When Sally gave me my latest word prompts, I wrote a very silly poem about ‘ox’ rhyming with ‘fox’ and ‘box’ but how you can’t rhyme ‘oxen’ with ‘foxen’ or ‘boxen’ — but then I put that poem aside. Because the one I’m posting below was brewing, and I liked the idea of it more (even though it wasn’t written yet!). ‘Ox’ had reminded me about Judith Wright’s poem ‘Bullocky’. I’d first read that years ago, at highschool, and really loved it. So then I decided to write something from a bullock’s point of view.


This team of oxen,
under relentless Australian sun
we pull —
leaders at the front, polers at the back, near the wagon.
Two by two we move
by dry creek beds,
two by two
along dusty tracks
and the bullockies crack their whips.

The bullockies shout curses
because of the flies, or the ridged track
worn too far one way or the other —
mustn’t tip the wagon-load of wool and wheat,
“Git over!”

At night the bullockies
squat by flickering firelight, under starred skies
and leave us to find feed,
leave us to drift, to dream.

What are a bullock’s dreams?
I dream of green grasses,
cool waterholes,
and freedom —
walking without another shoulder yoked to mine.

(Rebecca Newman, 2014. All rights reserved.)

Taking a Stand

Sally really set me a challenge this time. I thought ‘independent’ would be the toughest word to work into a poem but actually ‘rough’ and ‘gone’ were much harder. I had already sketched out a lot of the poem before I realised that I was scratching my head to find the right word to rhyme with ‘gone’ and I began to think that perhaps a rhyming poem wasn’t such a grand idea after all. But it was too late to turn back …

In the end, here’s what I came up with!

Taking a Stand

I got up when the clock went off,
unasked, I tied my shoes.
I did the crossword by myself
by working out the clues.
I packed my bag without complaint —
my lunchbox and my rough
copy of my book review
and all the other stuff.
I caught the bus to school at eight,
I caught it home at three.
You’d gone to fetch the grandmas so
I chopped the spuds for tea.
I didn’t need reminding
to say ‘thank you’ and ‘please,’
I’m really INDEPENDENT and —
I choose

copyright Rebecca Newman 2014

At the ice-cream van

At the ice-cream van

Some grownups like to lick the top
around and around.
Too boring!

My dad likes to bite off big bits.
Too quick!
Flynn likes to watch it melt and run down his arms.
Too messy!
The right way to eat soft serve
is to crunch a hole in the bottom of the cone
and slurp up the ice-cream as it drips through.
copyright Rebecca Newman 2013

Sunday Afternoon

Sunday afternoon

At the end of its string
the kite rises, swoops and sails.
I pull at Jack’s sleeve and ask with my hands —
He shakes his head with a loud frown.

Ella cups her hands to her mouth
and yells into the wind,
“Garn! Give him a go!”

I take the string.
Jack points to the nearby trees and then up at the kite
I think
You don’t have to tell me to keep it away
I nod.

I feel the kite tug and shudder
I watch it dive
and flutter
and swim through air.

© 2013 Rebecca Newman