Cops and Lovers

A collection of Poems looking for a publisher if interested please write to John Tomlinson, John@johntomlinsoncollectedworks
In the meantime leftist non profit agencies feel free to use them




You are charged with abducting children
and taking them by car
to Pinkenba,
How do you plead?

Well your worship it’s plain to see
and we’re sure you will agree
there’s nothing we’ve done
was meant to harm,
to cause distress, or in any way alarm.
We were down the Valley,
the mall clock had just struck three:
we saw these young crims
loitering with intent-
whatever they say: whatever they invent.
We decided not to apprehend
or do anything which might offend.
Rather we thought let’s be their friend,
to show the kind face of the law.
To be a bit like a kind grandpa
and drive them down to Pinkenba.

They were happy to agree
there’s not much to do at half past three.
So we chucked them in the back of the van
they wanted to come – ’cause no one ran.
Now it’s us who are accused
it’s no surprise we feel abused,
we wanted to avoid any strife
to put them straight for the rest of their life.

Well thanks for explaining
without complaining
about the trouble we’ve put you through
you have a very difficult job to do.
From the evidence you’ve put before me
it is very plain to see
police never kill or terrorise
it must be the kids who tell the lies.
Police would never act like thugs
you’d never see them dealing drugs.
Police never lie or verbal,
police wouldn’t bash or maim,
they are kind and understanding,
Magistrates know whom to blame.
We understand that in these hard times
it’s criminals who commit the crimes.
You can’t be guilty because you’re so nice
and after all you are the police.

Now they say white law is one eyed
when I heard that I damn near cried
in Queensland we’re not that refined
in this state our justice is blind.



Russian tanks strafe the parliament building.
Russian planes bomb the suburbs of Grozny.
So far the war has cost 4,000 million dollars
creating half a million displaced people
as Yeltsin sets about restoring democracy in Chechenya.

Israeli jets bomb houses in Beirut’s suburbs
the ABC says 3 guerillas were killed
but do not worry
these were not Rwandan Lowland gorillas
they were only Arab people
who were not assisting Israel to maintain peace in Lebanon.

Australian imperialism and Nuigini nationalism
have combined to prolong the war on Bougainville.
The troublesome land owners of Panguna
have been encouraged to join their BRA brothers in the hills
all it took was Port Moresby’s indifference, CRA’s intransigence
and Australian supplied helicopter gunships.

Nineteen years ago Indonesia invaded Timor.
Javanese generals had learnt the lessons of colonialism
so well they instituted a transmigration program
to supplement the guns and bombs and herbicide.
It all assists the genocide
as the junta brings progress to the countryside.

Yet there is hope,
Indian and Sri Lankan Governments
after 20 years of brutality have finally discovered that
Tamil Tigers are not an endangered species.
They have at last realised the simple truth
that people are more likely to be reasonable
if you talk to them rather than shooting at them.


Australia 1995

As we woodchip our way towards a forest policy,
setting up Bilby abattoirs in Pitjantjatjara country,
our journalist inquire of highly paid bankers
whether we should put up interest rates
in order to halt the rise in employment,
whilst policemen impersonate journalists
so that they might arrest a skyrail protester
who sat in a tree for 200 days.

Perhaps the unemployed should
impersonate entrepreneurs
to rob Australia blind.
Environmentalists should dress up as foresters
and treat politicians
as if they were trees.


Arts Faculty

The plans are designed by DEET
and we finish up being the meat
squashed between managements’
ignorance and its arrogance.



Cops are good
cops are dead,
I think that’s all
which needs to be said.


Home of the brave -land of the free:
oops, sorry I was dreaming.

The battlers push the boats out
into an angry sea
to rip the bay with their trawl nets
for a life of penury.

A young girl stacks the empty shelves
for shoppers on a spree
her dress is old, her arms tired
a life of poverty.

Unemployed with down cast eyes,
there is no sign of glee
he walks the streets dejected,
wandering aimlessly.

Pension cheque clutched in her hand
a frozen dignity.
Gas bill paid, decision made
there’s curried mince for tea.

Drink in hand, looking out
upon an azure sea
merchant banks and directorships
a constant memory.

Dreaming of social justice
fair and firm and free
where hope and happiness thrive
for us all, equally.

Awake and look around you
destructive inequality
privilege and gnawing competition
as far as the eye can see.


Tiny minds

Small minded people have small minds to mind.
Bitterness distilled -miserly refined.
Bigoted hatred is not hard to find.
Ignorance and misery can turn freedom blind.
`Cause small minded people have small minds to mind.


Tracy’s 20th anniversary

We’re looking back a winding track from Tracy,
take a minute to remember what we’re trying to forget:
the roaring winds and blinding rain
the tearing sounds and searing pain,
and getting soaking wet.

The buildings disappearing –
screams throughout the town,
and in my mind confusion runs
around, around, around.

I’m not thick I sold up quick, from Tracy,
I got away from Tracy or did I run away?
I was confused I hit the booze
I thought I had nothing else to lose.
I didn’t stay around.


I ran away from yesterday
and all the things I did not say to Tracy.
I did not make it in the past,
I struggled on, I knew I’d last,
but I remembered Tracy.


Cyclone Tracy’s in the news
people giving interviews
different stories, divergent views.
We ran away from Tracy.


And now my head and heart’s turned grey
I remember things I did not say to Tracy,
and in my mind confusion runs
around, around, around.

Are you just another name
for lost lives we’ll live again
this time without the grief and pain?
I don’t need to ask your name ……..
it’s Tracy.

(with Peter Hancock)


Too many cops

There are too many cops here in Canberra,
coppers who lie and who cheat.
But the bourgeoisie of the ACT
wants more of them on the beat.

There are too many cops here in Canberra
coppers who bash and who maim.
But the bourgeoisie of the ACT
wants more of them all the same.

Had a Commissioner here in Canberra
who shot him we’ll never know.
But it’s one cop less
it caused no distress.
it seems the way to go.

The coppers they blamed a pensioner,
the people they blamed the police.
But the bourgeoisie of the ACT
told us “that’s not very nice”.

I went down to the Hotel
to hear Kevin Carmody sing.
The biggest mob of cops turned up
oh what a wondrous thing.

Kevin’s a Murrie from Queensland
his weapon it is a guitar
the welcome the cops gave him
ensured he wouldn’t go far.

Migrants and Aborigines
get the rough end of the stick.
The rich live well in Canberra
and coppers here are quick-
or thick
or sick.

Now the copper’s they pulled out their batons
and rushed up the stairs towards me.
I held out my hand said “You don’t understand
It’s a concert by Carmody”.

The coppers were there by the door
They’d come to hassle the poor
They came from Aidex
They wouldn’t take cheques
They were there to settle the score.

To the Magistrate’s court I was brought
the coppers refused to be bought.
For the bourgeoisie of the ACT
it was certainly food for thought.

The coppers they lied to man
as only a copper can
all their stories were straight
though some had come late.

They lied when they said I resisted
They lied when they said I kicked out
for the bourgeoisie of the ACT
I am another lout.

They’re cutting the service in health
to increase police budgets by stealth
corruption and fraud is by coppers ignored
and welfare we can’t afford.

There are too many cops here in Canberra
cops never go out on their own.
So if you’re poor, or you’re Black
from the wrong side of the track
then don’t walk the streets here alone.

So ignore your betters and then
please listen to me till the end
if you’re down on your uppers
you can’t trust the coppers
cause here they’re all rotters my friend.

(with Peter Hancock)


When death comes calling

I lie in bed with poop in my panties,
the nurses grow tired of changing my scanties.
The sheets are stained with urine long past.
I’m treated as if I’m vermin or worse.

The Right to Life forbids that I die.
They’d imprison my son if he were to try
to let me escape my bodily prison
and go to their wonderful Right to Life heaven.



Out of the fog
the Black crows fly
with their silken feathers
and yellow eye
looking for carrion
as they fly by.


Valentines Day

If you were to follow me home
then I would be leading
and as a totally reconstructed man
this would be unacceptable to me
so don’t.


The guilt industry

Don’t talk to me or guilt or want.
Don’t tell me where I’m in default.
Your country now is mine by right
of English law and oversight.

Blackburn did terra nullius decree
for mines and pastoral industry.

Don’t come here with modern law
or telling what Eddy Mabo saw,
or what Australia’s High Court found.
The past is ours, it’s safe and sound.

Don’t talk of Aboriginal sovereignty
of genocide or tyranny.
We have the power to enforce our will
it’s a pity that guilt lingers still.


In praise of self-righteous talk-back hosts

The air waves drone over me
as waves on the sea.
Like a spec of shit you rise.
From the sewer you came
and shall return.
promote hate.
Don’t understand
or try to learn.
Race, class and creed abused by you
to hide your need to be important.
An opinion former
never a thinker
nor reformer.
Ignorance and spite
your tools of trade
a mouth piece for cops.
never self made.
A fevered mind
and so unkind
to those who can’t fight back.
Curse the poor, the young,
the homeless and the Black.
As you denigrate
their race
you expose
your own disgrace.
Pity and humility
you’ll never know.
You’d need a heart
to do so.


Your friendly policeman

Colin Winchester,
Rodger Rodgerson,
Terry Lewis,
What do you have in common?

It’s not your name.
Who pulled the trigger?
Who took the blame?

Who persecuted David Eastman?
Who planted marijuana?
Who harvested the crops?
Who pressured magistrates?
You’re right – corrupt cops.



Angry people
should look
in mirrors,
it’s the best way
to get their own back.

Thinking people
should look
|in mirrors,
it will give them something
to reflect upon.



Think of me
when the weather’s cold
and you have no one
else to hold.

Think of me when
times are tough
and you find
the going rough.

I’ll think of you,
your lovely smile
and forget distractions
for a while.


The First Gulf War


Gallipoli seems so far behind us now
but it has become some kind of sacred cow.
No one here recalls the old Boer War
or what it was that we were fighting for.

Why we fought and who we tried to please
Nor why we bombed the Germans
and killed the Japanese.

Or what it was that we held so dear
when we marched away to die in South Korea.

We remember the dying and the shame
of napalming Vietnam and spreading orange rain.

The US now wants us to be their foil
and fight Iraqi soldiers for their oil.

Oil Oil Oil
things are on the boil
your hair will start to curl
the ground begin to whirl.

War War War
Bush is getting sore
the wounds are growing raw
What are we fighting for?

Die Die Die
I see your mother cry.
Children asking why
there’s missiles in the sky.


Bomb Bomb Bomb
you must come along
Join us in this song
We’ll make the world a tomb.

Power Power Power
we have reached the hour
the boys are fighting now
the world is growing sour.

Money Money Money
I don’t think it’s funny
they stole Kuwaiti honey
Go and kill them sonny.


Fight Fight Fight
Gotta do what’s right
It mightn’t be too bright
Just keep it out of sight.

Kill Kill Kill
It’ll be a thrill
watching their blood spill
I’m sure it’s God’s will.

Gas Gas Gas
Treat us like an ass
Poison is first class
March to war at last.

Nuke Nuke Nuke
Making Hassein puke
They’ll make you a duke
or was that a dupe.

(with Peter Hancock)




Obrigado, thankyou , grazie
East Timor will be free
the people of this troubled world
will end their tyranny.

Don’t look away
don’t hide your eyes
or turn your faces to the wall
200,000 Timorese have died.

They all answered freedom’s call.
We steal their oil
we compromise
and listen to Indonesian lies
while; Timor dies.

The generals of Jakarta
authorise the murder
Australian politicians
sanitise the slaughter.

We do it in the name of export trade
investment and of foreign aid
supplying guns and hand grenade
lethal weapons, Australian made.

Then strut the stage the whole world wide
pretending that right’s on our side
and human rights our greatest pride,
rape and murder we try to hide.

Indonesian troops in Dili
barracks in Baucau
slaughtering willy nilly
Los Palos to Liquica.

