dirt track
we bump into town
roos racing the truck

Jan Napier


I learned from the poet that town is a small place called Newman about twelve hundred kilometers north of Perth, extremely arid and very remote. The word track is particularly well chosen in this context; the only thing giving occasional relief to the corrugations on some of these tracks are the potholes, – I just love the expression: we bump into town. One gets the impression that the truck has more than a few miles on the odometer and I’d hazard a guess that the air conditioning system and front windows are one and the same thing. I can see a cloud of dust billowing behind the truck, perhaps reddened by a sunset and out to one side, a mob of roos bounding across country. The implied comparison in imagery here between the bumpy ride in the truck and the bounding motion of kangaroos is especially effective in giving life to this haiku and in creating a sense of ‘being there’. I have been fortunate enough to live in the Australian outback for a number of years and can happily say that such places are not in “the middle of nowhere”, to the contrary, remote places are definitely in the “middle of somewhere”; full interest and beauties of their own.

In just a few words, this iconically Australian haiku creates a vivid picture and tells a good story. And as for roos racing cars and trucks, I couldn’t say for certain but I reckon they sometimes do it just for fun.

First published: Windfall issue 5, 2017

Selection and comments by Simon Hanson

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