electrification by gentry

Poem #13 from: Memoir of a Dog

Back to Memoir of a Dog – Introduction

we are country folk
transplanted to the city

people like us
never weary of the sight
of green paddocks in a spring
of rain
the yellows and browns
that make summer

young enough still
to hanker for a dream
of pastoral life
to at least touch the edges
and know for a short time
the pride and allure
of ownership
to have worked our own soil


the purchase
is twenty-two acres just outside daylesford
close by the wombat forest

mineral springs country
hardly discovered after a mere century
still under-developed

dairy farms and potatoes
rich black loam
and volcanic bastard-rubble

every weekend we escape
to pitch tents on our hilltop
with an uninterrupted view
to the old volcano of mount franklin
and the myriad pinpoints of stars
so so many stars

we own the nights here

there are fence-holes to dig
posts to cut to size
from the wood of our own acreage
new trees to plant and nurture

our herd
comprises seven beasts
the piebald leader named rumpole
a mischief and a troublemaker
requiring electrified fences
to teach him he has no place
in our dream of plantation development

we wear gumboots
walk the ‘back nine’ with pride
watchful not to get between
the black snake
and it’s bolt-hole

in the evenings
the counter-meals
at the pub recommended to us
by a neighbour are a reward
for hard labour

we are a kind of gentry
in our own eyes

a form of amusement for the locals
aware of our land’s history
and everything there is to know
about us
and our prospects


the boys have built a billy-cart
ride a small motor-bike
disappear to the water hole
in a slow-running creek
at the end of the lane
the dog an eager companion
on any adventure
a master collector of burrs
that tangle deep in his wool

there’s room for them to run
as we ran before them
in the rural freedoms
of our own childhood days

we are gladdened by the sight


children can be cruel
they are laughing helplessly
at the antics of rumpole
who has become brave enough
to almost accept a handful of grass
from one of the boys

has grown more trusting

until the grass is left
draped across the top wire
of the electric fence

poor beast
his level of faith in the human animal
has just plummeted

the boys continue
trying to entice the other steers
then notice that the dog
has slipped under the fence
without mishap


three times the ball is thrown
through the fence
three times the dog collects it

three times
the tick tick of power
running through the wires
has been heard clearly

it’s his wool of course
thick and matted
it makes him immune

three times

but immunity
can be a fleeting thing

on the fourth run through
there is a startled yelp
the dog runs in a frantic semi-circle
that skirts the fence

up to the rear of the station wagon
and in through the open door

he circles three times rapidly
sits in the customary travelling position


and waits
ready to be driven home

electric fence 35%

© Frank Prem 2009

Memoir of a Dog Poem 14: from each the same

7 thoughts on “electrification by gentry

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