While on the hill a rebel still
a gun held in his hand
asks each of us the question:
When will we understand
you can not hold a people down
freedom is not a passing whim,
that it is not ours to command
it’s theirs- their battle hymn.


Terra Nullius

Terra Nullius
made fools of all of us,
legal fiction and our greed
became our overwhelming creed.

We stole their land
and watched them bleed.
Their rights to land
we would not concede
insisting on proper title
and English deed.



Hugh Morgan believes
in the power of one.
That’s why Mao and I believe
it comes from the barrel of a gun.



I’ll tell you a story,
I’ll tell you a tale
of coppers who kill
and policemen who fail.

They didn’t suspend them
they didn’t need bail
and they’re never likely
to be inside of jail.

Oh he was from Cherbourg
and just having fun
then he swore at some coppers
then tried to run.

The sergeant caught him
and knocked him to the ground.
The police woman came
and kicked in his head.
within one hour
they found he was dead.

Eighteen years old
he wrote and he danced:
but didn’t stand a chance.
The coppers caught him
out on the town
they bashed and they kicked him
when he was knocked down.

Then they gathered him up
his crumpled body
and all
handcuffed him
so he couldn’t break his fall
choked on his vomit,
it caused him to drown.
When you swear at coppers
you shouldn’t stay round.



I bagged an Avon lady
and two Pizza Parlour boys,
They looked rather shady
and I like to play with toys.
I’ve always voted National
because it’s so much fun,
to ensure my safety
I rely upon my gun.



A winters tale
as summers fail
the hard roar of cold winds flail
against bones, old and frail.
Rain, snow, sleet and hail
lash the homeless gaunt and pale.
Their troubled life is not for sale,
beyond the market, beyond the pale.
No respite from their travail
understand, it’s we who fail.


For Olive Brown

Land rights, decent health
and equal sharing of our wealth.
Too much to ask Australia?
Or is it.

It’s 1993
the U.N. Year
of the Indigene.

Rape, killing, theft,
chopping down what’s left.

In our town
an Aboriginal Embassy
talk of reconciliation
but no thought of sovereignty.

Too many friends have gone
but the struggle will go on,
for land rights, decent health
and equal sharing of our wealth.

There is no way to make amends
or say goodbye to absent friends;
Roy Marika in Gove,
Fred Hollows in Sydney,
or Olive here.


The gareth

In recent weeks a new word has been coined.   It’s an Australian word- “gareth”.    Welsh in derivation.    Meaning to sing in false tongues.

The verb- to gareth – meaning to abhor and ignore genocide simultaneously.

Alternatively meaning (in mathematics) to accept as a credible response someone claiming that there are 50 dead people when over a hundred were massacred.

Conjugating the verb- I am garething, you are garething, we are all garething together.

Synonyms: to connive, dissemble.

The noun: a gareth- a diplomatic term meaning someone totally without moral scruples, Machiavellian in the extreme.

In legal use, garething is defending the indefensible.

You might think that a DAG is a scruffy individual- in fact it’s an abbreviation for damn awful gareth.

(with Penny Harrington)

Editor’s Note: Garath Evans was the Foreign Minister of Australia who signed the sea bed treaty with Indonesia which gave Australia a disproportionate share of East Timor’s Oil. 


Timor Peace Mission

The flags of many nations
fly on the Timor Sea
not just for ourselves
or the Timorese
but for all humanity.

For 17 years the people of Timor
have struggled to be free
while the Indonesian army
fought them ruthlessly.

Takes more than ships and helicopters
to stop people wanting to be free
We came to state the need for peace-
to end the tyranny.

There were Canadians and Australians
Italians and Portuguese
on the Lusitania Expresso
to help the Timorese.

There were Brazilians and Americans
Dutch and Japanese,
there were British and Indonesians
German and Guineanese.
We came from many countries
to help the Timorese.

Sebastian Gomes
you lie dead
but not forgotten
in a Dili cemetery.

The Santa Cruz slaughter
will be a lasting memory
of all that’s wrong in Indonesia
and of all that there could be.
Lost lives and shattered minds
– a lost opportunity.

We came to lay a wreath
at Santa Cruz cemetery
to bear moral witness
against Indonesian tyranny.

To act for peace and justice
and for Timor’s liberty,
war ships came to stop us
on the Timor Sea.

The flags of many nations
fly on the Timor Sea
a test for Indonesia
and of its democracy.

The flags of many nations
fly in the face of fear
we hope to end injustice
inhumanity and war.

We’re students, workers
comrades all,
we fly the flag of peace
across the flag of war.

Turned back by warships,
we run like victors
with our tails between our legs,
we wonder why we’re going home
with a half victory in our hands.

We are elated
and depressed
but we are here
it is a frightening moment
with the Indonesians still so near.

Yes we fly the flags of many nations
so the Indonesians can’t ignore
the call for peace and justice
with their ships of war.

120 people
shot at Santa Cruz
were not buried there-
there was too much to lose.

So they took them all from Dili
to be buried in a pit.
They took them all from Dili
and hoped that that was it.

But the world is
watching Indonesia
and won’t  let you forget.
We point the finger Indonesia
at your murder’s regret.

Unless you leave East Timor
there will be no end.
Until you leave East Timor
we can not be your friend.


Editor’s note: Written on the Lusitania Expresso following the International Peace Mission being turned around by Indonesian war ships helicopters and jet planes March 1992.Printed in Green Left Weekly and Vanguard. An account of the voyage can be found in social struggle in Timor section.




I left my heart in Darwin.
Yer, I left my heart in Darwin.
I left my heart in Darwin, when I left.
I thought my heart was gone when
I left my heart in Darwin
When, I left my heart in Darwin
When I left.

It’s the sun sets at East Point
and the barbies on the beach.
The yachts that swing at anchor in the Bay.
It’s the driving monsoon rain
and every battler’s pain.
Airfares home, always out of reach.


It’s the losing two horse race
when you were off your face
betting on a colt, when you should have bet the grey.
Then in the next race
betting on the mare
she trundled home some time late next day.

It’s politics and land rights,
country roads and bouncing cheques
keeping uranium buried in the ground.
Well we had a night with Tracy,
it was rather racey,
I was drunk and didn’t make a sound.

It’s the flocks of Magpie Geese
and the tourists that we fleece;
Whistler Ducks, goannas, crocodile.
Catching Barra from the shore
just near the Border Store
is sure to make the bloody tourists smile.


It’s the red and orange sky
all the friends who said goodbye
while walking on the beach at Fannie Bay.
For every mate who said “Hooray”
someone else said “Gi’day”
when you walked along the beach at Fannie Bay.


When will we understand,
just who owns this land
from Alice Springs all the way to Fannie Bay.
My friends who owned this land
before the white man came
own Kakadu and Uluru and now can have their say.


There’s no beg your pardon.
You’re going to leave your heart in Darwin.
You’re going to leave your heart in Darwin, when you go.
Oh, there’s no beg your pardon.
You’re going to leave your heart in Darwin.
You’re going to leave your heart in Darwin, when you go.

(with Peter Hancock)



My friends
I needed you
and used you
just to stay afloat.

I hope I did not take from you
any love you could not spare.

I can swim on my own now
if you ever need me I am here.


A job at last or the last job

I’ve got a job
I’ll shut my gob
I’m pleased with it as well
the land lords getting restless
I’d nothing else to sell
I’d sold me bum
and an old tin drum
the wife had left
of friends bereft
feeling a might hard up
when the bloke from the CES turned up
and in his hand a plastic cup
said there was a job just made for me
said it wouldn’t be a picnic
it’s blood tasting at an AIDS clinic.


The condom heaven sent to be a moment’s ornament

A little piece of rubber
that thin strand
on which the world
depends to postpone
the inevitable.


polynesian pony
jet black
extra thick…

Perhaps one day
the profusion of hues
the manufacturers
provide, will
launch a million
rainbow warriors
and bring us all
a green peace.


National’s  Aids

It is a pity that
AIDS is no longer
(if it ever was)
a gender specific

Because if it was
restricted to the gay male set
then condom
machines would
be compulsorily
outside every
National Party
office in the state
as their members are the
biggest bunch of
poofters you’ll
ever meet.


On the  banning  of  condom  vending  machines  in Queensland

What damage can a condom cause
to the Queensland psyche?
What do we have to lose
please tell me that, Bjelke?

AIDS is no respecter of class or creed
“No sex” –  no answer now.


Bjelke’s  allergy  caught  in  a  country  churchyard

If one person dies unnecessarily
aren’t we all to blame?
Those of us who stood by
silent – afraid to speak,
those with stones in their hands
awaiting adulterer’s commission
of their personal sin.

Perhaps it is leaders
who through ignorance
or self-righteous pride
should share a greater shame
because they choose to hide
from moral questions
whose complexity escapes them
preferring just to blame
the victim.


Christ  said  to  Born  Again  Christians
“Do nothing till I return”

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”
the poster screamed,
“Sin and be saved”
the prophet cried.

I was brought up in the ‘sixties
with flower power
love now
pay later
get married
have kids, then
hate her.

“Love thy neighbour”
but not too often
nor too well
and don’t get caught
but if you do
then turn the other cheek.

Do not covet
thy neighbour’s arse
or you’ll finish up
in the local hearse.




Editor’s note: These poems dealing with Aids were all written one morning at my mother’s house in Caloundra in Queensland, where I was holidaying, after hearing on the ABC News that the Premier Bjelke Peterson had banned condom vending machines being installed in Queensland they were published in ACTCOSS News shortly afterwards.


The  killing  culture

Nine men on a scaffold stand
not to build a better world
but to die.

What was their crime?
Being members of
the PKI?

Leaders who were not slain
in 1965
when your armed forces
slaughtered half a million progressive people.
Why did they have to die in 1986?
Was it that for 21 years
these men reminded you of the blood you shed
so long ago?

Nine men on a scaffold stand
but as Lady Macbeth found out
you can’t wash blood
off a murderer’s hand.


Reality in  one  person’s  lifetime

A young man looks out on crowded city lights
in his arms a woman finds tenderness
and shares his hopes.

Together they dream of a world
they’ll like to live in –
one they want to help to build.

Police force their way into a Seoul Uni
spilling students from the buildings.
They’d committed the treason
of demanding the unification
of their country – a homeland
the free world has fought to divide.

Jewish pilots bomb Arab villages
in the name of Zionist freedom.
Indonesian soldiers shoot Timorese villagers
because they might be Fretlin supporters.

Reagan denounces the Russian offer
to abolish all nuclear weapons.
This is sanity?
Perhaps not,
but it is reality.

An old man sits thinking of his past loves
recalling excitements he’s never known
and watches a young girl
walk up the path towards him.
Her breasts move, her arms swing;
he sees the smile in her eyes.
She will share that smile
but not with him.


Apartheid: the system, the idea and the people


  I’m saving my cents
to buy you a necklace.
I’m saving my dollars
to buy up some fuel.
I’ve been to the dump
and have found an old tyre
to stick round your neck,
you silly old fool.

Oh we tried to tell you
your ideas were all wrong,
your statements annoy us
the army tries to destroy us
you think we are weak
but you’ll see we are strong.

Your business exploits us
and tear gas anoints us
but instead of fear
we just feel revulsion.
Your ideas are outmoded
a thing of the past
your power and your glory
we know cannot last.


The whole world is watching
the whole world is waiting
we’ve buried enough
of the youth of our land.

Now all we are saying is
you’ve created the hating
we’ve buried enough
we’ll now take a stand.
The anger of millions
will find retribution
in the streets of Natal
in Durban and Capetown
and you’ll die in your thousands all over Transvaal.


You’ve used laws
the courts and the police
to prop up white racism.
We don’t ask you for justice
we’re no longer mice
we’re the lions
and lionesses
Apartheid has made us.

