• November 2, 2012
  • Georgia Keighery
  • Guest

I love Darwin for both its beauty and its pain. Last year, Barack Obama paid us a visit. I walked around the CBD the day before he came, seeing the things he would see – our homeless people, known as LongGrassers (although many of these were moved out of the CBD for the visit), and – in particular – The Pigeon Lady. The President stopped on the Esplanade to lay a wreath for the US servicemen who died here in WWII. During the same visit, he negotiated the development of a US base on Darwin soil. The circularity of militarism and the ongoing death of mothers’ sons struck me.


Co-Starring Obama


The Pigeon Lady waits on the corner

with her cages and the media.


A chopper presses the air

for news from home.


A crocodile drools

over rolled up sleeves.


The chopper can’t choose

which gifts to take back, ticks off lists.


The Pigeon Lady wonders

if home is excess baggage.


A LongGrasser wishes people

would have a good night, misses people.


Someone has pissed on the Milkwood. Someone

arms another lot of sons and pays with flowers.


A patrol boat cuts through the rain.

Handshakes, signed papers, the wake. Waves


curl like the lips of the drowned dead.

Petals, lullaby, a crushing weight.


Treading water, the chopper calls

for someone to change the track.


A cage. A plane

that apes the sky.


The wide, blue eyes

of your mistress.


Home carries you.

Or do you carry home?


The chopper sweats on a telegram:

Where have you got to now, my son?


A chopper doesn’t have answers.

A bodyguard has no lips. A sniper

can only do his best.

But the floor of the cage is a mess.



Earlier this year, an incident of police brutality occurred in Kings Cross, Sydney. The video footage is very distressing but if you feel like you can watch it, you may find it here:


Essentially, a teenage passenger in a car was firstly shot and then bashed and dragged by police. He was a young boy with a serious head wound but rather than attend to his injuries, one of the police officers continued to hurt him. This is my response.


Joy Ride


Howling passenger:

blood cradling his head, police fist

cracking his birthdays: how many,

how many years?

Cameras open their mouths.


Legs dragged through the mess as if that

is going to help

anyone sleep.


They’re lost boys.

The man calling for back-up –

a lost boy,

burnt to a stump by middle-age.

There is a son who’ll hear these things

as often as it takes.


He leaves the passenger


a used rag.

He wipes his hand.


Partner monitors signs, watches

something sinking, some thing

with $3 credit left

and a father.


Lenses swell with blood,

say, ‘They can’t do that’.

Say it again:

‘They’re not allowed to do that’.

Nobody’s brother at 4 a.m.

on a Kings Cross street

wants them to do that.




And, finally, after war and death, a cute love poem, hot off the press!


Jumps & Starts


Witness the start of an incoming tide,

its bottom lip. Walk

against the might of the ocean,

the might of the moon. Record

the first of the mango blossoms

fronting up to the cold. Watch

the season turn in his eyes

when he smells your scent. Save

that initial text that changed everything.




Don’t jump at the wave behind you.

A crocodile makes no sound.

So don’t jump.

If, one day, you’re eventually taken,

better it happens while you’re smiling

at the memory of him,

the way he says your name.





Written by Sandra Thibodeaux

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