Category Archives: Aboriginal

Sleep by Jill McDougall

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Goanna like to sleep
In the sandy ground,
In a soft warm hole
Just a little way down.

Crows like to sleep
Near the starry sky,
By a big bird’s nest
That’s way up high.

I like to sleep
In a cosy bed,
With a blanket for my feet
And a pillow for my head.

 

Jill McDougall & Jenny Taylor, Anna the Goanna and other poems (Aboriginal Studies Press 2000)

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Smart Flies by Jill McDougall

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I don’t think most flies
Are too clever or wise.
They get stuck in your ears
And they crawl in your eyes.
They dirty the windows,
They dirty the wall,
And they don’t seem to have
Any manners at all.

But I do think our flies
Are the smartest flies around
They can crawl up a wall
Wihtout sliding back down
And if you decide
To go walking outside,
Theyll sit on your back
And enjoy a free ride.

 

Source: Jill McDougall & Jenny Taylor, Anna the Goanna and other poems (Aboriginal Studies Press 2000)

White stucco dreaming by Samuel Wagan Watson

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sprinkled in the happy dark of my mind
is early childhood and black humour
white stucco dreaming
and a black Labrador
an orange and black panel-van
called the ‘black banana’
with twenty blackfellas hanging out the back
blasting through the white stucco umbilical
of a working class tribe
front yards studded with old black tyres
that became mutant swans overnight
attacked with a cane knife and a bad white paint job

white stucco dreaming
and snakes that morphed into nylon hoses at the terror
of Mum’s scorn
snakes whose cool venom we sprayed onto the white stucco,
temporarily blushing it pink
amid an atmosphere of Saturday morning grass cuttings
and flirtatious melodies of ice-cream trucks
that echoed through little black minds
and sent the labrador insane

chocolate hand prints like dreamtime fraud
laid across white stucco
and mud cakes on the camp stove
that just made Dad see black
no tree safe from treehouse sprawl
and the police cars that crawled up and down the back streets,
peering into our white stucco cocoon
wishing they were with us

 

Source:  Smoke Encrypted Whispers  by Samuel Wagan Watson Univ. of Queensland Press, 2004

Carefree by Samuel Wagan Watson

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you’d never forget the pelicans
because it was their home too
and that occasional one who’d try and swallow your baited hook
while we cast out into an endless mould of brown and blue skin
sometimes catching our line in its enormous and clumsy wingspan
floating around the jetty constantly boasting that huge gullet
so close to the pylons covered in poinson oyster shells
that waited for the bare flesh within our gait,
inviting our bare flesh to dance
Mum worried that we’d get sick from eating them
Day saying the sewage from the caravan park
would sometimes flow near where we fished
and that they oysters bathed in it too

little buckets of a few bream
silver catch of a meal
and the persistent cats at our ankles
lapping up the smell
running up past the shop
a front window necropolis of stonefish in vegemite jars
suspended in a vault of clear alcoholic brine
still deadly in death
and us in bare feet all the time
three kids in stonefish-infested mud
playing Russian roulette –
one good pair of running shoes between us

Source:  Smoke Encrypted Whispers  by Samuel Wagan Watson Univ. of Queensland Press, 2004

At school I spent my time staring out of the window by Elisabeth Hodgson

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uniforms, classrooms, assemblies, British colonisation
lining up for sun-warmed bottled milk –
I wanted to find a secluded spot under a tree where I could disappear –
disappear from view;
where I could see and not be seen.

I wanted to vanish into myself
into my skin.

Source:  Skin painting by Elizabeth Hodgson University of Queensland Press, 2008.

Before Lutanda my father taught us about bush-tucker by Elisabeth Hodgson

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we picked up emu eggs
and berries, he shot feral pigs
dug up witchetty grubs
and handed them to me to eat.
With my father
I began to learn how
to survive in my country.

In the Home my older brother
kept silkworms in a box with holes,
they looked like little witchetty-grubs.
My younger brother and I
ate his silkworms.
They don’t taste like the grubs
father gave us.
I spat them down the front of my jumper.

Source:  Skin painting by Elizabeth Hodgson University of Queensland Press, 2008.

Valley under the Rock by Libby Hathorn

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The Gun-dun-gorra is an indigenous clan who summered regularly in the Megalong Valley because it was a cool place and extremely good for hunting.

 

We, from far away,

Took a bush walk there

Narrow descent,

Steep stone stairs,

Found a rock cathedral

In mansions of green,

Ancient secret cavern

Glistening, serene.

The song of songs was there

The heartbeat of the earth.

The oldest story known

Of life, of death, re-birth.

The song of songs was there

Where beauty rules supreme

Enfolded in its splendour

We dreamed within a dream

There was another voice we heard

Plaintive, distant, hollow,

Echo from those shimmering walls

 

Gun-dun-gorra

Source:  Talks with my Skateboard by Libby Hathorn