States of Poetry 2017 - ACT | 'The old rugged cross' by Kerry Reed-Gilbert

The old rugged cross

When the spirit has been broken
and there’s no place to go
When you look around the world
wondering what went wrong
When your heart is shattered and
torn no patch ever big enough to help it mend.
No bandaid to help it heal.

When tears roll down your face

cascading like a roaring river
When the spirit has been broken
and there’s no place to go
you wonder what went wrong
to make your life too much to bear

They say a person is only given
in one lifetime what they can endure
That the will to live and the spirit will get stronger

The old rugged cross sits high on my shoulders
I feel my hands nailed blood oozing
I feel tarred and feathered
Tattered and torn
When the spirit has been broken
and there’s no place to go.

I want the world to stop and let me off.

Kerry Reed-Gilbert

Kerry Reed-Gilbert

Kerry Reed-Gilbert

A Wiradjuri woman from Central New South Wales, Kerry Reed-Gilbert has performed and conducted writing workshops nationally and internationally. She was the inaugural Chairperson of the First Nations Australians Writers Network (FNAWN). In 2013 she co-edited a collection of works with the US Mob Writing (UMW) group ‘By Close of Business’, and was co-editor for the Ora Nui journal, a collaborative collection between First Nations Australia writers and Maori writers.

Kerry is a former member of the Aboriginal Studies Press Advisory Committee. Her poetry and prose have been published in many journals and anthologies nationally and internationally, including the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature and Southerly. She is a member of the ACT Us Mob Writing group and First Nations Australia Writers’ Network.

She has edited, published and been published in numerous books and publications, including Talkin’ About Country: Poetry Collection (Kuracca); The Strength of Us as Women: Black Women Speak (ed.; Ginninderra Press); Our Place: Stories about Good Practice in Youth Work with Young Aboriginal People (ed. with Shane Brown; South Sydney Youth Services); