Keep Your Hands on the Reins – New Poetry by Daan Spijer

Joint Winner of The Letter Review Prize for Poetry

A strapping young stockman lay dying,
as strapping young stockman will,
and, although he knew he was close to death,
his face it was smiling still.
For weeks he’d been mustering cattle,
steering them by the stars.
But, because he’d been at the bottle,
he confused fair Venus for Mars.
The reins lay slack on the pony’s mane;
his mind and his hands were elsewhere.
That his thoughts were off with a far-away girl
you could tell by his far-away stare.
The cattle were spooked by a crying bird,
the pony stopped with a lurch,
the stockman let out a most painful retort
as he fell to the ground from his perch.
As he lay on the earth with his shattered bones,
his hands slowed, as he gulped for more breath.
Despite pain, his face showed him ecstatic,
as he came, as we all must, to death.

Daan Spijer studied science and law at the University of Melbourne and graduated in law in 1972. In 1977-79 he trained as a therapist in London and worked in that field through the 1980s in Melbourne. From mid-1991 to mid-2007 he was CEO of a small non-profit medical college. Daan has been writing for most of his life: poetry, short stories, essays, plays, a blog and book reviews, and has won a number of awards with these. He has written two YA novels and a YA novella, all still as yet unpublished. Daan has had short stories, poems and essays included in anthologies, and four of his short plays have been performed. Daan is an award winning photographer. He works part-time as a consultant legal counsel and as an accredited mediator. He lives on the Mornington Peninsula (south of Melbourne) with his wife, Sally, and groodle, Brian.