OF MEN AND RATS
© Ron Stevens
Winner 2008 ‘Coo-ee Festival - Humorous Section’, Gilgandra NSW
I’ve heard my neighbour rave and curse
the years she’s suffered from neglect,
complaining there is nothing worse
than golf to leave a marriage wrecked.
She moans of house-bound solitude,
while hubby strolls from tee to green,
returning home in sullen mood
with tales of hazards unforeseen,
of mates who cheated, so he’s missed
the weekly trophy once again.
And furthermore, he’s sprained his wrist,
so mowing’s off till God-knows-when.
Another type of widowhood,
of which some women are aware,
is caused by cricket–willow–wood
and leathered ball beneath sun’s glare
for day on boring day until
the grass-stained togs of flannelled fools
are dumped with wives to soak, then swill
with lesser duds in whirling pools.
Yet lest you grieve too much for these
poor overburdened womenfolk,
consider how I’ve suffered please,
for pain has gone beyond a joke.
My whinge stems not from days at home,
should Tom decide to hit the track,
for I’m the driver when we roam,
so he can quaff his cold six-pack.
It’s not the driving that I mind;
I’ve coped with that for year on year
- the kids to school, the shopping bind,
dawn swimming classes, concerts drear
but none- the- less compulsory
for parents (or at least this one!)
Last week I chauffeured on a spree
of jollity and rustic fun.
The same routine unnumbered times;
the same bush poets we would meet;
a string of hopefuls spouting rhymes,
a few in stumbling defeat.
How many classics to endure?
How many drovers’ dogs extolled?
Which bush-bred damsel painted pure?
Which brumby-breaker brave and bold?
I prayed no Snowy River bard
repeated that momentous ride,
no Ironbark reciter jarred
my nerves with “Murder!” amplified.
As fate dictated, there were two
young lads performing novel verse
on modern Aussie themes, who drew
applause but not a winner’s purse.
The judges favoured seasoned works,
devoid of subtlety or bite;
no politics or rhythmic quirks.
My poor old Tom missed out that night.
He muffed The Shanty on the Rise
again and though I deeply shared
his pain, imagine my surprise
at what he solemnly declared:
“I’m giving up bush poetry
and traipsing round the countryside!”
So driving home, my thoughts ran free
on household tasks I could provide
to fill Tom’s unexpected gaps
- the fence to paint, fly-screens repair,
tap washers changed, who knows perhaps
a movie matinee to share.
The best-laid schemes…agley*, that’s sure!
As Tom was glumly trimming shrubs
I heard him ask the bloke next door,
“How much to buy a set of clubs?”
* Note: from, 'To a Mouse' by Robert Burns.