Bernie pic

Bernie pic

Friday, 17 July 2020

Bush Poem 8: Seniors' Resistance

Day 8 bush poem 8:
Here is a John Best original about the Seniors’ Resistance

John Best:
Contemporary Bush Poetry reflects Australia’s life today and historically has provided a powerful vehicle for social change. Maybe not this poem, but who knows? I wrote this in 2002 and now we have a national inquiry. I’ve called it:

Are the Elderly Revolting?

I have reached the autumn of my life which wasn’t that flash in its summer.
That’s me, you see, I have always marched to the beat of another drummer.
But I like to think I can end my days, and round this great land roam,
For I’ve a dread of the living dead, locked up in a bad nursing home.

To the aged it’s a sensitive issue, to the young just a smile, maybe shrug
But I know you seldom find answers to problems swept under the rug.
So if laughter be the medicine, let’s tackle this with humour.
What’s he on about? Let me spell it out and dispense with the myth and rumour.

Those caring honest operators – this is not about you, I should stress.
It’s those few, the heartless and greedy, who attract all the unwanted press.
Yes, you’ve a problem Canberra and my thoughts on the problem I’ll share.
There’s a need to review the one you have who is responsible for aged care.

For a start there’s the problem of image which should be addressed with vigour.
Who can reconcile that aggressive style with a caring mother figure?
I’ve no doubt she’s a very nice person but on TV she makes me go tense.
She purses her lips, seems to shoot from both hips. She’d be far better off in defence!

From defence, it’s not far to travel back to, dare I mention, a war?
When the Poms built a camp concentration, you know in that blue with the Boer. 
From there it’s only a hop step and jump if you leave your thoughts free to roam
And what do you get? Your worst nightmare yet – you guessed it, a bad nursing home

In some homes you’ll find shelter and comfort and their owners should all be applauded.
Yet others deserve to be closed down, for they’re not what the doctor ordered.
Or are they? Who owns all these places? Whose is the money invested?
Do their interests conflict? Some may, I predict, and this certainly needs to be tested.

Now I’ve spoken at length to these seniors. I do poetry for them, then chat,
And slowly I’ve reached a conclusion–there’s other places they’d rather be at.
There’s a groundswell of disenchantment, now a whisper, it’ll soon be a shout 
It’s not good enough. They’re doin’ it tough. I can picture a mass breakout.

See I’ve checked out their library records and these lines you should all read between –  
Three most popular books? “The Great Escape”, “Papillon” and “Stalag 17”.
The local TAFE’s not unsympathetic: anti-nursing home protests they’ve staged
To show that they care they’ve sewn bags for hot air and taught tunnelling to the aged.

So, don’t be surprised if, one morning, balloon squadrons float over your fence.
There’ll be no spring chickens in these baskets and the hot air?
Yeah, flatulence. And don’t ring the law, please just ignore those depressions in your front lawn.
It’s a tunneller, mate. When he reaches your gate by tomorra, he’ll be gone

Should they not have the strength to leave on their own, this issue I will not shirk.
They’ll just laptop their mate in a wheelchair. Please note here the genius at work,
Vision impairment? No problem! I’ve a scheme I admit I’ve not tried,
See, I’m breedin’ these bloody big guide dogs. They’ll just hop in the saddle and ride!

And you mob, if drivin’ near nursin’ ‘omes spot someone a little bit older,
They’re not hard to pick –  they’ve a walker or stick with a furtive look over their shoulder.
Do the right thing! Lend ‘em a hand, render whatever assistance.
Your turn’ll come ‘round, now known underground “Paid up member of Senior Resistance”.

As you’ve gathered by now, I’m across this. Those that can flee will have flown.
 I’ve no doubt solved most of their problems and those left behind, “Home Alone”.
Yes Minister, you’ve done some good work. Give credit where credit is due,
But I think, and I’m not alone thinkin’, that we should do better. Don’t you?

For these folk and their like forged this nation, this country of which we’re so proud.
Some gave up their youth for Australia, others gave up their lives, brave, unbowed.
Minister, is this how we repay them? For this did they work, fight and die?
We can and we must do this better, or is “Lest We Forget” now a lie?

