At the heart of this respectable city
is some filthy secret.
I know it.
I can see it in the dark glint of the river
in the evening
from the railway station
where I sometimes wait on a cold platform
for a late train to take me somewhere else.
It never comes.
It will never come.
I know it now.
He who brought me to this city
ripped my heart out
ripped my pure and loving heart
out of my bruised chest.
He took the best of me.
He knows it
but he pretends
with all the other weak pretenders
that it's all right
everything is fine, everything is fun
everything is carnivale
like the giant ferris wheel
whose skeleton is filling up
a part of the evening sky
where the stars once had a place.
It is as if there needs to be a show
for everyone to be distracted from the space
where the real wheels are turning
and Jason and his circle of assassins
make their killings.
When I met him in my own country
he was a beautiful thief in the night
adventurer and sailor
smelling of salt and sex
a secret foreign scent in a place
where my senses had arrested
and my own beauty was wasted on old men.
He came and took what he had come for
and then he took me.
In that order.
In the order that I failed to see
and then became accustomed to
as we do
when we place ourselves
somewhere on the lower rungs
of someone else's ladder.
And he was climbing high
ambition was the hot flame
that I mistook for passion
in his cool eyes.
He was a wheeler and a dealer of bad hands.
I should have seen
how he operated in my country
in my poor country
where all the important deals are made
by foreigners like him
and all the important foreigners
are aided and abetted by monsters
and by dupes like me
and everything is made legal
in clean documents, suspiciously sparse
and written mostly in English
which is the tongue of international business
more than it is the language of poetry.
In my country
where the belief in poems is still strong
and the language fairly chokes on images
I imagined him a poet, a balladeer.
Not a racketeer.
Not the kind of man
to use you.
I listened to what I thought was his song for me
and I surrendered my inherited resistance
to the siren song of strangers
and I was moved
to betray my own fatherland
and my father
and my blood
to be one with him –
the smiling, wealthy, worthless
Now I sit in this vast ugly house
in an affluent and vulgar suburb
where he has put me
and his children
so that we are respectably out of the way
while in the very centre of the city
at its very core
where respectability does not count
so much as money
he and his hip-swinging harlot
play their games
force their way to the front of fashion
dance the dance with the rich and famous
shove their faces into photographs
like pigs into a trough
and then to hide their vomit
throw around the stardust
of the glittering gold
that he and his brutal buddies
have fleeced from my country.
and blood that runs through the veins
of his children.
This little matter
he has overlooked.
Poor filthy rich Jason
cannot see where his betrayals have been leading.
Jason my husband
in case you haven't noticed
I am bleeding.
I am bleeding.
- 99: BROWNFACESUBMIT NOW with W S Dunn 98: SINGAPORECOMING SOON with A Pang and J Ip 97: PROPAGANDACOMING SOON with M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRO AUSTRALIANwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones