C J Dennis Poetry Competition and Festival

Toolangi 2015

The Impossible BBQ – Highly Commended

Gran is out from Cornwall and we’ve planned an Aussie treat
The great Australian BBQ with eskies full of meat
Steaks and chops and sausages and don’t forget, of course
The most important condiment, the Heinz tomato sauce

Gran’s not used to seeing all our wide and open spaces
Cornwall’s rather cramped and squashed and damp in many places
She’s never had a BBQ, she sits on picnic rugs
And lunches in lush meadows far from flies and other bugs

She wanders through the copses picking bluebells by the bunch
She won’t find bluebells growing here or saffron cake to munch
We’re going on a BBQ an outback expedition
We want Gran to experience an Australian tradition

The car is packed and so are we, our quest has now begun
And soon the dust is dancing as we head towards the sun
The air conditioner’s broken and we’re sweating salty beads
We try to think some cooling thoughts but none of us succeeds

We drive on corrugated tracks that shake us to the core
Gran complains to Dad because her bottom’s getting sore
“Nearly there,” is Dad’s reply, “it’s just around the corner.”
But Dad at times exaggerates and I wonder, should warn her?

Four more corners and then a case of minor dehydration
We pull into a roadside stop our barbie destination.
The outlook’s rather limited it’s blocked off by the loo
But Dad’s too busy rummaging to care about the view

We all climb out to stretch our legs; the heat is like a slap
A lonesome Gum provides some shade as Dad unfolds his map
“We’re here,” he grins and stabs a finger, gnarled and tanned and plump
“Beyond which lies,” he points and winks, the infamous Black Stump

A shiver, quivers through us all, although the sun’s severe
We hope that nothing untoward will happen to us here
Gran is looking miserable she’s moaning and she’s mumbling
But then I realise, that instead, it’s all our tummies rumbling

“We’re starving Dad, let’s cook the food before we fade away,”
We all pitch in to gather sticks while Dad collects the tray
The one he won on Friday night, a raffle at the pub
Proud as punch he lifts the tray above the saltbush scrub

“Welcome to the outback Gran,” we give a little cheer
Dad discretely sniffles as he wipes away a tear
He sets the sticks inside the grate and quickly strikes a match
Then drops the blackened plate in place and waits for it to catch

Soon the chops are sizzling, the sausages and steak
And that’s when we discover our very first mistake
‘Cause while we love to BBQ beneath Australian skies
We’d all forgotten BBQs are also loved by flies

Thousands upon thousands; our fire a gaudy beacon
We flip and flap and slip and slap but soon begin to weaken
It doesn’t matter where we run, there’s no way to compete
You can’t deter an Aussie fly when it’s detected meat

The second of our grand mistakes; a rather smart invention
As cures can often come too late it’s best to use prevention
In Cornwall you would never leave without your large umbrella
So BBQs should never be without some citronella

We drive away defeated and find a marshy lake
And snack on tea and Grandma’s most delicious saffron cake


I was also very chuffed to read in the judge’s report that another poem that I entered warranted this comment…

The Kangaroos’ Barbie by Jackie Hosking is a very clever parody on the song The Teddy Bears’ Picnic and works well when it is sung (this allows compression and extension of syllables, and pauses). However, when read aloud, it didn’t quite work as a poem and so is not included here. I would love to hear it performed.

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