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Resignation syndrome



Selected poems


exaltation against despair

and the world is a wobbly stool

and spindly trees grow to the light

against all the odds of walls and overcrowding

and where there's a tree in your heart

a singing bird will come

and we write of hope

with nothing to write

yet urgent to write it



resignation syndrome

this poem is a repeat

written over and over

a story told again and again


the one thing different it has a revised title

two words



meaning uncomplaining endurance of sorrow or other evil


'syndrome' — a set of concurrent symptoms.


the concurrent symptoms for this poem:

vague staring into mid air

take to their bed

not eating or drinking regularly

not toileting

not responding


imagine a child without light in their eyes


it is not a flash back

it is now

it is the Australian people

it is us the wealthy nation

wanting our cake and to eat it too

what a cliche


using humans as a deterrent

fearful of fear


how many times do we need to tell it?

how many times do we need to hear it ?

how many times

until our hands and legs unshuffle

until hearts fire

our country blaze again


until we can imagine the human faces

staring through the bars

until we see eyes

children eyes

come alive again


until we know

it is our fears

that stifle the light


we want to know

goodness prevailis over evil


humanity is a breath of us

we are all in it

one breath


we breathe each others air

we are the people attempting to breathe


we are suffocating


in depriving breath from one human

we hold it from ourselves


silence is the power

secrecy is the power

yet humanity demanding to breathe together

is enough


is the power



after the massacre

when we wake to truths

that make our hearts beat fast

and walk the blood-red gravel track

that draws us down


to write the story on our heart

needle on our skin

to pin our bones into its frame

and stand


with Milton's fear

of blindness and denial


then grope and touch

the blood-stained earth

with spines of ironbark

and smell the stench of burnt flesh

where only eucalypt should waft


we weep


grapple in the dark

find that so tender song-line of truth

stirs a nations womb to birth

and know

there is no going back



Colleen KeatingColleen Keating is a Sydney poet. She has two published award- winning collections of poetry: A Call to Listen and Fire on Water. She is also co-editor of two anthologies on behalf oft the NSW Women Writers network.

Topic tags: Colleen Keating, poetry



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Existing comments

Powerful simplicity!

john frawley | 22 October 2018  

the saplings of hope

grow nobly through narrow cracks

in our deep despairs

John Cranmer | 23 October 2018  

Rain falls in Wentworth

perhaps real cracks in the dam

Now Naru —- Manus

John Cranmer | 23 October 2018  

He also said to the people,"When you see clouds gathering in the west, you say at once, "It is going to rain," and rain it does. And when the wind is from the south, you say, "It will be hot," and it is. What hypocrites you are! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but cannot interpret this fateful hour. (Lk 12: 54-56)

Roger Prowd | 25 October 2018  

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