The old man and his grandson viewed
A barren bladeless ground.
When to his left the young lad's eye
Saw bleached bones scattered 'round.
'Twas more than one beast's bones that lay
There exposed to the sun.
It seemed more like a battlefield
Where only death had won.
The old man saw the young lad wince,
He reined in close behind.
As memories of what took place
Came flooding through his mind.
A century turned, but not his luck,
For rains had failed again.
He slowly watched the dams dry up
While cattle died in pain.
A little water still remained
Though sought by feral stock.
Some brumbies which came down at dawn
Still often used the block.
In good times no one cared that much,
But not so any more.
The young lad's dad and this old man
Both knew what lay in store.
A high log fence closed off the dam,
The timber they had sawn.
Suspended gate it lay in wait
For piccaninny dawn.
Then as the last mare ambled through
Wood gate it dropped like lead.
A wood rail race seemed their escape,
But death lurked there instead. Their capital had all dried up,
No cash for lead and gun.
To execute the feral stock
Took knife and old man's son.
With legs astride the wood rail race
Son grimaced as he drew
That blade of death 'cross jug'lar vein,
Then slapped the victim through.
Each fleet foot spirit faltered there
A hundred yards away,
While blazing eyes showed fear of death,
Mouths gave a weakened neigh.
Then one by one their weak frames fell
Onto the dusty ground.
The racing hearts of those poor beasts
Then gave their final pound.
The slaughter did not save the stock
For all the dams went dry.
It fin'ly broke the old man's son,
He watched the grown man cry.
All this the old man told the lad,
The picture was now drawn.
On why his dad then took his life
One piccaninny dawn.
The young lad then took from his head
his father's sweat stained hat
And as he wiped the tears away
He said, Gramps thanks for that."
I'd always had my doubts you see
About the way Dad died,
But now I know the truth at last
I'll wear this hat with pride.
Copyright © Merv Webster | Year Posted 2005
Poetrysoup is an environment of encouragement and growth so only provide specific positive comments that indicate what you appreciate about the poem.
to post a comment