© Keith Lethbridge

Winner, 2022 Humorous Section Silver Quill, West Australian Bush Poetry Championships, Toodyay, West Australia.

They made a start from Elleker at piccaninny dawn.
The cows were milked, the chooks were fed and every sheep was shorn.
The billy-cart was loaded well beyond the Plimsoll line
And through the early morning mist the sun began to shine.
So Pedro turned to Cobber as he pulled his hat down hard:
“We’ve gotta fill this contract for the Denmark Council yard.
One hundred thousand pure bred flies are penned up out the back.
They said we couldn’t do it mate, but heroes never hesitate;
Let’s have a bloody crack!”

The billy-cart grew restless as the hour was drawing near.
The contract was a daunting task, but Billy knew no fear,
Then Cobber gazed along the track towards their distant goal.
He raised a hand then brought it down: “Let them doggies roll!”
So off beyond the fence-line to the Lower Denmark track,
With grim determination and no thoughts of turning back,
For every fly was needed by the folk in Denmark town,
And Pedro’s bush fly droving team would keep alive the tourist dream
And never let them down.

Approaching Younger’s Siding, even Cobber took a pause,
For rest and recreation was a bush fly contract clause.
They led the herd to water while they rested in the shade,
Those honest union members of the bush fly droving trade.
Then onward, ever onward through the dust and smoke and heat,
Never fearing for their safety, never dreaming of defeat.
Poor Billy’s wheels grew wobbly as they hit the homeward run,
But where the karri cricket sings, a hundred thousand pairs of wings
Shone golden in the sun.

The tourists waited nervously beneath the Denmark skies.
They had their pubs and beaches, but they badly needed flies.
They had their cars and caravans, tobacco, grog and pot,
But what’s the use of camping when there’s nothing left to swat?
The Shire Clerk and Councillors were champing at the bit;
The bottle shop proprietor was heading for a fit,
When suddenly a sound was heard to lift their spirits high:
Above the creak of Billy’s springs, two hundred thousand silver wings
Cascaded through the sky!

Then how the children lined the streets and how their banners swayed,
To see those two heroic men with Billy on parade,
And every fly was sleek and fat, with honest pride and grace,
As each one gently landed on a sticky tourist face.
Now right around the fishing spots, in every canvass camp,
In motor homes and caravans, beneath each Tilly lamp,
On dusty, corrugated tracks, wherever tourists drive,
You’ll hear about that dauntless crew: Pedro, Cobber and Billy too,
Who kept the dream alive!

Return to 2022 Award-Winning Poetry.

Terms of Use

All rights reserved.

The entire contents of the poetry in the collection on this site is copyright. Copyright for each individual poem remains with the poet. Therefore no poem or poems in this collection may be reproduced, performed, read aloud to any audience at any time, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without prior written permission of the individual poet.

Return to 2022 Award-Winning Poetry.