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Beverley: The Youth of Today

Maybe it's the school system, John,
or the decline of the church, of good discipline,
of everything. But John,
it's just so hard, you know,
you can't go in and magic wand,
there's no quick fix
because some of these kids,
they're rotten all the way down
and leopard spots never fade.
You see, John, I don't have anyone,
and that's why I'm always drunk with you
on the airwaves, afraid
of not picking up the phone
This is what I hate most, John,
even though the kids visit by the fortnight,
it's that I'm trapped, lathered in skin
and trying to tear my way out with a telephone.
And I'm not sure if it's working either and John,
I've written a poem
about our boys in Afghanistan
and will you listen, John, will you listen
as I say it out loud?
It's just they worry me, John,
the Arabs, because they're not like us
and come over here and can't speak English
and the ones that do aren't really speaking
the same language, know what I mean, John,
John do you know what I mean?

Tony: The Big Dry

It's important that you brave-face it
through teatime, that you hold your voice together
and be careful with your drinking,
because you’ve got the family to think of.

But the dust keeps you up at night,
creeping across the roof like an army,
and in the mornings you wake
with a mouth full of sun and salt,
then walk outside and look up at sky.

And you’re thirsty, and a man's entitled
to a drink now and then
so you have a few, you find some money
and take it to the pub,
because a man's entitled. But Alice
just doesn't get it, she's all screams

and running makeup. She threatens
to lock the door next time,
or take the kids and just go,
so you ask her what you'd do
without her, tell her
she's the only thing left
that's not made of dust.

She shakes her head and opens the door,
doesn't look at you when you come to bed.
But after she's asleep,
you touch her face and tell her
that she's twenty-one, getting married,
that her story still makes sense:
she is a pearl, the world her oyster,
the sky a shade of ocean blue.

Kathie: Sound

He says Kathie, speak some sense, will you?
The television flickers blue and says
things like are you happy with what you see
in the mirror, naked in the white of morning?
Do you own a four wheel drive, a widescreen TV?
Do you wake at night and feel lonely?

And yes, John, sometimes I get lonely.
Because these days, who doesn't? Do you,
John? Do you get like George Costanza on television,
when he's in the coffee shop and saying
he's not sure why he gets up in the morning?
Yesterday, John, it was foreign news. I like to see

buildings slide into mud. I like to see
earthquakes in Turkey. You don't feel as lonely
when you hear a foreign language in the morning,
when death is shrouded in words you
can't understand. It's nice, John. Have I said
how nice it is, when for once you can't understand the TV?

Did I tell you that my son put in cable TV
last month? Or is it satellite? Either way, you see
so many shining places. And all, like they say
from the comfort of home. It's not as lonely,
John, with more channels. By the way, have I told you
that your show gets me through the mornings?

That your poems help me face the morning
sun? And John, I'll be waiting by the television
for your next message. Even though no-one believes our
secret. Even though I tell my son and he doesn't see,
and just says to get a job, that then I wouldn't be so lonely.
He says Mum, you're telling lies again, why do you say

such things? And then he yells, telling me to speak
some sense
, that you're on the radio in the morning
and not TV at all, that there are no secrets, and I'm alone
on a spinning world. But John, I look at the television
and I can sense you, you play me songs that I see
in pictures. Yes, I will be waiting for your

voice in the morning. It will pour from the television
and the radio. And will you be watching, John, will you see
me sit alone, drowning in sound, as I wait for you?

Peter: History

First, a boat. And then water the colour of sun.
First there was a boat,
then a flag on a jagged island.
There was light, but we weren't sure
from where. And then fear
the colour of sweat.

Let me show you something.
Let me show you my bones,
which are as white as skin.

We need some first things first,
we need to decide
on some of the same words. We need history, John,
a world where rivers are rivers, mountains mountains.

It's a beautiful
day, the sky is clear,
the air tastes like it should.
You trust your reflection as you look in the mirror,
see a thing and know it has a name.
First there was a boat
and then look at them, they're like a pack of animals.
Let me show you something white. And then
a jagged island, the colour of sky at night.

They come over here and burn the hands that feed.
If it doesn't add up you have to ring up.
Be alert but not alarmed. It's about preserving
our clear sky way of life.
First there was a boat, then an empty isle,
a sky of jagged colours.

Things are coming apart
at the seems to be.

Let me show you something
that is as white as the sun.

Jodie: Keeping an Eye

And so I turn up the radio,
pound the bench with the music and sing
as though my larynx is a rose
and it's all I've got to give
to the world. I've got to
work hard to hear myself, I've got to watch
for the suspicious, and there's a number
you can ring. It's a hotline,
actually, it’s about keeping an eye out
for dark hands, or a plastic
waiting in the womb
of a power station. We've all
got to do our bit, we have to
hold each other together.
Because they're a foreign syllable
in the night. They could look like
your next door neighbour.
Because I bought a harmonica,
and taught myself to fill the world
with notes that taste like metal.

This Public Service Announcement
is sponsored by the Commonwealth Government

And one night my flatmate
comes home and she's all
can you keep it down, you sound like
broken glass, and she's drunk,
and I'm singing still. Because
this isn't any old war, and they
could come from anywhere.
Because fuck her, anyway, a woman's
got a right to sing at the radio.

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