Australian bush poetry
Australian bush poetry A time, so long ago.
He was wandering around in mid teen life. It was his life you see.
A gawky kid of rind and bones, there amongst the canal bridge stones. Twas a fine sight to see.
The Bike it was a “Raleigh”, had “Sturmy Archer” gears. Bright green it was in colour, with about a year’s debt in arrears.
The girl was a real right smasher. With laughing eyes and windswept hair. She held the gaze of the gawky kid; she bewitched him with those eyes. And there somewhere in his gumboots, he wallowed with complying sighs.
She sat upon the crossbar of that shiny two wheeled machine.
And the gawky kid felt he was made when he felt the softness of her back, held tight in the crook of his trembling arm.
He smelt her hair, twas new mown hay, and knew he was in love and there was no turning away.
So he took her home to what was a motley hut, a part of all that was war. And he held her hand & kissed her eyes in the lee, of that tumbling down, crumpled store.
They both gazed at the stars, as there was no roof and he felt her warmth caressing.
And marvelled at the softness of her lips, and longed for her kisses all.
The bridge had seen young love often.
The nearby trees had seen it all.
But the gawky kid with his `depot` Bint, experienced love as if they had invented it.
Perhaps they had? Like the man who made the “Raleigh”, and painted it a shiny green, and gave it a light, to dazzle the darkness, when the wheels spun in the frosty gleam.
Two hands held tight in the sunlight.
Two hands entwined in the gloom. The reflection of yesterday’s sun came via the light of the moon, creating patterns in the wetness on the stones.
Then another world beckoned from across the angry sea, and the “Raleigh” machine became a memory, along with the Bint and the bridge.
And fifty years of a lifetime swept away the “hut”, the “Raleigh”, the tumbling down stones, leaving behind, sweet lasting thoughts, of a girl with a dimpled nose.
Who felt soft like the down of a Dandelion, and smelt like the evening rose as she sat cradled in the gawky kids arms, on the ancient canal bridge stones.
Then sudden by chance came a message, from across that angry sea. The Bint it was felt still carried a fifty year torch, for the kid of rind and bones.
The kid she thought had become embers, of a bushfire long ago. Again became reality.
In letters He talked of a Canal and Steventon Bridge, Of a “Raleigh” painted green. Of a kid he went rabbit-ting with.
Of a lady he thought was the Queen.
He wrote of her kid sisters, of cowslips and in awe, He spoke of the girl he left behind. The girl he had never forgotten.
And he spoke of wanting to hold her hand again alongside the ghostly bridge, and the two would gaze up at the moon and see the lunar man within.
Then later they would mount that ghostly machine, the one painted in shining green.
And the phantom light from the silvery hub would show them the way to her room.
They would pass the haunted club there on the right, while a band playing an eerie tune. ` They tried to tell us we’re too young`, a mournful saxophone wails. But time had proved they were still in love, it was not too late at all.
And out of the mist arose the hut they called home. Where the rabbiter lived and the queen that he knew.
It was his sweethearts abode and the place he called home too.
Tangled leaves-twisted, all once were green.
Hither, thither - As Life, once been.
Gaunt black branches reach for the sky.Grey brown leaves grimly grip - Life’s last chance.Then to death they fly.
Sombre Black Mountain - Feet wet in stream.Grey glistening shingle - Mountain in time back, once had been.
Slowly same shingle creeps towards the sea.Conglomerate - A million years in time to be.
Tis the start of life - Fighting and strife.The start of leaves. To grow as green, as the leaves—A million years before had been.
And you and I held hands in life.We watched the growth of buds and leaves.We gazed into the crystal pool - To see the shingle gleam.
We reached out into life - To touch that wondrous tree!Now Tis you somewhere - And I somewhere.Knee deep midst swirling leaves.
The windmill turns no more - It hangs its head in sorrow. Its workings all worn out from time - and rusted.
The wind still comes - But silent now.There is no need to rant and rave. There,s nothing left, to turn inside out!
Just a windmill—Alone in its grief.A rusting broken tank, its companion.
Written about 140 miles north of Alice Springs 1972 Don McDouall
South Australian Gallery-------
I strode into the gallery.Did gaze upon the treasured paint - In awe. T’was like a tomb in Westminster Abbey.Instead of Australia’s shore.
Its nice to gaze upon a scene -That was of long ago.But where are all the gum trees?The dust, the heat and flies? The stockmen? - The drought? And the eagles?The hopes—The fears—The cries?
Gallery after gallery - The dead mock me. The Flemish! Their English cousins! - For all the world to see.
But nery a golden sunset.Or a windmill turning around. Not even a camel, or a horse! -- Forever trampling the ground.
