Dogs of Australia

For German migrants interned
as enemy aliens on Torrens Island
in the Port Adelaide River Estuary
during World War 1.


I am a dog of AustraliaWalked here by this country’s first people
Across a land bridge long since flooded
An apex hunter as desert dweller
At home as a loner or part of a pack
I am this country’s wild dog
After me a town’s called Warragul
But my true name is the dingo
I am a dog of Australia


I am a dog of Australia
Striped with ochre on rocks to the north
A marsupial wolf since wiped from this land
Saved by the strait for that isle to the south
Yet bounties on my skull for sheep-kills
Will let me live on only in myth
Known as the Tasmanian Tiger
My true name is the thylacine
I am a dog of Australia


I am a dog of Australia
As bred by outback cattlemen
Crossing breeds from Britain with dingoes
Renowned as alert and loyal
Herding stock with nips to the achilles
Sharing farm kennels with Kelpies
My true name is the Australian cattle dog
Known to most as the Queensland Blue Heeler
I am a dog of Australia


I am a dog of Australia
As bred by German foresters
To hunt badgers, rabbits and foxes
My spirit not skinny like my body down burrows
Yet laughed at down here as a sausage dog
I’m kicked in the belly while held on a leash
Since cruelty’s become patriotic
My true name is der Dachshund
I am a dog of Australia


I am a dog of Australia
Linked in blood to the wolves of Black Forest
Loved as guardian, searcher and guide
My spirit proudest among canines world-wide
Even in war, no one’s kicking my ribs
Those footpath patriots not so brave
Known as the Alsatian or German Shepherd
My true name is der deutsche Schäferhund
I am a dog of Australia


I am a dog of Australia
Still linked in blood to my kind in Europe
Punched this far south by iron-mailed fists
A welcome migrant, my skills in demand
Down here these days I’m kicked in the guts
Accused of sabotage against my new home
Interned without cause after years of peaceMy true name is ein Deutsch-Australier
I am a German Australian

Two or three storeys tall – a triolet        

two or three storeys tall
the old stone buildings lean
in close to hear travellers’ tales
two or three stories tall
enough to shock one and all
in this cobbled streetscape scene
two or three storeys tall
the old stone buildings lean

About the Author:
Rodney Williams’ poetry has appeared in Blue Dog, Mascara Literary Review, Overland, Southerly and StylusLit (Australia), Antipodes (USA) and Poetry New Zealand. Both published through Ginninderra Press (Port Adelaide), his books include A bird-loving man (2013) and In that dusty rearview mirror (2015). Rodney’s lyrics feature on a Piedmont Blues album That String and Its Kite Too (2016) produced in collaboration with singer-guitarist Ricky Allan.