Invasion Day

Today is Australia Day. aka Invasion Day or Survival Day It is an ill-chosen date for a national holiday as it commemorates the landing of the First Fleet and the start of British settler colonialism which of course led to horrendous violence (genocide) against the Aboriginal people. My thoughts in a sort of poem…

Invasion Day

Perky girls in
patriotic
made in China
beachwear

flag bikinis
bedecking 
their orange-brown
bodies
sweating
in the summer
heat

blond
sombrero boys
white zinc noses
and capes
of southern cross polyester
flapping parochially
in their
wake

chanting
laughing
singing
barbecuing
boozing
swearing
celebrating

under the glorious empire sun

drinking to their
parched
“lucky”
country
and their day off work

Holdens revving
in time
to tuneless renditions
of Waltzing Matilda
or Khe Sanh

the irony completely
lost on them
as they curse
Aboriginal rights
migrants
boat people
and un-Australian values
taking root in
“their land”

this is Australia
this is Australia Day

the view from the beach
in 1788
however
was no cause
for celebration

26 January
Invasion Day
a day of
mourning

Karin Speedy 25/01/2016

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The Night Before Waitangi Day

I wrote this poem when living in Sydney. I always felt like I was living in exile there. It was February 5, 2015, the night before my birthday, the night before Waitangi Day. I was feeling nostalgic, thinking of home and the Treaty (Te Tiriti o Waitangi) and what it means in different places and to different people. Also imagining the links and disconnect between the two settler colonies of New Zealand and Australia. It seems an appropriate poem for National Poetry Day in Aotearoa.
______________________________
The Night Before Waitangi Day
 
Birthday Eve
In Poihakena
No holiday tomorrow
This country does not stop to reflect
Upon what has been
And what might have been
And what could be
Written between the lines
Inscribed in blood
Across the way
In Aotearoa
 
No time off to
Contemplate what was
Translated
Creatively?
Faithfully?
Culturally?
No,
Erroneously.
Dangerously.
Colonially.
 
All a bit slapdash
Really.
Never mind
Not important
The power in the hands
Of those writing
The history
And all that.
Fudge it
A bit
The natives will never notice.
Besides
They won’t be here long
To relate their version
Their history
To question
To protest
To speak
Even.
 
Absence
Silence
Extinction
Progress
Taming
Homogenising
Nation building
Or some such
Developmental bullshit.
Wasn’t that
The plan?
 
Not so different here.
No treaty though
No celebration
No day off work
No discussion
No critique
A non-event
Almost.
 
Birthday Eve
In Sydney
Time to remember.
(c) Karin Speedy 2015
First published in “Piercing the White Space”, Blackmail Press 41, November 2015,