Gossip spot-fires in Borroloola’s Big Camp,
excitement incites The Gravel,
at Malandari, shopkeepers look up from their stocktaking
and the whitefulla foreskins forget their power:
dem people fightin’! twobula bardibardi ini dirt
an dem whitefullas can’t stop’em…
The grey nomad traffic to King Ash is incensed
at the effrontery, claiming a flotilla
with the miners for gawking. And crowds keep streaming
from the catchments, this build-up’s broken:
there’s two old women fighting down there
and no one can obstruct them.
The close combatants are tearing hair and stomping
toes; bowed knee to knee like breaking kindling; gouging
and screaming as though into mirrors: jirda! dat munga
cartin’ yarn at me ini! The fierceness
of their fighting has the crowd banked up, pointing
and impotent in the late afternoon burning,
a dehydrated alcoholic crankiness; and the riot squad
is back in Darwin, worn out with the fighting,
their vacancy unfilled like the punch line of rainbows.
Some will say, in the years to come, that the young
blackfullas lit up their ganja, or sniffed,
at the spectacle; the expectant mums pissed
as coconuts fermenting in sand:
but that soap-box’s bent boss-eyed.
What do munanga know of salutarily singing Country?
Of the numinous mischievously stirring strife
amongst already sabotaged custodians whose kujika’s scorched?
Who will tearfully sing him, big business, with millad mob
in the dirt, pressing forwards, hoping for peace?
- 96: NO THEME IXSUBMIT NOW with 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