Sweeney Deplores the Rise of the Fascists

imm Niall Lucy on what would have been his 60th

John Kinsella

Time was never out of joint, mate, a hermit on the plain
above Madura Pass tells Sweeney. And those who think so
just want the text of the earth to be read in a different way.

And so the spectres of eagles killed on the great highway
ranging east to west and back again, eagles killed pulling
at the sinew and fur of kangaroos roadkilled in their thousands,

eagles killed plucking plumes from emu carcasses, caught
out by the bullbars of semi-trailers ploughing through the expanse
as dawn snaps and the blue-bush spark to life in the dry air.

Listen, says the hermit, Hear the vanishing call of the vanishing
quail-thrush, hear the dogger's vehicle come back from his killings,
hear the deceased dingos calling the moon down to the treeless

horizon. You are haunted, the hermit says, You are haunted
by the toxins falling from the mouths of demagogues — angry
whites who cherish the idea of DNA, swilling from chalices

of pure hate, rallying around their flags gifted to them by the warfare
of their ancestors. You are haunted by the chiasmus of the pass
rising and falling — plain to plain — at sunset, the Major Mitchells

coming in to find a stand of trees on the burning edge, bound down
by the renaming they've had imposed on their own language,
and on the language of those they've co-existed with for so very long.

And looking out/into the openness of the waterless place,
where not walking doesn't mean the non-presence of ghosts,
the hermit says, It doesn't mean...! And Sweeney identifies.

We are one and the same, they say, as the patriots taste
their foul air and make God do their dirty work and deliver
themselves unto. These are the scriptures of every other

making, making their bloody points. Sweeney swivels over
the karst and wonders where he will land once he sets forth?
Which tower can I alight on without burning up?

Who will share my ancient songs?


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