YOU CAN ORDER TALL TALES from your physical bookstore (author Long John Best, publisher Bent Banana Books) or in paperback or eBook from online-retailers including     (paperback and Kindle) (Barnes&Noble paperback)

Proceeds to animal welfare, RSPCA QLD

Lest We Forget is the motto of Anzac Day the Australian equivalent of Memorial Day in the US.
We started our first day of Long John Best bush poetry with a Beatles song and we will conclude our eighth day with another. For decades I thought the line was “Will you still heed me . . . “
I don’t want to usurp the genius of this rock group but I do think “Will you still heed me . . ." is a better lyric.

Thursday, 16 July 2020

Another dog poem from Long John Best

8 Days a Week
Day 7 bush poem 7:

Long John Best has that rare gift of being able to create a poem which is both sad and uplifting.
Here is one:

Long John Best:
Inspired by a piece called A Dog’s Purpose. Anonymous.

The Vet

Ron and Lisa’s dog was Bluey, part Blue Heeler, nearly ten,
Real good mate, more like a brother, to their six-year-old son, Ben.
I’m their vet, I’ve known the family, I dunno, for quite a while,
Watching boy and dog grow closer, one of Life’s joys, makes me smile.
Only school days find them parted, faithful friend waits by the gates.
But Life’s unfair, cruel. Cancer comes, claws deep and devastates,
And it’s now my task to tell them, all their prayers have been in vain,
Euthanasia, only option, to relieve poor Bluey’s pain.

Ben had asked if he could be there, which I thought strange for a kid,
But Ron and Lisa had agreed, and I’m so glad that they did.
For not before or ever since, have I witnessed such a scene,
At the passing of a loved one, sort of spiritual, I mean.
He seemed so calm when patting Blue, who looked up and licked Ben’s tears,
Respect and love and dignity, shown way, far beyond the years
Of their short lives spent together. Then we sat and wondered why,
Bad humans live a long, long time, and good dogs too soon must die.

Then Ben spoke, “I know the answer.” He is six, what would he say?
He gave us words of wisdom, that I dwell on to this day.
“Most people have to learn to live a good life, to love, be kind,
To be nice to one another, and I think that you will find,
That this really is the reason, but I’m six I could be wrong.
See dogs already know that stuff, so don’t have to stay as long.” 

YOU CAN ORDER TALL TALES from your physical bookstore (author Long John Best, publisher Bent Banana Books) or in paperback or eBook from online-retailers including     (paperback and Kindle) (Barnes&Noble paperback)

Proceeds to animal welfare, RSPCA QLD

The Drover’s Dog is a mid-1980s parody by Redgum, a folk/bush band. Former trade union boss Bob Hawke deposed Opposition Leader Bill Haydn just before the 1983 election which Hawke won. A somewhat bitter Hayden said a drover’s dog could have won that election against Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser.

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Bush Poem Day 6

Day 6 bush poem 6:

Here is another rofl-job with a Long John Best original from his collection, Tall Tales.

Henry’s Passing

There’s a look you get when dying, startled headlights on a deer,
And that’s the look old Henry had. Oh, he knew the end was near.
Family gathered round his bedside, vultures waiting for the end,
Only Naïve Nev his night nurse, Henry figured, was his friend.
Henry’s hour was fast approaching, time to leave this mortal coil,
With the wisdom born of Rhinehart, he would allocate the spoil.

“Wife, I leave to you all Pitt Street, Eldest Son, you get The Cross;
Michael, Mossman, most of Manly, toss in Bondi; that’s no loss.
Sisters, Sophie and Sofia, divvy up the CBD.
My Mercedes goes to Neville, for the kindness he’s shown me.”
Barely had these words been spoken, when his eyes closed with a sigh,
For all ties to Earth now broken, Henry’s time had come to die.

Well Nurse Neville was astounded, at what he had seen and heard.
That one man in just one lifetime, could acquire so much.
“My word,” He said, “This man, your Husband, Father, of him you must be proud,
So much property he leaves you.” Wife said, “For crying out aloud,
He was useless and a skinflint, for us didn’t give two hoots,
All’s left’s a clapped-out car, no money, and his bloody paper routes!”

