Thursday, 20 November 2014


Drying Stockmen
Maureen Clifford © The Scribbly Bark Poet

Have we strung them on the fences all along the northern track
where the hot sun desiccates them and slow turns their skin to black?
Should we package and then stack them, load them in the four by four?
To rejuvenate just add beer – and they’ll last for evermore.

Do we send them to the cities, turn them loose on crowded streets
where they linger on park benches and in bars?  They meet and greet
new arrivals with a handshake and a gruff macho display
of resettling their Akubras, hitching jeans, saying G’day.

They are like fish out of water these dried desiccated men.
In the city they all flounder and the cities don’t get them.
They need distant horizons for their gaze to rest upon.
City skylines are tall towers and they quite lose their aplomb.

You can take men from the country, but it’s always in their hearts,
they ain’t easy in the city  merely pushing shopping carts,
they rest easy in the saddle with some kelpies at their feet
pushing stock ‘cross country paddocks in the blazing Aussie heat.

Here the country corrugations criss- cross round a million eyes.
The time honoured Aussie salute still dispels a million flies.
These men hang out in the outback and drive red dirt country roads
and we’d best enjoy them whilst we can before the lot implodes.

They’re our sun bronzed Aussie farmers; they’re widespread across our land
growing food to grace our table and right now some need a hand.
They’ve been ravaged by the fires, flood and drought – enough’s enough
but they haven’t given up yet ‘cause they’re built of sterner stuff.

But there’s some with health now failing and there’s some just getting old
and there’s some who are in deep despair beneath the bankers hold.
Should we turn our backs upon them?  Should we comment - ‘Well life’s tough
and if those blokes cannot hack it -  it’s no good cutting up rough.’

Should we just turn a cold shoulder?  Or will we give them a hand
up to help them do what they do best ? Help keep them on the land.
Or string them on the fences and leave them out there to dry?
Lose our farmers, lose our country, close the door and wave goodbye.

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