Literati

Chalki Bus

On a low stone wall outside the bakery
we’re waiting for an island bus,
scratchy and cross,
eating crusty rolls and oranges
the friendly landlord’s given us
which compensates for no hot water,
a tunnelled bed and braying donkeys
at dawn outside the tiny white-washed terrace.

Beyond pink plum, white almond and old-man olive trees,
Venetian forts and windmill skeletons
crumble on marbled mountain ridges.
Black-garbed peasants
across the lane guide their mule
around the meticulous Byzantine chapel,
turning over each grain of soil
for a thousand years.

© Fringe 1992

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President

Don’t look back, you’re being followed,
on your permanent vacation,
you smile on every TV screen,
your fantasies divide the nations.

You feed my fear, you make it real,
freedom of the loaded gun,
tell your CIA boys
there is nowhere left to run.

In the silence of the fiery desert
grows a flower, blinding white,
don’t talk to me of limited war,
your battle’s lost on foreign ground.

Shadow boxing in the global village,
watch the old men take their bows,
all the world loves a summit
you build a wall to end all walls.

The world’s on fire, you let it burn,
fan the flames, there’s no return,
you want it all,
there’s more to learn.

© Fringe 2007

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Real Estate Drag

I moved my money from Melbourne last week
At the bottom of the harbour, there was too much heat,
Thought I’d settle up north and have a ball
before the taxman came to call.
Here in the state where you know who’s your mate
I made the right connection in real estate,
sold seven time-shares already today –
offshore commissions, no tax to pay.

If it’s good for me then it’s better for you,
It’ll trickle down in a year or two,
Down with all greenies, up with the rent,
Who says the real estate game is bent?

I’m building a portfolio up the coast,
don’t like to boast but I’ve got the most,
Who knows when I’ll be dead and gone,
then I’ll pass it on to my salesman son,
It’s only four years until the next big boom,
What’s this bull about environmental doom?
They can keep their parrots in silver cages,
they’re pretty but they don’t pay my wages.

My friends in the can know I’m their man
while they wait for my next property scam,
With the mexicans flooding in from down south
they’re all gonna need a trendy little house.
I made the right deals many years ago
to ensure a steady money flow,
So there isn’t really much for me to do
but go down to the bar, have a drink or two.

The local Council collects more rates,
they kiss my arse and salivate
when I create a new estate,
they never hesitate over one more estate,
in this tropical, bountiful, recreational, developmental,
just pay the rental, just one more new estate
in the beautiful Sunshine State.

© Fringe & Dingo 2007

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Leave the Land Alone

We share this land of timeless dreams,
mysteries of tree and bone,
tribal journeys of dance and song
symbols painted on stone.
Songlines of the indigenes,
they used to call it home,
broken by colonial greed
the land had never known.

We poison lakes and dam up streams,
this land that is our home,
quarry the hills and cut down trees,
don’t know how to leave it alone.
Why do we break this fragile land
and bring it to its knees?
Our eyes are blind with dollar signs,
so much that we should see.

Do you fear the force of machinery
and big money lying?
it’s hard to live guilt-free
when the country’s dying,
All that’s part of you and me
laid waste by greed and scheming,
don’t you know we’ve taken enough,
Let the land lie dreaming.

© Fringe 2007

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Ambitions for a Modern Spousal Equivalence

If you honour my requests,
we may live together –

my own room,
a balloon to carry my dreams,
to play my piano when I choose,
wrong notes and all,
no criticism of my lousy housework,
an occasional neck massage
gratefully returned,
no ifs or buts,
let me float above the abyss
courting perilous risks
a free return ticket
travelling alone if I wish
entrusting you with my paradox.

© Fringe 1992

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Mainly Men

Mainly men play bouzoukis,
they rest them on their laps,
pluck the strings while waiting in the wings
the women get to clap.

Mainly men are popes
and live in Vatican city,
they think it’s cool to make the rules
for selling divinity.

Mainly men play didg,
they learn it from their dads,
Cooking the dinner, mum’s the winner
while they’re blowing them out the back.

Mainly men are masons,
they keep good company,
getting tight on Tuesday night
it’s better than T.V.

Mainly men play gamelan,
it’s always been that way,
with custody of the melodies
while the women dance and sway.

Mainly men smoke peacepipes,
they mainly plan the wars,
cheap talk and wine, wasting time,
inventing another cause.

Mainly men drive cars
on Middle Eastern highways,
Best to wear the veil, or you’ll land in jail,
it’s safer in the harem.

Mainly men have proper jobs
cos mum’s not really working,
She cooks and sews but they don’t want to know,
too busy with their perks.

© Fringe 1992

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Bureaucratic Blues

I smell the fear on your vinyl briefcase –
across the table, like Captain Cook,
you pity the poor natives.
Your backdoor agenda and verbal pyrotechnology’s
a front for the urgency to move onto lunch,
the bottom line, where you will be free
of the irritation of our disagreement.

Snake on a ladder, you have all the answers
before the questions are put, and if I resist
and say ‘what about this?’ I’ll be hived off.
You want your lunch and I have a hunch
you’ll have your way no matter what I say,
top down, bottoms up.

I’m not here for a handout, just some of our taxes back.
You have your priorities sent down the line
(I’ll scratch your back if you’ll stab mine),
keeping the upper hand for the mortgage’s sake,
your p.s. perks and old boy lurks building
a superstructure of barbies and kids on Sunday
with the Director and the man on the next run,
top down, bottoms up,
drinking and laughing about idealists
who’d like to step over your head.

I wonder if you hear us at all,
while unseen in the community
quiet synergy turns the wheels eventually,
bottoms up.

© Fringe 1992

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Redfern

Hard against cul de sac walls
red blood alchemy transmutes bone,
small victories over black despair
do not change soft white living
wreaking crass magic,
sacred land mocked by signs
to confuse, command and confine.

Black mates drink on sidewalks
in Redfern, ribald revelry
dissolving disparities of time and race.
Floral shirts flap with foreign places –
why roam when returning
there is no home?

© Fringe 2005

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At the Laundramat

Laughing at husbands’ threats
staring down looks our mothers never met
we conspire to weather the blows
covertly compare children’s clothes
and barter soiled ideologies
longing for compassion and
men who’ll do the washing for us
and hang our talent for loving
on the line later.
On another brighter, whiter day
a clean break awaits.

© Fringe 1992

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Beach Soccer

Kicking soccer skulls on Cronulla beach,
the Bra Boys and Lebos are at it again,
taunts of ‘you can’t swim’,
just a hothead brawl till the shock jocks wade in.

Alan Jones like a parrot screeching
and in the shadows Howard slithers and gloats,
divides and conquers electoral spoils
smokescreens for new obnoxious laws.

Insurance premiums climb with the pain
Acts of God, no legal claim.
Suburbanites moan about the shit going down,
blame the easties and the other side of town

– the other side of the planet.

It’s noone’s fault yet everyone’s doing it
White supremacy and the terror tories.

© Fringe 2006