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Books & Poetry

Poem: Post-Colonial

Books & Poetry

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A Thai mother and her children coming to a strange and changing new land at the end of the ’60s is the subject of today’s Poet’s Corner contribution from Adam Aitken.


They grew up – quicker, and rougher round the edges
than she’d planned, her children
hounding the North Shore’s lower end,
losing laundry bags,
rationing snooker money.
They took their losses, spent their gains
with pin-point precision
back spin, double off the side cushion,
chalked up cues
passing back and forth, back and forth.

She was beautiful then, glamorous at a distance
illusion plus and licensed
forklift driver, Samuel Taylor Aerosols.
Suzy Wong they called her, Suzy Wong
with a Noel Coward accent
lamenting a lost chauffeur, her husband.
She should’ve been saving
for a new appliance
at Big Bear Shopping Mall.

Remember Louie the Fly
spreading disease with the greatest of ease?
Remember Menzies,
remember the CPA, and all the mates
she cooked a hundred suppers for
when she’d read
a union intercedes? Why invoke
discrimination’s house?
Vietnam consumed
truckloads of flagons, teenage poets
and the best efforts
of Dad’s advertising
The phone was tapped for years.

I hope they wiped those tapes
of weeping and recrimination
but mostly
silence between shifts,
quiet lunch breaks,
a word with the manager,
prescriptions through a side window,
scribbled sick notes for the teacher.

They grew up –
quicker, and a little rougher round the edges
than she’d planned.

Adam Aitken was born in London of Australian and Thai parents, and spent part of his childhood in Thailand before coming to Australia. He gained his PhD in Creative Writing from Sydney University in 2006, was Visiting Distinguished Writer at the University of Hawaii in 2010, and Resident at the Australia Council’s Keesing Studio in Paris in 2012. He has taught narrative writing at the Sydney University of Technology, and published six collections of his own poetry, as well as appearing widely in anthologies and journals.

Readers’ original and unpublished poems of up to 40 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to A poetry book will be awarded to each contributor.

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