Dropbear poetics | Judith Wright Poetry Prize, third place

	    Tiddalik say
I’m such great thirst
I will drain the land
and drag my big fat belly
across the empty sea

	    Bunyip say
I’m gonna gobble you up
if you step waters where I sleep
and with wet claws I will snatch
your spine and ankles to fill them
			    with stain and stench

	    what the Mopoke say
don’t need saying
if you grown up under his eyes

now here’s the part 
you write Black Snake down
for a dilly of national flair 
	    true god you don’t know how wild I’m gonna be 
	    to every fucking postmod blinky bill
	    tryna crack open my country
	    mining in metaphors
	    for that place you felt felt you
			    somewhere in 
	    	    	    the Royal National

Waagan says use heart
but I am rage and dreaming 
at the gloss green palm fronds
of this gentry aesthetantique
	    all this potplanting in our sovereignty 
	    a garden for you to swallow speak our blood

if you’re taking that talk
you gotta scrape it from my schoolhouse walls
filter gollywog ashtray snugglepot kitsch 
into your pastoral deconstruct
	    fill four’n twenty pies
	    with artisan magpies
	    if you sever their heads
	    you can wear them to the doof

I say rage and dreaming
for making liar the lyrebird
for making mimetic
the power 	Baiami gave
when Ribbon’s mischief swallowed first life
	    ochre dust
	    creation breath
	    ancestor song

we aren’t here 
	    to hear you poem
you do wrong 		you get wrong
you get
gobbled up

Image: illustration from Blinky Bill, written and illustrated by Dorothy Wall



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Evelyn Araluen

Evelyn Araluen is a Goorie and Koori poet, researcher and co-editor of Overland Literary Journal. Her Stella-prize winning poetry collection DROPBEAR was published by UQP in 2021. She lectures in Literature and Creative Writing at Deakin University.

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