Published in Overland Issue Queensland Poetry Awards 2020 · Poetry Oodgeroo Noonuccal Prize 2020 Winner | Choice cuts Mykaela Saunders I got a bone to pick with capitalism and a few to break. – Refused, ‘Worms of the Senses / Faculties of the Skull’ my blood is worth bottling, so I’m told as though I’m made of gold as if I’m worth my weight in clinking coins— but I tiptoe around this auctioneer’s fairground, quietly, acting as though there’s nothing of value inside me cos all these sly salespeople size me up like this is a meat market fetishised flesh up for auction, or slaughter sleazy leers that weigh me and measure me butcher me I’ve seen the gleam on every licked lip concealing carving knife tongues lifetime of little remarks mark and re-mark me I got thick skin but it’s no good thing—scar tissue as sensitive as tough— maladaptive trait from poking and prodding and wondering and weighing my blood against their knowledge of a curated culture—a pale imitation of what lives and breathes— concocted by experts in ivory towers, published in papers without our permission, bound up in books we can’t afford to read, sermonised by grifters inside stolen sandstone walls under whose scrutiny I WANT TO MUTINY I scrunch myself up like waste paper instead and chew on life-long meditations, like: – how to lease my labour in balance, with dignity within a market monetising indignity and imbalance – how to talk about my culture without the vultures descending on my words, to pick and flick and peel and pull so the sores just keep on weeping – how to say the things I-need-to-but-shouldn’t or they’ll attract wights like flies, like feral camp dogs sniffing round and humping the corpses of my ancestors – how to hold onto my integrity when cold neoliberal logic drills into me and the colonial vacuum sucks the marrow from me as fodder I want to be sustained but the terms are extractive for an early casualty of late-stage capital, dreaming dead desires— mobility upward through of trickle- down economics this pyramid schema is not so classy, reducing us to fucking tiers & if I don’t laugh I’ll cry poor me! I’d sell my soul to speak a language that doesn’t commodify the sacred or express despair and disdain in economic frames but here I am— speaking words that colonised our old people’s tongues same time their babies and wages were stolen bit rich! (well. Uncle David’s on the fifty dollar note now but I never get to look at his face for too long) no free rides here the only inheritance I’ll ever get is all this trans-generational baggage I never wanted and these precious bones get heavy and when you’re poor—can’t eat or dream— all you wanna do is slip a femur from your thigh pop it out the way a black bean slips its skin crack him clean open, pour the bright rich marrow into a bowl and offer it to whoever is sniffing around for a meal ticket or even just a meal Mykaela Saunders Mykaela Saunders is a Koori and Lebanese writer, teacher, community researcher, and the editor of THIS ALL COME BACK NOW, the world’s first anthology of blackfella speculative fiction, forthcoming with UQP in 2022. Mykaela has won the Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize, the National Indigenous Story Award, the Oodgeroo Noonuccal Indigenous Poetry Prize, the Grace Marion Wilson Emerging Writers Prize and the University of Sydney's Sister Alison Bush Graduate Medal. Of Dharug descent, and working-class and queer, Mykaela belongs to the Tweed Goori community. More by Mykaela Saunders 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 First published in Overland Issue 228 15 May 202326 May 2023 · Poetry Poetry | Two poems by Ouyang Yu Ouyang Yu You have to do it badly. If it is poetry, even more so, because there is no because. If you write like you were the best in the world, you are the worst because you pretend too hard. Too harsh, too. Why do you want to be the best? Is that because you are a lack or there is a lack in you that you feel like filling up all the time? Even when you are named the best, does that mean anything? 1 First published in Overland Issue 228 21 April 20232 May 2023 · Friday Features Poetry can already be free Ender Başkan There’s a regime of logic that we can call Australia, that we can say on many fronts is also a fiction. Any poem that meets Australia within its logic, taking it at face value, will be boring and it might be competent. If you use an AI app, it will definitely be competent AND boring materially, but conceptually it’ll be amazing, in that it met evil (management speak/the invisible hand/terra nullius) with cunning, with another kind evil—amoral, not immoral.