We no longer walk
into traps in search
of your cheese.
We’ll maim and
we’ll bomb
till you are down on your knees
then we will show you
the power of the anger
Apartheid has nourished
and which has
become stronger
with each person
you kill and
with each child
you imprison.


We’ve grown tired
of hurt and pain
as you struggle
to contain
our hopes, our joy
and anger.
You no longer
constrain us
as you struggle
to deflect us
from the freedom
that is ours.

Hatred and fear
will shine in your eye
we’ll crush you quickly
and watch
you slowly die.


Memo to:  P.W. Botha and his Cabinet
From:      An Australian Poet
Topic:     The Apartheid system in South Africa

I’d like to destroy you,
I want to smash you.

You need to disappear
to rewrite your history
to retell your lies
and make amends.

Give Nelson Mandela
back the thirty years
he’s been in jail.
Stop pushing Africans
out of the seventh floor window
of the Johannesburg police station.

Clean the blood from the streets
of Sharpeville and Soweto.
Bring back to life
the thousands, your
security forces have killed.

Share equally
the wealth of your land
with all who live there.

If you do this,
and if our African comrades
forgive you
the world will try
to forget your crimes,
and I will try to be
your friend.



I couldn’t sleep
thoughts kept rushing through my head
not stopping long enough to mean anything:
but not brief enough
to be meaningless.

A Korean mother
who worked long hours
to keep her son at uni
sits watching him on TV
as he hurls abuse
and molotov cocktails
at the riot police
her taxes go to pay.

A Sudanese child lies
dying in her mother’s arms
as she clutches it
to her empty breasts.

A smouldering plane
scattered over the South African landscape
contains the dismembered bodies
of Machel and the others
within its twisted form.

A refugee camp in Lebanon explodes
as the American supplied jets
with their Zionist inspired pilots
disappear over the horizon.

Such trivial thoughts
why should I
let them disturb
my sleep.


Written on the occasion, of the invasion of Lebanon by Israel

Jewish settler: Refugee
What has your hatred
done to me?

You took my country Jew,|
You herded me into camps.

We fought you then as men
We knew we’d have to fight

You flooded out of Europe
pursued by Nazis.
You left six million
comrades dead.

We waste in camps like Gaza,
We train in camps like Huma.

You rule my country in the
name of Zionism,
You control my brothers with
your guns.

We carry out terrorist
We are criminal mad

You have purification and
retaliation programs.
You maintain the necessary
preparedness to raze
our homes.

You and I kill civilians in
an unending war
Five Jewish eyes lost here
Five Arab lives lost there.
What you have become, is
What you tried to escape from,
Zionism is the Nazism of the
Middle East.


For Derik and Sri Lanka

Put your trust in coco-cola
and worship the yankee dollar
and watch in horror, slowly
as they crucify the lowly;
and see in the peace exploding
napalm for the lifeless.
Keep your bullets for the hopeless.



In our weakness lies our strength

 A poet cannot throw a bomb
or fire a gun
at the racist fascism
he would destroy.

But with metaphor or simile,
alliteration and hyperbole,
or with a pun,
I give my word he hopes to prove
“the pen is mightier
than the sword.”


An assassin’s finger rests on the J key

Change might not come
or quickly enough;
and isn’t a poet
a man also?
A poetess
a woman?

Might not the day arrive
when they will put away
their books of verse
and make a bomb?


A Left-handed pedant’s response

Left-handed assassins though
of either gender find F the resting place
for their trigger finger.

J jars and jousts
it’s jabbing and jealous
and jaundiced, judging and jumpy.

F can be furious and filibustering
even fascist and forceful
yet fecund, fruitful and feminine.
F is for felicity, festivals and fetes
for faithfulness, folly, friendship
and for, far pleasanter pastimes.

Penny Harrington




I made sure that Harold drowned
and keep Menzies in the ground.

When it was the turn of Gough
I replaced him with a toff
and for the moment I’ll let Malcolm strut around……….
strut around.

I have no name you see
a number’s good enough for me
and for all those in the know
I work for ASIO
and spend my life in the cause of democracy……….

There are so many spies
that you can’t believe your eyes.
We have bases to protect
and terrorists to detect.
We don’t like to see Australians criticise……..

Fellow travellers conceal
that the Russian threat is real
but we know about the reds
for we find them hiding under beds
and know it’s our secrets they’d reveal………
they’d reveal.

But everything’s okay
while we’re friends with the USA
as long as the West can stay on top
we’ll give those coms the chop
we’ll gun them down with our latest laser ray……..
laser ray.

In a hotel called the Hilton
we really put a stunt on
and we blamed Ananda Marga
for that awful bloody saga
but that is what security is built on………
is built on.

It’s freedom we extol
and knowledge we control
we don’t trust those dirty coms
or even striking poms
the only unionist we like is a Pole…….
is a Pole.

The whole world’s going nuclear
and I sometimes feel peculiar
but there’s no need to worry
we can always say we’re sorry
if firing of the missile’s premature……….
is premature.

Due to the like of me
you can thank the Lord you’re free
so dig your own bomb shelter
for we’ll protect the smelter
and anything that’s owned by BHP……
by BHP.

If you’re sleeping with a red
then kick him out of bed
cause you’ll both wish you were dead
if we find you……
if we find you.

Yes, I made sure Harold drowned
and keep Menzies in the ground.
When it was the turn of Gough
I replaced him with a toff
and for the moment I’ll let Malcolm strut around……
strut around.



Light on the Hill

In the land of visually impaired
the one eyed monarch is prepared
to say the unemployed are lacking skill
and it’s their fault there’s no job still.
So they must train if they are to regain
their self esteem
and a chance to dream
of a full-time job and decent pay.
Sorry, but there’s no other way.
Or could it be if we had the will
we could light the fire on yonder hill?





I once loved a country
where they said all were free.
They’d fought five wars
to prove just that.
They spoke of peace and brotherhood
of freedom and democracy.

But I saw a black man starving.
His kids lay on the ground,
and watched a copper punch him
while white people stood around.

And I saw a widow struggling.
Three kids and out of dough-
I was told she’d spent her pension
and there was nothing they could do.

But I saw the workers waiting
and felt fear in their eyes:
the boss had just laid them off-
I heard children’s hungry cries.

And I saw a prisoner standing
in a jail with walls so high;
his crime had been to shout abuse
at a politician passing by.

Then I saw the squatter laughing,
superphosphate all he wanted.
He’d tried to feed his sheep on it
but they were quite affronted.

I saw uranium mining,
watched the mutants crawling round,
and saw a mining magnate
punch a worker to the ground.

As I stood there watching
I saw a union man so fine.
He said, “If we pick the grape,
then we’ll drink the wine.”

I saw the army coming,
they’d come to help the police
smash any opposition
and they treated men like lice.

So I no longer love that system
since I’ve come to realise
they fought five wars
not to make us free
but to cover-up their lies.



If the wall moves, shoot it


Ronnie’s got his eyes upon the wall
he’s going to be the one to save us all
Yes his fingers on the button
and his eyes are on the wall
he’s going to be the one to save us all.

In this great land of ours
we’re friends with nuclear powers
our allies are so brave and true
and promise us a world anew
MX missiles they will send
to help the war come to an end
…..  quickly


 B42s to us they’ll lend
just because they are our friend
we’ll fight alongside Yanks and Tommies
dropping A bombs on the commies
spreading radiation all the while
spreading radiation with a smile.

Oh we’ll stamp out those dirty reds
whilst they’re hiding under beds.


 Our nuclear subs will come and go
firing missiles to and fro
all those reds will have to go
we’ll get the lot with our first blow.
Peace protesters can take a hike
we’ll get the lot with our first strike
’cause peaceniks are a load of bores
they don’t believe in starwars
they say that it’s not very nice
but we’ll show them a lasting peace
… for all eternity.


 That’s why we need the bases here
to save our profits and our beer
from commies who would want to share
the very things which we hold dear.
Nuclear stockpiles don’t worry us
there’s no cause to moan and fuss
We’ll get as many of them
as they get of us
and the beauty is that there’s no rush.
… We’ve got a whole lifetime
… behind us.

Editor’s note: Ronnie is Ronald Regan President of Amerika.



In the tradition of Pig Iron Bob

After four years of crushing workers’ dreams
and ignoring the workless
or making excuses whilst they bulldoze Daintree
exporting uranium
and giving tax cuts to the rich
Labor says it’s going now
to build a rainbow coalition.

Don’t look up Bob Hawke –
all you will get
is a golden shower.





I’ve got the Jabuluka blues
nothing to gain
but every damn thing to lose.
I used to worry about uranium
until Pan Con bought me off.
I’m trying to sell uranium
but everyone’s got enough.

I got the Jabuluka blues,
while driving my Toyota
down to the South Alligator
running over kangaroos.
Just hit a wallaby,
bush turkeys atrophy
lying there behind me
in the dust and the dirt,
lying there and dying
in the dust and the dirt.

What about the workers
who work in the mine
some I’m told are doing fine:
they’ve got uranium
some in the right lung,
and some in the left lung,
and I’ve got a brain that’s been stung.

I went to the museum to see
the famous barramundi.
They’ve got one in a glass cage
it’s as dead as dead can be
he’s the last one they caught
on the South Alligator plain.

They’ve even got the bones
of an Aborigine –
the last one to live
at Oenpelli.

“All god’s children going to die, die, die.
All god’s children going to die.”
That was the lesson they read in the church,
the day we started mining.
All god’s children going to die.
That was the day we left them in the lurch,
All god’s children going to die.
And it seems to me, that it seems to be
The way it happened at Oenpelli.

They’ve got the Jabuluka blues
They’ve nothing left to lose,
We did not want to see them die.
Yea, we’re real S O R R Y.
But there’s no land rights to worry about,
All the world can sing and shout
We’ve got an army to toss those stirrers out.

We’ve got the Jabuluka blues,
got plenty of uranium
that’s the nuclear news
we’re looking for a sale
we’re looking for a pal.
All I know is we’ve got to sell.

If we leave it to Doug Anthony
he’ll sell it to the enemy
he says, that then, they’ll be our chum,
once they’ve got our uranium.



Forgive them – They know what they do.

Sometimes the world seems a strange place to live in
too much hate and so little forgiving.
There’s too much hurting
and too little loving
so let’s turn the world on its face.

They say we need armies to defend us,
like the hangmen need rope to suspend us.
They say that the army will turn away war.
But armies cost money which could feed the poor.
Some ask for justice, some ask for reprieve –
if “we could live simply, some might simply live”.

All night I worry about acid rain
and the damage it does as it leaches the plain.
Pollution or hunger: what a terrible choice.

Too few rich and too many poor
this is a strange place to live in.
Too much hunger and a surplus of war
I hope I’ll find love and forgiving.



An Open Poem: to Paul Everingham

You lied and you cheated
and you won the election
for justice and truth
there was crucifixion.

You fooled enough people
enough of the time
with your well paid ad men
and jingles and rhyme.

But your hatred of Blacks
and neglect of the poor
means you might win the battle
but you can’t win the war
because racist fascism
cannot explain
why it’s the worker who loses
again and again.

Editor’s note: Paul Everingham was Chief Minister in the Country Liberal government in the norther Territory.


Life in retrospect

Being there and doing that
growing old and getting fat|
you’re really just a smart arse after all
turn on the radio and listen to the ABC
keeping abreast of the current events
to refresh your memory
of what it was like to think.



On watching the story of Hiroshima

Science is a one way street
down which man blindly wanders
looking for an answer
that no prophet has written.

In the end he finds himself
searching the faces
of disillusioned people
coming the other way.




When I was born the stork found me on the right side of the track
a silver spoon stuck in me gob
and there was no chance of turning back.

Went to a good school
and was guaranteed a job
but forty years on
and forty years gone
Yes forty years on
afar and asunder
many a footpath
been splattered with chunda
I spew my disillusion
on the homeland of the free.



