Moonee Moonee Chain of Ponds
Moonee Moonee Chain of Ponds With your reeds and your black swans Moonee Moonee Chain of Ponds With your reeds and your black swans Moonee Moonee Chain of Ponds With your reeds and your black swans Moonee Moonee Chain of Ponds With your reeds and your black swans This is The Railway. I’ve come to carve your circles straight I’ve come to bring your edges parallel and there: a ribbon of blue you’ll be to carry the coal that feeds me You know the city cannot wait, You know the swamp will soon be drained, You know the sky will turn to road, and yet you still resist. Moonee Moonee Chain of Ponds With your reeds and your black swans
Walking west Out across the Lowlands Drifting with the coal dust To find my home footing To find my home footing River lined with tanks Bluestone beaching on the banks Iron girder railway bridge Footscray high upon the lava ridge The confluence is deep and wide A brutal snake across the sky We watch container ships glide Filled with sugar Built on bonemills On this stolen land Fertilizer sheds are gabled tight Furnace rooflines over flaking pyrite Arsenic cinders, hidden infill on the riverbank There is the past Flowing again Saltwater pushes and pulls at a manmade bend Always there The past is always there Signals are dark The river a seam Light on the ridge is now hidden by glass and steel But I still feel The silty clay Meeting the bay I will soon be a layer I will soon be a layer I will soon be a layer A layer, a layer, a layer
Blue Lake, where is it you lie? Hidden, on the north-west side Beneath bitumen, I heard they filled you in, Drained you out, Covered over, Driven further away, Concrete on clay. Blue Lake, fringed with pink and green, Saltwater, rise and then recede. Now only myth, Under South Wharf, could you persist? Driving home, over Dynon, Lost my bearings, and then, Caught dreaming again, About that Blue Lake.
Cartridge maker by the River Pouring powder into thimbles Metal rolling bloody foil (Her) Body laid in flour and oil Reaper, binder, boiler, packer Superphosphate chimney stacks are Multiplying down the River Burning copper pyrites to a cinder Take the cinders to the dredges Fill the saltmarsh up to edges This is how a city grows: Border caution fencing forward Woolen mills and cordite tresses Nitroglycerine confessors Now I dream and float there with you Under Calder, under bridges Ammunition safely stored Warships downstream justly moored? Moonlight over tidal song There I find you Maribyrnong River, River, all your people River, River, all your people All the lives we never grieved Untold bodies lost and given Untold bodies lost and given
This poem about buried wetlands was written during our Newer Volcanics project, and recently recorded as a soundscape for Due West Festival. Many 19th century railway lines in Melb are built along and over wetlands, as the land was considered ill-suited for building, and was cheap to purchase at the time.
Through boulders grey and honeycombed, carving out a bed in time, two rivers meet on the south west side. The ebb and flow now realigned. Paved and railed. Containerised. Roadways hard against the tide. To cross you, morning and at night. Wetlands sleep beneath these lines. I never wondered who you were - until my sleep became disturbed - until my feet were raw with nerves unnamed yearning; - until searching for a place to be. I remembered: water pooling in the yard, algae blooming thick and green, cracked soles and holes as my shoes sank classroom cold, June’s creeping damp. The drain, once creek, now channelised, rising through the night. I wished I was the underlay: the weave and weft of silt and clay of saline marsh and sedge and drift. My carriage sways. Trains glide along the causeway. To cross you, morning and at night. Wetlands sleep beneath these lines. I cross you.
