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He knows Slinking sideways into camouflaged shadows canny, hooded Ngarrindjeri brother Eyes dart furtively: aerosol can ready Swiftly, afterburners ignite then blaze Vertical downward thrust! Up again! Down! Up! Down! Swish; swoosh; flick; push Words vomit onto municipal barricades form ambergris-like epithets of froth and vitriol TREATY NOW: THIEVING COWS! He knows No mere private-schoolboy sobriquet on these walls His words slash the face of pilfered urban propriety Challenge the security of privileged fenced community Fracture misconceptions of moral impunity Go to the heart of Aboriginal justice while dewy-eyed bleeding hearts get behind Reconciliation RE-CON-CILIATION: STINGY SUBSTITUTE FOR STOLEN NATION He knows Eighty percent of the Indigenous population reject Constitutional Recognition Dominant culture discourses; lying media cajole the possessors of the stolen goods to endorse the circus referendum Enfold the good Indigenous citizen, like eggs into the shonky, honky Constitutional recipe Entrepreneurial activity: universal remedy for Indigenous misery! He knows Oodgeroo BETTER WHEN I HAD NOTHING BUT HAPPINESS He knows Reconciliation offers no justice no repatriation; no treaty; no Sovereignty He knows it’s a sham, a grave to the fundamental rights of Aboriginal people Top echelon of the colonising junta cry crocodile tears, apologise for stolen generation Refuse to apologise for organised genocide; theft; deaths in custody, for forced labour; child rape and sexual slavery for its own specific Pacific brand of apartheid IF SORRY IS REALLY WHAT YOU MEAN: THEN DON’T INTERVENE He knows About identities stolen deliberate poisonings, being butchered like animals Diseased reserves emotional numbness; meaninglessness transgenerational guilt internalisation of blame alienation; victimisation Desolation! He knows Gilbert WHAT ARE WE GOING TO RECONCILE OURSELVES TO: A HOLOCAUST; A MASSACRE; DISPOSSESSION? He knows Quickened heart and lungs soon leave air discarded Chroming option no longer regarded by this language insurgent No paint, no petrol will silence this alienated mouth It’s a sad and stupid thing to have to proclaim yourself a revolutionary just to be a decent man He knows That every poem is a blow against silence Spent hydrocarbon: empty cans now finally tongue-tied roll in arched curves Tinkle Rest beneath Moreton’s WEARY AND TORN I STUMBLE THEN BLEARY AND WORN I SHALL RISE AND SURPRISE YOU BY MY WILL
Chris explains how his poem came about:
“This poem arose out of a desire to counter the New Racism elements underpinning the dominant culture’s regressive putsch for ‘Constitutional Recognition’ and ‘Reconciliation’ as counterbalance to the renewed vigour of the progressive Sovereignty and Treaty movement.
“The so-called ‘Reconciliation’ movement actually mutes specific Indigenous voices and marginalises and relegates them to the periphery while favouring and promoting mainstreaming via political tameness. As such, some progressive Indigenous leaders feel constrained in the current political climate. Reconciliation represents conflict as something internal to the political community, resolvable through appeals to constitutional norms.
“In contrast, Sovereignty seeks a register for the conflict beyond the constitutional mediation in order to contest the legitimacy of the state and its institutions and propaganda vehicles. As Michael Mansell says, Indigenous people have rights like no others in Australia can legitimately claim… those rights have become subsumed by the ‘we are all one people in the one nation’ slogan.”