William Heck

When I was born my parents thought about naming me Jesus. It wasn’t because I was the messiah but rather the circumstance of my birth. Firstly, my mother had an immaculate conception or at least that’s what they told my grandfather. Next, it might not have been a manger but my mother did go to the hospital in a cattle truck. Then finally, after my birth, the wise men were guided to the North Star Hotel and offered my father many gifts of amber. I am also a Capricorn.

My grandfather was a drover then a fettler and my grandmother, a plucky god-fearing woman, was a euchre demon. My father worked as a stockman till his mid-thirties before he had a career ending accident that forced him back to town and into the railways. His other talent was as a barman so on holidays and weekends throughout my childhood while my friends played sport or did scouts I either helped out in pubs or worked cattle in the yards. I was saved from a career in the bush because of my dislike of horses and my loathing of bad country music.

What I dearly loved were the campfires outside the dipping yards because as the evening dragged on the old bushies would begin to recite their favourite poetry. The verses from classics such as A Bush Christening, The Loaded Dog, and The Man from Ironbark would swim through my head before the night was usually capped with a passionate rendition of The Man from Snowy River. Real cowboys never played guitar – it scared the cattle.

I did not discover I had a talent for writing until I was nearly thirty years old. By that time I had worked a myriad of occupations, loved a litany of women, and perpetrated most of the forgivable sins known to man. It was a long haul but I trained as a Journalist and started to master the power of the written word. I found no interest in writing about politicians or famous people but preferred to record the extraordinary stories of average Australians. Verse is an accessible medium that helps me to paint those tales with romance and myth.

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