Forgotten warriors

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An article published in The Good Oil last year inspired Colleen Keating of Sydney to write a poem which encourages us to remember and recognise all our ’warriors’.

BY Colleen Keating*

history defines itself
sings legends of the frontier
explorers  stockmen  squatters
bushrangers  diggers  pioneers

yet there is a waiting
beyond consciousness
the other side of this frontier

the first peoples of our nation
wait for recognition
their story in the bones of the land
waits for remembrance

unknown numbers
chilled the spines of the intruders
skills honed for survival over eons
silent padded feet
shape-shifting oneness with the bush
theirs was the sacrifice

facing death
here become warriors
defending their land
their way of life   their lore

we revere fallen warriors
emblazon ‘lest we forget’
on monuments and cenotaphs
inscribe names on memorials

is it a dark forgetting
as one forgets burning stars in daytime
is silence a denial of history

dare we disturb our complacency
find cracks      let the light shine in

* Colleen Keating is a Sydney-based poet and writer. Through her work she “explores the paradox and wonder of nature, the harsh realities of life, of inequality, injustice and increasing threat to our natural environment”. Her website is

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The Good Oil, April 21, 2015. If you would like to republish this article, please contact the editor.

5 Responses to “Forgotten warriors”

  1. margaret says:

    Colleen reminds us of the forgotten history of our indigenous brothers and sisters who wait for us to wake up and write the true history of this land and its first people. Colleen’s imagery evokes the pain of this forgetting and denial. Our poets bring us to consciousness so thank you Colleen for this timely reminder.

  2. Michael says:

    The story of indigenous Australians needs to be told. Colleen Keating’s poem “Forgotten Warriors” is following the Leonard Cohen maxim of letting the ‘light shine in’.
    There is a growing consensus that acknowledges the frontier wars of the European settlement of Australia. How this can better be achieved is still far from obvious.
    Colleen puts her own research into poetic form and genuinely moves us all forward.

  3. Marie Casamento says:

    What a challenge in your very apt choice of words Colleen ‘dare we disturb our complacency find cracks let the light shine ?’ Thank you for awakening our senses to the ‘story lying hidden in the bones of the land’. Marie Casamento

  4. Joan wharton says:

    Wonderful to see a remembering like Anzac Day calling us to remember the original people of our land who also fought for their survival and the many lives that were lost in their subjugation

  5. Marilyn says:

    A poignant reminder ……..thank you Colleen.

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