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spontaneously deciduous in the middle of summer when they’ve decided shade is obsolete.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.
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
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.