The Accident

A few drinks with friends at the airport
A few jokes to speed them on their way
The Jet Set – set jet go.

A new moon, street light and fast car
Suddenly a figure lunges on to the crossing
A whirling, swirling, agonising crunch.

Telephone!  Ambulance!  Police!
Where the hell is there a telephone on Bagot?
The helpless waiting.

Then siren screaming, red light flashing,
I point to the man lying under the car
“Black man – they’ll help.”

We roll the car back and the bleeding spreads
The ambulance driver doesn’t want to touch him
As prejudiced as the Jet Set?

The nurse bends down and bandages him
The ambulance driver talks to the Police who’ve just arrived
I stare at the blue bright flashing light.



Hydro mania

I haven’t forgotten Lake Pedder
where they drowned a beautiful sight
and the deals they did at Nabarlek
signed in the dead of night.

They said they needed Alumina
at Weipa and Mapoon
dismantled mission stations,
they now want Aurukun.

The logs they hewed at Terrania Creek
the rain forests they had to fell
for thirty pieces of silver
I hope they spend them in hell.

Now we must flood the Franklin
the last wild river destroy
to power the multinationals
and hydro workers employ.

Well, what about the Gordon Splits
the stands of Huon Pine?
And what about the wilderness?
Don’t tell me it’s doing fine.

Tassie elected the Liberals
to put the high dam in
but Australian people shout
Damn Liberals not the Franklin.


Things could be right in the future
if we do something now
it’s safe to turn a blind eye
We’ve done well up to now.  (Chorus written with Ric and Ken)



Bob Hawke’s Welfare State

There is a bludger in the town, in the town
But I’m sure we’ll track him down.
We’ll hang his balls on a weeping willow tree
and may the world go well for me.

Fare thee well, I must deceive thee
Do not let reductions grieve thee,
A poor man and his money soon must part, must part.
I’ll hang your balls on a weeping willow tree
and may the world go well for me.

My due, my due, kind fools, my due, my due, my due,
I shall extract from you and you and you.



Live for the revolution

If a thing’s worthwhile
It’s worth working for
If it’s not worthwhile
Then it’s not worth doing time for.




Martin Luther King said
“I have a dream.
I have been to the top of the mountain
I have seen the glory of the Lord
I don’t want longevity”
and James Earl Rae
blew him away.



Home of the Brave Land of the Free

(Sorry, for a moment I thought I was in Queensland.)


Awareness is a trip for the self satisfied masochist.



In Memory of Joe Hill

I dreamt I’d dreamt a dream last night
A dream of a world anew
And I could have thought
It might have been
A dream that could come true.

That workers all throughout the world
Would earn a fair day’s pay,
The bosses class would join them then
And slowly fade away.

I dreamt I’d dreamt a dream last night
A dream of a world anew
And I could have thought
It might have been
A dream that could come true.

But I awoke to the man on the gate,
The whistle blowing loud,
And the tramp of the feet of the men in the street,
And faces in the crowd.

The factory gates swung open,
The workers rushed on through
But the boss man told the workers,
“There is no work for you.”

I stood and looked around me,
I searched throughout the land,
A million workers unemployed,
And never a helping hand.

I dreamt I’d dreamt a dream last night
A dream of a world anew
And I could have thought
It might have been
A dream that could come true.

There is a job along from here
You might like to try your luck,
It’s working on a tailings dam,
You just have to drive a truck,
The pay is good,
The danger’s low,
And cancer’s never spoken of.

I dreamt I’d dreamt a dream last night
A dream of a world anew
And I could have thought
It might have been
A dream that could come true.
That workers all throughout the world,
would earn a fair day’s pay,
The bosses class would join them then,
And slowly fade away.



The Flag

It waved above that swirling mass
A commie flag for sure.
It bore a cross, a strange cross,
A cross I’d seen before.

Seven white stars upon its face
Shone in the failing light,
Those seven stars I’d know again,
A commie flag alright.

The blue of the flag swirled high above
As that army stood like stone
A communist conspiracy it was I know
And there I was alone.

There was some red around that cross
(That’s communist you can tell).
I asked a cop who these men were,
He said “The  R.S.L.”.

(with  Ian Hills)





If they’re mining Kakadu
Then they’re surely killing you
Cause they’re killing all the things
You care about.

We will see the wild ducks fly
Across a lemon coloured sky,
When everything goes wrong in Kakadu.
Oh we’ll see the mushroom cloud
And they’ll wrap us in a shroud
When everything goes wrong in Kakadu.

I love those still lagoons
and the honking of the geese,
The sea eagle that we saw
Just near the Border Store.
Catching Barra from the shore
But I know they’ll be no more
When everything goes wrong in Kakadu.

Bush turkeys by the road
And Agile Wallabies,
Bring back memories
Of native cats and possums,
Of buffalo just grazing
Of weekends we spent lazing,
Beside those still lagoons.
Water lilies flowering
Paper bark trees towering,
Reflected on the water
Of those still lagoons.

Aboriginal stockmen standing
Or sitting there and watching,
With the patience of the centuries
Reflected in their faces.
And I see their culture crumbling
And watch their children dying,
Women wailing and men crying.
When everything goes wrong in Kakadu.

They’re mining the escarpment
Breaking treaties writ on parchment,
Building tailing dams on flood plains
Bulldozing sacred places,
Ripping up our heritage
Say they’re paying royalties
Telling us we need not worry
That there’s no need for questions,
Sticking to agreements,
Caring for the country.
Earning export incentive bounties
Making fortunes for the few,
Creating work there for the many
And paying danger money.
When will they realise
That we know they’re telling lies,
And that everything is wrong at Kakadu.



 The Third Runway


Singing, toora, lioora, li-addity
Singing, toora, lioora, li-ay,
they want a third runway in Sydney,
they’re going to stick it in Botany Bay.

Well, the city was built by the convicts,
the riff raff that old England had,
So to Bob Hawke the idea’s a good one,
But the residents thought it was bad.

It’s polluted and congested in Sydney,
and it’s worse at Botany Bay,
at Badgerys Creek build an airport,
some said it’s too far away.

Peter Abels reached into our pockets,
saying let’s have a Very Fast Train,
I’ve been ripping off the people of Australia,
and I’d like to do it again.

The tourists who travel to Sydney town,
I really believe are brain dead,
if Badgerys Creek had a station,
we could take them to Melbourne instead.

Well the squatters who fly into Sydney,
once rode upon the sheep’s back,
but now we’ve got a wool mountain,
and something is going to crack.

Yes, we’re building a clever country,
probably too smart by half,
lots of our people can’t find a job,
tell me who will have the last laugh?

Nick Greiner is smiling in Sydney,
his house is not on the flight path,
build a third runway in Wahroonga,
then we’ll know who had the last laugh.

(with Penny Harrington to the tune of Botany Bay)



 Each to their own

The first time I saw you
I tried to ignore you
you were walking on my loneliness.
I could not forget you
you had your regrets too
and deep in your eyes you’d been hurt.

You were young,
you were pretty
and your political naivety
bewildered, confused and somehow amazed me.
No dogma, no ideology
just a wish for escapism
and yet you refused to let go.

You’d been there and done it
you’d played and you’d won it.
There is more to life
though you still don’t know what.
A home and a car
a man and two kids
a professional existence
alone and discreet.
I hope that you find it
and happiness too.




 “Life is simply a word game
played by people who can’t spell”.



To my favourite nun

And then I’ll leave you again
with the guilt and with the pain,
you’ll know I took you
because I wanted to screw the church.



You held my hand and walked in love that’s what memories are made of.

For days I’d thought of the love
we’d found so long before
when we’d driven through the night
to run on a moonlit shore:
of those few nights that I held you
and the love we came to share,
and the chasm which came between us
of the longing and despair
as I tried to come to terms with life
and learn again to love my wife
to ease her pain in fond embrace
and slowly, slowly to replace
the love which you had lent me.

When I met you again
you held up your children
and your new husband
as Catholics hold out a cross
to banish to a wasteland
evil and temptation.

But in the end
you did not want
to drive a stake
into my heart.




Love is impossible to consummate
when it exists between
exploding stars
travelling to a void.



On  Leaving

Blow me a kiss
that I can take with me.
Build me a dream
that I can be part of.

Sing me a song
that I can sing with you
and hold me close
when we are together.



Blue-grey Eyes.

You’ve been honest
you’ve been true
and in the times
that we’ve been through
you’ve often been
the only friend
I knew.



The  Queen  of  Hearts

I can see you played and lost
but I’d like to drink a toast
to a woman who paid the cost
of hanging round with you.

You told her you could not lie
and would love her till you die
wanting only to hear her sigh
as she hung around with you.

Telling her she looked so nice
as you threw your loaded dice
smiling as she paid the price
of hanging around with you.

With your kisses and your charm
you took her gently by the arm
assuring her it would do no harm
to hang around with you.

From off the bottom of the pack
the red queen got aces black
as soon as she turned her back
but now she’s seen through you.

So the day has come my friend
when the roses that you send
can no longer make amends
for the falseness in you.

Now at last she’s free to go
“to where the merry breezes blow”
yet you claim to love her so
I hope she finds a love that’s true.



For  Jan: A  short  history

In a moment of despair
I looked up and you were there
a smile
a trust
a loving care
a friendship offered to repair
the things that I had lost.

In a time of wilful lust
a sly rebuke
and offered trust
a stolen time
a second glance
a sharing that was left to chance
and you were gone.

Then back again with impish smile
you had walked the golden mile
and gone half way around the world
only to come back again.

This time I’m going far away
for a short while
or to stay
only the gods can say
a Gipsy has no home.



Man of Straw

A straw man with clay feet
giving swimming lessons to a woman
in three feet of water
soon she’ll tire of this
and walk ashore.

For days I’d wanted to hold you
to feel you body next to mine.
We sat and talked.
I tried to learn who you are.
Sometimes I could not look at you
I did not know what I wanted to say.

I reached out from time to time
with my uncertainty
and touched your confusion
then like a fumbling fourteen-year-old
I kissed you.

As I held you and smelt you
and rubbed my lips along your shoulders
the thought that I was going
seemed so far away.
Thank you for your realism
your reserve
and for your kindness.



I never offered kindness,
I shared only my pain, not compensating pleasure,
reserve my own protection, never my gift.

 Your story is strangely told, the mise en scene unreal.
But momentary man of straw, perhaps when
time and pain is past, the healing lie remains.     

 J G



“Fare thee well”

Beige rocks
protected us
as we sat on the sand
fondling each other’s hearts
and coming to know each other’s bodies.

A cold wind washed waves
against the rocks
as I found warmth in your closeness.
But when I wasn’t looking
the rocks stole some of my spirit.

Any time you need me
they’ll lend it to you
for a little while.



Good-bye My Friend.

Two days
and half a world away
the Nullarbor
stretches out beyond us.
What’s past is yours to write
and what’s ahead unknown.



A  Question

Why is it that men are always more conscious of the friendships they are making than of those that they have made?

Why is it that the woman they’ve just met is more attractive than the one they sleep with?

How is it that they ignore the woman who loves them, will stay with them, will cook for them and will try to make them love her?

How is it that the flashing skirt and adolescent face can make them leave the very thing they hold most dear?

Why do they spend so much time creating a home, a warmth, a companionship, only to smash it for an illusion?

Why do they do it when they know it is an illusion, a fantasy – unreachable?

They should know if it were possible with her then they would have attained it with their wife.



Stolen Love

Sydney storm clouds rolling in
Rain and sleet and cold.
I lie here in the arms of one
I feared I’d never hold, again.

I know the love young lovers feel
I know the sense of the unreal,
of pride of seeing flashing eyes reveal-
a love which we cannot conceal.