Heart Beating Breathless
The night is a train And it leaves for the west Sway to the sleepers Heartbeating breathless I sink through the wetlands I sink through the clay I reach for the red soil Basalt carves its way Basalt carves its way I leave McKay and his lore I leave colonial wealth and theft Where the grazing was easy And the wheat fields pushed out west And west And west And west... ------ ½ time Cooling waters of Narrm In the bleakness I turn to you Where all our tears flow into your arms There is so much that I never knew There is so much that I never knew There is so much that I never knew ------Full time Bloodstock stamp in the bluestone stable Game wings scatter as the shots ring out Coursing the dunes: a boxthorn fable Heartbeating Breathless Samphire ripped from the edge of the shore Burning a pyre in the noonday sun Rifle Range to the final salt lake Kick at the thorns and the Crown as we run As we run As we run As we run As we run As we run As we run As we run As we run Rabbit run
Spotswood is a tribute to the historic Spotswood Pumping Station, which was built to pump Melbourne’s sewage out of the city in the 1890s. It is also about the lowest geographical point in Narrm /Melbourne, where all water flows towards (including the gravity fed sewers), and is where the first woman scientist, Lucey Alford, was employed by the Melbourne Board of Works, in the 1930s. It is a song about place, history and personal memory associated with this significant riverside site.
Down by the river where the factories lie, And the Westgate stretches across the sky, I've moved north and I've lived south, But I always return to the river mouth. Out from the city all the secrets pour, Through pipes that were laid a hundred years ago; Love and ruin in the straining wells, Rags and bodies and teeth and gold. A woman of science in the tower above, Her laboratory a labour of love, There she worked while the war raged on, Never to marry or she'd loose it all. When I was young I never knew That I'd be brought back here to you, No stranger thing than how we're drawn Back to the place from which we're born.
Saltworks is about a former solar evaporation salt works established in the 1920s over a series of naturally occurring tidal lagoons along Skeleton Waterholes Creek, Melbourne, which have since become an internationally significant wetland and bird sanctuary area. The site is crown land in an industrial area, and became a bird sanctuary at the end of its lease in 1993. The site is an example of industrial land use which inadvertently contributed to habitat conservation. Our song retells this history, and seeks to evoke the unique, expansive atmosphere of the salt marsh environment.
Waiting on the saltpans, watching from the high ground: tide tide tide through the traps. Sun burns and burns the crystals bright, I narrow my eyes to the glistening light. A scatter of sodium chloride and silt, desiccant diamonds on silica beds. Catalyst and cleaner on colonial rails to the canneries, the abattoirs, and later, the oil refinery. Sun burns and burns. The birds return: white faced herons in flight black swans - I call to you. We lie, lied, lie and turn. Then walk to the edge for forgiveness in the shallows and sea grass. Sun burns and burns on the western shore. This inlet is hotter by two degrees - that’s what they tell me. And there is the city like a cardboard cut out linked by a bridge I crossed in my youth, distant and grey (like I don’t even know you), this was the entrance that changed everything. This was the surface, now covered and carved: the buffering edges of Skeleton Creek the sentinel flame of the refinery still burns and burns.
When it rains you flow high Past eleven quarry holes To dub the town: Stoneopolis Your ancient bed served London well Her pavement smooth and durable For heels low and high While distant feet hooved, unshod Sink into softer clays and silt like mine (Feet like mine) When it rains you flow high With waste of wool and skin The scouring foam of sulfur, lime and tan Into a hair-combed Half-moon estuary Mangrove fringed in green and white (In green and white) When it rains you flow high A reminder water always find a way To this bay home A reminder water always finds a way To this bay home To this bay home Casuarina burning a casualty And the tea tree felled for the tanneries Call it backwash: push away the estuary Pave with concrete: take your blood away from me
Merri, your water flows into the quarry Where bluestone once lay below, But now the gutters are paved with your heart, And the hole is filled with clay And fallen homes. Evening, when we ride into the valley, Cool air and tannin sighs, Allocasuarinas whisper the same song, As the water follows home, And so do I. Down past the convent, And under river, And through the headland, And out to sea; Allocasuarinas whisper the same song: I will always follow you.
As sure as wood will rot in the rain, Some things will never be the same: Like you and me, And the rising sea. Some things roll on, Some things run out. You can see the patterns from the old lookout: Tracks in the grass, Where we used to pass Over and over Again. There is only so much time Pulling like a fishing line, Whether I'm right there on the reel, It's the hook I always feel. So I lay my bed With sticks and leaves, And curl up like an ancient millipede. I've got to let this go. Maybe something will grow, Or take me over again.