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Not This Country
and other poems
by Dr. Jocelynne A. Scutt


Not This Country

Not this country
      with a foot in the face
      of persons
      displaced

Not this country
      behind barbed wire
      barbed lips
      mouths barred
      feet shackled
      mouths silent
      speech silenced

Not this country
      a hand turned to fist
      in the faces marked foreign
      out of place
      in this place
      marked 'ours only'
      no difference
      allowed.

Not this place
for the foreigner
      made alien
      marked illegal
      black-arab-pockmarked
      drawn in the lies of a Prime Minister's fear
fearing
      yellow-asians-leprous.

In a place called Woomera
      wire fences, mouths wired
      staff
      sentenced to silence
      in exchange
      for a wage

Aliens sentenced
      for life
      to the wire

Private managements plundering
      our pockets for profits
      their faces pockmarked
      hearts unrelenting
      burying reason and rights
      in the mud
      of dishonour.

Dishonourable?
Not this country?

When even Nazi Germany
      ran concentration camps
      as shamed state houses
not as private enterprise
profit driven

Yes, this country.
It's like a foreign land to us
this way.

And if we don't do
something fast
We've lost it
The one we know
out on the horizon
sweeping plains
brown
bronzed in the sun
sunlit freedom
floating off to nowhere
fast
fastforwarded

While we're left
here
hearts bleeding

And in this country's concentration camps
hearts bleed
hearts bleeding
whilst mouths bleed, too

Ours, this country.

                                 May/June 2002



Australian Story/Back Story

Her photograph
on the frontpage
of the Age
eyes smiling
is taken beside a picketfence

She's fourteen
fifty years ago
baby fat
corsetted
in serge pleated uniform

He stands
adjacent
separate photograph
legs astride, arms akimbo
balding

He's smiling, too
predatory
over his white collar
turned backwards.

There's a wave
in the fringe
on her forehead
wide/smiling eyes
her collar
turned frontwards
school tie knotted tight

He, in turn, wears no tie
no bow tie
theologians rarely do
the ties that bind
for them
far stronger
rope
spoken from the pulpit
snaring lambs

She's trapped, lamb-like, this one
a rabbit caught in promises
in a barbed-wire fence
of caring

Caring - that's what he says
loco parentis
and what's a pastor for?

She
features
babysoft
smile
puppyfat
podgy

Her photograph shows smile, girlish
(she's just a girl, you know)
lashes pale
gaze open
eyebrown unplucked
guarding nothing
nothing guarded
guilelessly vulnerable.

His photograph
shows tough hands
large feet
big
teeth
Red Riding Hood's grandmother
turned wolf
tearing
at her youth/smile gone/clouded

Hunter he
he hunted her/innocence
predatory
he's guilt, ordained
yet she's named as huntress
she's labelled predator
the Queen's man so called
names her guilty
the temptress in the plot

He's fed
on chump chops
jaws slavering
lips lascivious
greedy gob grasping
gasping
he's fed
up
to her backteeth
grinding
her breath away.

Dead childhood
taken
soul dispensed with
for the asking
his asking
from the pulpit
in the study
fed chocolate
to tempt her
take her dreams
away
into his head.

Yesterday/last month/last week
on television
the world
saw it/turned
upside down
'it was more the other way around' said his confessor
in confessional
Australian story
our
virtual
head of state

14/27
she the wicked webspinner
he embroiled
for what's a man to do
so sayeth the archbishop's lesson
teaching her another one,
a lesson yet again
for fear she's forgot the first

It's the governor general talking
head of state substitute
what head
whose head
empty head
head leaking
absent brains
brainpower lacking
compassion finite
marked 'for men only'
let no woman enter here.

And all of us,
out here
outside the Australian story
where do we stand
what story do we tell
whose side do we take
when there are no sides, not really

It's a photograph
on the frontpage
of the Age
caught beside a picketfence
growing ivy.

At fourteen
her gaze is captured
looking out
at us
50 years on.




Women, Souls Golden

I have seen women with their faces infused by the sun
Golden
Women whose souls have shone in the struggle to the top of the ramparts
Women winning the right to stand
With their arms stretched out
to the wind.

