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Manoa 18.2 (2006) 18-20

Three Poems
Samuel Wagan Watson

Back Road

revisiting childhood through that time-gauze of greying feather,
back to a time
when the road seemed wider
but had the same volume of insanity

Dad always concrete at the wheel
Mum in the "Worry" seat
sharing with Dad,
the worries sometimes reaching the backseat
as the sporadic vapours got too heavy
and did their backdraft thing
upon our small foreheads
                                              breathing in the pockets of blackness

yet, we ride
our little bodies fading into the upholstery

the rear-view mirror
                                  keeping its eye on us

Brunswick St Blues

Brunswick St
sits like the continental shelf just below morality

rain washes the bad scenes
off the street
the killers still get the air
for free
yet upon the working girls
the evil shadows linger [End Page 18]

while the decision-makers bottle the blood
and facelift the Valley

Voodoojack waits at the end of Brunswick St
like some kind of licorice addict;
paved bitumen runs straight into his mouth,
congested with exhaust fumes
and scummed in the beard of night

whistling through blackened teeth
like some patron saint of the red-light militias
that perpetuate the Brunswick St blues tune

a black singing snake gripped by the neck—
                                                                                 can't bite back

Jaded Olympic Moments

for Jennifer Cullen

they made their way through the sliding-door
and stole the lot
                             video, mini-disc equipment, fly-fishing reels, my son's piggy bank
and my literary award
                                       all on the eve of the Games
capping off a sterling period of post-funeral melancholy
after my young cousin's passing

then, sitting on Jen's couch
as the ochre-kissed women came out
and did their thing in the center of the stadium [End Page 19]
we had tears in our eyes
                                            thinking, that's our mob!

but no,
only a romantic would think that
it's still very much an us and them kind of deal in this
         modern dreaming,
we're city people without a language
                                                                  and some of us have even less

but then the coppers rang
        said they'd caught them
                                                   three smack-head white boys
                                                                                                        18, 19, 20

the gear was gone without a trace
                                                the video, the piggy bank, the literary award
and it made sense
                                  'cause if blackfellas had broken into the house
they would've taken Dad's 10 ft. Landrights flag

'cause it was worth just as much
                                                          as Cathy Freeman's gold

Samuel Wagan Watson is a poet of Bundjalung, Birri Gubba, German, Scottish, and Irish descent whose books include Of Muse, Meandering and Midnight (University of Queensland Press, 1999), which won the David Unaipon Award for Indigenous Writers; Itinerant Blues (University of Queensland Press, 2002); and Smoke Encrypted Whispers (University of Queensland Press, 2004), which won the nsw Premier's Literary Award for Book of the Year.