White Lines

This poem came to me recently, as I was crossing a busy CBD road some time after a fatal vehicle attack in Melbourne, in which six people were killed and 28 were injured. The car was driven straight at a crowd crossing busy Bourke Street at lunchtime on a weekday as people were heading for shops and cafes. Among those killed was a three month-old baby.

While the driver was later acquitted of being a terrorist, he was convicted of murder and attempted murder and conduct endangering life.

We’ve been very lucky that here in Australia there have been few genuine terrorism attempts. Most of them have been thwarted by security forces before they could be carried out. The rest of the world has not been so lucky. I decided not to add an image this time. I think the words say it all.

White Lines

How brave we are, how

well trained,

well socialised

to believe

a painted white line

will protect us

from trucks, buses, cars,


inattentive drivers.


In London, Paris, Brussels,

Melbourne, some people

drive trucks, buses, cars,


straight at others

crossing the road,

walking on the footpath,

crossing the bridge.


But these are terrorists, who

ignore our white lines,

refute society’s rules. They’re

not ordinary people, ordinary

drivers of trucks, buses, cars;

not people like us,

well trained, socialised

to stay within the lines.

© S Cartledge 2017