Terra Australis Nondum Cognita
Dean Gessie

and those black fellas believed these white fellas
spirits of their ancestors (pale time travellers of everywhen)
and those black fellas received venereal, opium, rum and pox
and they returned witchetty grubs, red roo, honey ants and fruit bats
and the white fellas killed no one with their guns
because the new land was called terra nullius (land belonging to no one)
and the captain struck the collarbone of the elder
(he that helped himself to the white fellas shovel)
and the elder spread his arm to indicate everything he could see
and the captain surrendered his shovel of wrought iron
just as black fellas shared their axes of polished greenstone
and so it was with ropes and stakes and sacred land
these white fellas pushed the black fellas further from the sea
scattered burial totems of coral red basket and seagull feather
and the aborigine elder pushed the collarbone of the captain
and the captain knew it was wrong to survey and deed what wasn’t theirs
and he was ashamed and he agreed that his voice
was no greater than the magpie or the blue winged kookaburra
and he negotiated to settle the interior space of terra nullius
(that ground that was less hospitable like them)
and to release poors and politicals from handcuffs and leg irons
and these made a mountain of metal where everyone was free to piss
and the captain cast off his blue jacket white waistcoat and gold buttons and
humbled himself to learn yellomundi and butbut and he was granted
initiation by them that met and decided he was ten years old
and he was painted with red clay and fat of the wallroo and wombat
and he received cuts to his chest arms shoulders and buttocks
and the penis of this white fella was split with a stone knife and
a front tooth was knocked out to mark him as community
and he danced the tree lion climbing ripping and pulling
and he sang the songlines that trek creation
and he blew didjerry didjerry through termite eucalyptus
pressed his lips to beeswax and roused grins and guffaws
and he took his blind eye seeing to the sails of sirius of the orion
and he stayed the cannons and six-pounder guns
and his voice was dreamtime and ancestral beings
and those that saw and heard pushed the collarbone of the other
and they agreed against greed to call this place
the southern land not yet known
and it remains so to this day