© Will Moody

Equal Winner, 2013 International Bush Poetry Competition, Hunter Bush Poets, Morisset, NSW.

What a shame you Cowboy Poets couldn’t ‘mosey down’ this year
to ‘wrangle’ with the locals and see how we do it here.
We’d planned to dig the spurs in, yes, and crack the stockwhips too
to settle which mob’s better at this rhyming…us or you.
But if our stoush had gone ahead, what we’d have learned I think,
is the poetry we write is not the difference, but the link.
You write about your homeland with a patriotic zeal
and we, too, love our country…Cowboy, we know how you feel.

We share a common language…different flavours, to be sure…
but each retains those Anglo-Saxon rhythms at its core.
Though you may call a beast a “steer” and call a horse a “hoss”,
and if you couldn’t “give a darn”…well…who “gives a toss”?
Though you prefer a Stetson while Akubra is our choice,
it’s the Mother Tongue of England that gives language to each voice.
And even though you vow that to no crowned-head would you kneel,
there’s Republicans here too, mate…Cowboy, they know how you feel.

We, too, uphold traditions in the poetry we write…
to capture fleeting visions that are passing from our sight.
Like you, we’ve seen the sun set on old pioneering days;
the endless unfenced wilderness; the bullock teams and drays.
Your ‘saddle-tramps’, our ‘swaggies’…icons from an age long past;
like smoke from settlers’ campfires spreading West, they couldn’t last.
Our ‘drovers’ and your ‘cowpokes’ both now sit behind the wheel.
Ah, the world is swiftly changing, Cowboy…we know how you feel.

We, too, defend ‘old values’; hold ‘fair-dealing’ paramount.
We, too, detest the spoilers and we hold them to account.
We love to gaze on distance too, where clouds and mountains kiss.
We, too, believe we’ll give the ‘bright-light-city-life’ a miss.
Like you, we need fresh country air; honest dirt beneath our feet;
can’t stand the rush and bustle of the crowded city street.
The miles that lie between us may be many, long and real,
still…we’re really not that far apart…Cowboy, we know how you feel.

And though a billion different stars shine down on us tonight,
we share a common campfire…Cowboy…we know why you write.

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