By | 1 July 1997

Long-hauled in the hot zone
a road train tugs on the rightist strings
and precedent is damned like tokenism,
an outmoded supply strategy
that has them talking of extracting
organs from prisoners and sustaining life
to promote suffering, suspicion
the family value, a mystery prize
NO LONGER on the wheel of fortune, childcare
keeping the nuclear family mushrooming
like a bad joke in an ideal economy,
plays pleasantly unfolding to capacity
audiences who think they’re watching
a bloodsport, confirming
their eruption from malaise.
David Malouf says Australia
is an amazingly successful social
phenomenon, while that “weepy warbler”
Mariah Carey says when I watch TV
and see all those starving children
all over the world, it just makes
me want to cry. I mean, I’d like to be
as thin as that, but not with all those
flies and death and stuff and an
Aboriginal family is forced
into the baggage compartment
of the Indian Pacific at the request
of the “cleaner” passengers
and Manning Clark was seen to wear
the red ribbon of the Order of Lenin
and as such is posthumously elevated
to the ranks of Russian Spy. They
call this cutting the deficit,
cutting the fat from government.
It’s a jungle out there!
The twenty-dollar dame’s claim
to utopia as the regional declines
into nomadic wanderings. Now
we don’t need visas to tour
the nation of our becoming,
wheat subsidies and open markets
colluding on a test zone called Woomera
or Uruguay, war brides on the catwalk
and an increase in the military budget,
portraits of the Queen sneaking
into the national pie like additive codes.
Let us marvel at the national Panopticon,
let us consider the narrow coastal strip
turning like a pinwheel around The Rock,
Uluru, the tower of rapid eye movement
in the new parlance – explorer
stock laying claims to its spoils,
Ayers Rock the subtitle
of a new White Paper on immigration.
The kangaroos in the South West
are struck down by blindness:
crashing into wandoo and jarrah,
caught up in wire fences, mowed down
by tractors, drowning in dams. A turning point.
Seen it time and time again
old timers allegorically maintain. Speculation
inhabiting the virus-laden air
of Kangaroo Island, a semantic
sibilance as high winds strafe the gaping
spaces and those skies of deep blue
open hard though systematically
over the red sands while the market
watches with a hopeful eye –
doctors in Zaire report
a breakout on the Ebola River –
a georgic sucked dry of RNA.
Lobbying freedom the seven proteins
unbraid their complex plait, back in the kitchen,
neither dead nor alive, a filovirus
that takes a massacre to show
its presence. Frank Fenner,
hating small pox and rabbits,
fires a warning shot – ruptured
ecosystems release their viruses;
a survey line in the jarrah forests
moves a hundred metres when
no-one’s looking, a farmer covets
a dozen drums of DDT, threatening
to use them ’cause fifteen years ago
he paid good money, new viroids
sprouting from the paddock’s surface,
memory prompted by shifting fences.
A comparative analysis of candidate
strategies, the imposition of tariffs,
contours snaking through the Venn diagram
of shared usage, the eco-tourists
and land share liabilities glossed-up
in time for the election. Who says
for merriment this planet is not
well equipped? He needs to know he
exists. She knows already but her voice
is disguised electronically. A shift
in preferences results in the syndic’s
authority being strengthened; a
facsimile on curling paper
brings excitement to the editor’s
office: integration ends all racism!
A tightening of the English language
literacy standards for would-be immigrants.
A considerable body of militia
are hiding their weapons.
Quiddity is the word.
The roaded catchments
heaped rolled and compacted
ensure maximum run-off with little
precipitation, this national psyche
has been drought-proofed
and well promoted.

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