Poetry Sunday 22 October 2017

The Colonel by Carolyn Fouché

From Modern American Poetry –  “Carolyn Forché is known as a political poet, calling herself a “poet of witness” Growing up in Detroit in the 1950’s, poet Carolyn Forché recalls discovering photographs from a Nazi concentration camp in Look Magazine. After her mother confiscated the journal and hid it, young Forche re-confiscated it, marking perhaps the beginning of a poetic vocation devoted to exposing tyranny, injustice, and bearing witness to the atrocities of the 20th century.

Born one of seven children to a Czech-American housewife and a tool and die maker, Forché describes herself as a “junkheap Catholic” perennially drawn to issues of social justice. The winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prize for her volume Gathering the Tribes (1976), Forché’s work sustained a remarkable shift following a year spent on a Guggenheim fellowship in El Salvador. Working closely with Archbishop Oscar Humberto Romero, human rights activist later killed by right-wing assassins, Forché assisted in finding people who had disappeared and in reporting their whereabouts to Amnesty International.   The shock of witnessing countless atrocities in Central America generated the volume The Country Between Us (1981), which stirred immediate controversy because of its overt politics: “My new works seemed controversial to my American contemporaries who argued against the right of a North American to contemplate such issues in her work, or against any mixing of what they saw as the mutually exclusive realms of the personal and the political.” Forché ’s “orchid-like” reputation was tarnished forever. One publisher agreed to publish the collection only if the poet would agree to balance images of war-torn  El Salvador with lighter poems on more traditional subjects. Forché refused. After much encouragement from fellow writer Margaret Atwood, Forché sent the manuscript to Harper and Row and obtained a contract just three days later. Perhaps the most disturbing and memorable poem in the volume is “The Colonel”– a prose poem in which the speaker conveys with chilling flatness a horrific story:

WHAT YOU HAVE HEARD is true. I was in his house. His wife carried
a tray of coffee and sugar. His daughter filed her nails, his son went
out for the night. There were daily papers, pet dogs, a pistol on the
cushion beside him. The moon swung bare on its black cord over
the house. On the television was a cop show. It was in English.
Broken bottles were embedded in the walls around the house to
scoop the kneecaps from a man’s legs or cut his hands to lace. On
the windows there were gratings like those in liquor stores. We had
dinner, rack of lamb, good wine, a gold bell was on the table for
calling the maid. The maid brought green mangoes, salt, a type of
bread. I was asked how I enjoyed the country. There was a brief
commercial in Spanish. His wife took everything away. There was
some talk then of how difficult it had become to govern. The parrot
said hello on the terrace. The colonel told it to shut up, and pushed
himself from the table. My friend said to me with his eyes: say
nothing. The colonel returned with a sack used to bring groceries
home. He spilled many human ears on the table. They were like
dried peach halves. There is no other way to say this. He took one
of them in his hands, shook it in our faces, dropped it into a water
glass. It came alive there. I am tired of fooling around he said. As
for the rights of anyone, tell your people they can go fuck them-
selves. He swept the ears to the floor with his arm and held the last
of his wine in the air. Something for your poetry, no? he said. Some
of the ears on the floor caught this scrap of his voice. Some of the
ears on the floor were pressed to the ground.
May 1978

Musical Dispatch from the Front

This MDFF was first dispatched on 7th Novemeber 2012.  The first half is reproduced here

Buenas amigos y compañeros,

 Not sure if a previous Dispatch bore the label ‘Spin’. No matter, ‘spin’ is such a recurring occurrence in Aboriginal Affairs, that it deserves a re-run.

 My late mother spent eight decades on earth being an avid reader of anything. She passed this affliction on to me. I don’t read Mills & Boons (as she did) but am an avid reader of food labels.

When in Canada, this habit afforded me much pleasure in that the labels were bi-lingual. I learned that the enjoyment of a certain breakfast cereal would be much enhanced if slices of a certain rodent were added to it- a pampel mouse.  

I also learned that it took twice as many letters to expound the virtues of a certain brand of peanut butter in French as it did to do so in English. This in turn reinforced my developing belief that every language is valuable and none better than another.

If you want to quickly and without fuss describe a brand of peanut butter, best do it in English; if on the other hand you want to wax lyrical about the peanut butter, French is better!

And who in their right mind hasn’t sometime felt an intense urge to wax lyrical about peanut butter?

