Poem - 13 (5.2)

 Teesta Review: A Journal of Poetry, Volume 5, Number 2. November 2022. ISSN: 2581-7094

Political Music Halls[1]

--- Emily Sun

my head is full of earworms

about joey kangaroos

lost in zoos

old man emus

rhymes about a bearded man

(from a place called ironbark)

in nasopharyngeal pitch

song of Brumby Jacks


i am indoctrinated by

(& inoculated against)

sing-alongs about both empty

and overpopulated lands


yet the marching songs, the hymns,

operatic instrumentation

resuscitate my unpatriotic heart

the song of australia blends

with ode to motherland[s]

nationalistic fever

induced by perfect fourths

major sixths


if forced to sing daily anthems

i’d choose to become a Kiwi-German

          the haka (version) and classic haydn

it’s not impossible for me to become


          or both.


but i don’t have to be a patriot to sing a

nation building song

i don’t have to build

or sing at all because


the band will always play waltzing matilda.



Do We Vet For Culture?

                                                                --- Emily Sun

One day, I will be the elder

a grandmother who may be asked

“in the olden days, when you were Chinese …

when you had the linguistic abilities of another

how did you lose your mother tongue?”


I will struggle to explain why

so many others speak it,

studied it diligently in the classrooms

adopted it through marriage and travel

for business and emigration

yet I remain a functional illiterate in

that tongue was never really mine.


It’s not a tongue that’s in danger of drying out

and my real tongue will be preserved by

descendants of less self-hating sojourners in

territories too proud to assimilate

A southern culture that was never really mine.


One day, I will be the elder

a grandmother who might be asked

“in the olden days, when you were Australian…

how is it that you were Other when all you were and

all you knew was English?”


When that day comes, I will respond in

traditional Kylie and sing 

“Je nais sais pas pouquoir!”

[1] The Song of Australia and Ode to Motherland are thought of by some as the second national anthems of Australia and China respectively.


Interliminal Encounters: Indian and Australian writers in po(i)etic dialogue, eds Amelia Walker and Aden Burg