Tuesday, December 28, 2010

360 Degrees

I am aiming at a performance poem. From the second stanza it is meant to gather pace assertively in a rhetorical rhythm with a touch of southern preacher.

360 Degrees


The sign at Rosney Farm says Moonmairemener people

hunted kangaroo in the grassy forest,

shellfish from the river. Before the plough and barn

displaced Moonmairemener from their traditional lands.


Displaced

... a half regretful sort of word for theft.

So when is it just ok to steal

say sorry

and not give the bloody goods back?

If we of pale face

need to wear the guilt of our ancestors lets repent

I say really repent

or else I wish we'd all shut up

with the interpretive sign whinges

the whole steamy guilt reminder sauna.


St Paul gives the Greek of repentance

a complete total 180 degrees turn

a-round, 'I'm facing, I'm thinking

I'm stepping out in a whole new direction, brother'.

So if we really did an unprecedented bad

in all the Rosney farms around Australia

we should ... fix it

Not limp tokens

not interpretive signs wet with lament

not some marginal land returns

not patronising smoky ceremony

We really should just … give it back

pack up our copy of the gift of civilisation

in the suitcase and

head back to where we came from

and leave this country to the original owners.

I'm ready. I'll do it along with the rest of you.

Actually my own kit needs a little more space

sits in a shipping container

full of pumps and fridges and stuff like that.

Might get in the way after we all leave.


I'm going back to the USA ...

but wait ... I was bad there too.

Native Americans need that back

just like the aborigines.

I recalibrate my instruments

and my ship makes wake

all the way to mother England

clog the ports there with all the other Pommy ex pats

colonial bad boys and girls

waiting their turn with half of Australia

in the customs line at Dover


But then I remember my Danish grandfather and the pillage

loot and plunder on this the ravaged coast, the stolen land

My God man, send this ship to Copenhagen

but the DNA betrays me

and I'm also one of the raiding Celts from the east

raping the Danes and

they make me truck my shipping container back

on the highway

to middle Europe

home of the original Celts

and there with a long jake bark

on my engine brakes

I hang a slow left

toward the Slavs, my granny babushkas

all the way back to central Asia

and there maybe I can find redemption helping

the embattled Uighurs

my cousins who are trying to claim their piece of turf too

wouldn't you know

from the ubiquitous Chinese

who shoot them random in the crowd.

So maybe we can call in the Turks with a flotilla

(their specialty)

up the Yangtze river

to end this deprivation of human rights.


But the Chinese were here long before

making nice with my Slavic granny

and I'm in a few centuries easy steps

tracing my Mongol ancestry

down to the south Asia coast

down to the Spice Islands

displacing populations all the way

And arriving in my short sail canoe finding pearls

and fleshy comfort with

a black fisher girl

from the only people who never

displaced anyone

the place where the whole human story got started

on the hot beach flanks of the Kimberleys.


Damn. I was here the whole bloody time

and so I heave my rusty container

up on a pile oyster shells

crank up the generator

and pass out enough lemonades

to toast that old wisdom that says

we are all as bad as each other

but nothing a great slather of grace wouldn't fix.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Common Era

I know him not

three times St Peter said

of the arrested one.


New calendars take Peter's part

warming cold hands

by fire of our denial.

With BCE we mark a birth

but hide the one who honoured

Mary's womb, who owns the day.

By year, by date, betrayed,

we know him not.