© Glenny Palmer, 2009

Winner 2010, ‘Wool Wagon Award’, Crookwell Upper Lachlan, NSW.

Into the back of our rusty Dodge ute
off we go to the Saturday dance,
with our Dad at the wheel and Mum fixing her hair
and she’s laddered her stocking and cries in despair
while us kids are both yelling, ‘Are we nearly there?’
(with our dog stowed away under Granny’s cane chair)
and the ‘roo on the road takes his chance.

Over the jump-up, she’s bowling along
as the dust and the gibber stones fly,
when the cattle grid launches the ute through the gate
all the scones that Mum baked topple out of the crate
and Dad screws up his face as he cops the berate
(then she fusses and frets that ‘Your tie isn’t straight.’)
and the moon laughs aloud in the sky.

Into the hall and straight out to the back
where the other kids chase off a snake,
and my brother says ‘Damn!’ ‘cause he missed all that fun
(if Mum heard him he’d have to learn quick how to run)
so he heads for the hall and a freshly cooked bun
where the Belle Of The Ball competition is won
yet again, by “…that awful Miss Drake…”.

Floorboards and hall are a century old
but still spring to the wild Gypsy Tap,
then a waltz gives relief as the dancers with pride
and their chins held aloft almost silently glide
over talcum topped floor (what a glorious slide
on his backside – my brother upends a new bride)
and lands square in the President’s lap!

Momentum is stalled but not stopped, forward ho!
on he rolls heading straight for the band,
and his head like a missile shoots straight through the drum
and the overturned drummer in Rugby like scrum
knocks the old spinster pianist striking her dumb
when her dentures go flying, exposing her gum
and the President’s struggling to stand.

The shame and the horror on poor Mother’s face
and the new words that Daddy sings out,
are quite quickly surpassed by the mayhem that rose
when our dog heard the din and apparently chose
to get into the act with a few of his foes
while the dancers disperse in defence of their toes
from this unscheduled welterweight bout.

Dog fights at best are confined to the street
but tradition’s surrendered with glee,
on the slippery boards there’s a dozen or more
as a riot of legs that won’t grip to the floor
slip and slide in a tangle of skin fur and gore
and the supper cakes splatter the dancers and door
while a Poodle has pikelets for tea.

Fate can be kind for old Myrtle McGraw
has contrived to attend with her cat,
to her lace covered bosom she thrusts it in fear
when a bloody great Doberman leaps for its ear
and it shoots up her skirt like a truck in top gear
where its safety’s assured, penetrating her rear
with its needle like claws in the fat.

Myrtle’s assailed by the vapours and faints
and the cat wriggles out from its trap,
an assortment of hounds turn attention therefore
to a far better option for raising the score
(an electrified cat shooting straight for the door…)
with allegiance decreed and a unified roar
all the canines depart for the scrap.

The hall’s like a wreck from an air bombing raid
Miss McGraw’s still out cold on the floor,
the poor President’s walking with difficulty
and the upended bride says she wants to be free
while my brother is hiding way up in a tree
so my Dad’s taking out his frustration on me
and our dog’s got no tail anymore.

I’m sat in the ute and we’re heading for home
though my brother is standing upright,
he’s hoping tomorrow his backside will heal
and he’s grounded for life because that is the deal
that our Daddy laid down when he said ‘It’s for real!’
but between you and me I quite honestly feel
it’s the best dance we’ve had…what a night!

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