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On white lines on valiant wheels
I head north leavin' behind the City of Sails
with its humourless streets,
its casino steel and glass Sky Tower
built of the rubble of a grander age
peopled by a grander pride!
In my rear-view the harbour's steel arch;
a bridge to near and far -
monument to post-war industrialisation.
And as far as the eye can see...
New Age pyramids of urban sprawl;
rows of suburban microwave towers;
greenhouse chimneys; concrete bunkers...
behold the isle of Rangitoto
sits a jewel rock in the gulf crown!
And straight up State Highway 1 -
land of my youth, where
the hills are alive with the sound of cowbells,
ghosts of gumdiggers, flax millers,
outlaws, brigand sailors...
the "dead end" of Schnapper Rock
to Rosedale, Oteha Valley and beyond,
the fertile salad and fruit bowl
orchard trees of Clemow and Airborne.
A land of milk and honey,
fleece and beef, the strawberry fields,
where I once worked hard(ly).
Gone is the quaint village church hall,
last year's scythin' twister
went Old Testament in a rage,
but not the "Great War" Memorial
to twenty three of its sons!
Poetic irony that a mighty whirlwind,
an act of God, raze a holy
edifice and smite the hallowed walls
on these Footrot Flats
in the house of woolshed fundamentalism.
Is it the work of a divine sly-grogger?
Raze a church and spare
the winepresses of the heathen pub?
Indeed I know which I would spare...cheers!
Do tell by what grievance
or sin or wrath is "thy will" done?
Yet the hillside graveyard remains intact;
well, you can't be killed twice
so those deadbeat bastards are laughin'!
So too the boys after a long
day in the trenches playin' "matches":
romancin' the giddy-up rodeo girls
on a Saturday night
in their tight thigh slappin' spangled jeans,
in their rootin' tootin' shaggin' boots
and their "bend me over and hogtie me"
eyes lookin' to bushwack
some poor droolin' rope jockey
at the Wayside Inn waterin' hole
and saloon! Small lives in small towns
drinkin', shootin' - pool that is!
Rednecks and cowboys off their wagons
till closin' time's last call. Hell,
more than once I hitched my pony there -
days when my saddle bags
carried lead, not gold;
when loathin' and loss filled my glass
and there were no paths
to glory - sadly, no happy trails!
Pictured is the Wayside Inn pub.
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