The Fremantle Press Anthology of Western Australian Poetry

Was lucky enough to have two poems (Little River, and Ode to C.Y. O’Connor) included in The Fremantle Press Anthology of Western Australian Poetry.

The Fremantle Press Anthology of Western Australian Poetry is a comprehensive survey of the state’s poets from the 19th century to today.

Featuring work from 134 poets, and including the work of many WA Indigenous poets, this watershed anthology brings together the poems that have contributed to and defined the ways that Western Australians see themselves.

 

 

On Witnessing ‘On Witnessing With Many Others the Destruction of Remaining Bushland Alongside Malvolio Road, Coolbellup’

The state wants you to think you are them, and you and they have won,
and that winning is important, that peeling wallpaper
is a win for rising damp, leaking parapet drains
and paint that prematurely cracks in 21st century sun.
The state wants you to know they love you and that if
you stand naked in the sun that’s your choice
and as your largest organ reddens and thickens
and the moisture evaporates in your blood, that new hospitals
with lead pipes are being built for you, post-haste.
The state comes marching in the gate and up the wound
passed the mounds of dead balga and banksia and tuart
and salmon gum and karri and marri and agonis flexuosa
and teak and casuarina and beech and blackbutt and forest red gum
and myrtle and acacia and mounds of kangaroo paw, the state emblem
spontaneously deciduous in the middle of summer                                                             when they’ve decided shade is obsolete.
The state will not deliver the media alert that says dust health fears
exist in the areas around the asbestos riddled bushland in Coolbellup,
that children with asthma and other respiratory diseases
are at higher risk and if you feel your mouth and lungs clogging up
then you should contact this number immediately.
The state will allow their own militia to stand twenty feet
from the ‘Wood Hog 3800XL’ mulching monster while The Doctor
blows the entrails of ancient xanthorea and fine asbestos fibres
onto their high-viz uniforms, their bullet proof vests
built to ping off malignant mesotholomia.
The state has shown you must not sing and will arrest
anyone caught reciting say don’t worry, ‘bout a thing,
      cause every little thing, gunna be alright in their heads.
The state will not let you stop the Warratah’s pincers, or the excavator,
or the mulcher and if you do there are highly trained
hackers and horses and German Shephards who will break your spirit
one by one they will wear you down, targeting those who seek to organise.
Alone, the state will marry you.

Written in response to: ‘On Witnessing With Many Others the Destruction of Remaining Bushland Alongside Malvolio Road, Coolbellup’

On Witnessing With Many Others the Destruction of Remaining Bushland Alongside Malvolio Road, Coolbellup

A New Ode to Westralia: Anthem for All Future Sporting Events, by John Kinsella.

The state is killing our souls

The state has murdered the people — some they murder over and over

The state has deployed vicious antibodies to kill the good cells

and let the infection thrive

The state has equated work with destruction and manipulated

the outcome — remember, the state has no love for unions.

The state deployed its shock troops who watched on as poems were yelled

at them, their commander marshalling attitude, saying: how can we

shut this one up? Poets of the world, take notice. They will close

you down the moment you break free of your anthologies,

your safety in pages of literary journals, the comforts

of award nights.

The state shapes itself out of the dust rising from underforest

which is its soul exposed to a caustic, toxic atmosphere

made by so many other such actions of malice — the shape

is cartoonish to start with, then like a Hollywood effect

then just terrifying ectoplasm feeding on sap and blood and grit.

The state chips and mulches because it has heard rumours of Plato’s

theory of forms and thinks it needs a new translation full of local

business inflection, full of their own brand of ‘civilisation’.

The state has no intention of letting traditional owners maintain

traditional places of worship of culture of belonging — it’s always

been about the twin poles of denial and deletion.

The state has reservoirs of species names and the odd pressed sample

of a flower they wish only to remain as a Latin name and

a collectible, gathering in worth, which is the essence of market

economics, rolling on through the bushland with gung-ho

in-your-face finality.

The state wants you to gasp as the tall tree cracks and is brought down fast,

the pair of tawny frogmouths lifting to nowhere, dazzled by daylight.

John Kinsella

The Other Report: Poems Against the Destruction of the Beeliar Wetlands

John Kinsella and I have written a book of poems in non-violent protest against the 100 hectares of bulldozing happening at the Beeliar Wetlands. Please feel free to share this as widely as possible. About 5 hectares has been cleared already. Clearing is set to resume any day now. Please click on the image below to read/download the poems.

