Talking English

1 February 2016

The Gulf’s ancient tongues are hobbled
by inherited trauma, gene-crackers

sadistically scabrous and burgeoning
in the remembered fluency of wire-tipped

stockwhips and all those manhandled
civilisers of a splendid frontier’s orders.

And though munanga were not to prosper
in these mirages of pasture and surface water,

where crocs and distance preyed in circles,
a momentum remained to infest

and disturb, to see barbed-wire fencing
and scorched stations spread like gravel

where barefooted dancers once sung
a bounty pressed intimately in ochre

and law. And so sacred trees were cut
dead, bones gathered in caves and girls

stolen as pilot were hobble chained
as sex slaves in a waste land dragged

to heel by Martini-Henry carbines
that at this critical moment were talking

English.

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