So I gaze somewhat wistfully - at all this treasure store. At last I see a window - And in glancing upon that scene. I see there’s a branch of brittle gum leaves -There, s a Wagtail - and a bee.
I can see a real live picture! - That no one else can see! As they tramp around the gallery - That mocks both you and me.
Written while sitting outside of the national art gallery Adelaide 1972 DMD
Along the dusty track - lizards for companions.I met a golden coloured girl. The dust caressed her feet - that day we chanced to meet.
From time, she said she came.She stayed but one short week. One day I found her gone.
Along the dusty track - lizards for companions. I dream of dusty golden hair - Perhaps she was just Gods treat! ‘Cause how’d you expect a girl out here?With the dust - and the Flies - and heat?
Written Aileron Pub north of The Alice 1968. McDouall.
The Big Bronze Aussie------
There he sits upon his shovel.The ‘76 version of a man. Sucking his thumb - then one of his fingers. Pot belly out in front.
The big bronze Aussie Digger. Power shovel and all.
Written just outside of Melbourne, on the Geelong rd. 1976. D McDouall
Thru the bars, she looked at me.With eyes like yellow flame. I found I could not meet those eyes,So dropped my head in shame.
You and I put her there, I don‘t know - what her crime.Sentence announced - Freedom denied.For all time.
From one, who had - at all times been free. I found I had to turn and flee.Away from those eyes - aglitter with hate.
But - perhaps its not too late?I could wrench out those bars! You cry - ‘But that’s illegal‘
Ah - Yes! That’s right.But then she would be free! That Golden Wedgetail Eagle.
Written at Adelaide Zoo 1972. DMD
I met ‘im in the pub ! - Me old mate Bill.A portly gut - White shirt - Red tie.With a waistcoat matching his suit.
He was someone in life - Was me old mate Bill.But it ‘adn‘t always been that true!
I first met me mate - Me old mate Bill.Under the bridge, at ‘Gum -Tree‘ spill.Just out from ‘Yanko‘ creek - It was raining like ‘Hell‘Had been, for more then a week.
My room for the night was an old ‘Furphy‘ tank. And there on the bank, stood Bill.
“Gooday” I said - “You sure look ‘blue‘. I’ve rabbit-Galah in me old pot of stew.Say the word - and you can have some too”.
He was looking for work. Was me old mate Bill?I was looking for work - So went along too.So we tramped together, down that long dusty roadWe travelled, courtesy of ‘Shanks pony‘ -We had no other mode.
That was Bill and me.
Well we got a start on ‘Jackson Downs‘.Ring barking - Lamb marking - Burr cutting - No praise.‘Jackson‘ boss ‘cocky‘ - We just the clowns!
Five long years we trudged the west.Me and Bill - We done our best.Then one day - Bill decides to get hitched. It was the ‘Cocky‘s‘ daughter—Who had him bewitched. T’was the end of the line for Bill.
But I met ‘im today - Me old mate Bill. T’was in the ‘Tiger‘ house - in Deniliquin still. A ‘Toff‘ he is now - His wife a real ‘Sow‘. Got as many kids - as the bank will allow!
“Gooday!” - I said to me old mate Bill. He looked at me ‘phizz‘ - Puzzled awhile! Then remembered still. “Well what do yer know? Its me old mate Blue!” His ‘hog‘ of a wife said - “ ‘ell Its you! “
That’s the last I seen him - Me old mate Bill.
Written in a pub in Deniliquin 1969 D. McDouall.
There he stands - So forlorn.With his hand in the rubbish bin. Furtively his hand gropes about - Hoping for a find, for him.
He‘s a 1976 Citizen - just like you and me. He‘s out of work - got no friends.There’s just you - him and the bin.
He once had a wife - a job - a bank - But it all crumbled to clay. So he stands at the bin - Hoping you won’t notice him, While he eats the crumbs - You just threw away.
1976.Written whilst seated in Christchurch square. Author D.McDouall
I dream of the ‘Mulga‘-‘Gums‘- Dry grass - Often of the Desert-Swamp, the Bush.Here among the ‘Kiwi‘s‘ - In Christchurch with its ‘Shoosh‘.
I dream of hard, brown-distant land - Of Thirst-Warmth and Flies. Reality Is pedals down—head over ‘handle-bars‘.
Tis cold - This land of ‘shaking‘ isles - unstable rock beneath. Colder still these four stone walls - The iciness of my grief. I wander far-I travel wide - But thoughts of her I cannot shun. Australia Fair Dry Brown - My home ‘down-under in the sun.
To listen to the ‘Magpies - warble to the sun.Glimpse ‘Dragon-flies hovering o‘er the ford. See the ‘Golden Wattle‘ daubed amongst ‘Box‘ trees.That is all I ask oh Lord.
