and thread,
a dog-eared photograph or two
and memories in his head.

He carried one old tattered book,
a small essential ration.
An old tin mug swung near his chest
in a carefree fashion.

In his hand there was a billy
or water in a can.
An axe was tucked in by the side
of Bluey, near his pan.

Sometimes he would walk forty miles
in just a single day
searching for some casual work,
supplies and food his pay.

He'd drive the cattle, drive the sheep,
or maybe just chop wood,
and do odd jobs to earn his crust.
He lived best as he could.

But woe betide a squatter who
denied the swaggie food,
he'd find his land was set alight,
his fence to be renewed.

Old Bluey was a battler who
had often found it tough,
but he'd never swap his lifestyle
as freedom was enough.


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The Outhouse

I grabbed the torch one real dark night
and bolted down the yard.
The shadows stretched their long dark arms,
my heart was beating hard.

Mum said there were no boogie men
but I was not so sure.
The wind was howling through the trees
as I ran for the door.

I shone the torch across the seat
then shone it up the wall.
I'd hate to get a spider bite
or see things creep and crawl.

When I was sure that it was safe
I'd hurry up and go.
Then I was done. I'd check again
for any deadly foe.

I made the dash back to the house
the devil at my heels,
and once inside I'd slam the door.
You don't know how that feels.

One freezing, rainy, winter night
scared, I used a bucket.
When morning came I'd empty it,
I'd just go and chuck it.

Alas, when I woke up next day
forgetting it was there,
I kicked it over spilling it
and cried out in despair.

I sure am glad that things have changed
in places we reside,
'cause I'm not frightened anymore.
The outhouse is inside.


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Breaking Broken Hill

Disaster in Australia is
recorded on the date,
Monday, the Sixth of November,
Eighteen Eighty Eight.

A wild inferno razed the street
of downtown Broken Hill,
beginning shortly after six
smoke filled the air so still.

The banks and pub succumbed to flames
whipped up by winds so strong,
and panic like the wildfire spread
as gusts blew it along.

Attempts to save possessions were
huge efforts made in vain,
the building's very tinder dry,
'twas so long since the rain.

Solicitors with documents
handed them to strangers,
then rushed inside to save some more
not thinking of the dangers.

The crowd, confused, all tried their best
but overcome by heat,
had stumbled, then watched helplessly
as fire burnt Argent Street.

Fire bells had tolled so loudly while
the whistle from the mine
had screamed and shrilled incessantly.
The fire raged on past nine.

By midnight Argent Street was gone,
lucky no-one died.
Broken Hill was left in ashes,
it's buildings had been fried.

Disaster in Australia is
recorded on the date,
Monday, the Sixth of November,
Eighteen Eighty Eight.


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Disowned

(In memory of Emily Frances Jones nee Mitchell c.1881-1953)

I never knew Great-Grandma. She
passed on before my birth
but Grandpa said she died because
of her love for the earth.

She loved her garden manicured,
short grass all cropped and shorn,
so like the shearers sheared the sheep
Great-Grandma sheared the lawn.

One fateful day Great-Grandma took
her mower from the shed
but ran the sharpened blade across
her foot. She bled and bled.

Alas, Great-Grandma died that day
and Grandpa's faith died too.
'The vultures came,' he said to me,
'we had the biggest blue.?

The vultures were her other sons,
the uncles now disowned,
the one's we never visited,
the one's we never phoned.

They wanted this, they wanted that,
Great-Grandma was still warm,
the greed was shining in their eyes.
Poor Grandpa cried a storm.

One uncle took the table while
another took the bed,
before long there was nothing left,
Great-Grandma barely dead.

The morbid scene was horrible
for outside in the mud,
they were fighting for the mower
still spattered with her blood.

Grandpa disowned his family,
'twas all that he could do.
I wish this tale was make-believe
but sadly it is true.


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Endangered

A dugong population lives
in Brisbane's Moreton Bay.
They have a slow-paced peaceful life
that's under threat today.

With numbers fast decreasing there
are less and less each year;
the birthrate's low, they're dying off
and soon they'll disappear.

Hunted to near extinction
their oil was such a prize.
Their habitat's diminishing,
pollution's on the rise.

Propellers sometimes cut them down
when underneath a boat.
A sight we do not want to see
is dead dugongs afloat.

Once a source of native food,
they face another threat
of accidental capture
in a shark or fishing net.

They've bristly hairs on fleshy lips,
thick skin that's brownish-grey,
and bodies spindle-like in shape,
three metres long I'd say.

They weigh four hundred kilograms,
have diets of sea-grass;
and like their cousins, elephants,
their population's sparse.

So do not let harsh chemicals
escape into the sea,
clean up any rubbish.
and leave our dugongs be.