Thus I came across the following: “Crusta’s great tasting apple juice is lovingly crafted in the lush riverland of South Australia from quality imported ingredients”

Thank goodness they chose a lush location to lovingly practise their craft, otherwise it would have tasted like crap.

When Sir Walter Scott wrote “Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive” in 1808, he could hardly have imagined the imaginative, varied and complex webs of deception that would be spun around the world the next couple of centuries.

A book I’ve read lately is José Hernández’ ‘Martín Fierro’ a 19th Century Argentine classic. It is written in an anachronistic rural Spanish, rather difficult to read, but mercifully my copy has a vocabulary in the back. A bit like Australian Government reports dealing with ‘matters Aboriginal’ that are difficult to read but mercifully have a list of acronyms in the back. Unlike the Australian Indigenous reports however, ‘Martín Fierro’ is full of wisdom. A sample:

 La ley es tela de araña
en mi inorancia lo explico
no la tema el hombre rico
nunca la tema el que mande
pues la rompe el bicho grande
y solo enrieda  a los chicos   

http://youtu.be/s9CC1bsGDAA

The law is like a spider’s web,
In all humility I explain:
the rich man fears it not
neither he that is in command.
The large beetles break free
and only the small insects are ensnared

 A spider is said to ‘spin’ its web. The Dutch word for spider is ‘spin’. I’ve heard people referred to as ‘een spin’, sort of meaning deceitful or conniving. The Warlpiri word for spider is Yinarrki.

 ITEC employment entered Yuendumu on the coat-tails of the Intervention. They’re still here. Legislation makes it compulsory for recipients of unemployment benefits to attend interviews with ITEC to “discuss pathways to employment”

From ITEC’s website I repeat an example of classic spin:

 “ITEC Employment provide support to the lives of people in over 70 locations across Australia through the delivery of high-quality employment and related services to those most disadvantaged by their remoteness, their labour market or their personal circumstances.

Much of our current work is conducted working alongside of Indigenous communities across Northern and Central Australia assisting to provide pathways towards employment through community capacity building, greater access to opportunities for education and program development specific to the needs of local people…”

A colloquial Australian word for spin is ‘bullshit’.

Lest some of you respond with “give it a rest”, I shall refrain from quoting Australia’s Queen of Spin Jenny Macklin in this dispatch. She is bound to come out with some doozies, so watch this space.

Meanwhile listen to the Spin Doctors http://youtu.be/GrQCro68sRU , surely you agree that it’s much more pleasant to do so.

Leading the solar challenge.

Team Netherlands celebrate in Adelaide.

In startling news the first of the solar challenge renewable vehicles crossed the finish line in Adeaide in record time. The first two place-getters from Germany and the Netherlands were followed across the line by an Australian vehicle. Designed and built wholly by local students. Amid popping of corks and much laughter, the third place getters strode to the rostrum to receive their garland of flowers. A fitting tribute to a job well done.

And what a triumph of engineering and “can- do-ism”. In spite of the Holden plant closing down, signalling the end of an era in Australian manufacturing, from economic power house to the wiping of bums, (aged care facilities have seen a dramatic increase in highly skilled automotive and mechanical engineers applying for services in this department) the future seems bright under the antipodean sun. There may yet be a place for manufacturing in this country? Though universities have been converted into vertically integrated visa factories and the idea of ideas, is decidedly out of favour, there are bold new technologies afoot, and they threaten to change the very fabric of life itself.

But to their surprise, upon the rostrum, to receive the award was King Coal. King (or ‘Kingsley’ as he is known to his friends) received the applause form the adoring crowd and had this much to say: ‘You might think these kiddies from the uni deserve something for their efforts? You’d be wong. It’s my desire to ensure that no credit be given to this team during the current term of the Turnbull Government.

Apart from keeping you lot in the dark, (much laughter) the whole idea of energy from the sun just wont work. And it’s unsafe. According to Saint Tone of Sanatamaria, climate change if it exists at all is a boon. It’ll stop people from dying in cold snaps, and will create outstanding benefits to humanity. Such as warming the oceans, which’ll make it much easier to swim in them all year round. And ripening coconuts. And by putting cities under water. Once under water the major coastal centres will be more ike Venice and it’ll be a boon for tourism.

