2nd Prize in Friendly Street’s “National Political Poetry Competition”

Alan Ginsberg

I was very pleased to be awarded 2nd prize in the  Friendly Street “National Political Poetry Competition”, for my poem Australia.

The poem was inspired by Alan Ginsberg’s great 9 minute poetic rant America, in which he laments his fractured relationship with his home country. He addresses America as if he was addressing a life partner.

My take on Australia also laments a fractured relationship with a country I adopted, or adopted me, over 20 years ago.  It was really during the Howard years that I fell out with Australia, though things have improved somewhat since he was so sweetly beaten in 2007.  Shame Labor has been such a let-down, frittering away a huge amount of goodwill, and caving in to the bullying of the Murdoch press. But almost anything is better than an Australian Liberal (read hard right) government.

Here’s the poem, and there’s a link to the Ginsberg poem at the end.


(after Alan Ginsberg)

Australia, I gave you my heart and you broke it.

It’s over between us.

This is not about me it’s about you. You’ve changed.

Australia I came to you with nothing, and now I’m something.  Why am I not sure I made the right choice?

Australia I was a socialist when I was young and I’m not sorry.

I marched in the streets, waved placards, shouted slogans, sang “The Internationale”, wore the T-shirt.  You seemed to want the same things I did.  I thought we would grow closer as we got older, but Australia we’ve grown apart.

Australia why do you insist on draping another country’s flag over your shoulder?

What is it with you and America?

Australia you do realise you’re in the southern hemisphere?

Australia why do you have a third world country living right inside your belly?

Why does it seem like most of your history books only go back 200 years?

Did you eat all of your native animals Australia? If so, why do you need all those sheep as well?

Australia is it your ambition to supply the whole world with uranium and carbon dioxide?

Australia take me to your leader.

Australia, cancel that last request. It’s clear you don’t have any leaders.

Australia why do you let shit for brains shock jocks rule your intellectual life?

Why are your businessmen such macho pricks?

and when will you come out of the closet?

Australia I feel nostalgic for Paul Keating.

Christ, I’m worried I might even be feeling nostalgic for Malcolm Fraser and Robert Menzies.

Australia when will you free David Hicks?

Australia why are you obsessed with big bananas, big koalas, big rocking horses, big pineapples?  Is it some kind of penis envy thing?

Australia, if you were on the psychiatrist’s couch, I think you would be labelled ‘psycopathic’, lacking in empathy for anyone earning less than $150,000 a year.

Australia what are you on?

Can I have some too?

Australia I am being serious.

Australia what are we going to do about this situation, and don’t tell me “she’ll be right”?

Australia it occurs to me that maybe you’re not Australia at all. Maybe George W was right, and you’re really Austria. You’ve certainly been exhibiting some Teutonic tendencies of late.

Maybe I’m really Australia. I’m talking to myself yet again. Hell, I’m scared – my extremities are about to be colonised by hordes of desperate, dark skinned people, and you know I’m allergic to dark skinned people.

They’re coming to steal our daughters, to put a mosque on every street corner, to wake us with a wailing call to prayer, to force our women to cover their faces, to impose Sharia law.

Australia this is the impression I get from your media.

Is this correct?

Ok  Australia, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that. You can be Australia again.

I’m too small for the job anyway.

Seriously Australia, if we are to resume our relationship, you need to make some changes.

I’m prepared to help. I’ll put my straight shoulder to the wheel.

Australia I’ll meet you halfway. I’ll give up beer, watching football and staying out late, if you’ll give up on shock jocks, spineless politicians and your forelock tugging to far off countries. That seems fair to me.

Australia do we have a deal?

© Mike Hopkins 2011


Alan Ginsberg reads his poetic rant America: