Shelley Hansen - Lady of Lines

Poem of the Month

July 2020

As the upsurge in virus cases triggers another wave of panic buying of toilet paper, my poem this month, though fictional, takes a light-hearted look at the potential for disaster in the days when the night soil man collected the "doings" from the backyard dunny.

The Night Cart Ride

© Shelley Hansen 2020

The men who brought the night cart to the Aussie backyard loo
are praised in verse and song throughout the land.
But there was one who drove a wagon with an old horse who
would never tolerate a stranger's hand.
One morning came the news the night cart man was ill in bed -
just who could drive his horse, he didn't know.
Though volunteers were scarce, they found a little bloke who said
he reckoned he'd be proud to have a go.

And so he climbed the night cart, and the old horse seemed to pause,
then roused himself and walked along his way.
He champed the bit impatiently and worked his mighty jaws,
but seemed at first as if he would obey.
They set upon their travels in the early hours of dawn,
and visited the backyards in each street.
The little man climbed up and down, and carted all the morn,
till cart was full - collection was complete.

Then suddenly the old horse sniffed, and snorted in the air -
he reared and pawed and quickly, with a jolt,
he set off at a gallop, then as people turned to stare,
it wasn't long till he began to bolt!
They raced across the river bridge and headed for the town -
the little man was tugging on the rein.
The old horse barely slackened as he plunged his great head down,
slewed round a bend, and bolted off again.

The Mayor was playing host that day to Most Important Men
who'd come from way down south, our town to see.
So, as the hour drew closer, he rehearsed his speech again
(while contemplating lunch with silent glee).
He followed the red carpet out, and took a little stroll,
resplendent in his robes - oh, what a sight -
exactly at the moment when the night cart lost control
as with a lurch it skidded left and right.

It slithered down the main street as the townsfolk watched in awe -
the traffic cleared with speed, if not with style!
The night cart's load was rocking as it never had before -
the little man atop it all the while.
At last, outside the Town Hall, as the men of note appeared,
the Mayor moved forward, the VIPs to greet.
The old horse stopped abruptly - just as everyone had feared -
which emptied out the load right at their feet!

The old folks still remember the excitement of that ride,
and given half a chance, they will relate
the story of the night cart man who took the job with pride,
and of the cranky horse that sealed his fate!
We've given gifts to foreigners who've chanced to pass our way,
to kings and queens, and politicians too,
but nothing beats the welcome to our visitors that day
when all at once they landed in the poo!

site managed by freesites