The quiet Australians

In case you were wondering the quiet Australians 
Won’t tell you what they are thinking. Their patriotic 
Yowl is stifled by a kind of shame, or fear of shame 
That in a plastic-colored world of money, generations  
Of growth and privilege do not add up to much.  
The quiet Australians want someone to wail for them  
 
To sob about unfairness, suffering, their piece of cake 
To blame, to tear down, to strategise retaking what 
Was taken from the history their forebears vandalised.  
The quiet Australians would stand up to be counted 
If they had a leg to stand on. They would go to war  
If war did not require a sacrifice they shrink from.  
 
Fears aside, the quiet Australians sometimes speak  
When martyrdom can be assured, when whistling 
At a pitch that dingoes hear their words give voice  
To pain they sincerely feel in the salty cracking  
Landscape of their lives. There on the dusty plain  
The quiet Australians cultivate contempt for strangers.  
 
Not feeling for them, we pretend the strangers cannot 
Feel. We, I say, since I am one of you and know that 
Silence can be strength; I know what lengths my hate 
Can go to. When we quiet Australians learn to speak  
We might have something good to say. But, when? 
I don’t know. I’m old. One day, I think. One day. 

Marx and Star Trek… don’t say you weren’t warned

The forty-fourth issue of Otoliths is available, free, online.  Several of the poems concern the emerging situation in the USA after the election of President von Clownstick. As usual, the issue contains interesting visual material and experiments. My own contribution, ‘Auguration,’ was a reaction to the imminent inauguration of the new POTUS. I was reading a part of Marx’s The Poverty of Philosophy at the time. A note in this work uses a quote from a novel by George Sand: “Le combat ou la mort; la lutte sanguinaire ou le neant. C’est ainsi que la quéstion est invinciblement posée.” Fight or die. A bloody struggle or nothingness. This is how these questions are inevitably posed.

I don’t think we will be able to say we were not warned. I watch «Star Trek». The official narrative of Earth’s past, as told from the future, tells us that in 2024, in San Francisco, there was a series of bloody riots that changed the course of human history.

Register for businesses refusing services to Cory Bernardi

Senator Cory Bernardi, Liberal member of the Australian parliament, has weighed into the marriage equality debate by saying that businesses—any businesses—should be allowed to refuse service to whomever they want. This means that, even if the marriage equality debate ended happily with an agreement of a majority of Australia’s elected representatives to permit marriage between two people regardless of sex, the question of ‘business freedoms’ would still need to be resolved. Why should anyone be forced to provide goods or services to anyone else, Senator Bernardi wants to know. It conjures up the prospect of future legislation to protect businesses from legal actions: a ‘Pâtissier Freedom Act‘ perhaps? I would like to see it, to tell the truth. Pastry chefs deserve this recognition. And those gays, they just want to have their cake and eat cock, too.

While we are waiting for these events to unfold, I’ve created a register for businesses wishing to announce they will refuse to supply goods and services to Senator Cory Bernardi. There are fairly broad options for classifying the kind of services: everything from catering services to psychotherapy to resuscitation.

I encourage you to add your business to the register, and to pass on the URL to any business-owners you think may be interested.

Please note: The registration website has now been closed. Thank you to the thousands of businesses and individuals who participated.

Further information:

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Bertolt Brecht and the Tea Party

Bertolt Brecht

One of Brecht’s very famous poems is ‘Years ago when I,’ written in the 1930s, and published in English by Methuen in the 1976 collection Bertolt Brecht: Poems 1913–1956. It opens with the lines:

Years ago when I was studying the ways of the Chicago Wheat Exchange
I suddenly grasped how they managed the whole world’s wheat there
And yet I did not grasp it either and lowered the book
I knew at once: you’ve run
Into bad trouble.

Brecht makes a harsh moral judgement of the men of the exchange: “These people, I saw, lived by the harm / Which they did, not by the good.”

Bertolt Brecht: Poems 1913-1956
Bertolt Brecht: Poems 1913-1956

The place he referred to in this poem was, insofar as I have been able to determine, the Chicago Board of Trade, established in 1848. In 2007 the Board of Trade in Chicago merged with the Mercantile Exchange to form the CME Group.

In 2009, Rick Santelli, an editor of a business news network in the USA, famously delivered an extraordinary ‘rant,’ from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, in which he accused the Barack Obama administration of “promoting bad behavior” through its attempts to avoid foreclosures on the mortgages of nine million homeowners with the ‘Homeowners Affordability and Stability Plan’. He said that people who had obtained bad mortgages were “losers” and that the foreclosed properties should be available for purchase by people who “carry the water” rather than “drink the water.” He mentioned the possibility of a Chicago Tea Party. Out of this confused nonsense the modern Tea Party movement was born.