First place, Nakata Brophy Prize: SUPERPOSITION

Too many blacks goin around, thinkin they own the place

– an old problem.

Time was, they knew their proper place;

[hard workers, the blacks]

these days, can’t go two steps without falling over one

[theyre lucky we came here]

telling us we’re the problem

[lazy goodfornothin]

yep too many uppity, wont-stay-in-their-lane blacks

[farmers? youvegottabefuckinkiddin] 


Here sits an edifice; a pulpit
raised of shears rumbarrels chains ships bullets theft and bloodred death
book-lined, velvet-curtained
veneered in an unctuous justice
samely coating all the lives adjoined.

Within a man sits tracing ghostly ink, revolution emergent
as if thrown, a hairshirt spirals
verdant, down now onto this stage
twixt the sombre stacks of once-trees, much unvisited.

The man stops stoops lifts the bristling bundle
now heretic, ascends a stair other hands construct
the remnant curtains part, there ‘ICONOCLAST’ spelled out in neon
tubing pulsing
‘gainst a white white wall.


Tomes clasped chestward, he – our reluctant cynosure – speaks                voice rising        

(streetpunk academic mutiny / circle back
toward lost fecundity)                                                 

standing, blinking manifest sunlight


palaces and towers shed birds like skin

crowds swerve, bend ears, listen:

(there was always life before you

as there is always life after you

you have never been the first, or only)

– an old story.

and like a tree dragged upright, this roar  
shunts a world

somewhere deep stone stratum cracks, unfastens earth-strong membranes

wave functions collapse

potentialities formerly certified stable       corrode            diffract                  cohere no more

certain stories are fences / certain stories are seeds


gauche bylines slop our troughs to brimming

[gonna destroy im]

adamant fencers clinging to zero-sum

[fabrication realhistory]

mainlining militant indignant feeds maddened erupt

[madeitup fraudster notfarmers]

a vague relentless clouding morass


overwhelm civil semblance




two positions, superimposed


[You can’t just                  rewrite                history]




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Grace Lucas-Pennington

Grace Lucas-Pennington is a Bundjalung/European person living on Yugurapul land. She grew up mostly between Bundjalung country on the NSW north coast and the greater Logan/Brisbane area. Grace is currently the Editor for State Library of Queensland’s black&write! Indigenous Writing and Project.

More by Grace Lucas-Pennington ›

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