© 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.

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