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 ... More
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 –
While you archaeologists are stomping on
our graves arguing about the depth of your
new Pleistocene layer my people already know
the ... More
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 ... More
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.
I dream of you.
There was a time we collected
&a ... More
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 ... More
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 ... More