Lead in the air
by John Griffin
The story of Lizzy and Robert:
she's in business, owns this video shop
Robert has good work on the wharves.
That is the end of the good news.
The bad news next: the children are
sick, and here in Port Pirie,
the lead in the air, in the dust,
in the bone, in the blood, in the brain
scares her like hell
They've got to get out!
She'll tell him tonight. He'll agree
they should go. She knows he'll agree
Pack up, sell up, get out.
For the sake of the two little girls.
In school now, and not doing well.
She'll tell him tonight. Tell him
how when the wind blows north,
east, west, south, the air fills,
the nose fills, the lungs fill
with death the invisible.
Even the tiny feet lift dust,
the sandpit itself grits with this
thing that settles and floats.
That wants to belong.
He knows about wind on the wharves.
He has seen men spitting themselves,
coughing to early skeletons, alive.
She's exhausted. She tidies the racks
of Westerns, moves on to horror,
nightmares on video, murder
by multiple out in the open.
Good little business, even the rack
at the back doing well, adult stuff.
She'll find something else.
A long way from here.
If she can sell. If Robert agrees.
If there's a buyer around,
someone in this flat grey town
who can see a future in video,
in family movies, nostalgia, love.
Where Do Your Children Play?
by Kim Creighton,
A Boolaroo (Lead Smelter Community) mother, Newcastle, NSW,
Come and live inside my home
The only one my kids have known
Bring your children bring your wives.
And then explain our different lives
The difference when they plant a seed
And watch it grow into a tree
And when the fruit is ripe and sweetened
Tell them why it can't be eaten
And then Sire won't you come down town
Each time the blood tests come around
Dry their tears and soothe their pain
And then Sire do it all again
And when the test results come in
Tell us where we should begin
We've cleaned the ceiling scrubbed the floor
I'm tired Sir won't you scrub my walls
And still their levels waiver high
Can't sell a house noone will buy
So come and live inside my home
Don't bring your kids Sir, come alone
For you cannot protect them
See how it feels to live in fear
And never play in pits of sand
It's in their clothes it's on their hands
And tell me as you walk away
Where do all your children play?
Cradle to Grave
by Elizabeth O'Brien
Cradle to grave
Cradle to grave
Lead harms our children in the cradle
Puts lead workers in the grave
Cartoon from "You and
Me" by Michael Leunig ©.
Published by Penguin Books Australia 1995.
Permission to reprint kindly granted by Michael Leunig
by Kim Creighton
Acid Rain Falls From the Skies
Falling Down, it Burns My Eyes
Poison Soil Lays Under Me
Poison Fruit Upon My Trees.
The Clouds Are Black the River Brown
Acid Rain Keeps Falling Down.
Petals Maimed Beyond Repair
Things are Dying Everywhere,
People Fleeing From Their Shores
Gone, and They'll Return No More
I Cannot with These Humble Hands
Find Peace in this Forsaken Land.
No ill Intent was Meant by Man
But Still the Acid Lines Their Hands
For What They Did Can't Be Undone
When Acid in the Rivers Run.