We released the call-out for BABY on 30 May 2023. We were thinking of baby projects, the spark of something new, thinking of the person who we call ‘baby’, thinking of Liam Ferney, bard of the bubs, who writes the best baby poems this side of town. Case in point:
Get Away From Her, You Bitch No ore tug this. It’s a routine mission fishing for profit on Samburan one of Weyland-Yutani’s finer barques; awoken from our métier’s cryo bliss; a hailing distance from Hadley’s Hope, when the Facehugger’s hardwood scamper twists Tad’s neck. Its echo haunts blank space. Heart racing, he’s peering through the slats in the ducts when from behind the bookcase the infant Xenomorph leaps, lands slapped across Tad’s dad mug. From here, nothing can stop the Chestburster’s total triumph.
We were thinking of blank space and cryo-bliss and the routine missions that make up living. Some mornings, to wake is a total triumph. Most of all, we were thinking of Lee Edelman and the Child – how our happiness now, justice now, mercy now, is too often deferred in favour of the politics of futurity, the future child whose needs somehow outweigh those of us living in this forever-present.
On 7 October 2023, Israel’s lie about 40 beheaded babies spurred new violence in the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. As we first wrote this, over 7000 Palestinian people have been killed, at least 40% of whom are children. As we revisited this, in early November, the death toll has increased to over 10,000. As we prepared to publish, in late November, over 14,800. At least 6,150 children. December – 25,000 children orphaned. Yet, these children lie in the shadow of those 40 false beheaded babies that embody Edelman’s figure of the Child – whose innocence, whose untouchable-ness, whose imagined legacy gives the coloniser permission to commit atrocity in their name. To cut lives short for the settler(unsettler-destroyer-annihilator)-colonial state.
BABY began with joy and ends with grief. Which is life. We still wake in the morning. We still work my job. As co-editors, we met the day after the Australian Indigenous Voice referendum results were released and spoke of embarrassment and shame. We still go to sleep. We feel shame. We feel shame when we must look away for a single moment, to work the job that keeps rooves over our heads or cooks a meal that ensures survival. We feel shame knowing these moments are impossible for the Palestinian people. Colonised people. Taking land means taking everything directly above it. Taking trees. Taking sky. Taking rainwater. Taking life.
You are reading this and probably expecting something, so here it is: we have published over 60 poets in Cordite 111: BABY. We were grateful to read every poem submitted – thank you for trusting us with your work. Thank you for sending us poems about your loves, your anxieties, your fears, your mortality. Poems that are ‘bodies full of bodies!’ Poems for ‘those narrow halcyon days.’ Poems that are ‘smoke signals guiding us home.’ Poems ‘making / the mutable world.’
Poems that get at the emotional technicolour of those early pre- and post-partum days. As Caitlin Maling writes: “there’s nothing/ wrong with khaki, butt you wouldn’t theme/ a baby shower around it”. Poems that throb with the pulse of other lives like the relentless throb of the clock at squad training that ELS drums: “Go at the six, turning, the nap stretches to 90 minutes, go at the six, turning, the/ garden gate left open open onto the grassy lane where the cats gather in the/ morning, evening, cat hour, a mysterious thing, go at the six, Thank you for sending us the full spectrum of human emotion.”
And then, as well, poems that remind us that most of us are safe. So safe, in fact, that we sleep soundly through the earth’s tumultuous night, our mattresses padded with our complicity in cruelty.
This editorial stands in solidarity with the babies of Palestine. We were all someone’s baby, once and still. We are thinking of you, grieving with you, dreaming with you. Until Palestine is free, none of us are free. Do not turn away. We will not be forgiven.