HomePoetryAustralia

Australia

I was born in the land of parrots
where the deer hop around on hind legs
and the beavers have duck faces
and the screaming red ghosts of the indigenous haunt our dreams
and the men have cold eyes and horrible hands
and everyone cheers at the footy.

I see you, Australia,
beneath the heavy asphalt and concrete
that we have used to pave over the Dreamtime
and stop the screaming
so we can clear our heads and our eyes for a hot second
and finish coughing up human bones
and figure out what the hell went wrong.

I hear you, Australia,
beneath the Brit pop and Hollywood propaganda
that we use to muffle your natural thrum
which white minds are too convoluted to comprehend
and white hearts are too hardened to beat in time to.
We fill your air with babbling pleasantries
about how laid-back and open-minded we are
so that we don’t accidentally hear your ancient voice
and stumble into a moment of sincerity.
Your voice is loudest
at the rock in the middle
where I heard you for the first time.
You thrum in loops like a giant silent didge
weaving together the songlines of the ancestors,
or maybe it’s some other thing,
I don’t know, I’m just guessing
because in that moment I also glimpsed how stupid I am.

I feel you, Australia,
beneath the suburban fugue and media sedation,
beneath the pulled window shades covering barking, snarling faces,
beneath the affectionless romances and “She’ll do” marriages,
beneath the vestigial Catholicism and ubiquitous paranoia,
beneath this vapid, foam-brained excuse for a culture
we’ve haphazardly slapped together
before the dust of colonialism settled
so we don’t have to feel our goddamn fucking feelings for once.

I see you.
I hear you.
I feel you.
But, like so very many others,
I am too cowardly to face you.

________________________

________________________

________________________

________________________

________________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My articles are entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal,buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

Bitcoin donations:1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2

Liked it? Take a second to support Caitlin Johnstone on Patreon!

Latest comments

  • Asskicking brilliant!

  • It is not just Australia. It is planet-wide. Wetiko.

  • Sorry – this is virtue signalling of the worst sort. Aboriginal people are doing just fine without your whitey guilt trip – and your need promote to the world.

    Do you think you are the first person to cotton on to the fact that indigenous culture was devasted by the arrival of Western imperialism on Australia’s shore?

    But if all this is true about Australia’s treatment of its indigenous people, then, enough virtue signally, what is to be done? Oh, how about:

    1. Acknowledging that appalling history, and totally transforming the educational curriculum to reflect the reality;
    2. Seeking to bring Aboriginal living standards up to those of the rest of multicultural Australia through the injection of massive annual national funding;
    3. Use of the High Court of Australia to override formerly discriminatory state-based pastoralist rights to grant land rights to dispossessed aboriginals;
    4. Greater self-determination through establishment of national indigenous government bodies controlling resources formerly held by pastoralists;
    5. Outlawing the old practices of paying below minimum wages
    6. Apologising for the stolen generations of children taken from their natural mothers;

    Oh wait a minute – that’s all been done and most of these changes have been on the books for decades as part of an ongoing national campaign of goodwill by people – mainly a cabal of those hideous white men starting with Gough Whitlam in the 1970s and other horrid whities – with just as much concern for Aboriginal welfare and dignity since before you were born.

    I note the long comment from Jim Kable on this post about how he came to the realisation that you have come to in the 1980s. How’s that for one-up-manship! Effectively he is telling you while he thinks you are great, sorry you are sort of three or more decades behind the pace. But he’s a fan of your poetry so I guess you’ll let that backhander go through the the keeper. Of course what Kable doesn’t explain to you is how it is that he thinks your poetry is such an accurate reflection of Australian culture when it is this same culture which allows for the extensive recognitiion of past wrongs and new found nurturing for indigenous culture which he describes in the event he recently attended in Canberra and all the other examples he provides in that post of a society which now seeks to right wrongs and nurture Aboriginal knowledge and heritage? Obvioulsy, this doesn’t count when there are “happy clapppers” around who clearly don’t deserve to live.

    Of course, some of the attempts at improving the lot of Aboriginal people in this program have been less than successful. But, in fact, it has mainly been those efforts at greater political self-determination which have proved most counterproductive. For example, the disastrous efforts to give Aboriginal people greater self-determination through their own elected bodies – bodies which descended into appalling corruption – run incidentally by black male leaders who not infrequently proved to also be appalling misogynists and worse in their treatment of women.

    Greater autonomy in remote communities also led to some of the most appalling results in terms of systemic child abuse imaginable. The hated Liberal National Party government decided to do something about this of course by the “intervention”. Aboriginal women in these communities were screaming for just such radical action from the Federal government but of course the luvvies of the ABC and the Labor Party (which were he alive today Whitlam would find unrecognisable) agitated ceaselessly to have the intervention stopped to allow the child rapes to continue.

