Australian Outback Poems by Sian Butler.
Sian has travelled extensively throughout the Australian Outback and writes of her love for this ancient land with simplicity and heart-felt honesty. Sian’s inspired poetry is complemented by her painted impressions of the raw Australian Outback and the beauty of this rough and dry heartland. (Laya Ross, Sian’s daughter).
Please enjoy and share, however the poems (and paintings) are copyrighted and not for commercial use without the poet’s permission.
The Abandoned Homestead
Not as sad as it seems
it fulfilled someone’s dreams.
The garden’s not needed
it’s no longer weeded
The old folks are laid to rest
their family has flown the nest
The fields lie fallow
the dam is shallow.
New homes have been found for the cats and the dogs
leaving only some snakes and a pond full of frogs
The ducks have departed
The chooks are laying their eggs
when a different mistress begs
The sheep have joined another flock
adding to a farmer’s stock
The horse that carried the children to class
has been retired, put out to grass
Well, as for the poddy cow
it’s patted by new kids now.
This home has completed its task
there is nothing more to ask.
A little explanation: “chooks” is an affectionate Australian slang term for chickens.
Highways and Byways
We creep out of the park, sometimes while still dark,
with some anticipation and a feeling of elation
Our car is our steed and fills every need
to carry us afar on gravel or on tar
Like a snail with a shell in tow
it is our home as well
Our trusty caravan fulfills our nomad plan
The engine purrs; nobody stirs
The call is strong and the road is long
This country I must see: a rite of passage it is for me
This pilgrimage has to be made before life begins to fade
As the sky lightens the world brightens
On the brink of dawn a new day is born
This country is ours for a couple of hours
before others wake and to the road take
What will the day bring to make my heart sing?
Is there a fossil to be found or an opal on the ground?
An eagle flying by with flashing amber eye
as it lifts its kill to some far hill?
Wild flowers in the field or crops with a full yield
Animals, insects and logs, waterfalls, ponds and frogs?
Smoke bush of bluish grey or orchids with blooms that won’t stay?
A bush poet at a campfire
Of this we’ll never tire
Around the block we go though we may be very slow
It could take months; it did take years; with wonder and laughter; some troubles and tears
One day at a time the journey is made. For riches and fame I would not trade
the places and people I met on the way even though I couldn’t stay
There’s time to be and much to see
Twenty five years in the making this trip that I am taking
in a land so vast but I’m here at last
Many adventures we’ve had – mostly good but some were bad
From ghost towns to graves and bush walks to caves
with paintings from the past that the present will outlast
of stories so old they need to be told
Gorges so grand that have carved out the land
Shining beetles large and small, different trees twisted or tall
A potholed road; another cane toad
Lizards in the sun, snakes as well – not fun
A dinosaur stampede written in the rock
These footprints are held in a virtual time lock
Crocs with muddy trails, fish, dolphins and whales,
turtles and seals were part of the deals
Beneath the sea a grand and bright coloured wonderland
The ocean with beaches of gold or white, each a stunning and glorious sight
Bats billowing in the trees; moths fluttering in the breeze;
Sunsets a pleasure forever to treasure
We sit near a fire on a crisp desert night ‘neath millions of stars incredibly bright
The mountains are shades of violet and blue; the bushes and trees of a greenish hue
The earth in between red, mustard and brown in colours not seen in city or town
A dip in a crystal clear pool from a hot spring that never will cool
A walk along a dry river bed: the oldest in the world it is said
A Ulysses butterfly lands on my hand as in absolute wonder and awe I stand
A dream come true blue out of blue
This wonder and mystery is now part of my history
I’ll forget the weariness and heat, the flies impossible to beat,
missing family and friends as the road never ends
These are shadows in the sunshine of this amazing trip of mine
my heart opens wide with my mate by my side
driving silently and well: he loves this land I can tell
A lifestyle of choice where I have found my voice
From the outback to the sea it is now a part of me.
A little explanation: a caravan is called a trailer in the US.
The Old Farm Shed
This old farm shed that looks so forlorn
was out of necessity born.
It stands under stately cherry trees
home to birds, possums and bees.
It has stored the hay
harvested by May.
Tools hung from hooks
over food for the chooks.
There were baskets for eggs
and bikes without treads.
Old wagon wheels from the owner before
left abandoned beside the door.
Several drums of kerosene
against each other they did lean.
Also, plenty of mice
caught by cats in a trice.
The shed is missing some poles
and the roof has several holes.
Its walls are falling apart
shedding planks for a start.
With the patina of age,
changing at every stage,
to an artist it still has charm.
Once part of a working farm
this shed may not stand for long.
It is no longer strong.
About to fall into the clover
its days are nearly over.
For this artist it’s such a boon
I really must paint it soon.
This poem will be its tutorial.
My painting will be its memorial.
The Dry Riverbed
Its banks are bordered by trees
with leaves fluttering in the breeze.
Their trunks so strong
and their branches long.
Some twisted and turned;
some horribly burned
in a terrible fire
where the outcome was dire.
Their roots plunge down deep
for water they must seek.
Those that grow near the river will thrive
but further away it is hard to survive.
Some puddles remain after the rain
and the river will fill one day again.
Now, instead of cool water, just dry sand and mud.
A river gum drops a branch with a thud
as a way of shedding its heavy load.
With luck it may land on a horrid cane toad.
The sunshine is strong
and the shadows are long.
Pebbles and rocks
and occasional flocks
of budgies so green
a delight to be seen.
Animals come from the banks to play.
As the water dries up they will not stay.
Birds fly down to drink their fill
splash and bathe in the puddles until
the riverbed cracks into curled up squares
of contracting mud that rips and tears
all life out of the earth.
All that is left is a dearth
of nourishment for life
just drought, and waste, and strife
The water has flowed on its way to the Centre
its primary goal being Lake Eyre to enter.
Part of a great inland sea
that long ago used to be
but now the lake comes and goes according to the weather
as the seasons and systems they all come together.
After the next flood that surges this way
the dry riverbed will see a new day.
Poems and paintings by Sian Butler. Thank you Sian for so generously sharing your bush poetry and paintings. Copyright.
Thanks to my sister, Laya Ross, for her design and keyboard skills!
Hopefully, more to come.