Cut-out Party

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If they didn’t exactly dance on the tables
a few fell off them.
Shearers prancing in their cleanest feathers
on an improvised dance floor.
Bare feet, blue singlets.
Guest jackaroos wore their Akubras.
No incipient old age rot.
Alive for the moment.
‘The Aussie or Kiwi shearer is ideally suited
to the foxtrot.’

Faces in momentary splendour.
Enjoying the feel of themselves full of liquor.
Drunk in a storm of bodies
like puppies in a nonchalant tumble.
Circling, stamping, eyes glancing, hands touching,
dancing is a noble occupation.

A fight ended it
boots and all.
In the paddock dark, shrill recriminations.
A tall Maori bit a small Australian.
Cut lips and dulled responses in the morning.
Some shearers didn’t notice till the eighth
they were shearing rams not wethers.

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