Poetry winner: East Perth [Imagined Nation]

If I were quizzed about my values,

I might recall some of the things

I value most: the endless meals

at Formosa, dated Taiwanese

singing contests idling in the back

part of my brain, or the time H

said ‘I am Australian man’, wound

down the window, shouting

‘fuuuucking cuuunt!’ as proof –


or when H said, ‘maybe we

could get married one day.’

Though that last, in case you

forgot, is something he and I

can’t do anyway (just FYI).

Or – I’m sorry – is this not

what that question means?

Perhaps these things are

un-translatable –


And quizzed upon my language

(which, decades on, I would not say

has been murdered – also just FYI),

I might speak on the time H said

‘I love you’, and I, cheesy grin

and all, gave my best 我爱你 .

I did start to learn but feared

my brain was just too small

(too Australian, even).


Or I might share the vocab

on H’s desk I puzzled over:

‘worth millions’ 百万身价

‘revolutionary’ 革命性

‘please don’t litter’ 请勿乱扔垃圾.

What they were for and why they

mattered mattering less than

that H wanted to learn them.


And if quizzed about how best

to integrate: I would think

it’s in the eyes, the held hands,

the tears, the maccas runs,

the break-ups, 5-year-plans,

the not-quite-sure, the

‘what are we?’, the whats-

app, fb messenger, line

‘i miss u kiss u’ come back

draw a map between our bodies

and they might name it a failed

land but my country is

your country 我爱你




Read the rest of Overland 229

If you enjoyed this poem, buy the issue

Or subscribe and receive
four outstanding issues for a year

Andrew Sutherland

Andrew Sutherland is primarily a theatre practitioner between Perth and Singapore. Recent theatre works include Unveiling: Gay Sex for Endtimes with Perth’s Renegade Productions and Baby Girl for Black Swan State Theatre’s Emerging Writers Group.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate.

Related articles & Essays