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U3A Writing: The Swaggie

Mick Harkin writes about a gentleman of the road.

Checkin’ on the sheep and lambs, one early winter’s morn
Saw smoke risin in the distance, didn’t seem the norm.
As I drew closer a swaggie I could see
Boilin’ the billy, close by an old box tree.

“Ow yer goin mate?” I said. His eyes they met with mine.
“Bloody cold this time er day, by mid-day should be fine.”
Protruding ears, a bushy beard, broad smile lit his face,
“May as well be camped out ‘ere as any other place.”

His clothes were worn and dirty, boots seen better days
Tied up with bits ‘er twine, in a haphazard way.
Swag he was sittin’ on tied up with bits of string
Hat was stained and crumpled, a funny looking thing.

“Where yer going mate,’ I asked “Up or down the road?”
“ ’eadin up Wodonga way, a place I’ve always knowed.
Me old mate Jack ‘ees camped up there, behind the cemetery.
No-one ever bothers ‘im, ‘is life is pretty free.

“Just now I’m lookin’ fer some work, do anything I can.”
“Any good at cuttin’ wood? I need a willin’ hand.”
“Done a bit while on the road, it keeps me pretty fit.
Cut wood fer many blokes, lots ‘er posts I’ve split.”

A week of work soon passed by, no more work to do.
“May as well keep movin’ on, jobs far between and few.
Never know what lies ahead, must be off by noon.”
Chattels swinging from his swag, beat out a rhythmic tune.


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