This country breathes secrets
restless wind roaming,
biting at your neck,
knotting your hair.
Trees of old bleed
stories in ochre sap
for things forgotten.
The dusted shedding of the paperbark;
a raw reminder
of the land’s crude underbelly
its knotted centre.
the earth at your feet –
Don’t try to deceive.
You’ve already whispered
your sins into the ear of the land,
carved your scars into its belly.
recognises the curve of your skin
dirt knows where to hide –
in the creases of your eyes,
under the ledge of your chin
This country knows you better than yourself.
You are only
one of many.
Country never forgets.
When the riverbed cracks
under the sun’s hot glare,
when life must battle
the past mounts
rising with the sinking water
settling in the mud
scalding to the eye, waiting to burn the feet of all
kindling old senses
stirring old sins
no-one can escape it
The past runs through this country
can’t be buried
can’t be thrown out.
Tommy knows this place;
can count the times he’s been away from it
on one hand.
Tommy knows the best places to get a feed –
around the bend of an old trunk,
where the roos lead you
Follow them and you won’t be left empty handed.
this country has much to share with you.
If you ask he’ll tell you
where the biggest secrets
lie in folds
where the bush is
the best climbing places to view all up this country.
Tommy breathes in stories of this land
feels them buzzing about him
written in the mud slapped against the river’s walls
they drop into the air as the muck dries
He’s walked this path all his life,
where the ground drops
and the two chasms clash together,
where the crags shiver in dusklight,
where the willows weep more loudly
But Tommy doesn’t swim this river,
won’t test these waters,
doesn’t climb that mountain line
the great heights towering,
looming blackness where a generation
to the nightdark waters deep below
silver moony reflections swimming for years to come.
Tom has seen the dirty swirls,
felt the shingle underfoot at crossings
watched for carp clap and water slap
But Tommy doesn’t touch this river.
Out West he’ll swim in old Surry River
but not this one here.
- 94: EARTHSUBMIT to M Takolander 93: PEACHCOMING SOONwith 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