Bellingen Poets in Nimbin 2010

Bellingen Poets in Nimbin 2010
Taking Home The World Cup!!!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Reds Under The Bed, Reds Under The Bed

© Copyright Pip Wilson, 2010

Memo To:
Those schoolboys in 1968
puffed up, lip curled
surrounding this boy
with the indictment of parrots
"Reds under the bed,
reds under the bed!
Unanimously willing victory to the bloody Vietcong
to rescue Vietnam from oppression.
Who grew up to turn their florid cab-sav faces
from the boat people millions
who drowned rather than stay behind
to play barbed-wire shuttlecock
with the million in Uncle Ho Chi Minh's
re-education holiday camps.

Memo to:
The suckling schoolboys who waved their Little Red Books in 1967
while Mao did Hitler proud
and dug the graves of 30, 40, how many millions
to pave Karl Marx's criminal road.
Oh your childish voices ring down the decades
"China is not Australia.
We cannot judge them.
They’re not really communists.
What do you mean by classicide or democide?
Marx has a different view of human nature.
He says truth is not absolute.
It's all relative, man,
and economically determined.
(Whatever that means.)
Teacher said so.
What about Coca-Cola?
That’s much worse than communism, it rots your teeth
and they advertise.
You haven’t read enough.
Reds under the bed!
Reds under the bed!
Our teacher told us so.
They don’t kill anyone in China.
It’s only Australia and America that are evil.
Much more freedom in China than America.
What do you mean they're killing millions as we speak?
Look at our Prime Minister
he's a dummy, for Christ's sake!
We can't judge China.
We can only judge America.
Sir said so.
What about Kentucky Fried Chicken? Surely that’s worse!
Haven't you heard Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young?
Four dead in Ohio.
Four dead in Ohio.

You’re unhip, you’re a fascist.
Reds under the bed!
Reds under the bed!

Memo to:
The teacher of English
not much English but
lots of politics and puffery
and Chomsky and charlatans
and misinformation and Marx
and deconstructing grammar and syntax
(society won’t need it in the future you said)
flinging with effusive wit and foppish originality
a grin across a class of boys
and pointing at
“the reds under Wilson’s bed”.
Great politics. Great teacher.

Memo to:
Quote "progressive" unquote university colleagues in 1972 and ’73
thousands lined up like ten pins,
impossible to bowl over,
with their tenpin lecturers,
the dogmatists of deceit
taking turns at bowling tinpot arguments,
and the vacuous incantation
"Pol Pot is liberating Cambodia from evil US hegemony".
Ah, you were all avowed individualist free thinkers,
weren’t you,
so must have discovered
your profundities
severally and separately
with your undergrad knowledge of history
and political science …
to say nothing of Pol Pot's brainbuddies,
Marx's dull intelligentsia
in the whited sepulchral faculties
softly muttering Lenin's mantra
Quote "Telling the truth is a bourgeois prejudice,
Deception on the other hand, is often justified by the goal." Unquote
Quote "If a factory in your commune falls behind in production,
Then take out one worker in ten and execute them before the assembled workers.
That should increase production quicksmart." Unquote.
Ah, those professors done a job on you in 1973, my friends,
with their Mao Zedung caps and their banal, biased, convincing critique.
There should be a special place in scholars' hell
for those who pervert the naive idealist with lies.
Ah, you students knew it all:
"The Khmer Rouge is liberating Cambodia
from Coca-Colonialism
and the Sandinistas are democratic nationalists,
not Marxists".
(Did you even know what that meant?)
"And Ethiopia will benefit from
Mengistu’s Marxism
and deliver the people from poverty."
This was slightly before Mengistu, Marx's minion,
exterminated half the population.
Did you choke on your focaccia
when Bob Geldof finally appeared on your screen?
Or did you still say that the famine
was engineered by McDonald's, not Marx and Lenin?
Do you remember Pol Pot's 1975
and kindly pointing out to me
and the ogling others
the reds under my bed?
Do you think that on the Killing Fields
they have forgotten the loudspeakers
blaring out economic determinism from dawn till night?
Ask the Jews to forget the ovens.
Ah, how the Left ceased its silence on Pol Pot
when Russia's Vietnam overran China's Cambodia.
What a coincidence!
Ah, how bitter is this vindication;
ah, how unashamed those tormenters in those countries,
and how unashamed those tormenters of me in Australia.

Memo to:
The myriads of philosophers of the 1980s
who rabbited on about ASIO
when told of the complicity of the KGB
in scores of millions of bleeding deaths
and who,
when pressed for honest debate
denied my original premise
and said, "What about crappy American sitcoms
and baseball caps…"
and then they referred to a certain red presence
under upon which I slept.

Is this emotional?
Yes this is emotional.
A lie that is half a truth
was ever the best of lies, said Tennyson.
What think you now of
the entrapment of young idealistic minds,
who crawled the scholarly halls of the globe
and still await their day
in their armchairs of certitude
and corridors of false premises?
What think you now of Marx's prescribed word 'despotic'
and Engels' word 'terror'?
Did you blush with shame at Tien an Men Square?
Did you blush to remember how you had scoffed
when I said that the USSR had killed forty million souls,
and later when you heard Gorbachev declaim it had been fifty million souls?

How shall we calculate
Your debt.
Your debt to the bodies and scars without number.
Your debt to honest scholarship.
Your debt to truth telling.
Your debt to the forcibly re-educated millions.
Your debt to the babies on the Killing Fields
and men cooked on spits and crucified over fires in Cambodia,
all for an ideology of deception.
Your debt to the millions fleeing Cuba and Vietnam.
Your debt to the gash on Africa.
Your debt to the multitudes on the trail of sea and fleeing.
Your debt to the massacres in Nepal and India.
Your debt to the Peruvian hilltribes in terror of Mao Zedung’s Sendero Luminoso.
Your debt to the congregations hacked to mincemeat by the New People’s Army of The Philippnes.
To the bare bleaching bones on every continent.
The burned books and the cacophony of classicide.
To the bourgeoisie who, quote, "Must be swept from history
and made impossible", unquote.
To the terror that still slouches
towards green minds yet to be born.
What do you owe,
you flocks of independent thinkers,
with no reds under your beds,
with nothing under your beds –
nor little yet between your ears?
What do you owe the voiceless ones
who clamoured and begged for your honesty and tears?

I can’t speak for them,
But – I reckon you owe me a beer.


  1. Hey Pip, the sentiments in this poem remind me of Les Murray's "Memories of the Height-to-Weight Ratio". To quote:

    I was a translator at the Institute back
    when being accredited as a poet
    meant signing things against Vietnam.
    For scorn of the bargain I wouldn't do it.

    And the Institute was after me
    to lose seven teeth and five stone in weight
    and pass their medical. Three years I dodged
    then offered the teeth under sacking threat.


    Seven teeth I gave that our babies might eat
    when students were chanting Make Love! Hey Ho!

    But there was a line called Height-to-Weight
    and a parallel line on Vietnam. When a tutor
    in politics failed all who crossed that, and wasn't
    dismissed, scholarship was back to holy writ.


    But when the Institute started afresh
    to circle my job, we decamped to Europe
    and spent our last sixpence on a pig's head.
    Any job is a comedown, where I was bred.

  2. Thanx, Brian. What really tickles my fancy is, "Any job is a comedown, where I was bred". I like Les Murray a lot. Or let me put it this way: I like Les Murray a lot of the time.


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