By  Peter Lach-Newinsky

AFP photo of grieving father Afghanistan

[The annual Anzac Day ritual coming up soon here in Australia, so a poem in memoriam of two child victims of Australian soldiers in Afghanistan. Howard, Rudd and Gillard were the three Australian Prime Ministers in office during the Afghanistan intervention. ANZUS stands for the Australian/New Zealand/US alliance or treaty.  Photo from AFP relating to other victims and a father’s grief.]


John Howard’s brain was infected with a meme
stipulating Australian government always
sucks up to Empire & had never stood still
in his Vodaphone trackies long enough
to contemplate his guilt sending young men
in khaki to kill or die for an ANZUS-NIP
(National Insurance Policy) blithely
assuming an inability to defend ourselves
& an unexamined fear of Asians wanting
to steal what we stole,

Toor Jan, 7, & his brother Odood, 6,
rose with the sun in the village of Dwan,
had their breakfast of flatbread & sweetened tea

his heart had been hardened
by his lonely narrow life growing up
in a lower-middle burb of lawn & concrete
with the usual father aspiring to rise
above his class with a dodgy venture
among the fuzzy wuzzies that crashed,
a service station where John helped
with the bowser, his mum the usual tight mess
of caring, straight-laced protestant fear,
so John’s passport up the ladder
was to study law & join the Libs
where ANZUS-NIP was holy writ,

Toor Jan, 7, & his brother Odood, 6,
headed out leading the donkeys
for their daily search for kindling
worth two or three bucks in the village bazaar

Kevin Rudd’s heart was hardened & angered
by the early loss of his share-farm father & farm
evicted into sleeping in a car & farmed out
to the rels he was gonna show mum
& get back at the bastards,
so Kev’s passport up the ladder
was to read a lot, become devout,
learn Mandarin & join the ALP machine
where ANZUS-NIP was holy writ,

Toor Jan, 7, and his brother Odood, 6,
knew they had to be back to help out
their recently widowed mother milk
eleven sheep for the cheese & yoghurt they sold

Julia Gillard’s heart was hardened by her need
as a lower middle-class migrant kid from Wales
to over-assimilate into brick and tile Adelaide suburbia
& work her way up the ladder by studying law,
being a young leftie & joining the ALP machine
where ANZUS-NIP was holy writ,

Australian troops who had
‘become aware of an
imminent threat’
called in the cavalry
in the form of an American
$12 million Apache helicopter

which, in an open desert
of unimpeded view,

blasted to shreds

Toor Jan, 7, and his brother Odood, 6

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