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?
1 February 2015