In the Billy Sing Bagdad Bar-and-Grill


I’d heard the director didn’t need an Asian to play him,
young Billy Sing, Gallipoli’s finest sniper.
After all our Kylie could play a geisha.
His Dad was a drover from Shanghai,
his mother Mary-Ann from Staffordshire.
Proud member, model minority hard
working, civil, didn’t do anger or shout,
no doctor had to fix his face.
Essentially Us, a little whitewash
with a good spotter – a novelist.
Productive, liked good roast duck fried rice.
Could have met my ancestor, the Captain
who rode in the cavalry, sold beer,
was mayor of the city staffed with his progeny.
Strengths? At Gallipoli Sing bowled a long spell
under mortar bombardment.
Billie Sing shooting Turks by the hundreds,
brave but hardly suicidal –
no North Korean human wave bullshit,
the Bravery column balanced the Common Sense column.
Why give away your position?
Weaknesses: Sang-froid? Myalgia?
Who needs to know in the Billy Sing
Bagdad Bar-and-Grill?

Adam Aitken

Author: Adam Aitken

Adam Aitken is a poet, memoirist, academic and editor (with Kim Cheng Boey and Michelle Cahill) of Contemporary Asian Australian Poets (Puncher & Wattmann 2013). Born in London in 1960 to an Anglo-Australian father and a Thai mother, Adam spent his childhood in South-east Asia, before migrating to Australia where he graduated from the University of Sydney in 1982. He was a co-editor of the poetry magazine P76, and for a time was associate poetry editor for Heat magazine. He published his first collection, Letter to Marco Polo, in 1985. His most recent books of poetry are Tonto’s Revenge, (Tinfish Press, Hawai’i) and Eighth Habitation, which was shortlisted for the Adelaide Festival Award. His work appears in the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature, Jacket2, Southerly, and in Life Writing. His book Eighth Habitation was shortlisted for the John Bray Award, and he was the Visiting Writer in Residence for Fall Semester, 2010 at the University of Hawaii. Adam first worked with The Red Room Company, writing the poem 'Costumes' for the Occasional Poetry project in 2007. In 2012 he was resident at the Australia Council’s Keesing Studio, Paris. His latest work is a memoir One Hundred Letters Home (Vagabond Press 2016). He currently researches reflective academic writing at the University of Technology Sydney.

Your thoughts?