    White Australia might be mostly thick as two short planks when it comes to their dopey swallowing of the US alliance and the MSM agenda but most of the poison they ingest creating this stupor comes from their swallowing the guff they are force fed from the cultural warriors of the left, not those of the right. And no matter how many times you or Jim Kable, or me for that matter, might say what an arsehole Tony Abbott is, will change that fact.

    And incidentally, you seem to have something against sport: (“everyone cheers at the footy.”) Aboriginal Australians give every indication of loving sport every bit as much – and I suspect even more – than their white compatriots. They happen to be very good at sport and are disproportionately represented given their small population in many elite sports. Sport is not everything, but it does bring people together and helps in mutual understanding and respect. Many elite aboriginal sports people are important role models; and, in their turn, the major clubs – I am aware of the work of the major football codes – go to great lengths to help young indigenous players get in contact with their heritage. Get off your snobby high horse.

    Finally, Aboriginal culture is not just about Uluru. The songlines you claim to be so in touch with extend the length and breadth of the continent (and anticipating the outrage warriors this includes Tasmania). Yes Uluru is important but encapsulating one’s concern about Australia’s indigenous people through the prism of the rock is just a dumb whitey simplification, no better than the old paternalism. Frankly, your poem is embarrassing and not for the reasons you think we should be embarrassed.

    If you hate Australia because you see it peopled with “men with cold eyes” and “snarling faces, beneath the affectionless romances and “She’ll do” marriages” [that’s some generalisation by the way]; and if you are still feeling oppressed by “vestigial Catholicism [which I have to say is unbelievably funny reflection on the mostly materialistic agnostic Australia]; and ubiquitous paranoia [this is code for Pauling Hanson I take it]; and you think the culture no more than “vapid, foam-brained excuse for a culture haphazardly slapped together” – then by all means vent your spleen in your bad poetry to your heart’s content but do it without claiming that you have some special empathy and insight into Australia’s indigenous people. They deserve better poetry than you seem capable of writing.

    • Classic case of attacking the messenger…right

  • Yes, Caitlin once again you’ve hit the nail on it’s head ..
    about the good old U S of A the same must be said
    please keep up your writing one day we will wake
    to make our world better and it back we will take.

  • Sorry folks I don’t get this poem . Is sounds like a superficial call to some emotion that the author hopes the reader will fill in because the author is too interested in sounding intellectual and appealing to other suedo intellectuals. What is the ancient voice ? Is it the voice of the aboriginal people who lived a brutal, SHORT , hunter, gatherer existence where women and children were permenantly malnourished and parasite infested and the men exercised Stone Age rituals to appease the gods . There is nothing to stop the author and his admirers returning to that pre European existence , hunting kangaroos and living in the outback in temporary shacks in appalling conditions . Very romantic from your air conditioned house or your four wheel drive jeep . APPRECIATE WHAT YOU HAVE AND GET A REAL JOB like the ones which built the present Great Australia. It was not built at a typewriter.

    • Totally agree with Gerry in that AUS Gov spends about $30 Billion each year on Aboriginals but they still want more but are not really interested in pulling themselves up out of the dirt on their own & by their own efforts.
      They still criticize Gov for the ??? INVASION??? & Lefties help them in that.
      Blame everyone else for their poverty
      There is only so much that civilization can offer to these people before we say enough is enough and let them sort their own mess out.
      Seems they don’t really want to go back to living as per TRADITIONAL WAYS.

    • Liberals call themselves Progressives yet they all bitch about any past progress made by Whitey (which has vastly improved the human condition for many). Progressives mock Western Christianity claiming it is backwards yet holds that any POC religion is sacred even though those religions are themselves backwards as hell too. Whitey’s religion equals ignorance. POC religion equals Noble Savage enlightenment.

      A White man hits a woman he is a monster. POC hits a woman well, that is just his culture.

      Whites hold education as a high Value. POC do not. Yet it is Whitey’s fault POC are not educating themselves due to their Noble Savage culture.

      Progressives should not be taken seriously until they pick some principles and apply them to everyone evenhandedly. But they cannot do that because then Whitey will come out looking much better at making progress than the Noble Savage.

      FTR I am not a Christian nor a conservative nor a woman hitter. I am just an observer.

  • I have lived in Australia and the US and always felt a deep empathy for the indigenous peoples there.
    But it’s only more recently, through the practice of Qi Gong, that I have come to understand the true nature
    of their loss. They had a deep connection to Heaven and Earth. They were connected to the ‘Great Spirit’
    in every moment of their lives. We ripped them out of this dream by introducing an alien mindset.
    The introduction of greed, fear, violence, hate and loss was their descent into hell. That many choose
    the oblivion of alcohol or drugs to this new reality is understandable.
    But the alien mind also destroyed indigenous European tribes (Druids, Pagans, Celts) and alternative
    ideas (Gnostics, Cathars). What we are all victims of is a collective insanity that has now infected the
    entire planet. We just need to wake up.

