Too Quick to Blame

© David Campbell

Winner, 2016 Grenfell Henry Lawson Society Literary Awards, Traditional Verse section, Grenfell NSW.

“You’re just a city-slicker, lad,”
is what he said to me,
“and things right now are pretty bad,
as bad as they could be.

The banks are breathing down our necks…
don’t ever trust ’em, son…
your Gran and I are total wrecks
because of what they’ve done!

They have no mercy, just contempt
for people on the land,
and they won’t make the least attempt
to try to understand.

They turn up in their tailored suits
and think a bit of dust
that’s sprinkled on their shiny boots
will help to gain our trust.

But they don’t know the life out here,
the anguish and the pain,
the hope that slowly turns to fear,
the daily prayer for rain.

They haven’t sweated in the sun
to keep their dreams alive,
and fought to see the battle won,
the family survive.

They haven’t struggled through each day,
worked hard to make ends meet,
to try to keep the wolves at bay
and not concede defeat.

They haven’t risen with the dawn,
that first faint flush of light,
and toiled till shades of dusk are drawn
to welcome in the night.

They haven’t fired a single shot
to kill a starving beast,
and see the chance they’d lose the lot
remorselessly increased.

They haven’t found a neighbour dead,
a rifle by his side,
then sat beside his widow’s bed
and watched as she, too, died.

I know it’s hard to see it, lad,
when you are city-bred,
but bless the life that you have had,
and learn from what I’ve said.”

I saw the depth of his despair,
and hung my head in shame,
for like so many, unaware,
I’d been too quick to blame.

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