© 2016, Brenda Joy

Winner, 2017 The Larrikin Award, ABPA Victorian Written Bush Poetry Championship – Humorous Section. The Man from Snowy River Bush Festival, Corryong, Victoria.

The journey I am taking north from Brisbane up to Cairns
will give me some reflective time to sort out all my plans.
I’ve had some troubled dreams of late; I need to take a rest
and look for signs to give a clue to help me on my quest.
Now here’s a sign beside the road that says, there’s works ahead.
That means I’ll have some waiting time to see which way I’m led.

My mind takes off – ‘ROAD WORKS A…HEAD’!  Whose head I want to ask?
To solve this mystery it seems, is my allotted task.
A cross-road seems symbolic, like a tip to aid my quizz.
It points to ‘Old Bruce Highway’ so the head might well be his?
A sign to drivers warns fatigue can cause a crash.  How true!
‘TIRED DRIVERS DIE’ it tells me, so I’ve got another clue.

Yes, ‘BREAK THE DRIVE AND STAY ALIVE’, did Bruce forget to brake?
Perhaps he had a breakdown; maybe that was his mistake!
Now off the top of my own head, I’d say that’s no excuse
to take off like a headless chook like geriatric Bruce.
Was Bruce a little head-strong?  (When a highway bears your name
you might well get big-headed – do your block because of fame!).

Perhaps his head took liberties abandoning Old Bruce
(a head gets hedonistic thoughts when ‘ID’ goes on the loose).
If left to its devices, it might think up naughty schemes
and signs like ‘SLIPPERY WHEN WET’ fuel cravings for extremes –
A massive head slide!  (Oh what fun!)  But downhill, heads will roll,
for all of these indulgences inflict a heavy toll.

I’m up against a head-wind gust.  Has Bruce just had a belch?
I just ran over something round, I felt a little squelch!
A lorry’s in the distance.  Did his head fall off a truck,
become a flat head? Fishy thought!  Did Bruce run out of luck?
Is that the end? But no, I feel there’s other heads around.
How many heads are rolling?  Are there dozens to be found?

But where are these illusive heads?  To whom do they belong,
perhaps some headless torsos form a night-time ghostly throng?
How many others pining for a head that they once owned?
But then, I find the answer (it’s as if they have been cloned),
for where more road works stand forlorn as workers take their tea
there’s ‘witches hats’ along the road for motorists to see.

Are witches’ heads in hiding under hats that form a row?
I take a furtive look as signals flash I must ‘GO SLOW’.
What if a hat gets blown around – some witch could cast a spell
then tales of Bruce and witches would have no-one left to tell.
It’s getting late, I’m sure I hear those headless harpies’ screams
(a sound to haunt and infiltrate my nightly world of dreams).

Was that a wail from Bruce as roadside mowers cropped his hair?
(I’ll shudder in my sleep if crazy cackles rent the air
or if old hags on broomsticks with their pointed witches’ hats
prowl ‘round in eerie darkness with the flying-foxy bats).
I’ll put my foot down, get away from Bruce’s nightmare road
where signs can send a poet’s brain to verbal overload.

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