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The Clearing of Coolbellup Bush Timeline

Dec 4: ABC news reports: ‘Roe 8 Highway work gets green light from WA Government before High Court hearing’

Dec 6: About 30 police and as many protestors present as temporary fences erected between Northlake Rd and Elinor Rd in Coolbellup. Beeliar Wetlands Protectors Camp set up on Northlake Rd.

Dec 6: Federal Department of Environment is investigating Roe 8 for non-compliance in protecting Rainbow Bee eaters.

Dec 8 to 18: Contractors trapping animals for removal – sometimes in extreme heat.

Dec 8: Protectors begin stringing heart shaped notes to temporary fences

Dec 8 and 9: 200 protectors congregate at Malvolio Rd as Leighton Contractors enter and exit site. 85 yr old local is issued with move on notice.

Dead bandicoots found near fenced off areas.

Dec 10: Approximately 1200 people attend rally at Cockburn Wetland Centre.

Dec 12: About 250 protestors congregate at western end of Malvolio Road as a large surveying truck moves on to land. Arrests and move on notices issued.

Dec 13: Coolbellup Family Breakfast held on Malvolio road. Mayors from Fremantle, East Fremantle, Cockburn and Kwinana attend to voice opposition to Roe 8.

Protestors arrested on Northlake Rd for pulling down fence.

Dec 14: Group of 7 are arrested for walking inside temporary fence on Northlake Rd.

Dec 15: Surveying truck works along Hope Rd, metres from Bibra Lake. Woman bolts herself under surveying truck stalling work for four hours.

Dec 16: High Court Judge decides not to open Save Beeliar Wetlands case to review the WA State EPA decision.

Melville City Council pledge $50,000 to raise awareness about the apparent benefits of Roe 8.

Survey truck continues to work along Hope Rd and under powerlines heading to Kwinana Freeway. Large police presence unlike day before.

Dec 17: Rethinkthelink launch petition to have PerthFreightLink documents released to the public

Dec 18: ‘Sunday Sounds’ event at Cockburn Wetlands Centre attended by approximately 1000 people.

MP Alannah MacTiernan releases statement: “FOI Update: the 30 month saga continues: on Thursday the WA Information Commissioner ordered Main Roads to send me 26 documents about the ‘planning’ for Freight Link. So Friday when I went to pick them up, Main Roads were too busy and said they would try to make them available by 23 December. The Information Commissioner is soon to rule on another 40 plus docs.”

Dec 19 – Bulldozer enters Coolbellup bush and clears a wide strip through the middle, killing many large gum and balga trees. More than 500 protectors in attendance at both Northlake Rd and Malvolio Rd sites. Police install a long concrete barricade along the length of the NorthLake Rd footpath.

Dec 20 – nearly 500 people and 200 police are on Northlake Rd as bulldozer clears bushland for second day in row. Police divert traffic away from Northlake Rd. Multiple arrests and move on notices issued.

Two women lock arms to main gate at WA Limestone – the machinery contractors for the clearing. They are arrested.

Dec 21: A total fire ban issued by the Dept. of Fire and Emergency Services. Main Roads were granted an exemption from the total fire ban by the Barnett government (until 2020). Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett said the exemption granted to Main Roads WA clearing machinery was unsafe and a high risk for nearby Cockburn residents, commuters, workers, protesters and police officers in the area.

Clearing postponed as a water truck enters cleared area.

Dec 25: Large Christmas lunch held at Beeliar Wetlands Protectors Camp

Dec 28: Protectors put out call for mass action on the 4th of Jan, 2017 – the likely re-start date for further works.

Jan 2: Live! in the Wetlands event at Manning Park attended by nearly 2000 people.

Jan 3: Another legal hearing to challenge the High Court decision is announced. Main Roads are prevented from further clearing until the 9th of Jan. Mass action called off for the 4th of Jan.

Jan 4: About 30 protectors at the camp. Police set up festoons on Malvolio Road. Trappers and fencers enter. Western end of Malvolio Road to be fenced.

 

 

 

The Battle of Northlake Road

“If we don’t take action now, we settle for nothing later” Zack de La Rocha

Your Mum swims with polar bears before heading to Beeliar
she has a square blue patch pinned to her blouse
she joins us watching an Empire collapse
our leaders with their misfiring synapse
nothing makes sense, their actions don’t add up,
this bulldozer inside bush in Coolbellup.
The protectors are more compliant, more attentive
to the rules than the State is,
good luck keeping keeping them to their word, kid.

