Five poems for Peril Issue 8- Why are people so unkind?

My Religious Experience

I prayed to God
when I was 13:

Dear God,

Please stop
Kingsley Beaumont
Andrew Child
Jimmy Hatgikyriazis
Con Katsambis
Peter Zographas
picking on me at school
for being too Chinese

and not Australian enough.


I prayed three times
per day

in front of a Made in Australia mirror.
Though made in Australia

I still looked too Chinese
until Peter Hartman made them stop.

I believed in God
for the rest of the year.

Ken Chau

ruby slippers

go home india
as if it makes sense / but
there it is / red-loud illiterate
on decaying station wall
you ain/t in kansas any more
sister / welcome to the burbs

don/t just cause you born here
mean you got a right to be
cz any aussie / f you could
spot one round here these days’d
set that straight / jesus
mate / get the hell back
what you think you/re lookin at
nigger / boong /curry puff
monkeyin off that overhead rail
trainin your way to steal my
blue-eyed daughter/s job
r even worse / god forbid
wasn’t it that damn whitlam
started all this multicult

go home india
as if that even makes sense / but
there it is / red-loud illiterate
on decaying station wall
you ain/t in kansas any more
brother / n get the fuck outta here
if you ain/t gonna pay for those
ruby slippers

Maxine Clarke


My great-grandfather William and
his sister Florrie walked out of their
own life and sight where time
stood still for a thousand years
to suburban Sydney of the 20’s.

Willingly they marched into a
home-made Jiangyong where
by pale moonlight through lead glass
as cross-gendered laotong they
whispered their Bondi nu shu.

Florrie would be locked
in a darkened back room
when people came to call. William’s
wife made it so; knowing
his truth when marrying him.

If William was the the moon
Florrie was the silk embroidered
fan covering all but her eyes
that spoke of the streams
and leaping fish of Hunan.

Deb Adamson

in my head i was elizabeth bennet

chingchong won’t
let you out of the pool
freckled mullet boy blocked my
exit to the ladder

i was 6 and didn’t believe in
boys believed in boy germs so

i eggbeat water til he left.

in my head i was scout finch
elizabeth bennet
nancy drew
stepped back, startled
from my own reflection

i was 16 and i believed in boys
my brown eyed crush asked
why did you come here? as if
i needed permission to enter
the town. why?

but i had it good
my crush said pauline
hanson was right
but he didn’t corner
me he didn’t shove
her down my throat.

my brother didn’t have it
so good. times
he came home shirt
ripped bag gaping
mouth lined with silence.

Lily Chan

Bendigo Bent

Smile, Bendigo, smile a bit, even though
There is no gold to go
Around and the sky is as overcast
As this police guy or this barrister
Or this counter girl who cuts in:
Can you wait till I finish?
I could have said to her:
You should have waited for me to finish first!
Bendigo, a courthouse of shoes
Some as high as its three floors
Folded in and out like four fans
In four Vs, two of which are inverted
And a translation in English
Of King James’ Magna Carta, clause No. 10 goes:

If anyone who has borrowed a sum of money from Jews dies before the debt has been repaid, his heir shall pay no interest on the debt for so long as he remains under age, irrespective of whom he holds his lands.

When the guy reconfirms my name by saying, Oya?
I say to him, Irish, I’m Irish, O, apostrophe, Young
‘Okay,’ he says. ‘I see. ‘O’Young’
Here, everyone I meet bears some Chinese features
One guy who told me where the court was had a face
like Chinese clay mixed with Aussie pumpkin
A young man at the restaurant invited my eyes into his
To explore some sort of buried province whose language has yet to be
In the local museum celebrating the birth of the nation
I, the only visitor, farted and kept farting hoping that the security camera
Did not detect the noise

Ouyang Yu

2 thoughts on “Poetry”

  1. one of the best poems ive read about being persecuted & feeling alienated in australia is ‘sleepless in canberra’ by tatjana lukic. it tells of several characters, the first an asian woman who calls herself susan but the name is no protection.. its in lukic’s book ‘la la la’ (5 islands, 2009).

Your thoughts?