art, Forgotten Australians, painting, poetry

‘A Severed Life’

by Rachael Romero (guest author) on 8 June, 2011

Rachael Romero, who was in the The Pines, the Convent of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in Plympton, South Australia, shares her drawing A Severed Life.

Rachael writes about her art work:

Those responsible for our incarceration were looking in the mirror.
How many lives cauterized?
How many hands maimed?
Girls not protected but stained by unwarranted and self-righteous religious and civil presumption of guilt.
Their persecuters were looking in the mirror.

‘Magdalene Laundry Convent of Good Shepherd Crown’ by Rachael Romero copyright 2011
Forgotten Australians, memories, poetry

Little eyes weep as they sleep

by Garry Shooks (guest author) on 3 June, 2011

Garry Shooks shares his poem reflecting on life in Children’s Homes.

Little eyes weep as they sleep

Morning to night we are in fright

Our little eyes weep for the sound of a loving heart;

Lost in our world of diminishing veils of mist of who we are,

Number 3, I am and as such I respond to the call of three,

The tears came easy at first but they dried up when standing in the midnight cold shivering,

Told you once too often I was told not to cry,

Naked in the frosty night I dare not cry as the bashing I just got has left me battered and bruised,

I wish I could cry as I stand and shiver in the night time cold

A life time of bitter memories has left me scared in places only I know,

The years of pain within has made me old, years have come and gone I wish I could be reborn to start again without the pain.

My parent was the states who were ashamed of us and kept us from prying eyes, uneducated and no love I was sent into the world at 16 with a suitcase of cloths and not told to make a start.

Refugee in the lucky country where do you start, my life skills were how to fight,

I’ve survived to this day because I have a tough heart born of Anzac blood I’ve refused to lay down no matter what,

My body is torn and battered from life’s fight that it wants to lay down and rest and have a new start.

Anzacs children we are and we have spent a life time looking for the lucky country to call home, I’m still a refugee in the lucky country so where do I start,

I’ve had the Prime minister Mr Rudd come to my home to say sorry from the nation for all the bad things that were done, but that does not heal a broken heart,

But with respect I had seen a man who has a caring heart.

Garry Shooks

Forgotten Australians, poetry

‘Pines Indoctrination’

by Rachael Romero (guest author) on 2 May, 2011

In 1971, Rachael Romero, soon after her release from The Pines (Sisters of the Good Shepherd Convent), Plympton, SA, wrote a poem about how it felt to be indoctrinated.

Of Pine Indoctrination, copyright Rachael Romero

Of Pines Indoctrination

A tattooed mind
with fear and cold
and logic warped
to please false aims

a cringing heart
a slaughtered soul
a bleeding confiscated mind

Deadened, buried lay my will
Hushed with fear and violent threat
Unwanted, stifled, broken, ill
stumbling on a stormy deck.

copyright Rachael Romero

Forgotten Australians, memories, poetry

One Man

by Barbara Lane (guest author) on 16 April, 2011

Barbara spent time as a child in Opal House, Opal Joyce Wilding Home, Wilson Youth Hospital, Vaughan House, The Haven and at Wolston Park Hospital (Osler House) between the years 1970 and 1979. Barbara is now the co-ordinator of the support group Now Remembered Australians Inc. In her poem One Man, Barbara pays tribute to Fr. Wally Dethlefs who helped to establish The Justice for Juveniles Group, previously known as the Wilson Protest Group. Wally also set up one of the first refuges for youth in Brisbane.

One Man

When I was young and in a place
Where no one seemed to care,
One man fought on my behalf
Though others would not dare.

I’d been told I had no rights
For I was “just a kid”,
But one man fought on my behalf
And showed me that I did.

They took away my childhood,
My freedom and the sky,
But one man fought on my behalf
When others would not try.

They locked me up in Wilson
But now I have the key
For one man fought on my behalf:
His name is Wally D.

documents, Forgotten Australians, memories, poetry

‘Escape Attempt’ 2

by Rachael Romero (guest author) on 13 April, 2011

Rachael Romero, who was in The Pines (Convent of the Good Shepherd, Plympton) shares one of her poems:
Rachael explains:

This was written right after I left the Pines, Convent of the Good Shepherd. My friend Agi and I decided to feign a religious calling so we could “do rosary” in the chapel before dinner. We had our eyes on a high window that was not barred. To escape through it was a dream, but we persisted for weeks before abandoning the idea.

