A REASONABLE APPROACH
© Ron Stevens
Winner, 2015 Dunedoo Bush Poetry Festival Written Competition, Dunedoo NSW.
You should be careful of old ladies, Son.
You brushed her twice as you were circling past.
I know you think you’re only having fun
or, in your terms, ‘having yourself a blast’.
Yet if that dear old lady had been thrown
onto the shopping mall’s unkind cement,
who knows whatever fragile age-worn bone
might have been bruised or most painfully rent?
Which is why I have grabbed you by the arm,
young fellow, while I attempt to explain
how skateboards can cause a great deal of harm
when in control of a scatterbrain.
You’re forbidden to ride in shopping malls
and should be using the council’s skate-park,
that costly structure with graffiti scrawls
declaring, ‘See me, my own inane mark!’
It’s not that I am blaming you for that;
perhaps you write in perfect copperplate;
are not at all the scruffy dim-wit brat,
my first impressions had suggested, Mate.
No, what I’m blaming you for is the way
you whizzed around with total disrespect
for age, while laughing like a drain – horseplay
around that lady, which has to be checked.
Especially as she’s my loving Nan
who’s spent most of her life in caring for
her own and others’ kids; who also ran
a boarding house for youths when Hitler’s war
had snatched away her son, that red-head bloke
who’s grinning still upon her mantleshelf.
Those times were tough, and always being broke
was part of life, with little thought for self.
That’s why this doting grandchild always gets
such pleasure when I’m watching her enjoy
this café’s scones and milkshake, with no threats
of bailiffs at the door – a simple joy
which surely none would ever begrudge her
at nearly ninety-six. You hear me, Kid?
Believe me, I would very much prefer
to kick your bum than make this reasoned bid.
But I must stay within the gentle law,
just lecture you although it does no good.
To kick your bum means goal for me, I’m sure
and you’d remain a youth misunderstood.
So I am forced to let it go at that,
ignoring your complacent victor’s sneer.
You know we oldies can’t hope to combat
the rise of me-power in control here.
Be thankful, though, I didn’t choose to call
a red-headed kid from across the street,
informing him that fatally of all
the oldies you had selected to treat
with disrespect was his beloved Great-Gran.
I don’t approve his frequent schoolboy fights
but being from a Celtic brawling clan,
he’d happily punch out your bloody lights.