Two funerals and a truck
Australian Bush Poetry: best served read aloud, or shouted across a bar.
Metrical, narrative lyrical, and charactered. And they gotta rhyme 🙂
These two are based on my experiences as a funeral celebrant in Brisbane, Australia.
Repeat: best read aloud. Get your Oz accent on 🙂
21 Truck Salute
He was barely growing chin fuzz that one
Still playing with the possibilities
Free to be and to be free
while Dad, a real man truckie
a master of the big rigs,
rolled along the long highways
bringing home the bacon
for the missus and the kids
Until one day his heart attacked him
out there on a country road
that didn’t take him home.
And suddenly all eyes were on that boy
Inheriting the fleet
And how on earth could that shy lad meet
such a huge and premature responsibility.
There’s not a lot straight off the shelf
of our poor cultural ritual
to serve initiation
So they called me to try to make
some pertinent arrangement.
But hell, this soft ass city girl, I didn’t have a clue
And so I asked the big boys what to do
And those men knew,
those men who spend their lives alone
traverse the vacant vastness of our land
with heavy loads, and knotted ropes
and trusting their own hands
Who do whatever they must do to reach their destination
Ya those men knew community is what we need
to raise a teen to adult obligation
So after simple indoor ceremony
We went out to the carpark of the cemetery
Where 21 truck cabs roared in
And parked round the boy, who stood alone.
The air was crackling with anticipation
And I’m still resonating with the
The power and the passion lord!!
When each one blasted his air horn
A rolling soaring thunder of vibration
inflating that small person
with the fullness of their masculine support
Then dad’s best mate, and Mum
walked him to his father’s swankest rig
and handed him the key
and lifted him up to the drivers seat.
He sounded his own horn with three strong shouts
And 20 cabs pulled after him
As he led the procession out
And like Canute, we know that we can’t hold the tide
Of shit that sure goes down
But with a 21 truck salute we can
Blast out a tidal wave
and stand alongside one small boy
while he becomes a man
You know what’s really very fucked?
When lovers get to use me for their therapy.
It’s happened oh so many times, I put my courage
To the sticking place, enjoin in that fine war
Between desire, tender fear and trust.
And just when I start thinking that the lust
will be refined into some jewel more rare
The little seeds are growing true
They tell me ‘wow, thanks, that was great
I’m feeling so much better now’
And go with someone new.
Who’s generally much prettier
Much fittier for them
Than me, the archtypical dumbcluck
And what can I say, to somebody I care for
but- good luck. I hope it takes you far, my love.
And generally it does. They stick like glue
They’re such an lovely couple, ya
And all their friends approve.
It seems I have a knack,
for growing people to where they need to grow
And generally not getting too much back.
I’d been so trained to not complain
To be so non attached.
One time that it happened, though, it went a different way
I beat a bratty new girl in a little game of DJ
He’d brought the princess round to my mine
Thought we’d hit it off, you know…
When she pipes up all laughing,
‘Can you play some Turkish Disco’
Like that’s way out my league, me being so suburban
I guess she thought I’d be impressed by names like Urban Turban.
Her smug suggestion overwhelmed my powers of repression
While she’d been doing fashion, I’d been building my collection.
She got a blast right up her arse
a Bosporus inferno
with energy to burn and the drums like howling rain.
I danced her right out on the street
(He made his own discrete retreat)
And settled back into my life again
A life of solo nights, right livelihood and pain.
For I worked close with death back then
I helped a lot of people go
I’d helped his wife, that’s how we’d met.
That’s why also our loving was a secret brush
of sweetness over sorrow.
Full of dark and light like all good things and true
And something with no future, something we both knew.
And yep those two, they stuck like glue, and all our friends approved.
Soon after that after I got the call
To do her mother’s funeral
Sounds weird, but that was what I did and I was probably best in town when tricky ones were going down
So it was also natural.
She worked it out,
she booked the band, Tibetan monks, she chose the poetry.
Her clothes of course, and readings by the Jung Society.
That day, she looked so good in red
New Queen for all to see.
I dressed in professional black and read the eulogy.
And up there on the podium, I did my job quite well
With clarity of diction and attention to detail.
Her picture hat was really flash with flowers and big bows
Well cute with the minidress, and come on smile
as she received her tribute
from the sympathetic rows.
And he seemed quite invisible, a thin line drawn beside her
Until he looked straight up at me
and both our worlds grew wider
I saw his wife inside his eyes,
I knew he could see me
Something tore and something warmed
And once again my heart had energy
He knew, I knew,
we knew, we both,
we all live such a long story
What did that old poet say?
When that bell tolls,
it tolls for thee.
We don’t control our destiny
It’s only our response that sets us free.
You know what’s really fucking good?
When ex loves are your therapy.