Poem

Maxine Beneba Clarke
Ritual

so we’ll go to the polls

        lined round winter street corners

pushy leafleteers

        shoving how-tos in our hands

 

we’ll elbow past smiling placards

        and straight-talking spruikers

still wearied with the bickering

        of campaign attack ads

 

and they’ll broadcast first photos

        of bill and scott voting

flanked by their young families

        in we’re-humble-folk clothes

 

as workers trail their fingers

        down long address columns

wielding black pen and ruler

        to strike out our names

 

we’ll go cardboard-boothed

        to the primary schools

community centres

        and the churches to boot

 

and friendly neighbours

        ideologically opposed

will avert their eyes

        as they fold up their votes

 

some swayed by tax breaks

        with resignation in their sighs

others nobly honouring

        offshore lives

 

this one’s for the climate

        and the stolen land

that voter says the liberals

        just forced her hand

 

that one’s nationals know the country

        she’s who-cares-who-wins

he just wants penny wong

        as the foreign minister

 

and school parents will coin-change

        at poll baking sales

as choc-crackle-smeared kids

        run amuck at play

 

then on the way out

        there’s the sausage sizzle

white bred, sauce, hold the onion

        (with an abbott-joke giggle)

 

and we’re all heading home

        to turn the box on

crack open a cold one

        or champers with mum

 

as we watch the seats falling

        to the blue or the red

 

and hope good old antony

                            calls before bed

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