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Overland magazine feature

Sam Wagan Watson: hotel bone




the street resembles a neck
from a wayward guitar
with Hotel Bone sitting idle on a vein,
wedged between two frets
                          where the bad tunes can reach her

these white stucco walls, I imagine, once carried a vision of pearl
now a gourd for asylum seekers
                      Iraqi, Indonesian, Sri Lankan
and one crazy Aboriginal... who lives with a typewriter
but not with the brevity of a visa on my head; no,
my longevity was guaranteed before I was born
                                 in the 1967 referendum
       the freedom to practice the voodoo of semantics
within the marrow of Hotel Bone

existence only 2 minutes walk
from some of the best latte lounges in the city
          yet, white faces don’t come down here
until they’ve been classified, unfit for duty
no longer permitted upon the chorus line
   of the cappuccino song
                     where multi-culturalism is in an airline format
first-class, business and economy seating

but those of us who submit to the chance of mystery-flights
                    end-up on the tar, of Hotel Bone

              a haven from Saddam, Suharto, the Tamil Tigers
                                      and One Nation
                                                       this Hotel Bone;
                                                                      it is hard

      it is reachable

                    it is home


Samuel Wagan Watson is of Bundjalung, Birri Gubba, German, Scottish and Irish descent. His collection of poetry Of Muse, Meandering and Midnight won the 1999 David Unaipon Award, an Australian national literary competition for emerging indigenous writers. He performs poems on the CD Blackfella, Whitefella, Wetlands. Hotel Bone is the title poem from a Vagabond Press chapbook published in 2001. Sam Wagan Watson lives in Brisbane.


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