Ah, poetry to soothe the savage beast
Bill Dettmer from Melbourne sent me this wonderful pastiche on one of our best-loved poems. I couldn’t resist sharing it with you.
THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER
Apologies to A.B. "Banjo" Paterson
Cirrhosis of the liver
There was movement down the local, for the word had passed around
That the biker called ‘Old Brett’ had got away,
He had modified his cycle - he weighed a thousand pound,
Pulled Dave’s bird, Joan, was off to have a play.
All the tried and noted bikers from the stations near and far
Had parked outside the homestead overnight,
For the bikers love hard riding where the motorcycles are,
And the Traillie’s snuff the battle with delight.
There was Harrison, who had his piles said ‘pardon’ then threw up,
The old man with his hair as white as snow;
But few could ride beside him when his blood was fairly up -
He would go wherever bike and man could go.
And Clancy in his sloppy joe came down to lend a hand,
No better bikeman ever held the ‘bars;
For never bike could throw him while the footpeg’s bolts would stand,
He learnt to ride while dodging through the cars.
And one was there, a yobbo on a small and weedy beast,
It was something like a race-bike undersized,
With a touch of old Ducati - three parts Yamaha at least -
And such as are by mountain bike-men prized.
It was hard and tough and wiry - just the sort that won't say die -
It had tyres with a slick and balding tread;
But it bore no badge or trademark, just a splash of old meat pie
On the mudguard that was painted ‘Postie’ red.
But still a rough old 2 stroke, one would doubt its power to stay,
And the old man said, "That bike will never do
For a long and tiring ride - lad, you'd better stop away,
Those hills are far too rough for such as you."
So he waited sad and wistful - only Clancy stood his friend -
"I think we ought to let him come," he said;
"I warrant he'll be with us when he's wanted at the end,
For both his bike and he are mountain bred.
"He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko's side,
Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough,
Where the foot rests strike up firelight from the flint stones every ride,
The man that holds his own is good enough.
And the Snowy River riders on the mountains make their home,
Where the river runs those giant hills between;
I have seen full many bike-men since I first commenced to roam,
But nowhere yet such bike-men have I seen."
So they went – found Joan and biker by the big mimosa clump -
They raced away towards the mountain's brow,
And the old man gave his orders, "’Geez’ ‘e’s givin’ her a pump,
No use to try for fancy riding now.
And, Clancy, you must wheel him, try and wheel them to the right.
Ride boldly, lad, and never fear the spills,
For never yet was rider that could keep that bum in sight,
If once they gain the shelter of those hills."
So Clancy done a wheelie - he was racing on the wing
Where the best and boldest riders take their place,
And he raced his stock-bike past them, and he made the ranges ring
With the exhaust, as he met him face to face.
Then they halted for a moment, Joanie gave Old Brett a pash,
Brett saw his well-loved mountain full in view,
And he charged between the stock-bikes with a sharp and sudden dash,
And off into the mountain scrub he flew.
Then fast the bike-men followed, where the gorges deep and black
Resounded to the thunder of their treads,
And the mufflers woke the echoes, and they fiercely answered back
As onwards Brett and pillion wildly sped.
And upward, ever upward, the wild bikes held their way,
Where mountain ash and kurrajong grew wide;
And the old man muttered fiercely, "We may bid old Brett good day,
And it looks like Dave has lost his future bride."
When they reached the mountain's summit, even Clancy took a pull,
It well might make the boldest hold their breath,
The wild hop scrub grew thickly, and the hidden ground was full
Of wombat holes, and any slip was death.
But the man from Snowy River let the Kwaka have its head,
And he swung his ‘bars around and sculled a beer,
And he raced it down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,
While the others stood and watched in very fear.
He sent the flint stones flying, but the rider kept his feet,
He cleared the fallen timber in his stride,
And the man from Snowy River never shifted in his seat -
It was grand to see that mountain bike-man ride.
Through the stringybarks and saplings, on the rough and broken ground,
Down the hillside at a racing pace he went;
And he never drew the brakes on till he landed safe and sound,
At the bottom of that terrible descent.
He was right upon Old Brett as they climbed the further hill,
And the watchers saw the pillion sitting mute,
Saw him ply the Kwaka fiercely, he was right upon him still,
As he raced across the clearing in pursuit.
Then they lost him for a moment, where two mountain gullies met
In the ranges, but a final glimpse reveals
On a dim and distant hillside the wild biker racing yet,
With the man from Snowy River at his heels.
And he ran Brett single-handed till their beards were white with foam.
He followed like a bloodhound on the track,
Then he gave old Brett a beatin’, and he grabbed the bird called Joan,
And alone and unassisted brought her back.
On his hardy Kawasaki with Joan up against back and he was,
Pumped and caught the musky scent of her;
She had pluck, was still undaunted, and her breath was fiery hot,
She dropped her hands down south and gave a purr.
And down by Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges raise
Their torn and rugged battlements on high,
Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze
At midnight in the cold and frosty sky,
And where around The Sloppy Joe the reed beds sweep and sway
To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide,
The man from Snowy River is a household word today,
Cause he thumped Dave too and made young Joan his bride.
Peter “The Bear” Thoeming