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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,

Bound prouder

Than the great red kangaroo.

They came with ghostly faces,

Pale man’s pestilence,

Firearms and firewater,

Holy hellfire.


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 cannon,

No almighty and all-conquering God.


They struck

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.

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About the author

Roy Runds

Born in Perth, Western Australia, in 1944, he received a BA from the University of Western Australia. He settled in 1972, in Israel where hi main avocation is as a poet. He also writes limericks. Sinc...

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