White Words

A Poem by Pete Hay


Published in ‘Silently On The Tide’ (2005)


…could feel the weakness of… big/local govt… what sort of culture…
will not be available… best sort of market we can… people have a global…

This is an age of data and dead hills.
This is a time of envenomed meal for the mouth.

.              In the newsroom they are all a-lather:
will interest rates move,
the current account take a dive,
will a j-curve pigstick that lionised moneymover
.              who took the nation to the cleaners
.              but had a red shot at a yacht race?

Today I learned:
.              of the poised scythe
.                           of technocratic joblessness;
.              of the unstable acid plant
.                           just a demon’s foul fart from the CBD;
.              of mechanics by the plantful
.                           dying of organ rot from lethal de-greasers;
.              that half the planet’s avifauna
.                           face obliteration’s fell axe within fifty years.
But not on the Moody’s rated, deficit-funded news.

This is a time of words for the killing.
.              Friendly fire. Collateral damage.
.              Icons of a chameleon language,
.                           smog-thick and sly.

This is a time for worship of those whose Midas lives
.              are built upon Blacktown, Broadmeadows, Bridgewater,
.              and upon the hourly extinction
.                           of a unique craft of life.

When the majesty of life is degraded to resource.
When it is those who defend the lifeworld
.              from the privateers of a marauding market
.                           who are accused of the ‘locking up’.
When goodfellows-all are freely chosen
.              to ease the small death of wonder today,
.              and the harder death tomorrow.

Words.              Words.              Walled within words.

After Peter Stephenson, White Words 1, 1991, oil on canvas; White Words 2, 1992, oil on canvas; White Words 7, 1992, oil on canvas.