Solstice 2013: Notes on a visit to a country spurned

 
for Edward Gough Whitlam 1916-2014

The great benefit of Modern History,
Fast forward swipe on frame and Botox aside,
Is an Actor’s life on Facebookery
In touch minus foolish detail crisply fried,
Allowing so much more flexible achievement
Accountability intelligence and knowledge management,
To say nothing of bereavement
To say nothing of any moment
Doing nothing at all.

If you were born today
Where would China be?
Where is Cabramatta?
Have we mislaid them
Or are they on a table somewhere
Near some loose change?
And by China I mean Sri Lanka
And if by Cabrarmatta not a Morwell
Then you would quietly consider
Where to stand and take whatever
Steps to register its moment
With yours with theirs with ours.

For you are no Actor
Historical Economical Tragical Comical
Even farcical Khemlanical Morosical
Even Shakespherical is at once too grand
And removed from observation too humble
Like a short thought from Twitter land:
An Actor’s business and yours
Though both in their own ways deeds
And though both reach forward
Depart into different times
Yours without Exeunt omnes, or rhymes.

We all we hate captivity
Up that island tent city
Our kids excised from their migration zone
Our own lips sewn
Tortured and persecuted
But now investigated
Longing only not to think
Of family rolling in the drink
What the horror what attack
What might go down if we go back
How even this much kindness shown
Eats up our hostage family’s time
And blights a generation
And blasts our equilibrium
And worse.

A child must rise
Who, feeling this
Knowing that the cause
Is what it always was
Still acts
On those causes –
Perhaps loses –

Who has given thought to the raven night
Who has ample grace for this fucking blight
Who has enough but but enough to lead
Who will wake this place from zombie greed
Who refuses to own the confusion
Who slays and plucks and stuffs distraction
Who swallows patience patience patience
Who crashes crashes law with conscience.

Balancing on a mountain of my stuff
Uttering surrounding sea until it’s rough:
Innocent pile, a simpleton’s curse,
Extravagant protection never works.
I cannot tell you what came over me
How it benefited my family:
I gathered fear and amusement for years
Then looked around one day and there I was.
And all it took was a repetition
That we were foundering in an ocean –
But all that awful History leaves you calm
And though it is your job you do seem warm –
So I’ve chosen to believe that we can sing
To believe just this once we can all sing –
Though you may only listen to us sing
Beyond your eyes you know what we might sing

I look in drunken on my sleeping boy
Smoke off frozen spring rolls from the kitchen
Violent moon blanks his face with an angle
And I get what that pollie said to me:
One day my orphan will not make it home
Wind and rain and ocean swell wear rocks too
Longest night extending without solace
Faces eloquent with fear pass him by –
All this as it should be naturally
It’s the lovingkindness of history
To think that we might grapple with the real
To think that we might grapple with the real.

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