The Wild One

© Tom McIlveen

Winner, Boyup Brook Bush Poetry Competition, Country Music Festival, Boyup Brook, W.A.

‘Get a leg rope on him Brother...quick, before he runs amok
and decides to do a runner through the scrub!
If you turn him round I’ll grab his head and tie him to the truck,
and we’ll trim his horns and give his back a rub.

He’s a wild one, nothing can see it in his eyes —
that peculiar look that only scrubbers get.
He’s a feral whose been posing as the devil in disguise,
and as bad a beast as I’ve encountered yet.

He’s enough to make our Herefords look undersized and frail,
with his sweeping horns and bulging Zebu hump.
There’s Noogoora Burr and Tiger Pear entangled in his tail,
and a strip of fencin’ wire around his rump.

If you hold him down I’ll try to get the burr and wiring freed,
and then cut him when he’s tranquilised and numb.
I will stitch him up with balin’ twine in case he starts to bleed,
and then sterilise him with a nip of rum.”

There are stories told by cattlemen who’ve seen them in the bush,
and have chased them down to earn an extra bob.
They have seen them trample fences, giving poles and gates a push,
to entice domestic cattle from a mob.

They’re as cunning as an outhouse rat and twice as bloody quick,
and will stare you down without a backward glance.
They will stomp and try to gore you, and then turn around and kick…
and will kill you, if you give them half a chance.

They’re descended from Bos Indicus and Taurus Bovine strains
from the Asiatic Archipelago.
There’s a trace of Drakensberger Brahman running through their veins,
with a pedigree that only God would know.

It was Captain Arthur Phillip who first brought them to our shores,
on a boat that must have rivalled Noah’s Ark.
They were foreign to the natives and resembled dinosaurs,
with their horns and hooves and coats of ironbark.

They’re supposedly resistant to our parasites and bugs,
and acclimatised to heat and winter cold.
Having never been exposed to toxic chemicals and drugs,
their resistance has increased a hundred fold.
‘Take the leg rope off him Brother...quick, before he starts to fade
and decides to turn domestic after all!
You can put away the ropes and chains and sheathe your trusty blade,
as we’ll never get him near a yard or stall.

Let him go and join his grazing mates, the wallabies and roos,
and enjoy whatever nature has in store.
He’s entitled to his freedom and the right to pick and choose —
if he wants to stay...or roam for evermore.’

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