But this is the Premier’s hamartia
after the E.P.A. failed us in the boardroom
the frontline is now the courtroom
the camera pans, a human dolly
as locals clang the fence in rage at this folly
and colonial cogs churn out arrests,
after you’ve lost patience to peacefully protest
the cops will knee cap you, threaten violence
as the bulldozer rips apart animals silent.
Dust correlates to root depth, the drive-belt gravity,
the trunk incision, upper management depravity,
with each frame the forty metre tree falls.
Slow. Gargantuan. De-metabolic.
Who knew Barnett’s buddies were this shambolic?
A thousand media views to each frame,
hundreds of shares, likes and vitriolic blame
into the night and to the next day you truncheon nasty trolls
while on Malvolio dried blue tongue lizard skin rolls,
the now empty vision your friends see on their computer screen
oh echo chamber, oh deaf ear collective, listen to this:

your xmas presents won’t capture the war
the trees have with the bulldozers, blades score
the soil until the top is too light, the muscian’s play,
you pause the video, Earth-Shattering,
cockatoo scattering, drowning in mounds of dead balga trees,
the smell of lost oxygen, the fronds that no longer flap
these fallen stakeholders, you call this democracy,
the precondition to being human is hypocrisy
they say ‘the road will be built, you’re wasting your time’,
but I’ve seen the monk doused in petrol
so we’re here to document the fall
and after the machines have left we go in with stitches,
every surgery a lesson to future witches
you don’t need gas to have tears in your eyes
when your friend John is too shocked to cry
too confused to take notes or offer sacrifice,
too bewildered to even think, we know we’re born
of a broken Environmental Protection Authority
who can’t even follow their own policy.

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Malvolio Road

In Marginata shade, with the depleted ozone
at Malvolio Road, the sandy verge is compacted
by sandals and sneakers, citizens sing
get up stand up, stand up for your rights
and a mum tells her son off for breaking black boy fronds,
and the patrolling police ask us to stay off the street
and the Federal Member for Fremantle stands with us, getting grey sand in his shoes
with his Ray Bans in his back pocket.  Meanwhile architects
and planners present their proposals to Barnett government
ministers their most important work, the Roe8
Highway Extension. The images projected on the screen
are so realistic you might think the project is already built,
the families in the photos appear so happy,
the cockatoos in the sky plentiful, the cars few
and freewheeling and the diagrams so convincing:
arrows show traffic flow and hydrology flow
and mitigation movements and meanwhile in Coolbellup
Janet works at the IGA to pay her rent, cutting open
cardboard boxes and stacking shelves. Janet knows
where every single item in the entire store goes.
On the eighth of December 2016 the temporary fence
went up across the road from her house,
and on that day, for the first time in twenty years
the family of bandicoots Janet has fed and watered and loved
stopped visiting. Two years earlier, on Kings Park Road
The Premier Colin Barnett had an idea, at the meeting table
The Premier Colin Barnett had an idea,
his idea and his alone, out of his own head Colin had an idea
where the idea came from no one present knew where,
but they heard him out, Colin was so moved by his idea
he had to borrow the architects’ notebook and make sketches;
if the people of East Fremantle don’t want Roe highway
straight through their suburb, we’ll build a tunnel,
a five kilometre tunnel underneath White Gum Valley,
that’ll show ’em, said Colin. The Premier himself was so impressed
with his ingenuity he had a sip of water from the small tumbler
in front of him. The idea was so spontaneous that those present
at the polished jarrah table didn’t know what to say,
a junior engineer was sent to draw up some plans.
That day, at Coolbellup IGA, Janet helped her neighbour
Kate find some polenta in aisle three and got a special
treat for the bandicoots’ breakfast.

 

J. P. Quinton – Malvolio Road 12th Dec 2016

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Barnett Destroys Wetland 

This photo shows the Barnett government’s orders for police presence at the Beeliar Protest this morning.

Here’s the first poem I wrote on day one of the protest – 8 Dec 2016.

It is not a great poem by any means but I wrote it while standing on the barricades and felt the need to write right there and then.

Peace
Roe8#1

You may have never protested before.

To stand in the way of the Roe 8 highway feels wrong. To take a day off work to hold a banner feels wrong. You’ll be called a bum. They’ll say you’re unemployed, have nothing better to do. The ‘mainstream’ will tell you the ‘development’ is going ahead, the ‘plans’ have been in the ‘works’ for years, that clearing native bushland is necessary for ‘progress’, that the correct environmental protection measures have been taken, don’t worry friend.

