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December 07th 2009 print

Patrick McCauley

The sceptical poet

AUDIO: Patrick McCauley reads two poems about modern Australia.

Patrick McCauley reads two poems:

"Elergy for the Boneburners"  

So
We intend to fashion the weather.
We will turn down the sun
during the fire season.
We will manufacture the clouds
the rain the wind
We will package the season in stretched air.
We will maintain exact global temperatures
Pass out to each citizen
a yearly permit for breath.
The light to grow each carrot
will be sold
We will tell citizens where to fart.
We will fashion the weather
by adjusting the dials
on greenhouse gas emissions.
Soon the sun will hear our law
and settle the monsoons down.
We will rain on the drought and freeze the climate tight
No species will be permitted to die.
By 2025 we will stop the change
The barrier reef will freeze
in eternal wonder
and Victoria Australia will be made fireproof.
Those burning bones will be taxed.
Bone burning will be banned.
Bone burners will receive
‘capital’ punishment
they will be moneyless.
Weather Fashioning will be
the new high art.
Artists wrapping countries in ice
or cracking the lines of drought
across waterless continents.
Weather making with carbon dioxide brushes
methane chisels.
Sculpture, painting
and great movie making
converge
in the actual creation of climate changelessness.

Who will lead us
into this great new venture?
Show me their faces! 

 

"How to be Australian"

First published in The Australian on Australia Day 2006. 

Australia is a relationship
between a landscape and an idea
it doubles the couple by half.
It requires an understanding of eucalypts
regeneration through fire
and fear of love.
It has been trying to turn feminine
for the last thirty years or so.
Water is an animal
a mammal
with the sound of life in its ears.
We are drawn to drugs and alcohol
to seek transformation and redemption
we ignore the pleasure
and eulogize crimes
against property.

We like to be wealthy
have very good cars
nice houses that clean themselves
wear the latest fashions
eat very good food
live very long lives.
When camping for three weeks every year
we spend time constructing and deconstructing
complicated tents which when erect
contain kitchens bathrooms toilets mirrors
small children on bikes
and pink fluffy master
bedrooms.

We all vote for the Australian Labor Party
it is unclear how the Liberal Party has won Government for the past ten years.
On the left hand side is the femi nine
On the right hand side is the mascu line
Once you have picked your side
you must barrack for them
for the rest of your life
otherwise
it’s the Alistair Nicholson for you.

Australians believe in sex
under any circumstances.
Above all we want to be loved
but never possessed
by anything bigger than money.
We are capitalist socialist democrats
the price of this freedom is slavery.

Australians seek God through orgasm
the one with the most orgasms wins.
we love sport and sinning
being right is just like heaven
Australia believes in homosexuality
as a form of mateship with sex.
The suburb of Northcote in Melbourne is almost entirely lesbian and male lesbian.
There are signs on the borders.
Sydney is the gay capital
of the southern hemisphere.
Each year it holds a Mardi Gras
to celebrate buggary and femininity
we do not see this as religion
we see it as a barbeque.

Australian boys are mainly brought up on ritalin
and corn flakes.
Re-education camps and fatherhunger
instill a proper understanding of women.
Humiliation and gratitude provide
a post modernist journey into the divine.
Middle aged girls
are in love with twenty something noble savages
riding pajeros across the stone country.
Children are a by product of sex and IVF programs.
Young blue eyed boys
are twenty nine ninety five in Bunnings.

Australia has exported all its hardwork to Asia.
We view work as a form of resentment
We pay our workers more money
than any other nation on earth
not to work.
The Australian working class
has two cars a mortgage and an investment property
it has not done a hard days work
for a full generation.
Small Martin Kinghams designed to inflate
and float over large cities
are now being exported to China
and other Asian economies.
All our Governments
have been traitors to the people
though you can only sell a country once.
Edna Everidge is a drugged up drag queen
trained by Melbourne Grammar in landed gentry.

We have learned to embrace our ugliness
and love it.
At Long Tan it was thirty seven to one
In Timor one hundred and thirty to one
New Guinea about fifty to one.
The Australian kill ratio defines our holiness
We are a cliff dwelling nation
living on the beaches
under the fringe of the world.
We swim toward the global economy
with gender in our ears.
Our women are wide
and the men are thin
we go down to the beach
in our thousands
we bob up and down in the wide white waves
and in the morning drink café latte.

The population is held together by immigration
a falling birth rate
simulated literature
and an alarming lack of water.
We are connected to England under the sea
America via the stars.
The rumor of sex in Europe
blows a wind in the face of Australia
our artists fly to New York
on taxes paid by the workers.
We breathe in the thin air inches overhead
where we stand upon the land
is just above the salt
yet there are days in planes
to the red in the centre of our heart.
We are a waterless people
in a land flooded with sand.

In the cities we are Gods
and even the trees are cloned
to leave the drains for plastic bags
the lawns for football games.
The land which is owned by twenty men
is taken for walks each second day
the Garden of Eden is in private hands
and we are all terribly sorry.
History is written by masked politicians
in denial of the personal pronoun.

It was a dreadful orthodoxy
the same drunken boat
same curves same bitumen
grey winding down a road to anywhere.
As long as it was a four wheel drive with
one of those little chainsaws in the glovebox.
Driving the Great Ocean Road
the camshaft bashed its way through the bonnet
the screaming sound of grinding steel
was so loud
that I had to turn the radio up
full blast
to continue.

Patrick McCauley is a Melbourne poet and essayist.