Clutching the award for the most efficient solar vehicle, King Coal, was on hand to acept a large piece of superbly crafted coal handed to him by the treasurer Scott Morrison. “This is the future, behold a new era for australian industry. We call upon leaders in Australian industry to accept coal as the future source of all our power needs. Though hideousy expensive, filthy and yearerday, it’s a symbol of what we can all achieve if we just close our minds to innovation.

And that can only mean one thing.

Someone somewhere along the line gets the benefit of a new energy source. Not coal itself, not solar, nor hydro, wind, nuclear, or fission, not even the power of the tide nor gravitational waves, but what keeps Australian industry, (what’s left of it) going.
Ladies and Genteleman, the new force of Australian manufacturing, the “kick back”, and the vehicle to drive it, courtesy of Serco, “ Rent-Seeker One“.

A new future, a new destiny”.

 

 

Poetry Sunday 15 October 2017

SOME PEOPLE HAVE NO RESPECT FOR OUR BELIEF

Jesus I learned you lived and lived
Jesus we heard you died and die
Jesus I see them painting of you so white
Jesus I hear them sing, you lackey of God they sang
Jesus I know people today use you wrong
they came with guns in hand
shot our minds with
untrue words
Black ——- the meaning of sin
Black ——- the heathen savages
Black ——- the false, the lies,
Black ——- the inhuman without a home and culture
These pink skinned people say “You light of God”
and make us wash black sins to be close to white.
O, Jesus if so you were true
You were black
fighting against a white regime
O, Jesus, they tear away our hearts
that yell for nature
They still do things of tension, fear, control,
death, brutality and murder to our Aboriginal peoples
beliefs.
Why they must do this O, Jesus, this once Jesus
All in the name of you
Jesus Christ

“Offering, offering hear the pennies fall
Everyone for Jesus, the Church shall have them all.”

Lionel Fogarty, from his anthology Kargun, published in 1979.
The “blurb” for this out of print book says
“Lionel Fogarty is 22 years of age and began writing poetry in 1976.  ….. Some of you who may read this book will experience all of the emotions of guilt, despair, hopelessness and sadness – but more than that you will feel the same spirit as the author, to organise and fight for a society based on equality and respect”

MDFF 14 October 2017

(First published 3 March 2013)

Γεια σας φίλοι μου
Προσοχή Έλληνες δώρα που φέρουν (Beware Greeks bearing gifts…..)

“ I will look at any additional evidence to confirm the opinion to which I have already come”
Is this a quote from Minister Macklin before her Department embarked on the so called ‘consultation process’ prior to the launch of the Stolen Futures legislation?

No, it isn’t, but it encapsulates the farcical events that took place.

I refer you to ‘NT Consultation Report 2011 By Quotations’ (from Concerned Australians):

http://www.respectandlisten.org/uploads/downloads/ca/NTCR-Book-review.pdf

I need not elaborate further, suffice it to say that the Government (in cahoots with the Opposition) hardly looked at ‘any additional evidence’ (including the numerous submissions to the Parliamentary Enquiry) and if so only ‘to confirm the opinion to which they had already come’.

The quote is of a British politician- Lord Molson (1903-1991) found in a book by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson: ‘Mistakes were Made (but not by me)’

Another quote from this book:

“If in hindsight, we also discover that mistakes may have been made… I am deeply sorry”

Was this Kevin Rudd ?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drNqZWzj5GY

No, this was Cardinal Edward Egan of New York, referring to the bishops who failed to deal with child molesters among the Catholic clergy.

Within living memory the most powerful nation on earth launched a savage attack on Iraq on the basis of alleged stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction which proved as based on facts as the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

Over half a decade ago a savage attack on Aboriginal rights and self-determination was launched on the basis of alleged widespread dysfunction and the sexual abuse of children by organized paedophile rings on Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.

These allegations proved as based on fact as the politically opportunistic ‘Children Overboard’ and the Gulf of Tonkin incidents.

Currently in Australia the front pages of newspapers report on two major ‘scandals’: doping and match fixing in sport, and the sexual abuse of children (this time not confined to Aboriginal children in the NT).

These allegations are nonspecific and claimed to be widespread. As for Aboriginal men in 2007, the vast majority of honest, honourable and moral sports men and women, clerics, youth workers and social workers have all been tarred with the same brush. A cloud of suspicion and stigmatisation hangs over them. The ‘presumption of innocence’, one of the main pillars of the Western Justice System, is out the window and is being held to ransom by the Fourth Estate, their actions justified by a self serving interpretation of ‘Freedom of Speech’.

