Poem

Maxine Beneba Clarke
2019

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 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.