YOU CAN ORDER TALL TALES from your physical bookstore (author Long John Best, publisher Bent Banana Books) or in paperback or eBook from online-retailers including     (paperback and Kindle) (Barnes&Noble paperback)

Proceeds to animal welfare, RSPCA QLD

Love that bit about “Sisters, Sophie and Sofia”. If the sisters Sophie and Sofia, were teenagers in the 1960s, they might have been taking in the Kroo Brothers at their local Australian milk bar. They do not look much like brothers, maybe because they are not. A milk bar was an Australian cafe where milkshakes were a favorite of the teenage clientele. And yea the Kroo Bros did perform at milk bars.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Bush poem 5 from Long John Best

Day 5 bush poem 5:

As a teenager and young man, Johnny served 15 years in the Royal Australian Air Force.
Here is one of his poems about a World War II veteran.

Long John Best:
Someone told me this was illusory, whatever that means it sounds pretty flash. It’s called:

Verandah Dreaming

Good to see you, old mate, I've missed you of late, have you been just a little bit off?
Pull up a chair, oh you've got your own there, twenty-eight inch wheels. Bloody cough.
Hey remember as kids, we used to do skids on our pushies with big wheels like that?
No pneumatics of course, solids; bucked like a horse, but Jesus they never went flat.

These kids of to-day, they dunno how to play, they say Gramps put TV on, we’re bored,
Then they up and they prance, like they've ants in their pants, that music’s a crime to record.
So what's with this chair, you've still got your legs there, aren't you bunging it on a bit, Fred?
Them legs saved your life, when you got into strife, with that farmer, I thought you were dead!

He must have seen me, though I hid up a tree when he lined up that 12-gauge on you.
Well struth, I knew you could run, but outrun a gun. Christ mate, you bloody near flew!
Proved a decent old bloke, liked a bit of a joke, and showed that he wasn't no dobber,
Left Mum a box with a note, still remember he wrote, "melons for felons", your cobber.

Oh but we never knew, when he lined up on you, and let one fly in the air out of fun,
That in only three years, with me hiding me fears, we'd be lined up again, by the Hun.
Oh, we'd joined up real fast, just in case the chance passed, who wouldn't want to be in it?
We drilled and we trained, but excitement soon waned, with bad news from the Front; can we win it?

Fred, I wasn't so sure, but you'd just ignore the doom and the gloom, get stuck in.
Me, I went with the tide, hoped, with you by my side, at the end of the day, mate, we'd win.
Cobbers eh, Freddy, weren’t all staunch and steady, a coupla right mongrels we knew,
"Reckitts" you dubbed 'em, and when Jerry near scrubbed 'em, they turned out quite white in the blue.

"Weak pair of bastards", you said, "they'll both wind up dead", a prediction, which wound up spot on,
Both blown to the khazi outside of Benghazi, and there weren’t a lot left, when they’d gone,
We crept in, out of Crete, near dead on our feet, couldn't picture us getting much older,
But you Freddy mate, oh Jeez you were great, I got scareder, and you just grew bolder.

The terrible two-some they called us, but mate you knew some, if not all of my fears,
Like, late at night when I cried, having dreamt I had died, a secret you kept down the years.
The next few dragged by, it's just in hindsight they fly, and I come back home, pretty right.
Oh, it's nothing you'd notice, but Jesus don't quote us, see I still wake up bawling at night.

I’m burnt out now of course, what you’d call a spent force, bastard banks took the deeds to the station.
Have we come such a ways, since our Middle East days, when you gave up your life, for this Nation?
I get feelings of guilt that this country we’ve built,might of done better with you here than me,
And quite often I wonder if this younger mob understands what it costs to be free.

Am I losing it, Fred? Am I better off dead? Seems the world of our youth's come behind.
Though your body's not near, your spirit is here, it's why I talks to you see, in me mind.
I suppose there's been others who had better brothers, but no one I've met ever did.
This long life I have led, is down to you, Fred, still sleeping in Libya, still a kid.

I’m fading fast, Freddy. I think I am ready, to take up where last we left off.
Put the billy on, mate, I've not long to wait, got this pain in me chest---bloody cough.

"Come in now please Dad, it makes me so mad, when you're jibbering to old Uncle Fred,
You know he's long gone, gee, you do carry on . . .  Oh, Sweet Jesus, my Father is dead."

