Voice Original Poetry
In two poems, Your Choice Our Voice and Pop, Rab explores The Voice, his hopes for the future, and how much Australia has changed for Indigenous people in only one generation.
by Rodney (Rab) Watkins
Your Choice Our Voice
We need to heal, it can’t continue like this
For too long our people so easily dismissed
An opportunity to engage, to talk with respect
The truth of this country, the wrongs we can’t get over, we can’t forget
This is not about guilt, not about blame
It’s about acceptance, understanding we’re not all the same
We have the answers to every question you might ask
For the present, for the future and even for the past
We’re not total strangers, we all love this land
We won’t give up the struggle but we need a hand
We want a share in the privilege, we don’t care about power
We could be your people and you could be ours
Now the decision is yours, you all have the choice
For us this means much more than a Voice
My grandfather passed at the age I am now
A hardworking indigenous man, handsome, strong and proud
It’s hard to believe that on his own land he needed permission to come in to town
But Tommy Braun wasn’t counted as a human until the year I was born
My memories are now faded but some remain clear
Like collecting wood chips for the old hot water heater
Throwing rocks in the dusty gravel streets where we lived in the railway yards
Standing up in the back seat of his ford station wagon, heading up the old north road
The packet of Kool cigarettes I gave to him in his hospital bed, no one knew any different when we were kids
A lot has changed since that time, my grandkids won’t know struggles like my grandfather did.
I wish them all a happy, grateful life, knowing love like me and where it all starts.
Fifty years makes it sound like a long, long time ago, but it’s easy to forget
we’re only one generation apart.
In their lives they’ll have their fights, I hope they learn their family story,
resist the wrongs, know their rights
While I take the time to reflect on how different life could have been
if my skin was darker or Pop’s skin was white
Indigenous poet Rodney (Rab) Watkins, from Townsville, was born in Alice Springs (Mpantwe), his maternal line from Tennant Creek.