I can hear the singing sighing of the ‘She-oak‘.A ‘Mopoke‘ laments in passing.‘Frill-neck‘ gapes there in the sun - Some warmth is all I’m asking.
Tis cold - this land of ‘shaking‘ isles - unstable rock beneath. Colder still these four stone walls - The iciness of my grief. I wander far-I travel wide - But thoughts of her I cannot shun. Australia-Fair-Dry- Brown - My home ‘down-under‘ in the sun.
Wind - ‘West-Melton‘, blows in time - Wind! Christchurch, it’s seeking.All four winds-blow and whine - Blow the lot North - I’m thinking. Coal burns brightly in the grate - Tis summer with the flowers. Overcoat-hat pulled down - Just a ‘bath‘ no ‘shower‘!
Tis cold - this land of ‘shaking‘ isles - Unstable rock beneath. Colder still these four stone walls - The iciness of my grief. I wander far-I travel wide - But thoughts of her I cannot shun. Australia-Fair.Dry-Brown - My home ‘down-under‘ in the sun.
So dreary winter comes again - ‘white breath‘ is upon the air. Sullen clouds-hang about - Rain falls in despair.Frost bites deep - Fingers numb - Chilblains seek my feet. ‘Kiwi‘ hands in pockets - Each face-reflects defeat.
Then Warmth is upon the air-‘Jack-ass‘ laughs -‘Pinks‘ and ‘greys‘ Swoop to the ground - ‘Cockys‘ seeks - What ‘Galahs‘ have found? Sweat ‘breaks‘ upon the brow - ‘Shorts‘- singlet! Beer-real cold! Can I go? - Or am I too old?
Back to the land of the ‘blazing‘ sun.Back to the land - Whence I came from. I travel wide-I wander long - But thoughts of her I cannot hide. Australia Fair dry brown - My home ‘down-under‘ in the sun.
Written Christchurch 1975 don McDouall
Karan King---- - No more you sing of love. Your heart like stone - Its silence speaks! To hurt my heart.
Who is he? - That may just touch - one such as thee.
A creature without heart - is free.Free to broach the cold - Somewhat boldly.Or to gaze into the depthless wetness - Of two ageless eyes.
Perhaps just for once --- see paradise.
To timeless time, you somehow cling.The hurt of everything - is in thee - somehow Karan King.
Written Kings Cross 1966 D Mcdouall
Tadpoles in their wetness - Wriggle on the pavement - hot and dry.Newts and lizards-do a ‘Tango‘ - “Hi to you” says dragonfly.
One more chance to see the wetness - Of the water in that stream. Or to hear the ‘keenness‘ of the flute - In love! Once been.
Into water- midst the rainbows - Eyes glance with misty awe. See the wonders of the water - Within mud - the shrimps withdraw.
‘Stick‘ crawls across the bottom - Inside ‘Caddis‘ with his load. ‘Stickleback‘ comes out to meet him.
‘Frog‘ cries forth in anticipation - In answer calls a lady ‘Toad‘.Tadpoles - shrivelled - dry - lonely - On the pavement cold and bleak.‘Dragonfly‘- wet-bedraggled - ‘Stickleback‘ a mate to seek.
‘Frog digests his ‘spiny‘ dinner - ‘Toad‘ dreams of ‘dragonflies‘.‘Caddis‘ grub moves on forever - Newts - Lizards close eyes to die. Written in Fiji 1982 D. McDouall
TWO TYPES OF COMMO-------
Have yer heard of me mate - Robbie Muldoon?The big fat - balloon.Been away a long time - He‘ll come back soon.
Quoth he. “I’ve seen to the ‘Poms‘ - Had tea with the Queen. Done the ‘Frogs‘ over - Paris - so much sour cream.
So silly buffoon! - Me mate ‘Rolly‘ Muldoon, Stands with the ranks - Listens to ‘Tanks‘ on the other side of the line.Korean kids - Wave ‘Kiwi‘ flags. Like kids all over - Wave at the drop of a hat. New Zealand! - Where in the ‘hell‘ is that?
Then over to ‘Nippon‘ - Our ‘beaut‘ friends of the East. Thirty years younger - The biggest of beasts.
The ‘Commo‘s‘ - Ah! ‘Commo‘s‘ - The worst of the bunch. Lets all go to China - With Robbie for lunch.
So when he returns - our friendly ‘Dictator‘ - God praise. We‘ll be waving ‘Red‘ flags - Every man for a raise.There’ll be no new ‘notches‘ on the financial belt. You ‘Poms‘ can go home! - Including the ‘Celts‘.
We only want ‘Commo‘s - Whose skin happens as yellow. ‘Red‘ is out - The ‘Nationals‘ will bellow. And you and I - With a name like ‘McDouall‘. Will be shown the door - You silly old fool.
