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Homework 18th Nov - The Stockman's Loss

Posted: Sun Nov 17, 2019 4:15 pm
by Catherine Lee
The Stockman’s Loss

The wind was attacking the branches of charred jacaranda trees
that lined twisted backyard fences, smashed and brought to their knees.
Dry leaves rose and whirled in the dust storm, decay and ruin loomed,
and the curlews set to crying—
the curlews set to crying, portent of everything doomed.

Akubra in shreds on his forehead, a sweat soaked shirt at his neck,
the stockman tried to whistle to keep his emotions in check,
consumed the remains of his damper, and weak billy tea as he cried
over hard times causing destruction—
his guaranteed future destruction—
despairing of sheer devastation, stunned at all that had died.

“No more; no more!” Had God heard him? He howled at the heedless night;
“No more; no more!” to the distance, he cursed the malevolent blight.
Fingers caressed a trigger, though loath to abandon his dreams,
yet the stockman was surrounded—
alone and completely surrounded
by carnage and wreckage unbounded, and plagued by the curlews’ screams.

And hope came not in the dawning, nor in the midday sun,
which burned with a heartless fury that nobody could outrun;
whilst into another sunset, outlining purple trees,
the heat bled, ever scorching—
relentless, ceaseless scorching—
intense, oppressive torment, no breath of cooling breeze.

He scanned his homestead’s ashes, he mourned the drought’s cruel trick,
the wasted years of his labour wrought long with shovel and pick.
He’d fought but knew he was beaten, and lifting desolate eyes
conceded defeat—yet defiant—
weary, but calm and defiant—
sang out in his angry defiance, Matilda, aloud to the skies.

Out in the darkening bushland, the shortest of silences fell
as briefly some startled creatures paid heed to the depth of his hell.
His voice became stronger with passion, till finally hopelessness passed—
then the curlews resumed their grim warning—
their fatal and confident warning—
and he fell to the ground spent and shattered, to tragically breathe his last.

And still of a summer’s night, they say, when the jacaranda trees
are purple and verdant in moonlight, their flowers tossed in the breeze,
when renewal has come to the landscape, and seasons have balanced the pain,
the stockman is witnessed returning
to celebrate lushness returning—
the stockman rides onto his station, applauding the coming of rain.

© Catherine Lee, 2019

Re: Homework 18th Nov - The Stockman's Loss

Posted: Sun Nov 17, 2019 5:07 pm
by Maureen K Clifford
WOW! Gee when your muse moves he moves pretty bloody well :lol: That is a ripper of a poem Catherine. I could see that picking up a few prizes along the track. And the ending just ties it up neatly as well as being very topical. Nicely crafted my friend .

Re: Homework 18th Nov - The Stockman's Loss

Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2019 12:00 pm
by Terry
Hi Catherine great to hear from you again.
A very well written and topical poem with just a hint of the old style about it as well - crying - crying- crying.
You have also told your story in the full - not just an abbreviated version; like he who shall remain nameless (me)



Re: Homework 18th Nov - The Stockman's Loss

Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2019 1:33 pm
by Catherine Lee
Thanks so much, Maureen and Terry! Maureen, I couldn't resist that challenge because I LOVE the traditional poets! I've always been particularly fond of The Highwayman too, but don't think I'd fully appreciated some of the changes in Noyes' syllable counts and stresses until attempting this...I so much enjoyed this challenge, and feel as if I want to work on this poem a bit more....thank you for the great idea, and your very kind and encouraging words as always!

Re: Homework 18th Nov - The Stockman's Loss

Posted: Tue Nov 19, 2019 4:39 pm
by Shelley
Welcome back Catherine, we’ve missed you! But I know you’ve been enjoying travels to far distant and exotic places, so you’re forgiven! ;) :D

This is a really haunting poem, very unusual in its structure and a worthy emulation of “The Highwayman”.

Congratulations on your recent successes, by the way, including 2nd at Ipswich!


Re: Homework 18th Nov - The Stockman's Loss

Posted: Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:25 pm
by Catherine Lee
Thank you so very much Shelley - on all counts! x

Re: Homework 18th Nov - The Stockman's Loss

Posted: Fri Nov 22, 2019 9:02 am
by Neville Briggs
Great job Catherine, very clever use of the old ballad style.

Re: Homework 18th Nov - The Stockman's Loss

Posted: Fri Nov 22, 2019 3:26 pm
by Catherine Lee
Thanks so much, Neville!