Missing you

Reality just stares at me
when my eyes are open.
I wish that I lay in your arms
hearing words so quietly spoken,
I would tell you of my love
if you promised not to waken.
Lying close together there
until the dawn is breaking
I’d give to you a loving kiss
I’d give it as a token
and hope you’d say “I love you”
in words so quietly spoken.

All the places I’ve been
All the faces I’ve seen
Yours is the one I’ll remember
Those beautiful brown eyes
That impish smile
Your long black hair
Your loving care
the warmth of your body.

I’m wandering down the path of my confusion
At times I don’t know what I mean to do
It’s hard to separate love from illusion
but I know I want to spend more time with you.

In your brown eyes
I see a vision free
and hope sometimes
you’ll look at me



The last poem

There was a time, when
if I offered you a poem,
you would smile.

There was a time, when
if I offered you a song,
you would laugh.

But then,
I offered you my life
and you turned away.



A poem written in a lonely hotel room in Adelaide

Manipulation is the name of the game.
It has no beginning
and it has not end.
We play it with lovers
we play it with friends.

I was handy
I was randy
I was near.
I was lonely
and missing what was dear.

I was ugly
I was fronting,
it was clear.

No-one even cared except you:
but you couldn’t tell me,
not without the help of your friend.

So we went to your room
a flagon filled room.
We sat and we watched and we waited.

In the place of tenderness
we used a talking head.
you sat beside me watching your friend did the questioning.

I did not know the game
but you played it just the same.

Then we put our glasses down
and you took me in your arms
I saw you as I think you really are
a loving
and caring
and a giving human being.

But I did not know what you were wanting.
Your friend and you confused me
and she slyly abused me,
but I wanted you to use me
manipulation is the name of the game.



Why  Me?

Tell me now just what it is
that I remind you of.
Tell me now just what it is
that makes you talk of love.

Tell me now just what it is
that you are dreaming of.
Tell me now just what it is
that makes you fall in love.



Bye, bye Old Age Pension – Bye, bye.

Two old polies drinking whisky and dry,
Had an idea to make Australia cry.Singing,
“That will be the day that you die,”
Singing “That will be the day that you die.”

Bye, bye Old Age Pension
Bye, bye.

Took my super in a levy
But the levy was dry:
Promised a pay-out on the day that I die.
Singing “That will be the day that you die.”
Singing “That will be the day that you die.”




They gave me food, they taught me.
They cared for me, they clothed me.
But now I’m going to leave it all behind
and all I’ll recall is the hospital wall;
the wall that was looking back at me.

I’m leaving the home, going out on my own
to the place where I want to be.
Yes, I’m leaving the home, and I’ll be on my own
in the place where I’m going to stay.

I’ll get some things right and I’ll get some things wrong
but I’ll do it all in my kind of way.
Yes I’ll get some things right and I’ll get some things wrong
but I’ll learn and each day I’ll grow strong.

(with Peter Hancock and Penny Harrington)


Paxton poem

“We didn’t know said the burger meister
about the camp outside of town,
it was Hitler and his crew
which tore the German nation down.
We didn’t know at all.
We didn’t see a thing.
Oh what a terrible shame
but you can’t hold us to blame,
we didn’t know.

Sure the cattle cars rattled through
and maybe they carried a Jew or two
but we didn’t know.”

(written by Tom Paxton)

We didn’t know about the unemployed
or about the poor around our town
it was Hawke and his crew
which tore the Aussie nation down.
We didn’t know at all.
We didn’t see a thing.
Oh what a terrible shame
but you can’t hold us to blame.

Sure New Start rattled through
maybe it killed a kid or two,
but we didn’t know.
Oh what a terrible shame
but you can’t hold us to blame.
We didn’t know,
oh no not us,
we didn’t know.



The  Ambulance  Station

Pale yellow light
that streaks through the darkness
you dim the glow
of the lady with the lamp
as she tears out hearts
in our throw away world.

I am hidden by shadows
as I walk in silence
and stand so close
to the woman I would hold.

But your pale light
illuminates my uncertainty
and so I turn away.




Memories are dreams of things I once wanted.
I can’t forget the good times that we had
the laughter and the happiness we shared.



Time out

There’ll be no running home at midnight
There’ll be no going home to your man
You’re going to stay here and love me
and I’ll love you the best that I can.

It’s nice just sitting beside you
pretending to be an old friend
but I want to kiss you and hold you
and pretend that the night has no end.

There’ll be no going home in the morning.
No running home to my wife.
I’m going to stay here and love you
Will you love me the rest of your life?



Good  times

I’ll love you in the morning
and at the setting sun
when the blackness of the trees
means that the day is done.

When the light has disappeared
and stars shine in the skies

I love the blackness of your hair
and the flashing in your eyes.

In the early morning
lying beside you, then
I’ll hold your ample body
And I’ll love you yet again.

When the sun is rising high
in the full glare of the day
I’ll kiss again your ruby lips
and feel your body sway.

In the early afternoon
I’ll lie there by your side
and hold your smooth and gentle hands
which fill my heart with pride.



Young   again

I sit staring at a wall
feeling the loneliness of missing you
but I’m not sad
because I’ve known
the happiness of kissing you.

You’ve made me young again
helped me see a different world
let me share the joy of loving you.

When I left tonight
you stroked my hair
reminding me of the fun of holding you
constrained by fear of hurting
others that we love
yet longing for the freedom I find caressing you.



Divided   loyalties

When I look into your eyes
I see the loving
when you hold me in your arms
I feel the warming.

Ideas and social struggle
are our sharing.

The times we spend together
they are special,
and in the depths
of your brown eyes
I see the caring.

But my love for you
and my yearning
are mixed with thoughts
of where I’m from
and where I’ll be returning.

Sometimes I feel the despair
of our loving
those thoughts are mixed
with the joy of our sharing.



14th of February

As you lie there white skin on black sheets
I notice a tear in the corner of your eye.
Only moments before you rocked on top me,
stretched in fulfilment.
Your red nipples glistening
I stroked your blackness
and felt your body grab me
as you called my name.
You lay there facing me
as I surged into you, draining my passion.
Why then the tear?
Why were you crying?
You told me it was a fear that I could stop loving you.
My fear is that you’ll stop loving me.
I’ve told you that before
So let us forget our fears
I will love you
as you will me.
Come be my Valentine.




When I look across a room and see your brown eyes glistening
I feel loved.
When you hold my hand or run your fingers down my arm or chest
I feel loved.
When your red lips caress my cheek or my fingers
I feel loved.
When you run your tongue along my body or my lips
I feel loved.
When you lie beside me in the half light of time out land
I feel loved.
Lingering over a glass of port when I should go home
I am thinking of that first night we spent together
and of times in Sydney when we lay in Alan’s room
sipping port
and making love.
I wish you were in my arms now.



Random Thoughts on Canning Bridge

I love you,
yes, I love you.
How I love you.
I love you in a hundred different ways.
I love you for the hope you bring tomorrow
and for the joy of all our yesterdays.

You take away the loneliness.
You overfill the emptiness.
You give to me your gentleness.
You share with me a tenderness.

You make me long for your caress.
You make me feel a man again.
You make me feel so proud and then,
and then we’ve got to go.

Fancy woman – sometimes man
stealing loving when we can
wanting truth and openness
grabbing fleeting happiness.

In your brown eyes
I see the beauty of a sunset
swirling clouds
and a might-be time
when you could be mine
and I will love you for your smile.



Don’t be long

I want to be with you
to hold and to hug you
to lie down beside you
to kiss and caress you|
I want to undress you
to love and impress you
but never distress you
I’m waiting for you in my mind.


Leaving on a jet plane

I miss you in the morning
when my arms reach out to hold you
and you’re not there.
I get up and make some coffee,
roll a cigarette
and try to tell myself that I don’t care.
But I wish you were with me
to tell me you love me,
to hold me and to hug me
and to push away despair.
I wonder who is with you
who is laughing and stroking
your black hair.
I know it’s not my business
who you’re holding
when I’m not there.
It is your loving
and it’s for you to choose
with whom you share,
but there’s something in the morning
that exaggerates the longing
that intensifies the wanting
when you’re not here.



All day I wait to see you
to have a meal
and hope to hold you.
See you smile
and touch your hand.
When I arrive and you are waiting
you squeeze my hand
and share my wanting.
Yet in our loving
we fear the closeness
of a love that can’t be total.

When I’m with you
there are blue skies
and when it rains
I cuddle up and see the sun.


Come in No7 your time’s up

The Sanyoed, transistorised
radio alarm clock blinked 3.32.
I looked across at the woman lying next to me –
she was finally asleep on our last night together.
3.34 the neon tubes flashed
and I knew they’d stolen 2 minutes of our night
in that instant.

I snuggled up and felt her warm breast press against me.
My hand reached out to hold her other breast
and my fingers stroked her nipples.
My fingers ran down her side and I felt the soft curves of her body.
In half contentment my mind wandered,
as my fingers wove through her blackness.


The pain of waving good-bye

Confusing thoughts of tenderness
of touching and of gentleness
of holding you and watching
of wishing and of wondering
seeing brown eyes sparkle
feeling black hair swaying
of hoping and of holding you
of feeling you beneath me:
and watching as you walk away.

I know you felt the trembling
of fingers gently stroking you
I know you know I love you
and I know you had to go.


A Rambler

I’m a long way from nowhere
I’m a long way from home
If I had an airfare
I wouldn’t leave you alone.
But I haven’t got money
And I haven’t got charm
A mere $1,000
Wouldn’t do me much harm.

I’m a long way from nowhere
I’m a long way from home
If I had an airfare
I wouldn’t leave you alone.
Your blue eyes and blond hair
I cannot forget
And the times we’re apart
I really regret.

I’m a long way from nowhere
I’m a long way from home
If I had an airfare
I wouldn’t leave you alone.
But I haven’t a dollar
I haven’t a dime
And I’m not going to see you
For quite a long time.

You can’t love a song writer
Cause you know that they lie
Yet I will still need you
till the day that I die.
I’m a long way from nowhere
I’m a long way from home
If I had an airfare
I wouldn’t leave you alone.
Oh love is so funny
It has a strange ring
But lying beside you
is a wonderful thing.

I’m a long way from nowhere
I’m a long way from home
If I had an airfare
I wouldn’t leave you alone.
Money is measured
In dollars and cents
And being apart
Just doesn’t make sense
Yet when I’m away
I can see what I’m missing
Your love and your hugging,
Your cuddling and kissing.

I’m a long way from nowhere
I’m a long way from home
If I had an airfare
I wouldn’t leave you alone.
Perhaps I can’t love you
The way a man should
But when you are with me
It always feels good.

I’m a long way from nowhere
I’m a long way from home
If I had an airfare
I wouldn’t leave you alone.
I can tell you I love you
It won’t do any harm
But we’re so far apart that
I can’t keep you warm.

I’m a long way from nowhere
I’m a long way from home
If I had an airfare
I wouldn’t leave you alone.
In six weeks I’ll see you
Or that’s what you said
In the meantime I’ll miss you
Till you warm my bed.
Your red lips will kiss me
I don’t really know why
Yet it’s you that I’ll love
Till the day that I die.

I’m a long way from nowhere
I’m a long way from home
If I had an airfare
I wouldn’t leave you alone.


Eternal Love

I’ll love you
the Blue Gum is eaten by white ants
and the wallaby hops from the stew.


It doesn’t make much sense to see you cry

I hold your hand
your lips are trembling,
we mumble silly things
as we say goodbye.

I hold you close
and I think of the yesterdays,
it doesn’t make much sense
to see you cry.

I suppose we knew
it couldn’t last for ever,
but I let you down
I didn’t even try.

Find our tomorrow
in the jumble of the yesterdays.
Searching for the pie in the sky.
Didn’t know the answers to the questions,
I wish I’d known enough to try.


