Rime of the AUKUS submariner

May 14, 2023
Cliff face ocean views from South Head Sydney Australia looking towards Dover Heights and Bondi.

Lines composed on Budget Day as Australia starts saving up for our new nuclear-powered fleet.

The ocean is restless tonight.

Is that the boom from cliffs at Dover Heights, With their surf unheeding?
Or melancholy, long, withdrawing roar
Of empire, receding?
Once, a fleeing General came ashore;
Took charge, returned as pledged, but then hove to;
Now wants us to gang up on you-know-who.
So should we keep old allyship afloat?
And must we really buy those bloody boats?

Here on Burning Deck, we’ve met disaster
Upon disaster: ‘Nam, Afghan, Iraq.
When triumph comes, we’ll treat that impostor
Just the same. (Shout, won’t you, when one embarks).
The menace and caress of waves obscure
A plot to dominate, submersible.
A wise philosopher once wrote that “power
Is most effective when least visible”.

What kind of country do we want to be?
Broke, broke, broke on thy cold grey steel, O Sea?
Can’t afford rent freeze, “pixie dust” of youth?
Same with decent public welfare, or health?
So this must be democracy by stealth –
Where sands of hope are washed away, like truth.

I must go down to the sea again,
To the lonely shore and sky;
I left my preconceptions there,
I wonder if they’re dry?

Have we not moved on from Federation?
“Equality of man” did not apply
To China, Barton said. Maturation
Has surely brought a broader view. So why
Do we still seem so readily beguiled
By headlines sensationalist and wild?
Subs were never voted on in Caucus,
It appears. No wonder tides of contest
Are running high – with clear call, and raucous.
So let’s all go, and join the peace protest.

Are we to be convinced we’re under threat?
Think-tanks chivvy us to believe their lies.
An arms-trade-funded study? Quelle surprise!
It recommends we buy more fighting kit.
Some might even be manufactured here.
(A Labor PM who marches with gays,
Pushing back a repressive old frontier,
Must also bring jobs to support old ways).

To cry for calm, amid confused alarms
Of struggle and flight, gets you called naïve,
With multi-billions staked on taking arms
And advantage in hi-tech make-believe.
Pick sides, and one must win, the other lose.
Instead, sum a whole greater than the parts –
Work together, create a common boost:
Make an enemy? No, be counterparts.

We may now be choosing how our own story ends.
So think:

Do we swim together, or sink?
The ship we need is not of fools, but friends.

Share and Enjoy !

Subscribe to John Menadue's Newsletter
Subscribe to John Menadue's Newsletter


Thank you for subscribing!