Brenda Saunders

Brenda Saunders is a Sydney writer and artist. She is a member of the Poets Union NSW and the Round Table Poets. As an urban Aboriginal artist and activist she is also a member of the Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Cooperative. Her poetry and articles have been published in journals like Thylazine and Poetrix as well as being broadcast on ABC Radio National. Brenda was selected for The Red Room Company’s Poetry Crimes, and more recently for Poetry Without Borders ( National Poetry Week 2007).



Dark Secrets

Truth can spill out
with little hooks
of questions,

caught in photos
stuffed at the back
of a drawer.

Families of black people
camping in tents
faded to sepia tints.

A loving couple
one white, one dark
uneasy in a boat on a lake.

And the negatives
give nothing away.

Vanished frames of secret lives
pale squares on wallpaper
whisper denial.

In the silence of the old house
my fingers leave traces
in the film of dust.



Dark hands
beat the silence.
Curled tight they hold
the anxious moment,
let others slip by.

Years of blackness
spread across the palms
– rivers dispossessed,
going nowhere.

Time runs out
with the present fear,
a lifeline held
in metal cuffs
caught at the wrist.



‘Sista girl    need money    to get home    Native title
case   ‘Big time!’   she raps, edgy.

Some story.

She’s young, black and living in the city:

‘Gimme a dolla
Pay the Rent
whitey guilt
easy street’

Up in court, on the run. Stealing stuff,
could be.

‘This is a refuge’ I say, ‘OK? For Koori women at risk
Rape and violence, you know.’

          – RIGHTS FOR WOMEN  pinned to the wall,
          a poster men don’t read,
          (after the rage he’s blotto on the bed.
          She plays dead.)

I give her money, refer her on.

Now I hear she’s working
on the Block,

tradin’ for cuz
speedy in the fast lane:
Live for the day.

Locked in jail,
singin’ up country.
Dreamin’s free


cuz: cousin, friend, singin’ up country: remembering tribal land