© Brenda Joy

Winner, 2018 Written Poetry Competition, Boyup Brook Country Music Festival, Boyup Brook, WA.

While he sat beside his campfire as the sun was sinking low,
just immersed in inner visions of the times now long ago,
he was drifting in remembrance of the life he’d loved and led
when the sky had been his shelter and the ground his only bed…

…when he’d ride from dawn to sunset on the dusty cattle trails
where his thoughts were held in silence to be woven into tales…
where he’d wait the daily tucker of the bully-beef and bread
lying back in brief siesta with his swag beneath his head.

He would catch the wafting whispers of the rustle in the trees
and the ever-busy buzzing of the tiny, native bees.
He would hear the rhythmic cooing of the gentle diamond dove
and would watch the brolgas riding in the thermals up above.

And at night he’d drift to sleeping with the mooing, mulling herd
and the singing sound of night-watch calming any beast that stirred,
‘til he’d wake in early daylight to the slinging-on of packs
and the chains and bells of horses getting ready for the tracks.

So the drover was rekindling all the ashes of his fires
while surrounded by the beauty that a bushman’s heart desires.
Special moments were enlivened by this peaceful billabong
far away from man-made bustle where his dreams could still belong.

In they drove with motors roaring, towing caravans behind,
pulling in right close beside him, never asking did he mind.
And they clattered, clanked and clamoured setting up their modern toys
with the constant bash and banter of their thought-destroying noise.

To get power for their cooking and for T.V. sets to blare
had their generators throbbing while their music rent the air
and their reverie was raucous, fuelled by alcohol and jokes –
quite oblivious to magic that a simple life evokes.

They complained about the weather and the wind and dust and flies
as enslavement to their comforts sought out all that that implies,
while the old-time cattle drover, was a victim of their deeds
and his water-hole was smitten by their urbanising needs.

Memories of camps are fading with the passing by of years
as the bushman, stockman, drover, like the Outback, disappears.
Just a relic in the present and a remnant from the past
as the cities cast their shadows on a world that couldn’t last.

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