The Breaker

Some ballads I write are triggered by a place or an event. Others, like this one seem to pop into my head from nowhere. Most of the poems I write take less than 30 minutes to write, which leaves me wondering how they end up in my head so fast and so fully formed.

A breaker came our way last eve
with such a tale to tell
that even now I don’t believe
although he sold it well

He was riding out the back blocks
seeking out a mob
for he’d fallen down on hard times
and couldn’t find a job

He rode the hills and valleys
and traced the river’s course
looking for the hoof prints
to lead him to a horse

He’d heard the local legend
about a yearling mare
of those who tried to catch her
and those who wouldn’t dare

He worked his life with horses
and thought he knew them well
but now he’s having second thoughts
about the mare from hell

His tracking skills were tested
unto their very ends
and luck, he sorely pressed it
on luck his life depends

Ten days he rode the saddle
ten days he tracked the herd
until at last he cornered them
I’ll take him at his word

He swears the horses vanished
except the yearling mare
she turned and then she fixed him
with one unearthly stare

His horse just turned and bolted
and threw him to the ground
and then the mare was on him
with one enormous bound

She bit him and she kicked him
his body black and blue
she kept on till she’d licked him
he swears that it’s all true

And when at last she’d finished
she vanished in thin air
his broken bones were proof enough
that she had been right there

And with his story over
he walked in to the night
and with the coming of the day
we found that he was right

They found his body broken up
ten miles away at most
the one we got the story from
had been the breaker’s ghost

(c) December 1999

For those who are not familiar with Australian terminology, a breaker is someone who tames wild horses.

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