Riddle Me

Embarking on writing a life story book, here are it’s beginnings.

Following the Crow Song


My cultures seem clearest to me in objects and values my parents had in our house when I was growing up, many of which are still there.

I think immediately of string bags, grass skirts, shell necklaces, bush knives, and Dad’s cheap reproductions of Gauguin paintings of women in the tropics.

I remember being sent to care for old neighbours and baby sit other people’s children for no payment so my mother could show her generosity and teach me the value of service. I remember cooking family meals and being the little mother to my brothers from a young age.

As I think back on these objects I think of the riddles they hold, and want to go deeper under the surface to explore what context they have in the present and past.

The values my mother taught me were sometimes explicit and other times hidden in the objects and…

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The Drum

By June Perkins

I love that drum’s discordant sound
Parading round and round
It’s the source of freedom calls
Vibrating sound to ground.

To nomads stolen from Africa
It’s liberty’s lambada
Laughing/ leaping/ leading
Rebellion of many slaves.

Clans joining other clans
Angapu and Maipa Fakai
In Maipa Village became one.
Rhythmic blues to cure the hated one
Cruelty’s aficionado parading
Round and round.

Conjure him some pictures
Of threatening/striding/clans
Red/ yellow/faces/advancing
Challenging his possession
Of the people he despises
For their colour/vigour/movement

The fool thinks he can deaden
Triumphant/ marrow rhythms/
Serene calypsos/allegro’s breathing
Life into our crying corpses.

Continuing calypsos
Breathing beauty’s moderatos
Speak of dancing loving marriages
Uniting all the people
Beyond their clans.

Oh joyous drum!
Give harmonies
Parading round and round

Renew your sounds of
Around/ around/ around.

By June Perkins

Published in New England Review, Armidale, many years ago.

Dancing to Bubu’s River

                               Dancing Culture – June Perkins

I am dancing for my Bubu’s river
in synthetic threads she gave me

I am looking in river leaves
to see futures she wants for me

The dreams she chants
spiel on plastic tape

She asks for reunification
that never happens

Brings tears to my mother
never totally wiped away


(c) June Perkins

Sample of a new collection I am working on inspired by my Mekeo Identity.
Bubu is short for grandparent, also used for grandchild, but here used for grandmother.


Tracks poster2
                 Tracks – By June Perkins

She went to the archives stretched out in the land
Followed their tracks
Followed their scents nipping in the wind
Followed a canvas sniffing out the paint.

She sent out brush strokes to become picture words
Reeling in acrylic memory
Reeling in encounters with testimony
Reeling in the sites of her aunties’ significances.

She called out to the images against the grain
Installed in galleries, libraries, town halls
Murals and tracks and scents and canvas
And mouths, and songs and steps
And gestures, she danced.

She called out “Here comes the butterfly
Lamenting the suffering of the
Koori song, Murri Song, Warlpiri song, Kimberly song,
Mekeo song, Man song,
Woman song, Human song.”

She danced the revisions of her story
In layers upon layers of
Red earth
Yellow earth, brown earth and white clay.


By June Perkins

New in Town

identity boots 2- self portrait flag and feet
More than my Birth Flag- June Perkins

Being new
means you can reinvent
who you were
if you wish

If you wish
to be free of definitions
that were given with birth &
at school

At school
where people may have defined you
in terms of your family
class, colour, country & skin

Class, colour, country & skin
what are these things really
but external ways
some choose to decide who you are & determine
your opportunity?

Your opportunity
to be decided by history, chance, fate?
But maybe not now
you can be new in
time, place, space

Time, place, space
to reinvent to say, ‘look beyond my place of birth &
my face’

Your face
with so much more beneath
jaws bones just like any others
eyes all your own that tap into

to reinvent, move freely,
& become something
you really want to be

You really want to be
unconstrained by stereotypes
limitations & hatreds
that oppress
the human spirit

The human spirit
is more than simple definitions
You are more than
country, class, skin

By June Perkins

identity boots 1- being me?
Identity Boots? – June Perkins