But that was weeks ago,
I’m coming back to say “Hi
remember me,
I’m the one you used too love
and once again I want to be your guy.

I want to find the answer to your question
this time around I’ll hold your hand,
I’ll hold you close, never have to say goodbye
think of tomorrows
find the answers to the questions;
it doesn’t make much sense
to see you cry.
No, it doesn’t make much sense
to see you cry”.

(with Ian Hills)


 The High Moral Ground

 I wished you well
as you went off to sort out your life
with him you’d lain beside for four years
as I tried to come to terms
with what you meant to twenty-two years of marriage.

I wanted you to fail,
to want me again,
to need me again.
I’m not sure we can sustain a relationship
that is built just
on care and lust
because I’m a sociologist
who knows how people get it together
and you’re an historian
who explains why
people did not get it together.


The bride wore white

She comes down the aisle
with measured step
going to her marriage
as a condemned man
to his death.



I search for meaning
in a world without reason
yearn for learning
to provide direction
and hope to solve the world’s dilemmas
as I find my own contentment.

In my weakness
find an answer,
abolish want, maldistribution.

End the starving
and the suffering.
Do away with greed and fear.


Age does weary them

Being there and doing that
growing old and getting fat
what a way to go.
Losing sight of what could be.
Suburban sprawl, and acid rain,
nuclear war and human pain
But I don’t want to know it.

Growing old and getting slow
used to worry used to care
moving on and getting there,
your youth is far behind you.

You’re forty years old
You’re forty years on
all forty years gone.
You look back and wander
just what you have done.



I’ve seen the Darwin sunsets
brilliant red and orange skies
towering storm clouds surging
above a clear green sea.

I’ve seen the vast red centre
the red walls of Stanly chasm,
I’ve seen the vibrant purples
of Haasts Bluff and Aeroonga.

I stood a moment wondering at Namanjera’s tree
and I’ve seen the mighty rivers flowing
headlong to the sea.

I’ve told you of the life I’ve known
and of the things I’ve done,
I’ve told you of the battles lost
and of the ones I’ve won.



In your cosy little town
you have let the people down,
gave’em circus with a clown
to take away their frown
cause you don’t want to know
the half of it.

You have let the people down
as you spun them round and round.
You’ve got cops who bash and maim
and in Perth it’s just the same
Sydney’s found some cops to blame.

But not in Canberra town
you just send them round and round
cause you don’t want to know
the half of it.

Poor kids getting beat
just for walking on the street
by coppers with night sticks
and that’s the truth
but the message doesn’t fit
you don’t want to hear of it
it doesn’t suit the way you see this town.

Spin the wheel and throw the dice
in your casino oh so nice,
but you’re not prepared to pay the price
of looking at what’s happening,
and finding out what’s wrong.
Tramping on the weak
defending the strong
that’s the way to find what’s wrong
in Canberra.

While you’re standing at the tables
playing flash roulette,
the poor are getting beaten up
and they wont forget.
They wont forget who you ignore,
what you didn’t do for the poor
when it comes to an election
we’ll remember then.

Well you took the kids bus passes
and sent them off in the rain
those kids may not have a vote,
but we can cause you pain.
You took their school clothing allowance.
You said we had to save
to make this country great again
a land fit for the brave.
Yes it’s fit for the brave alright
the brave who are so rich,
you wonder why it’s the poor
who tell you life’s a bitch.

You say you’ve listened to our story
say you’ve listened to our song
and then you say you cannot find
a single thing that’s wrong.

Next time listen to the story
yer, listen to the song
if you open up your ears
you might hear what’s wrong.

Say you’re concerned by violence
violence on the street.
If you’re concerned by violence
then keep police off the beat.

If you stop police bashing
if you stop police who maim
then we will have a city
which treats rich and poor the same.

If you want to stop the violence
violence on the street,
then all you have to do my friend
is keep police of the beat.

You say there’s a bad apple
rotten to the core,
and there’s only one in the whole police force.
I reckon there’s
a thousand more.

They’ll take you out the back one night
and punch you right to hell
you’ve only gotta ask them
“What is that piggy smell?”
It’s the stench of corruption
and the fists that they let fly
it’s blood on the floor
and the watch house door
that they’ve made into a sty.

They arm the police in Canberra
with a gun.
They arm the police in Canberra
with a gun.
In case some drunk should stumble
and his mate should try to run
they arm the police in Canberra
with a gun.

Now I wouldn’t want to give offence
to the thin blue line
when they’re out on parade
they look so bloody fine.

Swearing oaths to uphold the law
a promise which they just ignore.
In darken parks they bash
in watch houses they thrash
even the rich but usually the poor
standing over women for sex
they still line up for their pay cheques.

I’m so proud of the thin blue line
sing their praises, say they’re fine.
I tell their critics to shut up
and refer their complaints to the IID
or the ombudsman
who are doing the very best they can
to cover up
to cover up:
refer their complaints to the IID
or the ombudsman
who are doing the very best they can
to cover up
to cover up-
for the corrupt.

Those who lie and bash and maim
to the IID are all the same.
They’re all friends
they drink together
see each other through the stormy weather.

Refer your complaints to the IID
internal investigation
is alright by me.
If that doesn’t work the ombudsman
will rubber stamp
anything he can.

If that doesn’t work the ombudsman
will rubber stamp
anything he can.
They are so great in the IID
it will be alright for you and me.
Its done the rich so very well,
the bloody poor can go to hell.

If they want to complain
it’s their own fault
they should have been born
with a full bank vault.

They’ll pull your leg
they’ll contemplate
all the crap, all the lies
the coppers tell em
cause they are wise.

The ombudsman alright with me
hand in hand with the IID
and the ombudsman alright with me
hand in hand with the IID.

Now the ombudsman would never lie
and the IID all seem to try
to find that rotten apple in the barrel
to find that rotten apple in the branch,
They contemplate
chew it over

Police are the best to investigate
they understand criminality.
They’re interested in police morale
that’s why they bash and maim and howl.
Oh come and sing this song with me
we all love the IID
Come on Ombudsman play us your tune
and we’ll all dance
in the fires of ruin.

But the police in Canberra are hard to amuse
they don’t like getting their names in the news.
Believe they are awful they bash and abuse
or believe they are perfect
it’s you who must choose.


Social justice

It’s the armless and the harmless
the senseless and the lame
who always pay the social cost
who always get the blame.

It’s the snivellers and the chisellers
the swindlers and the vain
ripping off the profits,
and it’s always been the same.

When I speak of social justice
you ask “What will it cost us?”
Advance Australia fairly,
Advance Australia squarely,and let us reach the further shore
in the best way that we can.


 Return to Queensland.

In April 1993 I came back to Queensland after a 20-year absence.   I was born here and had returned for short periods during those 20 years.   In late 1992 I went to dinner at the Parliamentary Annex to celebrate 25 years of the struggle for the right to march.   That night ensconced with a bottle of brandy I wrote:

The right to march

I went to a dinner
with old people
once rebels of the streets
who spoke of long forgotten battles
and of their individual feats.

There was rivalry and friends
some who paid too high a price,
some came to make amends.
Those who had always been with us
but who could not pay the price.

All heroes now the battles won
and who said they did not suffer
after all they’d given
all that they could offer.

As we looked into our hearts
recalling memories
of police batons crunching skulls
we rewrote our histories.

TV cameras whirled
there was footage unsurpassed
whilst some of us regretted
we could not video the past.

In 1973 I departed Bjelkeville not sure whether the police, South Brisbane publicans, or members of the Nazi Party were the most likely to try and kill me because of the organising I had been involved in with the South Brisbane Aboriginal community. On my return I had the sense that much had changed since I left.

In May the ABC revealed Japan’s intention to insist at the International Whaling Commission that it had a cultural right to kill whales. Filled with images of the giants of the southern oceans slowly dying from the damage caused by exploding harpoons I sent the following epistle to the Japanese Embassy.

We’re having a whale of a time in Japan

 Is it part of your culture
to woodchip our forests?

Was it part of your culture
to turn citizens of captive nations
into comfort women?

Is it part of your culture
to steal Aboriginal resources?

Is it part of your culture
to kill the largest marine creatures
still living in Antarctic oceans?

Is it part of your culture
to destroy ecosystems
throughout South East Asia?

Well, if it is, then
stick your bloody culture.


By June one Brian Littleproud Shadow Minister for Queensland’s Family Services brought me back with a thud to the provincialism  and intolerance I had known growing up in Gympie in the 1950s.   Littleproud had discovered the department responsible for looking after children had provided a flat for a young couple to live in.   They had been living on the streets, were 15 and 16 years old, and what was worse they were of different genders.


Oh Mr. Littleproud, nay Littlejohn
oh how you do go on
with your very own little john.

Upholding family values well you may
you’re looking after morals so you say.
And the neighbours are complaining
cause young people need restraining,
they’re concerned about young people having sex

I suggest that you lie down and take a Bex.
You’d rather see them homeless
I find you totally hopeless
and wish that you would use your common sense.
Because your obscene comments cause offence.


In response the good Member for Western Downs noted the poorly constructed verse, commented that there was little wonder that many parents express concerns about the unhealthy influence some in the tertiary education sector have on their children and went on to suggest that I needed to determine whether I was fit to hold a public position.


In this month the Right to Life, the moral majority, and other anti-abortion groups attacked family planning and pro-choice organisations which were campaigning for the rights of women to have access to advanced non-surgical procedures to terminate pregnancy.


Wipe that tear from your shuttered eye
and explain to me why women die
in hundreds of thousands every year
from unhygienic abortionists who rip and tear.

The French have discovered an abortion pill
that could end women’s indignity, if we will
allow common sense to rule the day
and prejudiced ignorance to fade away.

You didn’t say no when she offered sex
so why R U opposed to 486?

Now I say to the Right to Life
make backyard abortionists put down their knife
and end the futility,
use French ingenuity
please show some humanity.


By July the full enormity of the changes to academe began to descend on me.   Universities in general and QUT in particular have imbibed such heady quantities of the micro economic and new managerialism agendas they have expanded the use of contract labour. Tenured positions (a slightly more secure form of contract labour) are fast disappearing.   I was confronted by the depression and fear of several colleagues whose contracts were up for renewal in a School with its third temporary head in as many years.     On the 29th I wrote:

The Contract

Without fear or favour
who will be the saviour?
Who will be the one
to save us all?

My contract’s up for renewal,
my three years are done;
battles partly started,
wars never won.

They talk about efficiency
I think about integrity.
Will anyone employ me?
Is there such a thing as decency?

No golden handshake at the gate,
No gold watch after fifty years
just a sense of bitterness
futility and tears.


Some days earlier I had peeked out from under the increasingly small world which was starting to cloud my vision long enough to realise the struggle for Starke Station on Cape York had begun in earnest.  My mind wandered back to a 1963 visit made to Lockhart River, Bloomfield, and Yarrabah bearing a letter of introduction  written by Oodgeroo. I recalled how in each of the places people had told me of their struggle to get back some of their land and the refusal of the Queensland Government to countenance such a loss from the State. I put this image alongside the pittance that Developer George Quade had paid the Nationals for freehold title to thousands of hectares.

George Quade and others.

You took Cape York.
You stole my hope.
You plundered land from me.
Then blamed me for my ignorance
of what you’d hope I’d be.

In place of tribal trust
and quiet serenity
you missionised
you civilised
with Christianity
and police and grog
and squatters dogs
and your degeneracy.

In the falseness of the day
you hid the lies of night
Black skins / white skins
a timely oversight.

Still you wonder why it is
I feel that I’ve been used
as you rip apart the land I love
a wilderness abused.


August began quietly but it was not long before the arrogance, stupidity, and unrepresentativeness of the Australian judiciary became an issue.

There was not sufficient battering”.
                                                         Judge Derek Bollen

I thought he was talking
about a piece of fish and chips,
but he was handing down a sentence
totally lacking sense.

