Like a cyclone they raged across the country,
Temper more terrifying
Than the mighty crocodile,
Touch more agonising
Than the box jellyfish,
Bite more venomous
Than the funnelweb spider,
Appetite more voracious
Than the great white shark,
Than the great red kangaroo.
They came with ghostly faces,
Pale man’s pestilence,
Firearms and firewater,
We were a passing patchwork
Plucking, scooping, hunting our meals
As we drifted into the dream time.
Our neighbours were as distant as the stars.
We had no great ships,
No almighty and all-conquering God.
Like the great red kangaroo’s massive tail
Or a crunching kick from the emu’s foot.
They raped our continent and our women,
Staked out the land that had belonged to no one;
Killed like frenzied taipans,
Crushed our spines,
Hacked the trees we worshipped,
Excreted on our sacred sites,
Banished us to the burning wilderness,
Flung proud black bodies onto garbage dumps,
Where dingoes pissed into our skulls.
When we offended them, so they imagined,
They locked us into everlasting night.
They tore our children from our families
To be raised in the ghosts’ exalted ways.
The shades of our fathers writhe in fury.
Who will weep for us?
Roy Runds, a poet formerly from Australia, wrote Shattered Dream, to help commemorate Aborigines’ Rights Year which is being marked in Australia in 2008. This commemoration also marks the atrocities committed against the Aborigines by the white settlers, from whom they demand restitution.