Diesel ditty                            

by Kai Jensen                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Any resemblance of the tractor in this poem to that of Chris Jesson of Fairhaven Point Way is entirely intentional.

When Chris brings his tractor out

don’t get in the way

if you want to live to walk

your dog another day;

don’t stop to tie your shoelace

in the metal monster’s route

well maybe a brogue or running shoe

– but not a twelve-eyelet boot

and Rover, don’t bite at its tyres

but heel and be discreet

unless you crave the body shape

of Daisy* down the street

                   [* Marilyn’s dachshund]

for Chris’s tractor will come on

inexorable but slow

like other mighty forces,

death and taxes, that we know.

It won’t outrun a kangaroo

a wombat or a snake

but snails and crawling babies

it’s been known to overtake.

Indeed, there is a rumour

when the fires made their push

the RFS came asking Chris

to dig firebreaks in the bush

at least till their insurers

pictured a fire-front race

with Chris’s tractor in top gear

(a healthy walking pace)

and so our neighbour’s tractor’s scoop

chomps less heroic food,

takes bites of mulch and topsoil

for the neighbourhood –

Chris is always willing

to lend a hand hydraulically

if you don’t mind waiting

till after morning tea.

(You can sit on the verandah

sip your cup and hear

the muted chug and squeaking of

his tractor drawing near.)

Now, Derek’s tractor’s modern

shiny and bright red

but Chris’s one, though scruffier

has more street cred

by which I mean more character

with its rust and dents and grime –

both juggernaut and driver

wear the patina of time

and that’s why we on our front deck

love to sit and watch the show,

the rusty tractor trundling,

the driver’s hair like snow.

If he backs his trailer backwards

(which requires a low gear)

he’ll be barely past the letterbox

when you’ve poured your second beer.