© Terry Piggott

Winner, 2016 Bush Lantern Award, Bundaberg, Queensland.

Must I waste my life here dreaming marking time again this way,
when the desert county’s waiting, calling me back home each day?
Help me somehow find the strength to beat the ills afflicting me
and the good Lord in his mercy set this aging sinner free.

Let me cast aside the shackles and the troubles that one meets,
in this claustrophobic city with its suffocating streets.
Where I see the old blokes resting on the benches by the wall,
waiting patiently for someone shopping somewhere in the mall.

Then I feel a tinge of sadness, for those men are just like me,
waiting – always waiting somewhere is the way it seems to be.
So we sit there almost deafened as the noisy crowds compete,
with the rattle of the trolleys and the constant tramp of feet.

Each new day is like the last one, and of all those days before,
with the boredom I’ve endured here and I know that there’ll be more.
Is there no escape I ask myself, but pray this isn’t true?
Then I question if these doctors even have the faintest clue.

So my mind sometimes meanders to a camp way off the track
and I wonder in my heart now will I ever make it back.
See the grandeur of the outback with its beauty all around,
or to wake on chilly mornings when there’s frost upon the ground.

Will I lie there in my swag again beneath the twinkling stars;
hear the murmur of the bush, instead of noisy planes and cars?
Free once more to move my camp again to anywhere I wish
and to search the creeks and gullies; look for colour with my dish.

But such dreams are only fleeting as reality returns
and the truth is hard to swallow for it’s painful and it burns.
So I try to then convince myself there isn’t any pain
and there’s nothing really wrong with me that can’t be fixed again.

Then I look into the mirror and the truth stares back at me,
for that face is old and haggard and I’m shocked by what I see.
So I know I must accept things, with at least a show of grace,
as the answer’s clearly written in the lines upon my face.

So perhaps it’s time I realized that the future’s looking grim
and the chance of going bush again increasingly seems slim.
Though the thought of being trapped here, I refuse to contemplate,
for there must be some escape route from this place I’ve learned to hate.

Yet the city folk I meet here say they couldn’t wish for more,
with its miles of golden beaches stretched along a sunny shore –
and although those folk may argue that there isn’t any stress;
to a lost and lonely bushman, it’s a prison none the less.

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