I have seen women whose personal lives
Have met the political burden of the patriarchy
And come through
With strength and with courage
Not
Given in

Women with a strength and a courage
Unique to women

A strength and a courage
That resists the lure
of patriarchal power
Denies the lure of the patriarchy
to join in
join with them
join them.

Women whose dreams have taken them to the top of the mountain
Where they stand
Faces to the wind
Faces infused by the sun
Golden

Souls strong in the strength of the knowledge
That women have been here before
At the top of the mountain
High on the ramparts
Conquering the battlements
The sun on their faces
Their hands to the wind
Free.

This struggle's not ended
This battle's not won
Yet these women stand in the face of the sun
Golden
Free in the sun with the wind through their hands
Knowing this can't be taken from them
Ever again

I have seen women with their faces infused by the sun
Golden
Women whose souls have shone in the struggle to the top of the mountain
Women winning the right to stand
on the ramparts
with their arms stretched out
to the sun
Golden
arms stretched out to the wind.

I have seen women who have confronted the political burden of the patriarchy
sloughing it off
saying 'no more'
reaching the ramparts
strong on the battlements
high at the top of the mountain
Golden
conquering
winning
Free

'though knowing the battle's not over
Knowing the struggle's not won

Yet
golden
in the face of the sun
Strengthened

With freedom unique
courage inspired
Faces infused
Golden
Free in the sun with the wind through their hands
Knowing this can't be taken from them
Ever again.



THERE ARE NO MOTHERS OF FEDERATION

There are no mothers of Federation
For we see no need
To turn every step of history
into a gestational
Embrace

There are no mothers of Federation
For women make our own herstory
Meeting history with our own mark
Marking history with our own steps
Lightly
or
More potently
So that official history must deny our presence
Lest it tell the truth.

There are no mothers of Federation
For we see no need
To turn every step of history
into a gestational
Embrace.

We have no need
To pronounce upon
Motherhood
For we know where we came from,
and we know that can't be bested,
by protestations that women weren't there,
women
didn't count,
women
had no role
to play.

We know in any herstory
Shoulders are
The thing
The thing
That make us strong
That take us where we want to going
Where we're going.

We know in any
women's history, no contradiction in terms
Amongst this 'monstrous regiment of women'
No harridans, truly
No monstrous regiments, really
Shoulders are
The platform
on which we have always stood
from Christine de Pizan
to Catherine the Great
Australia's Catherine the Great
that is
Catherine Helen Spence.

And we know
no shoulders are alone
For there's an army of women under us
Beneath our feet
Foot sore and weary
Yet holding us
Up
Over centuries.

There are the named shoulders, its true
the ones we can now reel off
as if we knew them all along,
from childhood
to now
When too often they were taken from us
Kept from us
denied or derided
by the arbiters of history.
We know.

Which is why, over centuries
women have stood
albeit unremarked
side by side
linking arms
arms
linked
federated frowsty footsore frazzled frightened, even

frumpish forthright forewarned forearmed feared fearing
yet fortunately forced into recognising
one woman alone is not enough

For we know
no shoulders are alone
And there's an army of women under us
Beneath our feet
Foot sore and weary
Yet holding us
Up
Over centuries.

Which is why

There are no
mothers
of federation
for
everyone of us
counts
as all our mothers did before us
and our mothers mothers mothers

Too many
to be named
women holding us up
whilst we hold up the others
this grand army of women.

Yes, there's an army of women under us
Beneath our feet
Foot sore and weary
Yet holding us
Up
Over centuries



'Merit, Cannot They Name be Woman?'*

What is a woman worth?
Equal to a man, or less?
Measured by brains, intellect, wit and intelligence.
By merit in argument,
By merit in wisdom,
By merit in capacity and drive, in energy and spirit, in expertise and
commonsense,
In common endowment, specialised qualification.
By wisdom in brainpower,
By intellect in contribution,
By wit in management and style,
By intelligence in creativity.

Is a woman's worth equal to that of a man?
Or is she worth more than man ever dreamed of, or gave credence to,
tribunal made measure of,
commission gave value to,
judges judged wisely of,
world in dominant perspective granted measure to?

Is not a woman's worth worthy of merit?

                          August 1999





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