He acknowledged she’d been bashed
over many years
but horror, she fought back
and shed insufficient tears.

Finally she killed him
as he struck her once too often.
This old South Australian judge
will not be forgotten.

He’s out of touch and out of time
too often in the news
I wish he had the sense to disappear
with his patriarchal views.


But just when it seemed appropriate to get into a bit of lawyer bashing Noel Pearson, Garth Nettheim, Frank Brennan, and others demonstrated the progressiveness which thoughtful lawyers could bring to a debate as complex as Mabo.   On the 23rd of August the Queensland Budget and Mabo and the Wik people’s land claim all got mixed up in my head with the $800 million plus bribe for the Gladstone power station which Comalco was offering the Goss Government.


Home of the brave land of the sleaze.


In this fair state of Queensland
you must understand,
we do the white shoe shuffle
to the tune of the bosses band.

Aborigines put us to the test
but you’ve money to invest,
we wont hesitate
we’ll legislate,
all their rights away.

Mining, mining, mining,
chewing up their dreaming
spitting out the bauxite
destroying sacred site,
we do it every day.

We’ve got smart arsed lawyers
economists and whingers,
with level playing fields
and high investment yields,
we’ll sign their rights away.

We prime the parish pump
and when Comalco tells us jump
we only ask how high
to hold investment nigh,
to keep us going for another day.

Cutting money to the schools
calling all the teachers fools,
without resources we’re mainstreaming
watching many teachers struggling,
feeling that they have no say.

All class sizes we’re increasing
country choices are decreasing,
cause you can’t see kids learning
nor see slow kids failing
hurting all along the way.

In the face of worsening drought
we showed them city doubt.
As for outback rail
on the chance that it might fail
we pulled the rug away.

In the name of social justice
we ask that you trust us
as we ride rough shod over prostitute,
the homeless and the destitute
when they get in the way.

In the name of development
glass, steel and cement
providing social isolation
and nature’s devastation.
We’re in the bosses’ pay.


In early September one of Oodgeroo’s relatives mentioned that she was in Greenslopes Hospital and had no more than 6 months to live.   I had written a few times since leaving Queensland and had always been going to visit her on Stradbroke but had never made it. The next week I went to see her. There she was sitting up in bed her eyes bright and smiling.    We recalled a few of the old times good and bad – she died a week later. I finally got to visit Stradbroke to say farewell.


There were many politicians
who made speeches quite inane,
pretending they’d supported her
in struggles and her pain.
If I hadn’t known better
I’d have thought I was insane.

He was a city councillor
a man of great renown,
speaking at her funeral
though he’d tried to keep her down.

He trotted out platitudes
to quell an angry fire
that whelmed in the breasts of relatives
who lived in his bloody Shire.

He said that he had known her
since she first came to the Shire,
forgetting she was born here;
does that make him a lair?


The second semester was in full swing and I was seeing what seemed an endless procession of students whose computers had crashed, whose dogs had got run over, or who were coming up with other reasons as to why they would not be able to complete their assignments on time. I enjoyed my colleague Dawn Baker’s joke about how many students it takes to change a light bulb. It depends how many extensions they need. But the pain which many students experience made me reflect on my own days at uni and my unhappiness at school.   The 7.30 Report detailed a litany of complaints about a headmaster at a series of country schools over a long period. So I wrote to the Minister for Education.

Pat Comben

Come on Pat
let’s have a chat
Graham Mitchell is a mess.
Sixteen years
of blood, sweat and tears
anger and distress.

He’s been shuffled round
from school to school
in five small country towns.

It’s always the same
no matter the name
of the places where he’s been.

The kids don’t learn,
and in frustration turn
to our educational system:
which turns on them
because it is
easier to blame the victim.

The kids at Wyreema
know they have a problem.
Is it beyond your power
in your finest hour
to recognise a solution.


The death of an 18 year-old Aboriginal dancer whilst in police custody in South Brisbane brought back the horror of seeing an old and crippled Aboriginal woman sitting on the edge of the foot path being grabbed by the hair and hurled into the back of the police van and the sickening thud I heard when she hit the wall of the van in 1970.    Shortly after that incident at a well attended meeting at the Born Free Club every woman told of being sexually assaulted by police after being arrested and every man complained of being bashed by these upholders of the law.

Just Us

Politicians spoke of social justice
I heard them say trust us
then they sent the police to bust us;
there was no solidarity, there was just us.

 Daniel Yock

 He sprawled there crumpled
silent on the ground
like the angel of death
she slipped on handcuffs
she did not make a sound;
then back to the station
to get their story straight
no mention of their racism
their lying and their hate.

These folks in blue
murder with impunity
and tell a story oh so true.

Gangrenous judges
and magistrates
sit there oozing poison
pronouncing it as law
finding always for the police
that’s what we have them for.


And all the while the resident apologist for police excesses one Police Minister, Russell Cooper, droned out a liturgy of racist diatribe about Mabo, and Aboriginal criminality and special treatment. Into this bitter cauldron stepped a retired right wing history professor who attempted to provide academic legitimacy for our past abuses of Aborigines, of our continuing theft of Aboriginal land and the continuing subjugation of Aboriginal aspirations. All of this he was prepared to maintain despite the fact that the Mabo legislation was a reality and even middle Australia was starting to come to terms with the fact that white Australia has a black history.


Blimey Blaney

The days of the Empire
are long gone.
The time’s in sight
to right the wrong
we did in the name
of king and queen.

But you professor
are so mean,
you still yearn
for the long gone past
denying Terra Nullius
is dead at last.

In tenured splendour
you stand awhile
whipping waves
Kanute style.

Holding onto history,
and white superiority:
you are,
an academic travesty
fearing there might be
Aboriginal sovereignty.


The academic year finally crawled to a holt – I went fishing in the south, returning to find my mother seriously ill.

Ma and Pa

They’re taking me down to the old folks home
Tra la, Tra la.
Just like I did to my Ma and Pa
Tra la, Tra la.
They’re taking me down to the old folks home
and once I’m there I’ll never roam
Tra la, Tra la.
They’re taking me down to the old folks home
Where they put the valium in the scones
Tra la, Tra la.


Mum’s need for care resulted in my travelling 100 kilometres each weekday morning and night.    The car radio helped ease the boredom but meant I got subjected to even more of the racist statements which the Queensland Nationals splurt out instead of reasoned arguments.    More in pity than in anger I wrote to the leader of the Nationals on the 29th of March.


Dear leader of the opposition
I see you’ve taken a position
promoting racism and division.
What message does that send
to the ignorant my friend?
Once started it is hard to end.
What is real and what is right?
I can see that you’re uptight
and you’re spoiling for a fight.
Can it be that you do not comprehend
the hate and bitterness you send
in the half truths that you blend?

Would you like to feel the kind caress
of truth and ease and happiness
and an ending of your distress?
Surely you did not go into politics
for dirty pool and sleazy tricks,
to mix with racists and mavericks.

You shall not turn an electoral tide
with unkind remarks or comments snide
or prejudice or peacock’s pride.
Preach to a racist heartland if you will
cry to the wilderness till your tongue is still
or whatever else is your cheap thrill:
but do you think encouraging violence
against people who are powerless
will do much to increase your prowess?

Deny we invaded this country if you must.
Deny our theft, murder and our lust
but if you do, then how can we trust
your reading of our history
your ignorance of their misery.
Your approach is so miserly.


The Year of the Family was upon us. White, legally married, stable, moderately well off populators were everywhere pointing out the 2537 reasons why gay and lesbian relationships even if they (heaven forbid) involved caring for children should not be considered families. Then in mid April just in case there was any doubt where mindless police prosecutors stood on the sanctity of the family they announced they were going ahead with the trial of a woman who had discarded what she thought was a stillborn child in a wheely bin.

Whose sin?
“Baby in a wheely bin”
the headlines scream.
Can this be
every mother’s dream?

Calls for the mother to be charged
the state’s responsibility discharged?
Prosecutor or persecutor?
Who cares, just get her.

She’s in the dock and cameras whirl
no way to treat a baby girl,
families at home
get a titillating thrill
doctors say the mother’s ill
was the baby dead
or did she mean to kill?
With her limited intelligence
she’s wondering still.

In her confusion
afterbirth and
bed all red
did she think the child was dead?

Could this be so?
We’ll never know
but courts pretend
in the message that they send
to T V land and suburban bliss,
so rush upstairs
give your child a kiss
enforce the fact
you’re not so remiss
that you’d commit this kind of sin
besides there’s no room in your wheely bin.

The jury members demonstrated they had far more common sense than the prosecutors. They acquitted her on all charges and presumably went back to their homes to worry about their mortgages and whether their daughters would get a job.


After 2 years of the unemployment rate running at around 10% the Keating Government came to the conclusion that subsidising business profits was an excellent way to pander to the merest whim of the rich but if it was going to do anything about the number of Australians without jobs it had to do something for the unemployed.   Public servants brought out a Green Paper.  The Government subsequently produced a White Paper and it wasn’t enough.


Unemployment isn’t working

They produced a paper green
to vent the bureaucratic spleen
meant to demean, it’s quite obscene.
We’ll grow strong.

Then produced a paper white
which gave the unemployed a fright,
markets all uptight turned Labor right.
So come along.

The unemployed are verboten.
You will find the system’s rotten
with ill-gotten gains besotten,
sing our song.

If you think the system’s working
and the unemployed are shirking
you’ve been jerking on your gherkin
far too long.


1995 Post script


With gun and whip
and legal quip
you stole the land.

Rape and theft,
convict servitude
all helped impose
constitutional certitude.

And with that went
your religious creed
and of course secure land deed,
to place beyond their lore
what rights they had
you chose to ignore,
forsaking all
that had gone before.

Poisoned waterholes
Strychninned flour
was that
your finest hour?

Original owners
causing only lingering

Stolen trinkets
bring jail terms.
Stolen children
white laws fail.

Crimes of the powerful,
no surprise:
its crimes of the powerless
we despise.

Hunger caused
by powerlessness
erupts in
violent hollowness;
grog, unemployment
and hopelessness
help enforce
such emptiness.

Black, poor and in police custody,
found hanging in a watch house cell
natural causes – what the hell.


Truth always lies

There were no comfort women.
Woodchipping saves rain forests.
Aboriginal children never stolen.
The H bomb stopped the war.
Saudi women refuse to drive,
and Christ wasn’t crucified.

Whale shit pollutes the oceans.
Science can protect Mururoa.
The US will be our saviour.
West Papuans need Freeport.
Drift netting is sustainable,
and mulga clearing is inevitable.

Young people don’t want work.
Single mothers are all young.
We’re desperate for pay TV.
Old age is a figment of the mind.
The holocaust was invented
and nuclear war can be prevented.

Police prevent drug addiction.
Investment ensures prosperity.
Superannuation guarantees security.
Palestinians demand Israeli protection
Timorese have self determination.
Rwandans prevented extermination.

Land rights impede development.
No child will live in poverty.
Bosnia never existed.
Pol Pot was an urban planner.
No need to worry about pollution
and economic rationalism is the solution.

Bosses aren’t resented.
Your employer is your friend.
Love will last forever.
Fascism can’t be resisted.
There is no war in the Sudan
and every thing goes to plan.


The Good Senator

Well I wandered down the other day
to say giday to Senator Ray
he told me to get out of the fucking way,
seems he’s got trouble with flag burners.
He’s head of the army so they say,
he’s pretty important is Senator Ray.

Some it seems want to burn cotton and dye
when the Senator’s around they better not try
’cause in this country he’ll jail flag burners.
In Indonesia they’re even more impressive
though political scientists call it repressive.
The army and airforce show no favours
in East Timor they burn flag wavers.


Instructions to the little Aussie Battler

Work harder.
Make someone else redundant.
This is efficiency.

