States of Poetry 2016

As a new century dawned white Australians were urged
to feel comfortable and relaxed about their history.
'Shake off that irksome black arm band – legacy of radical
lefties who can't leave well enough alone – and their
tiresome chant that white Australia has a Black history and
we all have blood on our hands.
We've got a new song to sing now!'

Right win ...

For Garry Papin and the Muthi-Muthi People of Lake Mungo

 

Lady Mungo heard the white scientists trampling
on her people's sacredness and she began to surface –
to speak.
While you archaeologists are stomping on
our graves arguing about the depth of your
new Pleistocene layer my people already know
the ...

For Patrick White (1976)

 

When the Badtjala people discovered Eliza Fraser,
her story of cannibals devoured a history.
A century later when the Badtjala people
rescued Ellen Roxborough on the fringes of paradise
White's imagination captured the Aborigine –
the Blacks – for the nation.
When she ate Badtjala woman's flesh,
she ...

Whitefellas have a license to stare in
car parks, foyers, forums and gatherings at
anybody else who doesn’t look white.
They’re famous for asking Blackfellas
where we come from even though they
belong to the oldest diaspora of all. ...

I dip my finger in its redness –
a little wild honey for you
& a little for me,
beloved.

Each letter bears
             the unmistakable scent,
the iron perfume,
the dreams of lung,
vein & the battlefield.

At the window,
trembling,
befriending trees & cats with ...

The desert dreams of harvest,
of holy writ & rain.

The city dreams of ruin,
of upturned cars
& vine-dressed churches.

The tiger dreams of freedom,
of shaking loose the stake & chain
& racing into shadows
large enough to hold it.

But me?

I dream of you.

There was a time we collected
dolphin's teeth
&a ...

I

Having narrowly escaped jetlag,
             I ate a mushroom omelette
             in Galata Square,
with wrinkled black olives
             on the side
    &nbs ...

One day,
after it has died,
we will hold a vigil for the moon.

We will burn candles,
cheap mimics of its light,
& utter prayers we forgot to utter

while it still lived.
And we will say,
'Remember how it
spoke to us its bone-coloured dreams?
Remember how it gave us hope
when all else seemed savage?'

And some will say it was ...

 Life, like climbing, is best
accomplished if you don't look
down. Pressed up against the rock,

rock-face to face, one is safest.
Hands like to be busy, little nest-
builders, hunting for hand-

holds in the crevices and creases,
they work best in the dark,
by feel; creatures of tactility.

Feet too, like to work unhindered
by the he ...

They said,
'be afraid.'

And the people became afraid.

I stood,
              a dwarf in a petrified forest,
              watching them dance the ancient dance —
           & ...