‘Freedom of Speech’ is also invoked by the supporters of Geert Wilders.  The only thing Geert and myself have in common is our country of birth. So I asked a (1957) school friend (we found each other on the internet) what he thought of his countryman Geert, and thus I learnt a few more words in my mother tongue  “een walgelijke provocatieve fluim” which Googletranslate tells me is “ a disgusting provocativephlegm “ in English. My friend is also glad to hear that Mr. Wilders isn’t all that welcome in Australia, and this gives me reason to feel proud as an Australian.

No such cause for pride in Australia’s treatment of its First Peoples.

29. Level Playing Field‘Freedom of Speech’ is subject to interpretation, as is ‘Level Playing Field’, one’s ‘level’ is another’s ‘steep slope’. My friends Cockburn and Poole have started a blog pcbycp.com that I can recommend. A picture is worth 1,000 words, this is their ‘Level Playing Field’:

Do you recall my mention of a book ‘Bendable Learnings’? Recently Yuendumu School closed for two days (they call them ‘pupil free days’) for all teaching staff to go to Alice Springs to attend a workshop on ‘Visible Learnings’. Make of that what you will.

So what has all this to do with the Trojan Horse? It has occurred to me that the Intervention was a classic Trojan Horse (more like a pack of horses). Inside the ‘protect the women and children’ horse there was a vanguard of soldiers and others that then opened the gates for an army of civil servants, outside contractors and others to subjugate the Trojans inside the community (Wikipedia: “The Greeks entered and destroyed the city of Troy, decisively ending the war.”)

Someone sent me a copy of a ‘Ministerial Statement’ by Alison Anderson (the NT’s newly appointed Minister for Aboriginal Advancement in the NT).  Her Trojan Horse are the Homelands and Outstations. As an Aboriginal person herself she speaks with passion about the importance of land to Aborigines: “Our spiritual connection to the land is unique, and today I seek to explain and celebrate it…”

Three pages of this that left me emotionally touched and impressed with her wisdom… What a wonderful horse!

Wish I could sit and dream a while and spend some time in my Homeland…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiZgc9foy-E

However then, with the best of intentions and the advancement of her people at heart, Alison goes on to push the assimilationist agenda hidden inside the horse. From the sublime to the ridiculous:

“Private ownership of housing is good because it encourages people to take out mortgages. Warren Mundine has spoken of this, of the great benefit of a mortgage once you start to think about it. Having a mortgage means you can build a better house for yourself and your children . It means you have to get up in the morning and have a shower and go to work, to earn the money to pay the mortgage. That means you set a good example for your children, who get up to go to school.”

Livin’ and a workin’ on the land….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySzhj-XoZb4

The possibility of taking out a mortgage on a house on an outstation is far removed from reality.

It is the impossible dream…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHAU45Ezkvs

Alison’s mention of the shower, reminded me that:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAV_8B7p7gs

almost four decades ago several Warlpiri school teachers used to get up in the morning and front at our Education Department house to have a shower before going to work. This was at a time when half the school staff was Warlpiri.

Today I think there are only two qualified Warlpiri teachers left at Yuendumu School. The Education Department doesn’t make housing available to locally recruited staff. How different things might be today if only they’d taken out mortgages!

Have been to three funerals in the last fortnight. People I cared for.

One of the services was almost entirely in the Luritja language.

This is one of the songs they sang (I can’t find a Luritja version)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=315W9d2GYCo

Hundreds of people travelled hundreds of Kilometres to attend. Many in unregistrable vehicles with more passengers than seatbelts, risking large fines they would not be able to pay.

At the Alice Springs cemetery they sang this (again in Luritja)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8AeV8Jbx6M

It was once again driven home to me that remote Aborigines’ most precious ‘possessions’ are Land, Language, Law and Family.

To give all that up for a mortgage, for someone else’s impossible dream, is too high a price to pay.

