Hate He Said

HATE HE SAID

by Steven Oliver, 24/01/2012

Hate, he said was in my heart
Hate, he said tore us apart
Hate, he said to let it go
Hate, he said but he did not know
That what I had inside of me
Was a sadness born of empathy
That because I did not celebrate
It did not mean I was full of hate
I asked him to just try and see
Through my eyes the tragedy
Of dispossession, of pain, of hurt
Of the red of blood that stained this earth
I mourn for all the lives that were lost
I mourn for what this country cost
I mourn for how we came to be
For the end does not justify the means
It’s in the past he said, move on
Why mourn for something so long gone?
I looked at him and came to say,
Do you think we should forget about ANZAC day?
It’s not the same was his retort
I said wait a minute, give it some thought

People died while fighting for their land
Defending it from a foreign hand
Make no mistake there was a war
That had been fought on these very shores
A war that didn’t always discriminate
Where the elderly or infants could meet the same fate
As those who fought to protect them so
And that’s why we should never let go
Never forget what price was paid
For us to live as we do today
He looked at me quite seriously
Said he celebrates because we’re free
He celebrates our democracy
And everything great in this country
I said, that’s fine, I get that, it’s clear
Just please don’t forget how we got here
Just take a moment to think it through
What price was paid for me and you
To live in this country as we do
Don’t take for granted the sacrifice
Both of land and of life
We need to remember those who died
Not let their legacy be swept aside
You got an apology, he said
It talked about loss and mentioned the dead

What more do you want? He asked of me,
And so I replied in the hope he would see
We have a day for Australia, the Queen
For New Years and Christmas and all those between
Like Labour and Easter, the ANZAC Parade
And just what the hell is Boxing Day?
There’s even a day that we have for the Shows
But nothing that speaks of my people’s woes
A national day to acknowledge the cause
To acknowledge all that has happened before
And I don’t mean NAIDOC I mean something more
Where the whole nation stops, like it does for a horse!
A day, is that too much to ask?
To remind us, don’t ignore the past
He processed my words and looked at the ground
We both sat in silence, then there was a sound
A sound that seemed like heaven to me
A sound of two words that said, I agree!
We talked some more as the day came to end
And despite our differences I’d made a new friend
He understood as the day came to night
That I needed some things in this country made right
And because I did not celebrate
It did not mean I was full of hate.

© Steven Oliver
Australian
24/01/2012

Listen To Steven Oliver as he recites his poem.