mia council casa es tu council casa

By Ali Whitelock

i live out of sydney these days it is close

to the beach though we are not wealthy.
Some days there are whales other days dolphins
occasional jellies and never dead babies i like visiting
the art gallery in the city it takes me one hour
to drive there i park at the expensive
multi-storey it is a $10 flat rate on a sunday
after parking i cut through hyde park past the statue
of robert burns standing alone and too far away
from scotland we are both foreigners here of the acceptable
kind. i like the location of the gift shop
it is right next to the entry which is also the exit
i always go to the gift shop first they have handbags
made of unshaved cow and earrings like hot air balloons
and a dimly lit section at the back with mysterious
art books in thick polythene covers the thickness
of the polythene indicates their seriousness
and the price and there is an arsehole in there wearing
jesus sandals though he bears no resemblance
to jesus and the arsehole says to a random
woman (who turns out to be an arsehole too) he took a holiday
in paris once on the left bank some thirty
years back when it really was something and if hitler
was alive today this whole thing with the syrian refugees
would not be happening and the female arsehole agrees
then the jesus sandalled arsehole says what’s going
on over there is nothing but a european invasion
and the subject of the little boy’s body on bodrum
beach comes up and i have been there on holidays
some thirty years back when it really was something
the hotel was right next door to the doctor’s surgery
bent black clad women came daily clacked rosary
beads on milk crates in full view of fat tourists
bathing topless on hotel loungers ordering
chips and cokes they did not need from kadir
the turkish waiter who brought me proper chai
in a glass and taught me how to say
‘tomorrow i am going to instanbul’.
After the little boy’s body got washed
up on the sand australia offered synthetic
duvets fake chai lattes and empty promises
to twelve thousand of the five million
in camps who cry themselves to sleep at night
and i have calculated this on my iPhone and it works
out to be a teardrop in the ocean to the closest
decimal point australia i have offered
more hope to more cockatoos more safety
to kookaburras more gum leaves to koalas
than the crumbs you are flicking
from your all you can eat buffet
it is time to feed the birds australia
tuppence a fucking bag sure what does it cost
to pipe in a haggis share some tatties and neeps
raise a glass to their health mia council
casa es tu council casa australia the world’s
eyes are rolling in your general direction
and right now you look like some kind of jesus
sandalled arsehole sitting on the veranda
of your ocean front property with your deep pockets
and short arms pretending you don’t even know
it’s your turn to buy the next round at the bar.

(First published in Ali Whitelcok’s debut poetry collection, ‘and my heart crumples like a coke can’ (Wakefield Press, 2018).)

Artwork by Kathryn Lamont.