Ειρήνη

Frank

Poetry Sunday 8 October 2017

Today more from Ali Cobby Eckermann

Thunder raining poison

a whisper arrives. two thousand. two thousand or more. did you hear it?
that bomb. the torture of red sand turning green
the anguish of earth turned to glass
did you hear it? two thousand. two thousand or more
yams cremated inside the earth. poison trapped
in glass like a museum. did you hear it?
two thousand. two thousand or more
tears we cried for our Land
for the fear you gave us, for the sickness and the dying two thousand years of memory here
two thousand. two thousand or more
peaceful place this place. happy place till you come with your bombs
you stole our happiness with your poison ways
you stole our stories
two thousand. two thousand or more
our people gone missing. did you hear it?
where’s my grandfather? you seen him?
where’s my daughter? you seen her?
Mummy! you seen my mum? Dad!
two thousand. two thousand or more
times I asked for truth. do you know where they are?
two thousand. two thousand or more
trees dead with arms to the sky. all the birds missing. no birdsong here
just stillness. like a funeral. two thousand or more
a whisper arrives. did you hear it?
two thousand. two thousand or more
it sounds like glass. our hearts breaking. but we are stronger than that
we always rise us mob. two thousand. two thousand or more
you can’t break us. we not glass. we are people!
two thousand. two thousand or more
our Spirit comes together. we make a heart
did you see it? in the fragments. it’s there in the glass
two thousand. two thousand or more
our hearts grow as we mourn for our Land
it’s part of us. we love it. poisoned and all
Notes:
This poem is a response to the installation Thunder Raining Poison created by Kokatha glass artist Yhonnie Scarce. It is a statement about the impact of atomic bomb testing on our traditional lands at Maralinga in South Australia by the British government during the 1940s–60s.

MDFF 7 October 2017

Under the Radar, first published February 2013

Kia Ora

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufaNpVhC-F8

On 6th.February  Aotearoa celebrates Waitangi Day. In Australia, Waitangi Day this year was under the radar. On the same day PM Julia Gillard delivered her annual ‘Closing the Gap Statement’ to parliament. The latter elicited very little publicity or discussion. It was almost under the radar.

In her statement our PM blasted the newly elected NT government for its alcohol policies. It was reported that “ the rivers of grog are back on Aboriginal communities”. Here we go again… no more are rivers of grog flowing on Aboriginal communities (definitely not in Yuendumu) than they have finally located the Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. Yes, a serious increase in alcohol fuelled violence and anti-social behaviour has occurred since the NT Government scrapped the Banned Drinker Register (BDR). The BDR required patrons-black and white- to show ID when buying take away grog. The increase in violence is almost entirely confined to urban centres. The current NT government’s alternative to the BDR is to have a heavy police presence at liquor outlets and to harass and question people to ascertain whether they are going to drink their purchases somewhere where it isn’t illegal to do so, and seizing their grog if they are unable to so demonstrate. No prizes for guessing what the predominant colour of the targeted patrons is.

The leader of the Federal opposition’s response to the Closing the Gap statement was worthy as material for a University Psychology course. When egocentricityand narcissism are discussed, he’d make an interesting case study.

Mr. Rabbit kept referring to his sorties to  outback Aboriginal communities to ‘lend a helping hand’. He also repeatedly lauded Noel Pearson and Cape York Peninsula. The rest of Aboriginal Australia was under the radar. Like a Ken-doll we have already seen Australia’s Action-man in various disguises, fish filleter, racing cyclist, lifesaver, fire fighter, you name it he’s done it…. Tony Abbott is definitely not under the radar. More like in your face.

Abbott017 Abbott008-1 Abbott006Abbott010-1   Abbott015Abbott002Abbott021

To wrap up his Closing the Gap Statement reply, Tony Abbott said that should he become the next Australian PM, he would spend a whole week on an Aboriginal Community each year of his leadership. I have been unable to work out if this was a promise or a threat.

Almost three years ago he visited Alice Springs. This is what I wrote in a Dispatch back then:

“As reported by Dan Moss in the Centralian Advocate, Mr. Abbott paid a visitation upon an Alice Springs ‘town camp’ with an entourage of politicians and journalists (17 people in all). I have been told that this visit was unannounced and uninvited. They descended on and filmed an unfortunate amputee sitting in ‘third world conditions’ (I saw it on the ABC TV News). TA gave him a spiel and asked him: “I’m here to help- what can I do?”

The fellow said he’d like some firewood! He didn’t mention a ‘Closing of the Gap’ or a decent house, or a ‘real job’, none of that, just firewood!  Dan Moss wrote: “Did Abbott go fetch firewood? No. He and the stage hands moved on to the next poor bugger to run the same spiel”

…….When our 9 year old grand-daughter overheard us talking about this she chimed in “He’ll have to get his own firewood….. by hopping”….