Competition is our salvation.
This way we cost our betters less.

One day we’ll be internationally competitive
and get paid a dollar
for a fourteen-hour day.

Then we’ll understand
what world best practice means.


A Landmined Peace


I don’t want to sing of solders
of guns and ships and bombs
I’d rather sing of rights
than tell you of the wrongs.

But my country’s using landmines
we’re making hand-grenades
and we’re exporting rifles
that we brand Australian made.

(this line always to the tune of Advance Australia Fair)

We’re cutting social welfare
and we’re cutting foreign aid
but we’re exporting rifles
that we brand Australian made.

There are other who will tell you
to say what needs be said
and they will sing in praise
of our glorious dead.

But I wont speak of battles won
nor tell of empires lost
nor sing in praise of fighting men
or count the mortal cost.

I sing instead of glory
of battles not begun
because we believe
in peace for all
not in the power of one.

When it comes to times of war
then peace songs just underscore
the threat that is within
giving hope to the enemy
and undermining security
betraying solidarity.

But my friends if you look around
there is no war – peace abounds.
So if I sing in praise of peace
what is it I betray
– an armaments industry
– unnecessary brutality
and economic stupidity?

If you give them guns and uniform
with a big bass drum to march along
and you play a marshal song
they can’t tell right from wrong.

With a big bass drum to march behind
and a sergeant major to make the call
and put them in body bags when they fall;
don’t be surprised that they are blind
and they’ve left their brains behind:
they’re not asked to think
– just die and stink
in foreign fields.
they’re not asked to understand
just to die in a foreign land.

They wont complain if they come back dead
if they come back wounded
or they come home maimed
there is always the enemy
who can be blamed.

In war you’ve got to take the good with the bad
write to their mother and phone their dad
as the commanding officer you find it sad.

At the going down of the sun
and in the morning
we might remember then
– women who were raped in war
– countries that we’ve kept poor
– children’s lives destroyed
– napalm which scared lives
– the inhumanity we have shown
and the ill will we have sown.


The vegetarian picnic

We went to the vegetarian picnic
and we had a lovely time.

I stood on a slug
which I thought was a bug
cause I needed that particular rhyme.

We ate the mayonnaise
and had tomato sauce.
I had a muffin
did a lot of huffing
and had the same
for the second course.

We drank the Perrier water
studiously avoiding the wine.
Yes, we were doing might fine.
Someone mentioned the weather
some fool complained about the heat
I got confused
widely abused
when I mentioned meat
cause I needed that particular rhyme.


Australia 1996


Good morning Mr. Keating
tell me it’s not true
you’ve sold out to the capitalists (bourgeoisie) (wealthy)
turned from red to blue.

The Timorese can languish
while we steal their oil
and Australian men and women
aren’t wanted for their toil.

The unemployed will have to wait,
they’re locked outside the factory gate
the rich though needn’t hesitate
there’s always food upon their plate.

While BHP in PNG
rips the heart out of Ok Tedi,
pours pollution down the Fly
and trees along its banks all die.
Tailings slowly make their way
destroying lives both night and day
ignoring what land holders say
and politicians would deny.

CRA in Bougainville
sowed contempt – mined ill will
all the while there’s killing still;
men and women they’re killing still.

Another Australian company
is about to mine Lihir Island:
we’re deaf to cries of ecocide
profit is the news we’ll hear.

With Alitas we’ve signed a pact-
a security treaty, that’s a fact-
to make sure we feel secure?
Or is it just the need to obscure
that at Freeport we collaborate
and West Papuans exterminate.
For justice they’ll have to wait
dispossessed of all but hate.

We choose to ignore Aboriginal health
while miners steal their land by stealth,
pastoralists continue to occupy
and all the while native title deny.

We stole their country yet criminalise
their young, with legal tricks and lies
and in custody yet another young man dies
it’s little wonder they despise-

And are Australians gaining
from the misery we‘re creating?
Is the society we are making
inclusive and earth shaking ?
One where there is work for all
if ill fate should befall?

Are we helping all in need
with minimum incomes guaranteed
or are we just
guaranteeing greed?


 Deaths in Custody

Swinging in a watch house cell
escaping from a living hell?
Stolen from his mother
taken from his father.

You call it suicide.
We call it murder.
Grand father shot
grand mother poisoned.

Land stolen by squatters.
Sister raped by coppers.
You call it suicide.
We call it murder.

Didn’t do well at school
often made to look the fool.
Couldn’t find a job
no one heard him sob.
You call it suicide.
We call it murder.

We saw the coppers bash him,
we saw the coppers thrash him:
threatening to hang him
may as well have sang him.
You call it suicide.
We call it murder.


Rapping with Johnny Howard

Hand on my shoulder and called me son
I’d been working in his factory since eighty – one.
Stay out of the union, escape the award
and an employment contract is assured.

I work all day and half the night
trying to ensure I do things right.
Work harder, work smarter, work faster
if you want to avoid economic disaster.

The whole game now is efficiency
he wants me to do the work of three.
By the drive for profit he is haunted
I asked him what he really wanted
he said that what he wanted most
was for me to become father, son and ghost.
Drink the wine and eat the host
and you might become father, son and ghost.

A million people without work today,
we’ve lost our path, we’ve lost the way.
They want me to do the work of three
how can they call that efficiency?
So I’ll drink the wine and eat the host
father son and holy ghost.


Salamander Vanstone

Oh when those students riot
and call you obscene names
with a bit of luck
and cut and tuck
we’ll beat them at their games.

Salamander Vanstone
I know just how you feel
it goes to show
they wouldn’t know
a salamander from an eel.

They shouldn’t need a pension,
education or Medicare;
if they’d only save
or go to the grave
then we’d have cash to spare.

When it comes your turn
to slash and burn
then cut the dole
and put up HECS
they don’t need the bloody cheques.

I heard them say the other day
you’re one apart, without a heart.
Salamander it’s not true
you’re a battler, true blue.

Are you the Aussi battler
John Howard tries to please?
It’s a pity though he had to bring
the country to its knees.


Telstra is saving the environment

They paid me to chop the trees down
so fifty years ago I cleared the plain.
Now they are going to pay me to dig holes
to put them back again.

The Murray Darling system
is full of algae and silt,
we treat it like a sewerage drain
and yet we feel no guilt.

Don’t hesitate or contemplate
Irrigate and desecrate,
we can always sell Telstra
and call the battler – mate.


Set me free

Think of me if it sets you free
and lets your heart wander wilfully,
but forget me if I hold you back
and slow your path along the track.

I’ll think of a cottage and a laden pear tree
of time spent loving each other,
or of driving through Dongra in torrential rain
and the next morning eating fresh lobster on the rocks
and the next night our last time together
before the pain of others overwhelmed us.


The Poverty Expert.

He’s world renown
from out of town
he’s an expert –
through and through,
you got to come and listen
he’ll tell you what to do.

Or is it just that he is on hand,
just happens that he’s in our land
and he doesn’t really understand?

Is it that we’d rather be listening
to a message smooth and glistening
from which truth has to be prized
homogenised and sanitised;
than  hear the woman next door
she knows what it’s like to be poor?

But she’s a local, country yokel
lacking an academic analysis
so come and hear the expert
you can always boo and hiss.


The Gun Debate.

I sit in the sun
and talk to my gun.
|Tra lum, tra lum.

It’s so much fun
to sit in the sun
and talk to my gun.
Tra lum, tra lum.

It’s so much fun
and think of my mum
as I sit in the sun
and talk to my gun.
Tra lum, tra lum.


I don’t have to talk to any one.
Tra lum, tra lum.


Freedom for All.

Freedom’s just an empty word
if it just means you and me,
we’ve got to fight for everyone
for all humanity.

To wage a daily struggle
for human dignity,
for love and care and all that’s fair
and to abolish poverty.

But if look around us
we see a world in trouble,
the solutions being offered
could reduce us all to rubble.

Armies crushing aspirations
with gun and bomb and knives
delivering devastation,
tanks crushing human lives.

People forced from homelands,
seeing men and women cry,
watching emaciated children
grimace and then die.

Seeing rich men playing polo,
observing women wearing furs
with embroided bath robes,
their towels read him and hers.

The rich are getting richer
the poor remaining poor
the worker daily struggling
asks what are we working for?


We need to build a world anew
a world that’s just and fair
excluding no one, and making sure
that everyone gets a share.

That people from all nations,
from every race and creed
can have their say and play their part
and no one’s left in need.

We’ll struggle. We’ll need everyone
helping build this world anew.
There will be time to sit in the sun
there’ll be “bread and roses too”.

You might come from Guatemala
or squat in old Cape Town,
or hail from outer Sydney
we wont let you down.

Join the international struggle
for each and every one
and join in the common acclamation
share the laughter and the fun.


The struggle’s international
the fight’s within ourself
foregoing greed for those in need
and sharing all our wealth.

We can’t afford your armies
we can’t afford your greed:
just food, health and education
for everyone in need.

There’s plenty in this world of ours
if we could just learn to care
the contribution we are asking
is for you to learn to share.


Murrandoo Yanner what size are your boots ?

Queensland white justice found Murrandoo guilty of unlawful assembly.
Yanner worried the bully boys were going to bash his brother
had warned there would be trouble unless he was released.
Queensland, with the subtlety of a Mississippi backwoods man
reflected in the light of a burning cross sees “justice” is done.


The Carpentaria Land Council is resisting
CRA’s attempt through its Century Zinc Mine to pollute the Gulf.
There is unrest from Doomagee to Burketown.
In the Gulf Country our race war is continuing.

Queensland has some learned judges
they have the understanding one might expect
of plantation owners during the US Civil War.

Judge McGuire did not call him “boy”.
He did not say “he was an uppity black”.
He did not say he found it strange
the bully boys were frightened by Yanner.

He did not say anything about 207 years of colonialism.
He did not say anything about 207 years of racism.
He did not say anything about 207 years of stealing Aboriginal kids.
He did not say anything about 207 years of police brutality,
and he did not call him “boy”,
but he did say “Don’t get too big for your boots”.


Hotel Suharto

Who put the durian in the air conditioning system?
What is that fetid odour in Hotel Suharto?
Are you sure it’s a durian?
It smells like decomposing flesh.
Could it be the stench of death?

What does it represent?
The corpses of Santa Cruz?
The decaying bodies of Aceh?
The destroyed lives of West Papua?

Call the Manager of Hotel Suharto.
Cover up the air conditioner.
Paint the air conditioner green.
I call the room maid and ask her to add deodorant,
she just offers reassuring words.

The reek of death can not be removed;
there are too many bodies:
the million the Army killed in 1965,
the 300,000 Timorese who died,
the 20,000 deaths in Aceh,
The 200,000 slaughtered in West Papua.
There is only one solution-
tear down Hotel Suharto!


Law enforcement

A rope
a noose
a cattle prod
a batton
a gun
a burning church
a bomb
a guillotine
a gas chamber
or electric chair
– there is always a white man at the other end


Thanks for nothing.

The frost lies heavily on the lawns of the Lodge
the morning after the Budget is brought down.
The ABC drones on attempting to achieve balance
by broadcasting the cliched statements of experts.
Economic fundamentalists and market screen jockeys
are counterpoised with welfare spokespersons.
A Democrat here and a Green there – side with Labor,
then juxtaposed with Prue Goward and Government Ministers.

The anger of students, the despair of Aborigines
and the fear felt by the unemployed was covered last week.
Criticism is muted and  considered
the sense of outrage and betrayal passed over.

The Aussie battler left home hours ago looking for work,
those lucky enough to have a job are stuck in a traffic jam.
Johnny Howard says he kept his promises
and nobody calls him a liar.
He says that Kim Beasley is impersonating Chicken Little
and might as well claim the sky is falling.
Howard had better hope the sky is falling
it is the only way he is ever going to touch it.