a taste of poetry and other seasonal writings

Not in my backyard text

Helen Ramoutsaki performing 'Not in my backyard' at the 2014 Cairns Tropical Writers Festival.

Helen Ramoutsaki performing ‘Not in my backyard’ at the 2014 Cairns Tropical Writers Festival. Image: Paul Williams

So, here it is. The speech I had ready in case I made it to preselection in the last Australian Federal election.

Not in my backyard

(c) Helen Ramoutsaki 2013


‘Scuse me candour, not to rock the boat
or take refuge in propaganda before a national vote,
but I’m concerned to learn
what experts have been thinking
our fair Australia’s shrinking.

To see signs of our dire straits,
peek past the side gates
to the backyards in our new estates,
shrunk to the size of barbie plates.

I’m in a quandary
setting me boundary.
I’m on a backyard blitz,
and I won’t call it quits
till me new pool fits.

So I’m repelling raiders,
keeping out invaders
‘cos the redback spiders
are all communist insiders.
I have a nightly patrol
to control the dusky rat
because in fact
it might be a mole.
If the flocks of flying fox
drive me bats,
hanging like asylum-seeking acrobats
on more than a transit, that’s it!
Send ‘em home in disgrace
to disappear without trace.

I’m an Aussie struggler
out to defeat
the lorikeet
and budgie smuggler.
If I can’t have the Pied Imperial Pigeon
pied for tea,
I’ll ship it back to PNG!
I’m not one to tamper with nature
but I must go overboard
to stop the advancing horde.

I’m an Australian in Australia, this is my land,
the Christmas Beetles can go to Christmas island.
The pandanus can shove off back to Manus –
there’s a reason these trees’re without a visa.
I’ll seize all the plants in the neighbourhood
transplant ‘em down in Villawood.

Grubs creeping under fences
won’t breech these defences,
sailing under eaves on leaky leaves,
harbingers of vice scuttling like marsupial mice
past the borders of my well-mown,
hand-sown, home-loaned patch of paradise.
It might sound hard
to say ‘Not in my backyard’,
but even the roo is a queue jumper
and I can’t vouch for its pouch:
what have I missed
that might assist a terrorist?
There’s nothing more to do
but shoo them off shore to Nauru!


Authorised by Helen Ramoutsaki of Mossman.