Regina Spektor- Firewood:…

…and nothing can stop you from dancing…

…don’t look so shocked,

   don’t judge so harsh

   you don’t know, you’re only spying…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KYTWTnbMDE

Abbott023

The above sign says “Yuendumu Mining Co. Est. 1969 Locally owned. Against the Intervention”.

Often now visitors ask me what does it mean. The Intervention (and its euphemistically named continuation: ‘Stronger Futures’) are under the radar.

PM Gillard visited New Zealand a few days ago. The main announcement emanating from that visit is that 150 refugees will be passed on from Australia to New Zealand per annum from 2014. Not a word about the Treaty of Waitangi, and the relationship between New Zealand’s native and colonizer populations. Such is under the radar.

I am told that the Maori/Pakeha relationship is far from perfect, it is none the less light years ahead of Australia’s relationship with its First Peoples.

Last night I saw a New Zealand film on SBS (Australia’s ‘ethnic’ TV channel)…. It is called ‘Boy’ and is an absolute gem. It is charming, touching and hilarious all at once. Everyone knows about ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’. ‘Boy’ is under the radar.

After writing this Dispatch, I trawled youtube for some suitable music. Something uncanny… I caught Dispatch: Under the Radar- “Open Up”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaOr6FfQrBg

The guitarist is a doppelganger for my musician brother.

As usual I’d like to finish on a note of optimism. Below a list received from Yuendumu’s GEC (Government Engagement Coordinator) that replaced our GBM (Government Business Manager), but must be a doppelganger of the latter, as her looks, behavior, salary and accommodation etc. are identical:

Scheduled Visitors to Yuendumu :

4/2 Kathleen Anderson and Ra Schwalger –  DEEWR  Warlpiri Boarding Facility Discussions

4/2 – 8/2 Helen Kennedy – Batchelor  Conduct VET training at school

4/2/ – 8/2 Ear Nose and Throat Team – DoH  At the Clinic all Week.

4/2 – 6/2 Cliff Alexander, Erin Turner and Sonia Dare from Waltya  Money Management Training

5/2 Alf Leonardi and Rosemary Andrews  – DECS Discussions re proposed Trade Training Centre

6/2 – 7/2 Jenny Davis and Robin Hall – FaHCSIA Stores Team Stores visit

6/2 – 8/2 Joan Whitehead and Fiona Stokes Personal Hygiene Training

7/2 – 8/2 Amy Peachey – Centre for disease Control DoH Trachoma Health Management

10/2-15/2 Gene Martin – Dept. of Housing Tenancy Management

11/2 – 15/2 MyPathway/ITEC JobSeeker Servicing

12/2-14/2 Nick Bewg Families as First Teachers Support FaFT program

21/2 Ray Janz – Cogent Business solutions Visit WYDAC

*These are known visitors as of today – scheduling may change and there may be others that I am unaware of…

I shouldn’t have copied the list. You’ll all be jealous now.

My favourite is the ‘Personal Hygiene Training’ but I just noticed I have missed out. Joan and Fiona arrived and left Yuendumu under the radar.

Ain’t that a shame!   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNNiBcU3BR4

No matter, the Warlpiri Nation has had that bureaucratic socio-political game known as “pick up the soap…” often played against it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huZlL58yvyM

E haere rā

 TOMORROW: Poetry Sunday – Mr Lionel Fogarty

 

Atrocities.

Dear reader. Today’s compelling piece comes to us from that luminary of the near north Lew Skannen. And Lew makes a trenchant point on atrocities. We regret to inform you that these atrocities are of the serious kind. Not those encountered on “Australia’s Funniest home Video’s” or the fact that the Herald Sun has so far devoted four days solid to the Grand Final. We agree that the Grand Final should be clebrated, but it makes us think that perhaps there may be more important issues.

Not that we want to discount the mighty victory of the Richmond Football Club, but just to give balance. “Hmmm, balance” you might say, “all sounds a bit Murdoch”. In which case you’re ahead of the pack. As for Packs, this piece is an Ace in the hole, it’s Bang on, and really hits the mark.

So accurate as ever, here’s Lew, and there is a children warning, he is LOADED.

He writes..

As it is easily calculable that a bullet will never reach its intended target, that logically it will always have half its remaining distance to travel, it is my belief that these so called ‘atrocities’ are simply governmentally generated beat-ups intended, like Orwell’s Oceania and Eurasia, to sway us all in carefully calculated directions.

