Stephen Loomes

(21ST JUNE 1950 / SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA)

THE ONLY SON


He was the first-born son
The girl was young and crazy
The father drove trucks way out west
And was never home with his lady
She was poor and could take no more
Wanted out of the whole thing
Stuck at home and all alone
Just her in the village with her baby
No place to go and the baby he kept crying
Dad drove his truck and cursed his luck
Saying life never did him any favours
Told his girl to wait at home and thank him for his labours
The cupboards were bare
And the streets were dark
When she packed her things and the baby's
He got home drunk and raged and searched
Till he tracked her down at a neighbour's
With drunken threats pacing up and down
Around her sitting with the baby perched
He told her to get out of town
Punching in the air near her face as he swore
Come home or get out and leave the kid
He threatened as she quavered
I don't want to go back to that empty house
For a life staring out of the window
At an empty town and an empty road
Full of idle men and their widows
Who never speak and look at me
Like a freak at the circus side-shows.
But let me take the baby with me
I beg you let us go
I'm leaving now I won't be stopped
She cried in desperate defiance
You'll not go off, you'll march right home
There'll be no ifs or maybes
But her life was gone, she had to leave
Then he grabbed the frightened baby
Drove her off into the weeping night
Alone she was left to grieve
But she vowed to fight in a court of law
For the only son he made her leave.
Life went on like an endless sea
Which tossed her like a cork
Would she ever see that son again
But there was no higher court.
The father gave the trucks away;
I'll stay at home and raise him
He said full of rage and fight
Hollow words from a hollow man
To show the world he was right
But he needed her more than the baby did
And took the kid out of spite
His troubles grew and he drank all night
This man was never sober
The baby grew without loving care
Never knew his mother
Her face fading like an ember
And only when he slept at night
Her last kiss could he remember.
With no direction and poor company
As a young boy he was growing
He lost his way; and on that trail
He had no way of knowing
The only kids were lost like him
In adult storms they were blowing
The guiding light was very dim
He was looking sure to fail
There's many a trap on the rocky road
On the way to full-grown man
And many a sad-eyed person
With a pill to change your plan
And he would take whatever they gave
To fill the emptiness within
Drinking spirits and stealing things
At the suggestion of his buddies
While other kids in that same town
Were busy with their studies
He stumbled on to the age of twenty
Alone and feeling down
Should have been at the gate of plenty
But around each leg was a ball and chain
That crippled his will to succeed
It was fastened there by the endless pain
Of his loss and inner need
Which left him feeling empty
To feed himself and get along
The jobs were tough and the bosses rough
The labour was back-breaking
And in the dark of every night
When his rest he was a-taking
He'd see her face and faintly hear
Where is my son my only son
His mother's silent prayer
He'd see her face and weeping eyes
Like a vision it would appear
And as she wept she heard his cries
Saying mother I need you here.
So in their dreams they'd cry
Calling for each other
Oh! Whatever chains now the world decrees
Are wrapped around your fate
A mother's love it never dies
Forever she will wait
And her spirit guides him onwards.
From out of her sleeping thoughts
The force of love goes upwards
And guides the boy with her support
To push him ever onwards
One day he woke and changed his mind
Saying I'll never have great wealth
But I can stop drinking and taking pills
And unlock the chains around me
Say no to all that makes me ill
My youthful health will set me free
It's no to him and no to her
No more, enough, I've had it
And he rose that day and he went forward
And shook every evil habit
He got a job for better pay
It wasn't much but something
And when a year had come and gone
He had a little saving
So when opportunity came along
He was ready for the taking
A block of land for payment down
In a little street on the edge of town
And tired from work he's sleeping right
Her kindly face it still appears,
But she is not a memory now
Or an angel for his fears
His mind was clear he made a vow
To dream of her no more
He tracked her down last year
And she's so proud of her only son
And he's so proud of her

Submitted: Thursday, May 23, 2013
Edited: Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Topic(s): mothers


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Poet's Notes about The Poem

Driving back from Glenreagh to Coffs Harbour one day I gave a lift to this young man who was hitchhiking and I was so moved by his story that I wrote this…

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