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Authors: Graeme Dixon

Tags: #Fiction/General

Holocaust Island

BOOK: Holocaust Island
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Table of Contents

Title Page


Foreword by Jack Davis

Prison Spirit


Black death



Yigga's run

Battle heroes



Prison spirit

Holocaust Island

Doomed prophecy


W.A.S.P. /S.W.A.T.

Six feet of land rights

Holocaust island



Asian invasion

Pension day

Single Mum



$2 a bottle dreams

Hypocritic sponsorship

A unfortunate life

To let

Black magic

Country girl

Noongah girl

The artist

Broome bound



Graeme Dixon was born in Perth in 1955. Between the ages of ten and fourteen he lived in a Salvation Army Boys Home, before being expelled from high school. He was in and out of reformatories and at sixteen ended up in Fremantle Prison where he spent most of the next nine years. His first poetry was written in prison.

At twenty-seven, Graeme Dixon began tertiary study and later completed a course at the Western Australian Institute of Technology (now Curtin University) on politics, communications and Aboriginal Studies. He has a strong interest in Aboriginal history and is currently furthering his studies at the University of Western Australia.

Editorial consultants: Jack Davis
Oodgeroo Noonuccal
Mudrooroo Narogin
Also in this series:
Paperbark: A Collection of Black Australian Writings,
eds Jack Davis, Stephen Muecke, Mudrooroo Narogin and Adam Shoemaker
Bobbi Sykes,
Love Poems and Other Revolutionary Actions
Forthcoming titles:

Joe McGinness,
Mabel Edmund,
life story

To all our Brothers and Sisters
who died in custody
May their souls R.I.P.
Foreword by Jack Davis

Graeme Dixon first saw the light of day in Katanning. His was to be a life of almost complete institutionalisation. His mother was Aboriginal, his father a migrant orphan from England who deserted the family of three children when he, Graeme, was two years of age. The next four years he spent in Sister Kate's home. Circumstances changed for his mother when she married again, but because he bore a resemblance to his father, his stepfather disliked him and in his own words, “I kept my distance from him and generally kept my thoughts to myself.”

Upon moving to the Gnowangerup–Borden area in the extreme southwest of the state, his stepfather deserted the family which had now grown to six. Two brothers and three sisters were placed in a home. This time the Salvation Army orphanage. But they were separated, his three sisters were placed in a different home to that of him and his two brothers. In Graeme's words “In the orphanage I soon discovered what type of kid the Salvo's desired. If you kept quiet and didn't show too much emotion you were classified as a good boy.” Many a time the administration tried to adopt him out, but he would purposely misbehave and they would change their minds. He was eventually not wanted at fourteen years of age for becoming drunk and was also expelled from the Hollywood High School. He was sent back to his mother in Katanning where for a short time he found some of the happiness which was denied him for so long. But the only friends he made were ex–orphanage Aboriginal boys and they altogether were enjoying their first real taste of freedom in their lives. But the type of freedom they enjoyed was to see the young Graeme Dixon in a reformatory at fifteen and at nineteen in the Juvenile Yard in Fremantle Prison and from then on he was to spend every Christmas and birthday, from his sixteenth year until he was twenty-four, in prisons. But in the prison atmosphere, where feelings are repressed and weaknesses taken advantage of, he began to write largely as he says in his own words “to get things off my chest”. Unfortunately, he destroyed most of these early writings because as he puts it “I didn't feel safe with my feelings lying around the cell for the prying eyes of the screws.” At twenty-five years of age he decided to keep out of jail and settle increasingly, but understandably enough, into a lifestyle of alcohol and drugs. Eventually, he was hospitalised and it was then that he met his wife Sharmaine, who recognising his talent as a writer, urged him to further his education and coaxed him into sending his poetry in as an entrant for the inaugural David Unaipon Award, which he won. Now he is also enrolled as a student at the University of Western Australia.

Most of his poetry deals with the life he had been forced to live in the past to survive. Others express the love and the loss of his Aboriginal people.

Now at thirty-four years of age, Graeme Dixon, Poet, has plenty of time to learn his art as a weaver of words and his craft as a writer of verse.

Prison Spirit
what a bitch
Is all caused by it
Must'a been
A wajella
Who invented this Hell
Wouldn't know
For sure
But by the torture
I can tell
To deny
A man freedom
Is the utmost
Form of
Just for
The crime
Of finding money
To pay
The Land lord's rent
Justice for all
That is
Unless you're poor
Endless days
Eternal nights
In a concrete box
The disease
It causes
In the head—
I'd rather
Have the pox
Because man
Is just
An animal
Who needs to see
The stars
Free as birds
In the sky
Not through
These iron bars
There must be
Another way
To punish
Those of us
Who stray
And break
The rules
That protect
The taxpayers
From us
The reef
Of humanity's
1 Wajella—white person
Black death
For forty thousand years, our ancestors
Caressed our fertile seed
and tended to the weaning
Gave us life then we were freed
a living part of Dreaming
encased in living flesh
But now the fruit is hanging
in cells of bars and mesh.
Now those links eternal chains
have been torn asunder
as the guns in Whitey's hands
spat lightning flash and thunder.
They sat midst the dirt and flies
alone and in disgrace
But behind those saddened eyes
are angry words and screaming
aimed at those in uniforms
who killed those of the Dreaming.
I started stealing cars
at fourteen-years old
Trying to impress me mates
Proving I was bold
Flying around in V.8.s
Baiting the manatj
Jesus! life was exciting
Full of thrills, spills 'n' laughs
When I did get caught
Didn't worry me at all!
I knew I'd only spend
A coupla weeks in Longmore
And it wouldn't take too long
To be back on the streets
Prowling for cars to steal
Manatj to defeat
My teenage years flew past
In and out of trouble
Never realising
White law would burst my bubble
but it finally happened
When officially I became a man
The magistrate gave me
Eighteen months in Freo can
Shit! That sentence stung
Dulling the fire in my eyes
One of me mates escaped
Via prison cell necktie
I tried to convince him
A coupla months ain't long
But it was no bloody use
His spirit had already gone
It's hard for any man
To be caged in a prison cell
But if your skin is black
It's like burning in hell
Being locked up by wajellas
Glaring at you with hate
Counting down the hours
To your earliest release date
But as the bible says
“All things come to pass”
My time eventually came
To be free at last
My experiences caused me
To attempt a brand new life
With no more thieving
Or getting into strife
I confidently set out
Searching for a job
I had even decided
To avoid me old mob
but everywhere I asked
I got for an answer
“May we have a look.
At your driver's licence sir?”
My past had returned
Haunting me like a spook
I couldn't find no work
No matter how hard I looked
This made me finally decide
To visit the dreaded police
Asking politely if I could
Sit for a driver's licence please
The copper's sarcastic reply
Was poison to me ears
“Look here fella
You're suspended for five years!”
My suspensions as a juvenile
I had truly forgot
And waiting for five years
It seemed I'd probably rot!
So to secure reliable work
I began to drive cars
That my friends is the reason
I'm back behind prison bars
Counting the endless days
For the next coupla years
Missing freedom, friends and family
Shedding lonesome tears
If you young black fellows
Have any kind of sense
Be patient and behave
Get your driver's licence
Waiting to turn seventeen
Isn't really very long
And it's a long lonely journey
Down the road that is wrong
2 Manatj—police
3 Wajella—white person
BOOK: Holocaust Island
11.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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