‘Beware the Jabberwock, my Son..’If you get my drift.

Even supposing there were any truth in all of this supposed mayhem, it is neither the shooter or the gun that kills people-it’s the gold darned bullet! Ban the Bullet, I say!The gun is then rendered useless, the factory manufacturing armaments ditto, then the chaps who are really responsible for putting lethal weapons into the hands of maniacs are magically revealed..
Who, then, are these contemptible curs? What do you think?
It’s the damned government! OR… It’s Saudi Arabia! OR…The many other power-crazed oafs in the world, perhaps?
Oh come on! Wake up, for Gawd’s sake!
‘Tis, I fear, much simpler. The answer is, whether we like it or not, Us, We, Ourselves.
Sadly, through MacMansions and money, we have been whored, seduced and cheaply bought at the price of principle.
Where the hell has our courage gone? Why aren’t we in the streets, everyone of us, howling our horrified revulsion at the criminal antics of our government?

Human rights, (yours and mine and hard fought for) are trampled on, every day, in our country. All over our country, Aborigines are treated like animals and in our concentration camps on Manus Island and elsewhere, wholly innocent people are allowed to languish for years so that in  many cases, these people, who have committed no crime at all, simply give up all hope and kill themselves. Our attitude to refugees is not that of an enlightened, 21st century democracy, Our attitude is in fact, strongly reminiscent of that of the Third Reich.

for pity’s sake, surely we are better than this?

International tribunals, again and again have condemned these practices.

Unashamedly, our governments regularly shrug international criticism off.

One day,mark my words, Australia will be called to account for its actions.

Come on, Aussie! Where’s your sense of shame, your honour, your sense of decency, your ‘fair go’?

If ever it was needed, it is needed now.

END

Lew Skannen

Poetry Sunday 1 October 2017

Belated post today, due entirely to internet disruption (and beer)

Our poet today is the other Wyndham Campbell prize winner Carolyn Forché. (We featured  the other winner Ali Cabby Eckermann last week.). Forché coined the term “poetry of witness”.

“Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1950, poet, teacher and activist Carolyn Forché has witnessed, thought about, and put into poetry some of the most devastating events of twentieth-century world history. According to Joyce Carol Oates in the New York Times Book Review, Forché’s ability to wed the “political” with the “personal” places her in the company of such poets as Pablo Neruda, Philip Levine, and Denise Levertov.” from Poetry Foundation

The Boatman
BY CAROLYN FORCHÉ

We were thirty-one souls all, he said, on the gray-sick of sea
in a cold rubber boat, rising and falling in our filth.
By morning this didn’t matter, no land was in sight,
all were soaked to the bone, living and dead.
We could still float, we said, from war to war.
What lay behind us but ruins of stone piled on ruins of stone?
City called “mother of the poor” surrounded by fields
of cotton and millet, city of jewelers and cloak-makers,
with the oldest church in Christendom and the Sword of Allah.
If anyone remains there now, he assures, they would be utterly alone.
There is a hotel named for it in Rome two hundred meters
from the Piazza di Spagna, where you can have breakfast under
the portraits of film stars. There the staff cannot do enough for you.
But I am talking nonsense again, as I have since that night
we fetched a child, not ours, from the sea, drifting face-
down in a life vest, its eyes taken by fish or the birds above us.
After that, Aleppo went up in smoke, and Raqqa came under a rain
of leaflets warning everyone to go. Leave, yes, but go where?
We lived through the Americans and Russians, through Americans
again, many nights of death from the clouds, mornings surprised
to be waking from the sleep of death, still unburied and alive
but with no safe place. Leave, yes, we obey the leaflets, but go where?
To the sea to be eaten, to the shores of Europe to be caged?
To camp misery and camp remain here. I ask you then, where?
You tell me you are a poet. If so, our destination is the same.
I find myself now the boatman, driving a taxi at the end of the world.
I will see that you arrive safely, my friend, I will get you there.

MDFF 30 September 2017

This post ‘The Common People’ arrived this week.

Ave plebs,

 Latin: ‘plebs’- the common people|
Latin: ‘scitum’- a decree

A ‘plebiscite’ is thus a decree by the common people.

Paul Young…Love of the Common People…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pvmhSgmLN0

In Australia at present a postal plebiscite is being held.

The question being asked is: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry”

There are two boxes labelled ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ and just in case the common people don’t quite follow, in brackets it says ‘mark one box only’

Any proposed change to the Australian Constitution must be put to a vote of all Australian voters in a referendum.

