Some Losers Drive ‘Cruisers

My early days as an adult poet were spent writing bush poetry. There is nothing quite like an Australian bush poetry competition to hone your rhythm and rhyme, where every syllable was counted, and stress marked – and any near-rhymes noted for deductions. I learnt a lot from the bush poets, and endeavour to keep this discipline in my writing today.

Recently I was flicking back over some of my bush poetry. Very little of it has had an audience, other than within competitions, or with friends and family. I thought Poetry Friday might be a good time to share some – and since we’ve just come out of a flood season, ‘Some Losers Drive ‘Cruisers’ seemed like a good place to start. This tongue-in-cheek poem is not to malign the Toyota Landcrusier (‘Cruiser) product – which cannot be held responsible for the actions of men in their four-by-four utes.

To read more poetry posts, click across to Tabatha’s blog, The Opposite of Indifference, where you’ll find a flood of poetry links and love.

The ‘Cruiser (Landcruiser) is a workhorse on Australian properties.

Some Losers Drive ‘Cruisers*

A torrent of rain brought an end to the drought
and inches poured down as the waters spread out.
The creeks became rivers, parched flats were soon lakes
and men in their utes began making mistakes.

The first left the road and traversed a new track;
thick slough on the ground though meant no going back.
A bulldozer, parked where it finished the job,
was revved up to extricate this sluggish yob.

The ground was a slop heap, the dozer not light …
It bogged and that fellow had worsened his plight
Relief when it came was surprisingly bleak;
“Get in – leave yer ute or we won’t cross the creek.”

The road inundated for many a day,
the ’Cruiser, forlorn, was then stuck in the clay,
’til waters subsided and man could return –
to next bog the tractor! You’d think he would learn …

Chap Two had a problem – a pump under threat;
with floodwaters rising it soon would be wet.
He first bogged the ute though – and, cause for alarm,
the salvage machines were marooned on the farm

The 4×4 wagon was given the task
of freeing the ’Cruiser – now that’s a big ask!
It soon was entrenched, also deep in the mire
and “Help!” was the plea, as the water rose higher.

With shovels, a neighbour and tin roofing sheet,
the wagon extracted – a notable feat!
While sitting in water that lapped at the floor,
the ute was then winched twenty metres or more.

The third – I don’t know what to make out of him …
He honestly thought that his new ute could swim!
His ’Cruiser “the best” never failing to please –
he’d cross this small puddle with consummate ease!

The floodwaters lapped at the six-foot depth mark –
one ‘k’ on a bend, yet he went for a lark!
When murky, brown water lapped up at the roof,
the ute was abandoned; sunk in reproof.

The volunteer rescue arrived in a rush,
to winch the subaqueous ute from the gush.
That sodden new ’Cruiser was towed back to town –
for dunking ensured the electrics went down.

Invincible men in their 4×4 utes –
what drives them to play in the mud like galoots?
Alas, I suspect that these overgrown boys
just have to act tough, with their Tonka-like toys.

© Kathryn Apel 2003 – All rights reserved.

Note: Chap Three was not known to us – he merely tried to cross a notorious flood stretch near our house. His new Landcruiser was insured – but rumour has it insurance didn’t want to know him, since he had driven through road closure signs to attempt his crossing.

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25 comments

  1. Kathi,
    Sluggish yobs and galoots, what fun. The voice of Australia does come through and make this even more enjoyable. Well done on this saga, and thanks for sharing it. Please share more.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your “bush” poetry reminds me of US “cowboy” poetry! All about the story and the rhythm and rhyme — always with an audience in mind. So glad you’ve decided to share with us. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cowboy poetry. Now there’s a newbie – but I’d imagine you’re right. The bush poetry was very much traditionally about being out in the bush (an area of untouched native flora) sitting around the campfire, with billy-tea and damper… It’s that sharing of stories and whiling away time, before TV/radio/internet, etc…

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    • Gotta love the farm ute! A truck is much bigger than a ute, here. 🙂 (ie – cattle truck, semi-trailer, delivery truck…) And I’m quite chuffed that it makes you think of a modern-day bard!

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    • Thanks, Violet. It sounds like you and Irene might be onto something, in those similarities. Bush poems are also called bush ballads. 🙂 To be honest, I don’t think I ever entered this one in a competition. But it did get included in the book, ‘Kookaburra Shells – Port Curtis Literature’, by Robyn Sheahan-Bright.

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  3. I’m assuming a ute is also a cruiser, but if it isn’t, I’ll have to reread. Love the lingo. I could hear the Aussie cadence at times, with the colorful slang. I’d love to hear you read it aloud — do you ever record yourself and post it? What a pleasure it would be to hear it read with the right accent (rather than in my head)! Love that road sign. Bush Poetry. New term to me. Here it would be political in nature. We call spoken poetry either Slam or Spoken Word poetry. Or rap. Or hip-hop. Love it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So many things…
      1) Yes, a ‘Cruiser is a ute – which is a utility vehicle, with a tray on the back.
      2) Recorded reading… Now there’s a thought. #willthinkfurtherandsee
      3) Bush Poetry. I see where you’re coming from. 🙂 Bush, as in wild or uncultivated country – probably akin to your forest? I hadn’t even considered ‘bush’ being an unknown term – though I knew ‘ute’ would be a newbie.
      4) Slam poetry and Spoken Word poetry is happening here, too. I haven’t seen either in action, though, to know how they compare to Bush Poetry Musters/Breakfasts, etc.
      Thanks for all the things to think about!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, ute, utility vehicle. I knew it would have a rational source! So much of language makes sense if you just look into it enough. I wonder if Bush poetry has to refer to the bush, things that are uniquely Australian. Obviously, I think about things too much. 🙂 Thanks for your thoughtful response. 🙂

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  4. I laughed all the way through this! HUZZAH! This Bush Poetry seems to be more of a cousin to our Cowboy Poetry than to slam, spoken word, rap or hip-hop. YES to an audio version so we can get the full effect of your Aussie accent/pronunciation!

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  5. Oh, my goodness! A whole new genre of poetry for me to discover. I had never heard of Bush Poetry. But, I do see how it has it’s own category. What an amazing flood those photos show. And, I do love the epilogue end note about the insurance company not wanting to know the chap. ha! Are there other famous Bush Poets for us newbies to try? This was really fun!

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