General Poetry posted August 23, 2019

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A Western Australian story.

At a Kimberley Cattle Muster

by LisaMay

(For your general information, 
in the Australian Outback location 
a cattle ranch is called a Station.)

I was in the Kimberley for a while
looking for work, outdoor-style,
when the ‘bush telegraph’ said 
I’d get food and a simple bed
for working at Anna Plains Station –
I was sure to get an education!

They could do with a hand 
for what they had planned,
so I arrived ‘bright-eyed, bushy-tailed’,
and got my instructions detailed.

Out in the west we were put to the test
as we gathered for the muster.
I was a city girl come to ‘give it a whirl’
and was determined not to fluster.

I became a bush camper,
eating my breakfast of ‘damper’,
and was shown the work I would do.
It bruised me to black and to blue!

We erected temporary yards,
and it was quite on the cards
there’d be thousands of cattle coming in;
we had to pen them with strict discipline.

The work was hard, but I didn’t give in –
I just did it and still kept my grin,
to show weakness would be a failure.
I am a true girl of Australia!

Pawing the ground with the mob 
was a bull called Old Bob –
he was mean and ornery as can be;
all he wanted to do was get free.

That crossbreed bull was enormous; 
then he put on quite a performance –
“Son of a whore!” I heard the boss roar,
as the beast burst over the rail;
his cunning and strength did prevail.

Old Bob weighed near a tonne,
and the fun had just begun...
a big bastard was he and not meant to be
on MY side of the fence!
I quivered with fear – he was far too near,
and I lost all my brave pretence.
In the blink of an eye I had scrambled up high
as his horns clanged into the bars.
I wished that I was on Mars –
not being subjected, while unprotected,
to behaviour so wildly directed!

I could go on for a while
with tales to make you smile,
and some of them would get rather gory.
See, even cowgirls can tell a Western story.


Western Poem writing prompt entry
Writing Prompt
Write a western (cowboy) poem, long or short, fact or fiction.
Must rhyme. Method of rhyme up to the author.

Author's Note:

1.) A 'muster' (Australia/NZ) or a roundup (US) is the process of gathering livestock. In this poem it is cattle. Seasonal mustering is conducted for reasons including routine livestock health checks and treatments, branding, de-horning, pregnancy testing, sale, feeding and transport or droving to another location. The group of animals gathered in a muster is referred to as a 'mob' in Australia and a 'herd' in North America.

2.) The Kimberley is the northernmost of the nine regions of Western Australia. It is bordered on the west by the Indian Ocean, on the north by the Timor Sea, on the south by the Great Sandy and Tanami Deserts in the region of the Pilbara, and on the east by the Northern Territory.

3.) The 'bush telegraph' is a rapid informal network by which information or gossip is spread.

4.) 'Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed' is an idiom that means full of energy and enthusiasm.

5.) 'Give it a whirl' is an idiom that means you decide to give an activity a go, even though it's something you have never tried before.

6.) 'Damper' in Australia is an unleavened loaf or cake of flour and water that has been baked in the embers of a fire.
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