THE INSIDE STORY
I was reading in the paper, and noticed with unease
How the miracles of medicine are made realities.
How women wanting babies can obtain them by the dozen
from the local doctor’s cold room, all conveniently frozen;
And I must confess the notion left me feeling rather cold
For I much preferred the method that we used in days of old.
But the skillful city surgeon and his art must surely pale,
When you see the stockmen operate out in the post and rail.
Stitching up dog savaged whethers, and a mulga stick for breaks,
While the kids still have their ears lopped to survive the bite of snakes:
And the drastic use of stockknives to control the Barcoo Rot,
Shot-gun dentists, cures with castor oil, I guess I've seen the lot,
I pointed out this very fact, last Christmas, on the phone
To a mate of mine, Ken Cooper, who was working out near Scone;
And he told me of an accident - the solemn truth, he swore-
(In the land of Cornstalk Promises, that matters anymore?)
But Ken had lived in Queensland, and that's good enough for me,
So l reckon he's the Barnard of Outback Surgery.
Ken was working on a fence-line with a bloke called Slogger Brown;
He was running out the wire, while his mate was cutting down,
A mob of sheep stood waiting for the foliage to land -
When a crooked branch jumped back, and knocked the chain saw from his hand!
Oh, God! It was a shocking sight, to turn your limbs to Jelly:
The whirring blade came down across the bushman's belly!
(Ken told me all the details, and my tears were soon in flood,
For the ear-piece of the telephone was slowly oozing blood) -
But, before he grabbed the throttle, and could get the thing controlled,
His mate, his sole companion - was completely disemboweled;
And it wasn’t just matter of where this or that part fits -
His whole internal mechanism was chopped in little bits!
My friend had been a butcher when he worked the Queensland scene;
A sort of "reverse surgeon" - if you follow what I mean -
He knew it would be seconds before Slogger breathed his last,
So he had to do some surgery, and do it bloody fast!
He grabbed a ewe around the throat and slit its nether hide,
He hauled the steaming entrails out, and pushed them all inside.
Though he lacked finesse and finish, he was long on common sense,
For he drew the gash together with some staples from the fence,
And joining veins and sinews is quite simple when you know
A bit of gum-tree gumption, and a twitch from Cobb and Co.
What’s it matter in a stomach -upside down or front to back?
Guts are guts - they gain no glamour from the neatness of the pack.
Anyhow, he did some plumbing, so the inlet soon aligned;
The outlet quickly took its place with stitches unrefined.
He used a roll of tie wire, but he must have hit the mark -
‘Cos Old Slogger picked a crow-bar up then went to strip the bark;
So Ken retrieved the chain-saw, and wiped the blood away;
And they stood another twenty posts before the close of day.
Well, for weeks I’ve sat and wondered if his tale was really true -
I’ve heard a lot of stories of what lonely bushmen do -
So I rang Ken up the other day, and mentioned, on the side,
“I suppose you miss Old Slogger - l presume the poor cow died.”
“Oh, you’ll never kill Old Slogger, he’s as tough as bloody teak -
He’s out fencing on Uralla - and he had a lamb last week!”
Update: Have been informed that this was written by Charlee Marshall, a Bush poet from Queensland. Click on the name for a biography and list of other works by Charlee.