Furtive, stealthy in the gloom The noise and cracks of a silent room Every step an inch to free life Every inch a step to new strife Fear, regret, anticipation Throbbing, pulsing, circulation. “The window’s high, the glass is thick. All I need’s a heavy brick.” “But what of noise? – Someone will hear They’ll keep us here another year” “Agi come back it is too late I hear a key at the staircase gate Kneel down, kneel down, make out to pray They may not even come this way Our chance has gone, perhaps it’s best Let’s go back, sit with the rest I had no-where to go anyway Trust “Sour Grapes” to cause delay”  copyright Rachel Romero
Escape Attempt poem

Escape Attempt

Furtive, stealthy in the gloom
The noise and cracks of a silent room
Every step an inch to free life
Every inch a step to new strife
Fear, regret, anticipation
Throbbing, pulsing, circulation.
“The window’s high, the glass is thick.
All I need’s a heavy brick.”
“But what of noise? – Someone will hear
They’ll keep us here another year”
“Agi come back it is too late
I hear a key at the staircase gate
Kneel down, kneel down, make out to pray
They may not even come this way
Our chance has gone, perhaps it’s best
Let’s go back, sit with the rest
I had no-where to go anyway
Trust “Sour Grapes” to cause delay”

copyright Rachel Romero

Forgotten Australians, poetry

For some

by Wendy Sutton (guest author) on 13 April, 2011

Wendy Sutton, a former inmate of The Pines (Convent of the Good Shepherd), Plympton, South Australia now lives in New York, USA. Here she shares her poetry.

Stuck in a Void

Are we stuck in a void, toiling with the end and the beginning?
escape then is inevitable
Or, is it a wanderlust for new experiences?

Western Culture suffocates & retards my senses and the very essence of who I am
Where do I go?
Is it deaths door of which I am finally arriving at, no satisfaction with this existence, no joy in sharing my “true” life.

Wendy Sutton Fe.2/1995 Australia

“She”
All my senses are alerted
By such a ballistic, turbulent chaos, so unsettling, and almost agonizing,
And yet so mysterious and alluring

But, without falter she continues to savage relentlessly to the end,
Only to slow such chaos for the ultimate caress of which still remains undivided. Joyous and so faithful and a never ending reliability that the very same secret devotion in which the sun rises and sets . . . . it is from the very depths of the ocean’s savagery that such delicate waves indubitably encounter the shore, with a gentle kiss.
This gives me so much strength, to know that no matter what the oceans wildest storm, the turbulence, the pain, the horror nor tragedy,
She blesses and transforms me with such courage and endurance, that through my own turbulence, I too will surely come to shore each and every time with a refreshed breathe of life, caressing the very existence of my horizons . . . . .

Wendy Sutton, NYC Monday 4th 2002

I Think

An English Manor, oh so Grand,
with an attic,
she used to frequent the attic,
from dawn till dusk,
draw she did.
A big woman, grey hair in a bun
not tight.
Pale skin, not a blemish.
Beautiful teeth,
Straight and just off white.
She smells of English rose perfume,
a gentle subtle fragrance.
She’s dead now, My Grandmother.
I never knew her,
I never met her, not once.
Wendy Sutton -Darwin 1986-

The Rose
It is a masterpiece of Nature
The perfect cup in which the rose bud is embedded, so striking and yet so
seemingly fragile,
but held sturdy via the gallantry of her thorny stem
Two polarities set to deter anything that would destroy the unfolding exquisiteness of The Rose,
such protection,,,,,, not even expected,
it just is.
Wendy Sutton 2002 New York City

Watching with Intensity

It is watching the intensity of it all pass by me,
The escalation of the era, the history of which I dance within,
the dance that goes on,
and
the history changes day by day, to my titillation . . .
I smile with a passion quenched with adoration,
it has now come before me -in a manner of which- holds a glimpse of what is mere fetal,
thus, a touch of agony,
and yet,
an abandon creativity that sets me free to infiltrate, ready to explode

the particles of which fall, with a gentle cascade, softly, slowly,
oh the beauty
feel the sensation, become a part of the Universal force
only to succeed another existence,

………………………………………………….

for some
*
Wendy Sutton 1995

Forgotten Australians, photos, poetry

Summer

by Janice Konstantinidis (guest author) on 12 April, 2011

At the age of twelve, Janice was taken by her grandparents and father to Mount Saint Canice, one of the Magdalene Laundries. The laundry was run by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in Hobart, Tasmania. Now Janice lives in California, USA, where she enjoys writing and tending her beautiful garden. Here she shares one of her recent poems.

Summer

Buttercup yellow is the sun in brightest blue,
Dandelions, in paddocks, not green,
but browning and turning back to that dark earthy hue
and thickening of sounds are
cicadas and swarming bees,
and chirruping nests in trees
and winging insects fluttering honey
from marigolds, petunia and alyssum.
These are summer sweetness to me
and I lie face up.
The sun warms
my blood from the winter cold
into that deep warmth which is not the fragile one of spring.
I feel summer absorb me
and I record the growth of shrub and tree

Janice’s garden
Forgotten Australians, memories, poetry

What is Wild?

by Rachael Romero (guest author) on 2 March, 2011

In these two original poetic works, Rachael Romero reflects on her experiences at The Pines, an institution for girls in Plympton, South Australia.

