Poem

Maxine Beneba Clarke
Nineteen

and by the end

no one dared to say his name

 

 

so we called him

         nineteen

 

because of how they said

it all began

 

that nineteen votes

let a man

into the halls of parliament

who invoked the crimes of nuremberg

 

whose words caught

round the necks of folk of colour

     and contracted, like rope

 

     they told us

nineteen votes let a man to lead

who tabled white supremacy

             

and on whose hate

the angry dark-webbed corners

                                       then would feed

 

they said nineteen

         

     senatored a man

whose tongue controlled the minds

that ruled the hands that loaded ar-15s

     and who kneeled amongst the slaughter

 

laying blame on the beloved-innocent

         like wreath

 

 

so in the end

     when we could not say his name

 

we said nineteen

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on March 30, 2019 as "Nineteen".

For almost a decade, The Saturday Paper has published Australia’s leading writers and thinkers. We have pursued stories that are ignored elsewhere, covering them with sensitivity and depth. We have done this on refugee policy, on government integrity, on robo-debt, on aged care, on climate change, on the pandemic.

All our journalism is fiercely independent. It relies on the support of readers. By subscribing to The Saturday Paper, you are ensuring that we can continue to produce essential, issue-defining coverage, to dig out stories that take time, to doggedly hold to account politicians and the political class.

There are very few titles that have the freedom and the space to produce journalism like this. In a country with a concentration of media ownership unlike anything else in the world, it is vitally important. Your subscription helps make it possible.

Select your digital subscription

Month selector

Use your Google account to create your subscription