Everyone knows the story: boy meets bay, sets up
colony, steals country. Now the waterfront sets are
brighter than ever, bolstered by breakfast radio &
cameo bridge views / while backstage the Cooks River
spits up airport leavings for real estate sharks
who surf in on banana peels. I wouldn’t mind
if the flight path cut through this headache & not
every other phone call: ‘Botany Bay used to be
Stingray Harbour,’ she says. Me: ‘What? Why?’
Our first great rebrand, apparently, followed by
swapping out the fair-go for equal opportunity graft.
Everyone’s free to cheat, or so they say. In reality
the usual suspects crow about dole bludgers &
cue jumpers, all the while renovating patios with
what’s left of the social fabric, i.e. that no one
wants to miss out on a good deal / that’s why
we keep trying for a foot in the door, because like
Blues Point Tower you have to be on the inside
looking east over the harbour, towards Mecca,
by which I mean Bondi, & further still, to where
Joseph Banks shot & killed not one but two
albatrosses, damning it all from the get-go.
‘Hang the expense!’ The only recourse is to piss
away your aspirations & wake up in a gutter
with a sunburnt throat. You can’t polish a turd
but you can roll it in glitter. Remember: there’s no
hangover in the world that can stop this city sparkling.

This poem includes a quote from ‘Thread Drift’ by Pam Brown

Aden Rolfe reads 'Emerald City'