Published in a NZ paper author D.McDouall 1975 [Robert Muldoon was the Prime Minister of NewZealand in ‘75---leader of the National party.]
The towering mountains of every hue.With spurs of sombreness shades of blue. Shingle - Glistens in late sun.Man plods home - His toil is done.
Darkness strides across the Glen.Night has come again - and then.
Mopoke calls with solemn cries.A frog calls back. - Then it dies. A Herons supper - His were flies!
Written on top of Mt. Warning Qld 1969 D McDouall
A Girl like Alice------ .
I met her out of ‘Alice‘ - Standing there in the dust. Her eyes were ‘steel‘ blue sapphires - Her hair the colour of rust. She was standing there with a ‘Canadian‘ mate - He could have been Jesus Christ! For all I know, it might have been ‘him‘ - Standing there in the dust.
I‘d pushed a ‘rig‘ from Gulgong - Where the grass is sometimes green.Gone past Blackall - then Longreach - and seen the ‘Isa‘ gleam. I‘d met a mate in the ‘Alice‘ - Got drunk every night. We had a few for ‘Alice‘! - I was doing all right.
I stayed a week at ‘Alice‘ - Then one morn - Pulled out, all alone and drear.But when I passed out through the ‘Alice‘ - She was standing there.
I‘d passed a ‘bloody‘ Chinaman - a little back down the track. I must of killed one sometime back - I must of—so they say. ‘cos bad luck had been my shadow - All along the way. Until I saw her standing there - In the dust along the track. A ‘grimy‘ hat - Dimpled cheeks - And a knapsack on her back.
She belonged back down in Sydney - Had a house on ‘Bondi‘ beach! But to me out there in the desert - She was still out of my reach.‘cos she was holding hands with ‘Jesus‘ - Jesus Christ her Canadian mate.
I pulled the rig to a grinding halt - The dust settled back down again.‘Jesus Christ‘ and his ‘Super Star‘ - Had not been waiting in vain.
His name was ‘John‘. It had a biblical tone! - And hers had a ring to it too.‘Cos ‘Marion‘ seems to ring a bell - of my far off distant youth. Of ‘fairy‘ rings and ‘Fairy‘ Queens - and a ‘Fairy‘ named Marion too. Perhaps I was just a dreaming - ‘cos a man as bad as me. Does‘nt expect disciple ‘John‘ - and an ‘Angel‘ for company.
They stayed with me for a thousand miles - It was a thousand moments of time.Then one day I found them gone - We had reached the end of the line. Then all I had was the memory - Of hair the colour of wine. Walking back along the track - Two lovers entwined. A friendly girl - A wild thing. Her Canadian mate had a ‘thing‘ with her - They were holding hands you see.
So when ever I travel that vast unknown - Perhaps when I come to a corner.Maybe! - Just maybe - There in the dust smiling - Is ‘Ryan’s‘ daughter.
Author Don McDouall 1968
Black Mountain down ne‘er the Bog-------
Our home was a shack, on a trail outback - Made from bark and mud.Uprights were straight ‘She-oak‘ poles - Entwined with ‘wattle‘ and ‘daub‘.
The roof came from a ‘Stringy-bark‘ tree - stretched taut - Held down with logs.It was my home - My sisters home - Over Black Mountain down ne‘er the Bog.
My Father, God bless him - cut ‘sleepers‘.My Mother a garden did tend - Milked goats took in washing.They always had a ‘penny‘ to lend, but rarely ‘pence‘ to spend.
Our home was the ‘Shack‘ and it still draws me back -To the days of my childhood dreams.To reach out and touch - The ‘sliprails‘ again!Hear ‘Lousy Jacks‘ on a cows back entertain.The ‘ring‘ of an axe - On a clear frosty morn.The laughter of Sis, in her new ‘pinafore‘ - No smile on her face was rare.
School was nigh on two miles down the track -Longside ‘Twin blue gum‘ creek.Its walls were made from ‘waterworn‘ stones - The cracks filled with clay.The floor was made of ‘cowdung‘, mixed with straw -Smelt like a barn,On a cold winters day.
Some forty odd years has been - come - and gone -I stand close again to where I was born.One old greying pole - of the ‘She-oak‘ is left.The fireplace there - The chimney has gone.
And down near the creek, I hear a faint echo.The ‘ring‘ of an axe - The ‘clucking‘ of chooks.The ‘rustle of books - The laughter and tears - The sweet ‘shy‘ looks.
All - Gone. Three brown mounds, are all that is left -All of my kin - Resting with God?Over Black Mountain down ne‘er the Bog.
Author D McDouall 1971
Australian bush poetry