Black boys

Brenda Saunders


Potent as spears, black-boys  rise sentinel

after the fire has passed


New life sprouts along the blackened stem


A spray of green circles the base   spins wild

as grass skirts on young men dancing

Initiation Ceremony


They learn the secret value of Gul-gad-ya

the power in each spike and root


A magic resin stronger than string

holds spear tip to shaft

cements a stone axe to the hilt


Brave Gadigal men hold the knowledge

earn their place as hunters


Make a draft from crushed flowers

their manhood stored in heady wine

maturing with age



Gul-gad-ya: native grass trees or black-boys

Gadigal: Sydney tribe (Eora language)



Brenda Saunders is a Wiradjuri writer from Sydney. She has written three collections of poetry and her work appears in anthologies and journals, including Australian Poetry Journal, Overland, Southerly and Westerly. In 2018, she won the Oodgeroo Noonuccal Prize (Queensland Poetry) and the Joanne Burns Award for Prose Poetry (Spineless Wonders). She is a mentor for Black Cockatoo, the Emerging Indigenous Poets site at Verity La.

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