But they don’t follow their own guidelines, they say the native animals will be trapped and moved to other areas, yet we know few animals survive. On Northlake Road the fencing contractors are asked to turn their music off, the police can’t hear their intercom. The police apply suncream and help the fencing contractors move traffic cones.

The police ask one another if they are right for water and say we could be here all summer.

How does a woman, shifting from one foot to another, become a police force? How does a few scribbles on a napkin become an environmental disaster?

In the shade of a flame tree the protesters hold banners and car horns beep and a pair of pink and grey galahs fly overhead. When my parents were my age if a ‘development’ was taking place, there was no temporary fencing, portaloos were not delivered to site and the Cold War delivered renewed apathy.

When my parents were my age protesting was not illegal and developers need not chop down trees in the dead of night. I grew up where the damage had already been done; the river dredged, three billion year old wetlands filled with yellow sand.

In Tonkin Business park, giant ziggurats were built to cover toxic waste, the destruction is older than me – the river poisoned before my birth. Where there is no bush the bush can not regenerate. When I was three…

M Ward

The first time I listened to and watched M Ward play was by accident. Mid-June 2003. Milkless Fridge were meant to rehearse, but Loui couldn’t do it for I reason I have now forgotten. Low Barlow was in town and Neil and I had decided to go the Rosemount on the Wednesday night. Since the rehearsal had been cancelled we decided to go on the Tuesday instead, at the Swan Basement.

Another context needs explaining. At the time I was very unhappy. The woman who I had fallen I love with, and invested the entirety of my hope for true romance in, went overseas with the resounding statement: ‘I’m going to London, I don’t want you to come with me, but I want us to stay together.’ Was I foolish? Indeed. The sacrifice was made and I was sad pretty much every waking moment for the six months she went away.

Except for the 40 odd minutes this guy, who turned out to be M Ward, played sweet freedom.

I remember the tires on Neil’s car were completely bald. In the rain we slid all over the road, the colours of the streets lights blurring on the windscreen.

We when we arrived the Guinness we ordered was crap.

Anyway. A dude in a baseball cap is working his way around the small stage. Getting his harmonica ready, back up guitars, a tune-up here and there. Unannounced, he works his way up onto the stall at the front of the stage, brings his head up to the microphone, curls his cap above the microphone, drawing a screen of shadow across his eyes.

He hadn’t even started playing and the audience were silenced. No one knew who this guy was, let alone the songs.

From memory I think he played Transfiguration #1 first. Now, this might sound completely corny, but I don’t give a shit: I certainly felt some kind of transformation, some kind of weight lifting off of my shoulders. The entire set was a blur.

I can only remember three things: he played Sad, Sad Song. He told the audience that he has only been in town two days, and I yelled out asked if he liked it, to which he responded: ‘So far’ (now I know he was lying, given Paul’s Song). And I said hello to him afterwards and told him how it made me feel.

Montpellier Poem

The blasters have departed, the butts are all swept

now mongrels come to piss in the gullies

near the ring barked cypresses and the kitchen hand

wincing from cigarette smoke.

 

By noon all the boards are chalked

the first stoners sit on the church steps

the first cocktail is sipped, the ladies

aviators peered over and under and through.

 

The waitresses sore heels, her toes curl

when she speaks, bored

her meteorological mind is with the Mistral

the Cevennes, or Wolf Peak.

 

Humidity, hippy’s jamming and insomnia,

another sleepless night, open the window

close the window, cat curls in leg triangle,

thoughts with the love triangle.

 

You enter, like Ulysses knowing your head

and heart won’t handle the intensity,

so you divorce and timeshare the children,

sitting on stools, playing fools.

 

The square was quiet, now full

butts and black dots about our feet

he’s planning his irrational retreat

gold, myrrh, felspar.

 

A couple carrying their mattress

give way to a vespa, give or take,

hole or snake, his loneliness loaded like a syringe.

never going to be with anyone again, this week.

 

Her flingers flick specks of glitter

off her jeans onto polished travertine,

these vagabonds brandishing a partial map

of Montpellier, silently screaming over cake and cream.

 

A skulls worth of dandruff;

the erasure of our perceived mistakes

lying like a floor bound dart

or an island on the horizon.

 

You’ve read too much into her feet pointing your way

in bed reading Finnegan’s Wake

across the train views of a blue lake

that somewhere connects to the sea.

 

Almost all the men in my life are dead to me.

I have made these streets, and the streets have made me.