    • I just think the “we need to wake up”says it all. We are either ‘aware’ or are lost in a sea of bogus society. We are all guilty to some extent or other of stepping on someone to survive. Some thoug were much worse than others. e.g. the European colonizers.

  • I seem to have been born without the “poetry gene” – I really struggle to appreciate most poetry (no, no violins, there are many things that I get enormous pleasure from – just not usually poetry!) But this is totally brilliant!

  • Caitlin, I love your enthusiasm for Justice but you really need to shake out the Matrix’s programmed “White guilt” out of your system. It is part of TPTB’s controlling narrative. Do not fall for their deceptions.

  • How appropriate. I was visiting Australia for the first time, last December, and sufficiently dismayed by all I saw to ask what happened to the dream? Is there something in the water? What happened to the truth and the sanity?

  • A sobering thought!

  • Well, THAT was freaking real. Beautiful. Thanks for sending. x

  • I used to feel for Australia too, but really, they just don’t have a frigg’n clue. They continue to drink from the tap – that mindless stew. So now I just accept the fact – they are a hearded brew. But no worries mayte, I have faith in nature, it knows what’s true. Is that what you think are the beats of the didgeridoo?

  • This is just too brutally honest, it hurts. Just like Kommunist Kanada!

  • Dear Caitlin: I hear you. I came to a similar realisation of my own ignorance re Indigenous Australia in the early 1980s and took steps to become informed – or maybe “Woke” is le mot juste in these 21st century times. Two days ago I was in Canberra to attend a Peace Bell ringing on the shores of the Lake – welcoming the Australian founded group ICAN awarded the most recent of the Nobel Peace Prizes (though no congratulations on that extraordinary achievement from the current LNP loonies in power – tied up with promoting the WMD industry and their puppet-master the US). Speakers included a Trades Union rep., a university student – soon to visit Hiroshima’s ground zero of August 6, 1945 – and Robert TICKNER – a Minister for Aboriginal Affairs in a previous ALP government. Then we marched to the front of the National Parliament. There speakers included the President of ICAN Dr WAREHAM, one of the significant members of the current Opposition – Anthony ALBANESE, the Greens Candidate for the new Federal seat of Canberra – Tim HOLLO – and a senior woman of the Kokatha people – from Ceduna – Sue HASSLEDINE – whose people had their South Australian lands destroyed with the complicity of the Menzies Government in the 1950s and the British Government of those times – “testing” their nuclear weapons. Her testimony was more than disturbing as she recounted the deaths beyond usual statistical measurement – from cancers – since that time. She herself was a small child at the time. Your own cri-de-coeur, Caitlin, is not misplaced. When a known racist and misogynist such as Tony Abbott is made a Special Envoy by his Happy-Clapper Pentecostal Prime Minister – to Indigenous Australia – about which and whom he would honestly have to be one of the most singularly ignorant people in Australia – then this land has truly begun swirling down the proverbial. Following the Rally (and Peter GARRETT stood among us) I caught up briefly with a recently-made friend – journalist and writer Peter REES (books include The ANZAC Girls – it became a TV series, one on Juanita NEILSEN – the murdered urban activist, and his latest The Missing Man – about Len WATERS – Gomeroi man from Northern NSW who was the first (and only, till now, it seems) RAAF Fighter pilot (WWII – New Guinea – islands, Borneo). Peter REES writes with passion about the injustices suffered by Indigenous peoples back in those times – Len born in 1924 – the petty policies and bigoted implementation of those policies. When Len returned from the way – those policies meant that dreams of a Queensland Air-taxi business in the state’s south-west were thwarted by those controlling licensing – even to become a mechanic was closed off to him (that experience and knowledge he had gained in the Air Force – so was not to be counted) and he was forced back to shearing. Ugly Australia. Peter told me – as he dropped me back outside the Old Parliament House – now The Museum of Democracy – and within sight across the road at the front of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy – that he had been present (as a journalist) on the day that the Tent Embassy had been established. On that day his own journey to understanding had begun. And last night – on ABC TV – The Gardening Program – a feature on writer Bruce Pascoe (Dark Emu – and Dark Emu up-dated 2018) – of western Victorian and Palawa-Tasmanian descent who spoke of the significance of Indigenous food sources – largely destroyed by the invaders and their sheep and cattle – demonstrating the food sources – flour from the ground seeds of kangaroo grades, others from reeds growing in wetlands and so forth. I felt spiritually uplifted watching that segment. So thanks, yet again, Caitlin!

  • Wonderful. moving. Thank you!

leave a comment