My Face Is Black
A poem by Frank Corso, Melbourne, VIC.
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Sir, your fences keep me out; Your Union Jack declares The sweeping horizon crown land. You elect old-school members To impose your Australia nullius rule. You shatter my dreams, Stomp on serpents and rainbows, Scoop and seize Each gram of gold, uranium, and iron ore. You bulldoze my ochre art on rocks, Flatten totem trees, I cannot drink, nor swim, Nor fish in streams Where neon dregs glow like toxic frogs. You ignore my chanting songs; The earth that owns me is gone. You dig out my kinship to the ground Raising skyscrapers over ancestors’ skulls. Old dogs that stray in the bush to die Are stories sacred and profound. My torn heart is left to cry… Patriarchal gestures of your Christianity Sift away my offspring to institutions, Tongue-tie my lingo with English And dress me in your respectful vanity. You celebrate each January With a brass band, Massacres, rapes, and floggings Are hidden footnotes in history books Written by your victorious hand. Sir, it’s time To unfurl the indigenous colours of discontent! t’s too late to say sorry Tossing up words of reconciliation and caring, Packaging my past To collect dust in your museums. The Select Committee prevails With its kangaroo court. Nailing fiscal burdens on my people’s name, Your condescension is overbearing. My ailments have you to blame. I will not heed to moderates who sell me short. The revolutionary mob marches Along Commonwealth Avenue. The placards demand you pay the rent. Your referendum is late to offer the vote Or add me as a token to your constitution. I’m proud and will not be broken. My face is black, I want my country back!
Frank is a non-Aboriginal writer of Italian heritage. He says about his poem:
"I returned recently to the land of my forebears and I felt an immediate sense of belonging there. I wrote this poem on Australia Day 2015. It is a significant day because the question of belonging is viewed differently depending on whether one is indigenous or not. I wrote this poem from the perspective of trying to imagine exchanging places with an aboriginal, and thinking of how I would feel about the connection to the land, the intrusion by others, and the erosion of a way of life and identity."
He dedicates this poem to Travis Lovett of the Gunditjmara People. Thank you for sharing your poem, Frank!