Samuel Wagan Watson ~ A Poem

Gulag Wind

In memory of Liam and Frankie Davison…Flight MHI7

Between 1932-33 an estimated 7 million people were murdered or perished on Stalin’s concentration camps in the Ukraine. And almost 80% of the region’s intellectuals were handed death sentences, a majority without trial…

Executioners are forensic raconteurs; their charges’ last words and breaths are always deleted or embellished. Their quills are equally primed with an antidote for poison. The word ‘genocide’ is not in their vocabulary and confession is not in their creed. Those of us who can see through the veils of propaganda suddenly believe in ghosts, the endless reams of victim impact statements recorded in ectoplasm have always been there. We need to teach our children that monsters do not wait under their beds at night, but in the shadows of the world’s upper-echelons, where fact cannot escape an arranged marriage to fiction. Dark wings await their masters’ approval for surface to air insanity. The arrival and departure lounge in a killing field has no discriminatory features. Was that a final boarding call? I am adamant that if you listen, you can hear Solzhenitsyn today more than yesterday in the summer skies over Ukraine, storm-front echoes of a lingering Gulag wind…

© Samuel Wagan Watson

State and National Award-winning poet and professional narrator and storyteller, Samuel Wagan Watson has Irish, German, Dutch, and Aboriginal (Munaldjali and Birri Gubba) ancestry. He is the son of prominent Brisbane-based academic, writer and activist Sam Watson. Born in Brisbane Watson spent much of his earlier life on the fringe of the Sunshine Coast, but moved back to Brisbane to start a career.

In 1999, he was the winner of the David Unaipon Award for Emerging Indigenous Writers for his first collection of poetry Of Muse, Meandering and Midnight. Since then he has written four collections: Itinerant Blues (2001), Hotel Bone (2001), The Curse Words (2011), and Smoke Encrypted Whispers which won the 2005 NSW Premier’s Award for the Book of the Year, and the National Kenneth Slessor prize for Poetry.