Googling Genocide

By Dr. Michelle Sheté

For Breteil, Preeya and Vanessa

Sweet fourteen warns

‘Don’t watch.

TV news is not for mums.’

Already versed in trench foot,

torture, rape and Milat –

‘It’s okay for me,’ she believes.


In 1985 we trekked

in iron pleats and stockings,

counting pongy cows and

apples green on a Bega farm,

vaguely pondering paddock

space and tallying hot pretty fruit shops

on the town’s main street,

comparing with Sydney’s CBD and

wondering – Why?


We marvelled in class

at the ‘pots last’ science

of dishwashing

and the important thoughts

one absorbed while

soaking in the sink’s apathetic

soapsuds and waiting –

for Godot perhaps or

for stuffed burnt apples.


We learnt nothing

of backyard slaughter,

paedophiles or Terror,

and distant Uluru in Territory Airy

was still a hushed witness,

deserting a speared folk.

But we dreamt of

oracles and utopia,

Zeus and Athena,

idyllic districts with poets

and lakes.


English was English,

so the Odes were known

from end to Spring

and Beauty was forever Truth,

but why in a White God’s name

Beauty was Truer

than the arrows and slings

of misfortunate things

nobody knew.


Today sweet fourteen,

with cheeks no longer green,

declares her set text

‘unsuitable for children,’

googles sinful priests

and Truth if she must

and surfs ISIS as instructed,

and if by miracle she is still


she explores The Law,

anticipating Justice

for green apples

who once shrivelled

in gas ovens.


Online genocide

leaves a far stronger odour

than fresh manure,

but the New Truth is:

for History to End

its Cycle of Sorrow,

Something Must Die

Every Day.


Yet still we wonder