Ode to John Pat

A poem by Dan Davis, Queensland

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Roebourne jail in WA:
He took his last breath that fatal day.
His life those policemen stole,
A boy too young, just sixteen years old.

Another Aboriginal death in custody.
Could have been one of my sons, could have been me.
The hurt, the pain his family must feel
Is indescribable, but so real.

It's been so long but still happens today.
Is this the police law, the white man's way?
So many tearful prayers, so few answers to questions.
Four white officers and an aide, I should mention.

How can a grown man kick a young boy in the head?
Then throw him in the back of a wagon, half dead?
No justice, no closure, no way and no more!
How can your children be safe when they walk out the door?

Out of uniform and off duty, they had no right
To take away a son, take away John Pat's life.
Acquitted by an all-white jury: "not guilty", they say.
How can you sleep at night, how can you live through the day?

John Pat, you rest my brother, I pray that it's in peace.
One day, in the Dreamtime, we may eventually meet.
1983, Roebourne, WA:
John Pat was murdered and died at Roebourne Jail.

Thank you Dan for sending me this poem!

Homework: Black Lives Matter

The death of John Pat echos 37 years later in the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in Minnesota, USA. The latter sparked a huge revival of the Black Lives Matter movement.

  • Find out as much as you can about John Pat.
  • Compare John Pat's last moments of life with George Floyd's. Are there similarities?
  • It's almost 40 years between the two cases. Why has so little changed?

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Cite this page

Korff, J 2021, Ode to John Pat, <https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/arts/poems/ode-to-john-pat>, retrieved 24 July 2024

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