© John Davis, 2009

Winner, 2010 ‘The Nandewar Poetry Competition’, Narrabri, NSW.

My stock whip and my bridle on a peg are hanging idle,
   and my saddle’s in the rafters with the leather stiff and dry.
My saddlecloth is molded in small squares lying folded,
   with my saddle bag and quart pot on a dusty shelf nearby.

I turn around and sadly gaze out to where my stock horse lays,
   on a hillside in the paddock white bones shining in the sun.
With a nostalgic feeling of the days when I’d be wheeling
   the mob into the holding yard at evening on the run.

So I’ll take my gear out side to clean and polish it with pride
   until the leather’s soft and supple; the buckles shine like new.
Then I’ll saddle a willing horse and again I’ll be a force
    in the mustering camp and yards; show them just what I can do.

Every morning I will ride mustering where the scrubbers hide
   to throw the Mickey’s by the tail when they try to get away.
Then at the station I’ll work hard branding clean skins in the yard
   and will have earned that ice cold beer when I’ve finished for the day.

At night I’ll sleep contented feeling I’ve been reinvented
   waking up relaxed and fresh before the start of every day.
Horses saddled, breakfast done, long ere we greet the rising sun
   riding out again to muster as the dawn mists blow away.

There’s a job that needs attention, perhaps I’d better mention
   no one’s broken any colts this year, a job we’d best begin
by mustering the horses from along the watercourses
   and yard them at the station where we can  break the youngsters in.

They’ll be wet with sweat and foam by the time we get them home
   for they’ll be fast and full of fire and the riding will be hard.
When we wheel them around the wing you will hear our stock whips ring
   as they gallop along the fence and race into the yard.

When we’ve cut out those we need we’ll turn the rest out onto feed
    where the mares can live contented rearing next year’s crop of foals.
We’ll put the youngsters to the test; find the ones who are the best
   and most willing smartest movers, those with the bravest souls.

I can hear the poultry squawking; hear the boss’s missus talking,
   trying to calm those foolish hens as she gathers up the eggs.
While I shake my head and curse I call myself a fool and worse
   sitting on a rusty bucket resting my old aching legs.

Now it’s just about sundown and out across the paddocks brown
   I can see the rain clouds building; there’ll be rain this afternoon.
As it’s almost end of day I’d better put my gear away
   in the harness shed behind me because rain will be here soon.

As the rain starts softly falling I hear the old cook calling
   to me from the station kitchen where I’m mostly now employed.
Washing dishes, mopping floors, attending to a slushies chores,
    a job that is so different to the work I once enjoyed.

I hear the boys all laughing talking as I’m slowly walking
   limping towards the kitchen leaning heavily on my cane.
My gear’s now soft and gleaming, just a worn out stockman dreaming,
   reliving memories from the past, things I can’t do again.

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