Bernie pic

Bernie pic

Friday, 10 July 2020

8 Days a Week

Day 1  bush poem 1:

EACH DAY FOR THE NEXT EIGHT DAYS, I will present a bush poem from premier Australian bush poet Long John Best. The poems are all originals from Long John Best’s first print collection, Tall Tales.
        I have known Long John, now in his 80s, for about 20 years, perhaps not coincidentally, around the time he began to apply himself seriously to the craft of bush poetry, known as cowboy poetry in the United States. I say, not coincidentally, because we met when I was doing the entertainment round for the  Pine Rivers Press and the Northern Times newspapers 
        I have been privileged over the years to write stories about Long John or Johnny or Bestie, as various friends and family call him.
        Long John has helped me out too, performing at the launch of my novel, Iraqi Icicle. Through his group the North Pine Bush Poets, he raised money to buy my intellectually disables son, Kevin, an iPad to communicate with. 
        John seemed to be always raising money for someone. As you will read in one poem, one of his favourites was the Royal Flying Doctor Service which has a long history of providing medical services to rural Australia. Proceeds of Tall Tales support the Royal Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA QLD) another of his favorites.
        Long John’s poetry ranges from the comic to the sentimental. He is not afraid to tackle controversial issues but he has the gift of uniting rather than dividing his audiences of various political and philosophical impulses.
        I am proud to call Long John Best my friend and I am happy Bent Banana Books was able to assist him in publishing Tall Tales. Let the tales begin. On the first tale of tallness, Long John wrote and performed Tasha, a Gift of a Dog.

Long John Best:
This is the story of an uninvited visitor to our home who stayed for fifteen years. She proved herself to be a wonderful warm and loyal companion. Honest and non-judgmental she was a great listener. We loved her then as we love her still.

Tasha, a Gift of a Dog

A puppy’s paw print, placed in concrete, nearly forty years ago,
 I was dirty when she did it, but no more, how could I know?
Now, every time I see it, takes me back, to reminisce
‘Bout them two young girls, who lived here, ‘bout Old Tasha, I still miss.

She came; a gift we did not want, a golden fluffy ball.
We had Samantha, six months old; no love to spare, at all,
Or so we thought, but as dogs do, they creep inside your heart,
And when our Kylie came along, it was much too late to part.

Two darling daughters and their mate, they were like them Musketeers,
They were all for one and one for all, we never held no fears
A snake would maybe take them or perhaps they’d wind up drowned.
No, you’d never entertain the thought, while Tasha was around.

She was like some hairy shadow; she’d not let them out of sight.
She’d cry, when they went off to school, but the welcome home at night,
She’d be leaping, barking, grinning, and though some may think us daft,
We all swore, when they got back from camp, that big old dog, she laughed.

Oh! The years fly by so swiftly, young girls grow, move out, and wed,
Too soon their kids were wiggling, giggling, snuggling in our bed.
Then I’d walk ‘em up the driveway, to the spot where Tasha trod,
Tell ‘em tales of two Princesses, and their dog who’s gone to God.

Then I’d show ‘em where she’s buried, by the fence in our back yard.
“Gramps how come she’s here and up there too?” it all got far too hard.
So, I promptly changed the subject, and I herd them all inside,
And show ‘em photos of their Mums, from babyhood to bride.

But old Tasha kept appearing, and it soon became a game,
They’d flick quickly through the pictures ‘til they’d spot her, shout her name.
They’d cry, “Tasha, Tasha, Tasha,” like their Mothers used to call,
And I’d half expect Old Tasha, to come flashing down the hall.

Slipping, scratching at the polished boards, she’d let out her worried bark.
Yeah, wherever you look ‘round our place, old Tasha’s left her mark.
Three great mates, who grew together, sadly one grew old too fast,
Wasn’t easy, telling young girls why such friendships cannot last.

I grow older, tears come quicker, hindsight wisdom’s far too late.
I shoulda told you that I loved you more, while you were here, old mate.
There’s a green patch in our paddock, that I talk to when I mow,
And a puppy’s paw print, set in concrete, nearly forty years ago.

Listen to Long John performing 

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.

Today’s song celebrates the first of eight days of bush poetry from Long John Best.

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