Birth of a Housing Estate by Chris Palmer

Machines gather in flocks
gnawing and nipping at the lower slopes.
Shadows are ushered in under brush and scrub;
that empty plastic bag is a real head turner.
They want to intimidate the hill.
The land declares a fatwa
overhead wires hum their deception
the ground littered with spent past.
Leaves line up to fall, skeletonised;
frames made of sticks accumulate like scars.
A mob of kangaroos takes to the air.
They want to reshape the hill.
Investors navigate the quickest route to granite benchtops
then get caught in a rip at Westfield.
A homeless man sits beneath a sign that says you are here
like every plastic bag blowing in the wind.
Habitat comes in rolls on the back of a ute;
a mob of kangaroos hums their deception.
A top floor holds up the sky.
They want to overlook the hill.
Colorbond wears Insistent Green [cue canned laughter]
seeing itself as something other.
Memory falls and gets back up again;
overhead wires are the new songlines.
First-time buyers raise periscopes to Olivier’s is it safe?
for this is how communities are made.
A homeless man talks to the air [cue applause].
They have become the hill.



Christopher Palmer lives in Canberra, Australia. His first collection of poems, Afterlives, was published by Ginninderra Press in 2016.