Maxine Beneba Clarke

first, the Ministry of Truth doctored language

their words weaponry, loaded and aimed:

asylum seekers became illegals

they said detention centres, not jails


then the Ministry of Peace

          tweaked the laws from the nuremberg trials:

said the free in free speech meant hate


they tabled fascist slogans in the parliament;

and burnt the universal declaration


it turned out their robust economy

was just smoke and mirrors for the election win:

that the Ministry of Plenty’d worked overtime

          to spin doubleplus fake-news


they brought in the Ministry of Home Affairs

(calling it border control laid their brute-force too bare)


          the people baulked,

but six months down the track

word-nationalism became normal

meanwhile, in perth,

          orwellian telescreens

scanned every passing face


and they said there’s nothing to fear

if you’ve nothing to hide

     (from the thought-crime database)


the people, terrified, whispered

it’s just like that book – like 1984

room 101 was guantánamo


and false weapons

                     caused decade-long wars


last, they sent men in dark tailored suits,

          with signed warrants,

to the homes of the tellers of truth:

day raids, brazen

          like we’d never seen


when the Ministry of Truth doctored language,

                                                                                        in the year 2019

Maxine Beneba Clarke is the author of The Hate Race and Foreign Soil. She is a winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry.

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