Brisbane Barrio: ’17 together on a picket line’

Brisbane Barrio
by Lachlan Hurse and Sue Monk

Juan woke up
held Ana in his arms
and whispered to her
“cover my body with kisses
so I may face the day”

The children were still sleeping
when he closed the door
and made his way again
to the production line
assembling steel doors all day
on a concrete floor
he dreamed
he dreamed
surprised to be after
all these years
still so far from home

Hard words rang
across the factory floor
Juan heard the sound of hate
bitter words to injure
a shout that sent the signal
for the war to come
a trigger for intimidation
cruel and hard
a sorry tale of segregation
push and shove
when steel cut flesh
the union man said
“never in my life
have I seen a person
stoop so low”

On the tenth day of November
Nineteen ninety four
seventeen said “no”
to divide and rule
and later stood together
on a picket line
discovering how hard
it can be
to belong

MUA here to Stay!
MUA here to Stay! 1998

And its flesh and steel
and storm and calm
its simple truth and complex lies
intransigence and fluid lines
unyielding strength
and compromise

Ready now
steady now
ready for a little fight

Rules are made and rules are broken
(oh yes they are)
things are said
other things stay unspoken
(my lips are shut)
the consequences are not
too hard to see
(you don’t need big glasses
or a telescope)
these days a worker
just has to be
ready now
steady now
ready for a little fight

copyright © Lachlan Hurse and Sue Monk 1998

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