YOU CAN ORDER TALL TALES from your physical bookstore (author Long John Best, publisher Bent Banana Books) or in paperback or eBook from online-retailers including     (paperback and Kindle) (Barnes&Noble paperback)

Proceeds to animal welfare, RSPCA QLD

Here is a 1969 hit about a young man going to the Vietnam war. At the end of the song, stick around to see a very skinny, very young Bee Gees covering Bob Dylan.

Monday, 13 July 2020

8 Days a Week: Bush Poem #4

Day 4 bush poem 4:

Some of Johnny Best’s bush poems are rofl-funny. Here’s one.

Long John Best:
This is a factual account of an incident that occurred to me in my late teens and altered the direction my life took from that day forward. Only the locations have been changed to protect the townsfolk from the notoriety that descended on the good citizens of Lourdes in France. I called it:
                         Horse Sense

Far out beyond the Great Divide, lay another world to me,
Son of suburbia that I am, from a city by the sea.
My academic achievements were greatly admired on the coast,
But way out there, I must declare, it’s horse sense that counts the most.
Oh, I’d travelled West, with youthful zest, in search of the Great Outback,
When the ute tossed it in outa Quilpie, along the Windorah track.

In the old girl’s sparse shade, I ponder, what could be possibly wrong?
And try as I might, what I do is not right, and nobody comes along.
Five long hours creep slowly by, can the heat be affecting my brain?
For I swear I can hear someone talking; there, I can hear it again.
I’m standing now, and I’m looking, but the only creature I see
Is an old grey horse across the road, and he’s staring straight at me.

He sorta grins and then he begins to talk in a voice quite low,
“It appears to me that your carby’s blocked, clean it out and yer ute’ll go.”
I stand amazed, and somewhat dazed as he saunters off out of sight.
I’ve no other recourse but have faith in the horse and hope I can put it right.
I did as he said, God Bless him, she started first turn of the key.
I’m off down the track with no looking back, a miracle’s happened to me.

Windorah’s first pub finds me braking, my God what a story I bear,
Like shot from a gun, up the front steps I run, the bar’s empty, there’s nobody there.
Only the barman is present, bored, polishing glasses away.
Thinks I, just you wait, the tale I relate will certainly liven your day.
He poured and polished, I ranted.
Never into my story, he broke, Struth, you could have knocked me down, with a feather, when finally spoke. “My word,” he said, “You struck the grey, you should count your lucky stars,
The bay was out there last week, he knows bugger all about cars.”

YOU CAN ORDER TALL TALES from your physical bookstore (author Long John Best, publisher Bent Banana Books) or in paperback or eBook from online-retailers including   (paperback and Kindle) (Barnes&Noble paperback)

Proceeds to animal welfare, RSPCA QLD

Place means a lot to most people and it is essential John’s story is set in the Outback.
Many successful songs reference a place. Few reference as many as this 1962 Australian song from Lucky Starr.

Johnny Cash Americanized the song but he could not name-check as quickly as Lucky.
Hank Snow had a hit with the first American adaptation.

Sunday, 12 July 2020

8 Days a week: Day 3

Day 3 bush poem 3:

This is a confronting original work from Long John Best’s first print collection, Tall Tales.
You will see in the poem how Bestie incorporated audience response to it.
P(rovisional) Plates indicate the new driver has a restricted license.

Long John Best:
I wrote this to try to slow down the senseless road deaths of our young people. Young people who are on the threshold of life. They have been nurtured and loved to get to this stage, they have taken on board an education to enable them to make their way in this wonderful world, only to see it thrown away needlessly.  For what?

P Plates
Heading home from, doesn’t matter, driven further than makes sense,
When this car, coming towards me, leaves the road, ploughs through a fence.
Hits a tree, this far above ground, then explodes, disintegrates.
I pull up, you have to, don’t cha, might be me, could be me mates.

Saturday, 11 July 2020

Bush Poem Day 2

Day  2 bush poem 2:

I AM YET TO FIND ANYONE who does not love this week’s original bush poem by Long John Best from his anthology, Tall Tales available in paperback and eBook. To me the poem is about loss, loyalty, and doing the right thing. You might see something else in it.

Long John Best :
An old letter written to a Publican and his response. I now know him to be Paul Nielsen, mine host at The Tatts Hotel in Winton., Queensland.

Hotel Letter

Dear Sir,
We wish to stop at your hotel, we will book in for a week,
If you can only grant me, the permission that I seek