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Michael DawesSmith

A Colonial Disease

I A Sea Shanty

'We are little lost lambs
Gone so far astray
They put us in chains
And led us away
When our judgement it fell
They sent us to hell
But they called it Botany Bay
My Boys
They called it Botany Bay'

II The Cut

Over as far as a sphere allows
In panelled rooms
Wigs and perfumes
A question, debate and fateful decision
On law condemned lives in floating tombs

Made it was would its authors espouse
To send fallen souls
From rotting holes
Ignorant, not innocent of the deadly incision
The heavy exaction their errand tolls

To a vastness of being where spirits arouse
A furnace heart
Sea-set apart
Tended by time's soft precision
Carved in nature's thoughtless art

III Infection

Tiny marks sully
The coastal skin
A cut through spine
Reveals bounty within
To the driven, the deceiver
The wide eyed believer
Every forest a paddock
Every hillside a mine
A fever within a fever

They build and burn
They sing and cuss
Mark their lines while the river
Turns the colour of pus
Their vision blinkered
Their dreams are gilded
But a father, a mother
A son and a daughter
Are watching

IV Morbidity

Cool quiet river
Now febrile with sound
Symphonic forest
A strangled quietude
Ailment renders the garden inverted
Wrought and reasoned by inverted attitude
It lies tabled
Divided, equated
By a fence, a gate
Or a hole in the ground

Vapour wind exhales
Spills a dying dust
Ugly, unwelcome
Invisible resident
It settles, it smothers, others it drowns
A silent pestilence without precedent
Marks every breath
A throat full of thorns
The taste a torture
Of filthy rust

A line of affliction
Its course still unrun
In its wake
Its bitter fullness
A father, head heavy, a burning boulder
A mother bears rheumy eyed witness
Broken souls bury
Their youngest daughter
By the moon-aged grave
Of the eldest son

V A Land Shanty

'Oh little lost lamb
Sent so far away
The other side of the world
And there you must stay
Cast into that gulf
You turned into a wolf
Bounding from Botany Bay
My Boys
Bounding from Botany Bay'

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2014
Edited: Monday, October 13, 2014

Topic(s): history

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