Maxine Beneba Clarke

baked redbrick,

   in the darwin heat

dry palms whisper,

   in the stifling breeze


bloke says

               mate, we were sure it was fireworks


ruddy face shock-blank,

   mouth set grim



               yeah-nah, never thought this’d happen here ay

stunned, swatting the blowies away



young one, to the side, packs a rollie

fingers trembling,

   like death’s walked this way


               i was in me undies


as shock settles in breathless, wide-eyed



    off cracked motel concrete

slaughter stains,

pinot-dark on the carpet


                saw him rage from room to room

(to the camera, grief-stricken, alarmed)


four dead


               it was bloody roll-of-the-dice


               thought we’d sorted this

               back at port arthur


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.