The 1967 Referendum in which over 90% of the common people of Australia voted ‘yes’ is widely and wrongly believed to have given Aborigines (and Torres Strait Islanders) the vote, whereas what it actually did is for The First Australians and their descendants to be counted as people in the national census as distinct from being considered part of the Fauna and Flora of this continent.

Another common misconception in Australia is that the Doctrine of ‘Terra Nullius’ refers to a land devoid of inhabitants. As an Australian Prime Minister once famously put it “before the British settled it, Australia was ‘nothing but bush’…” That same intellectual giant also said that living in a remote part of Australia was a “lifestyle choice” that his Government wasn’t prepared to support. Actually Terra nullius alludes to there being no formal ownership of the land. Such was usually conveniently declared, without any effort to ascertain it’s truth or otherwise.

Terra nullius (/ˈtɛrə.nʌˈlaɪəs/, plural terrae nullius) is a Latin expression meaning “nobody’s land”, and is a principle sometimes used in international law to describe territory that may be acquired by a state’s occupation of it.

A quarter of a century ago the Australian High Court overturned “terra nullius” in Australia by what became known as the Mabo Decision.

For years now there have been moves to amend the Australian Constitution so as to recognise Australia’s First Peoples.

In 2010 when such moves once again came to the fore, country music star Warren H. Williams from Ntaria (Hermannsburg) spoke out against it. I quote from an article which appeared back then:

He says it is another move to pacify Indigenous people.

Mr Williams says asking the wider Australian community whether it is okay to acknowledge Indigenous people in the constitution is insulting.

“I mean this is … the 21st century and we’re still going to a vote to get Aboriginal people in the constitution, it is meaningless … we had to struggle to get the referendum in 1967, we had to fight, we had to beg, just about beg to get the Prime Minister to say sorry to our people,” he said.

“Why is that coming in all of a sudden, is it taking away from what we are arguing about, the Intervention and all that? It just seems like why, why is it happening?”

Mr Williams says the move is a weak symbolic gesture that is detracting from real issues affecting Indigenous people.

Great Southern Land- Warren H Williams……https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvbgTQIWw_4

I agreed with Warren H. back then and I still do. The Government sponsored ‘Recognise’ campaign officially came to an end about six weeks ago. These two images say it all:

In Yuendumu the last few days, temperatures have reached the high thirties (Centigrade). A brisk hot and dry westerly wind has sprung up. From a previous Dispatch:

“When wardapi (goannas) hear the sound of the karapurda they wake up from their hibernation slumber. Wirlititi (Emu-chicks) break out of their eggs and wildflowers begin to blossom.

Karapurda is a warm westerly wind which signals the end of the cold season.”

Warren H.Williams….Westerly Wind…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01VOi7MWEYM

Increasingly we are being subjected to the politics of the red herring, the non-sequitur, bread and circuses, distractions all. The Spanish word ‘prestidigitador’ comes to mind.

Donald Trump’s brief trip to Saudi Arabia, when he sold that shining example of Democracy one and a half billion dollars worth of weapons, is hardly mentioned.

All we hear about are the latest Tweets.

…..tweet tweet….tweet tweet ….Bobby Day- Rockin Robin
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcmvwFcfWmY

Remote Australian Aborigines are being given the opportunity to mark a box (yes or no) on same sex marriage. No such opportunity is given them when it comes to such as land rights, bilingual education, inclusion of customary law in the legal system and just plain being allowed to decide how to live their lives.

As for the wider Australia, no plebiscite on approving one billion dollars in Government assistance to what would become the largest coal mine in the world.

No plebiscite whenever the Government decides to deploy troops overseas.

No plebiscite whenever the Government decides to sign up on Free Trade Deals.

No plebiscite on whether newcomers to this country should be competent in English. Very many current Australian citizens wouldn’t be- me included- if their parents or grandparents had been subjected to current English competency requirements. Many of our Parliamentarians’ English competency leaves much to be desired, especially when it comes to “clear thinking” which was a significant part of the curriculum when I received my secondary education in Australia.

Must stop. I’ll try and find some nice music to reward those who stuck it out ….

….I may make you feel,
But I can’t make you think…

Jethro Tull… Thick as a Brick…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BV-ASc0qkrM

Beatus scitique plebis unus

Cicero