What is wild?  by Rachael Romero, reflecting on entering The Pines

What is wild
Child
Not meek, not mild
Defiled
Exiled
Reviled
Child

MAGDALENE LAUNDRY

The stigmata of
religiously tattooed
Magdalene       slaves
scourgings of
“fallen women”,
scars from
inmate  labour
laundry work
hard physical
against the will work,
disfiguring injury
to hands and minds
now and always
Branded and
besmirched by
vituperative
nails-through-the-palms-
language
religious scourgings
marks of experience–pain
onto legs
bellies
Branded by injurious insult
religious tattooing of the mind
forced
physical labour
such as laundry work
agains- the-will,
side-by-side nail marks
Christ inflicted pain
Magdalene self-injury
cigarette burns to
know what  Jesus felt.

PENITENCE
the identifiable stigma of slaves
hard labour institutions,
stigmata people
ancient
branded.
on  my body
the same wounds
symbols of pain
and slavery
marks of ancient  inmate identification by  order of the church,      state order.

by Rachael Romero

Child Migrants, Forgotten Australians, memories, poetry

Oh Scotland!

by William Nelson (guest author) on 22 February, 2011

William Nelson, a former Child Migrant from Scotland, shares his poem about the importance of the reunion with his family in the UK.

As a child, William Nelson travelled to Australia from Scotland in 1939 on HMS Jervis Bay, leaving his siblings who remained in Scotland. From the age of four, he had lived in the William Quarrier’s Home in Scotland. When he arrived in Australia, he was sent to the Burnside Homes in NSW. He did not see his family again until the age of 74 when he visited the UK.

Oh Scotland!

Oh Scotland! Why did ye forsake me?
Why send me from your shores?
To a land far down under
That I know nothing of
Yet still I have a yearning
To see my native land
And try to greet a family
I did nae know I had
At last the journey’s over
My family I did greet
I’ll now return to my adopted land
To live my life in peace.

William Nelson copyright, 2000

Forgotten Australians, memories, poetry

I’ve got the lot

by Garry Shooks (guest author) on 7 February, 2011

Poet Garry Shooks writes about the importance of marbles as currency in the Children’s Home in I’ve got the lot. In The House Without Keys, Garry writes about he and his fellow residents who don’t have access to the keys of the institution. Life’s a blur is a testimony to past experiences and what matters now.

I’ve Got The Lot

I never fudged or cheated, but I got the lot.
Tom bowlers, bird cages and cats eye’s are what we call em.

There marbles you know and they’re worth a lot.
For with em you are important and with out you are not.
I started with a couple and by golly I played till I had the lot.

The boys would moan cause I ended with the lot.
So I’d swap for what you got,

Weed draw a circle in the dirt, not to small and not to big, then throw in your lot.
You’d balance on the tips of your fingers at the circles edge and have a shot.

The birdcagess you’d swap the tom bowlers not, cats eyes not for they were worth a lot.
I filled a sack and was a great shot.

Till the day I lost the lot for sir cheated and took the lot.
I’ve never had another shot.

Garry Shooks

The House Without Keys

Halls are long, doors are many and all the doors have locks,
But we have not the keys to undo the locks.

We are young and scared standing in our lines in long straight rows,
Staring at our spot,
Wishing wishing we had the keys to the locks.

Sir would undo the locks.
Keys would jingle when he undid the locks,

Marched forward into the next spot till you hear the door close
And he’d lock the lock.

Line up beside your bed to kneel and say the Lord’s Prayer,
Into bed with out a whisper as trouble you did not want.

You’d hear the cries at times as we had been forgot,
In the end the tears you forgot as for love there was not.

The dreams were of the time that you could remember the family they said you had not.
Work was hard and the times you never forgot,

But the memories are painful and you try not to recall what you
Had not,
The birthdays came and went till the Key opened the lock,

Into the world that you had forgot, suitcase in hand, were are they now the brothers and sisters you had not forgot,

A life sentence in a place time had forgot, To this day I try to find my lot, the years have beaten me and the taste of sadness is with me a lot,

Cap in hand I go to the keepers who had the keys seeking the ones I had not forgot,
May the lord grant me time to get to find em as I have never forgot,

Forgotten Australians we are called, and yet I’m proud to be Australian, but the misery and pain has never been forgot,
Remember us as we fall for we were brother’s sister’s one and all.
We never ask for the life we got.

Garry Shooks

Life’s a blur

Scared and frightened I was as the policeman said listen hear you lot,
Mum will be back sooner then not,

The hours of the dark I cried a lot.
They called it a home but it was not.

Polish, sweat and spit was our lot,
Polish the floors on your knees with the rhythm of youth till your arms wanted to fall off.
Brass door knobs that you polished till they looked new,

You’d scrub the pots better then new to get out the burnt stew.
Nuggets the shoe’s, and polish, and rub with a bit of spit to clean the dirty spot.

Then if you were unlucky get to chop the wood for the boiler, and fill the coal bin like it or not.
The days were long, tears unheard for you were a ward of the state that was your lot.
Years came and went and I did grow.
I hate the bloody lot.

Old I am with tiredness of walking life’s path.

The years are shorter now and the memories hurt,
Tears of sadness have spoiled the lot.

Love your children they are worth a lot.

Garry Shooks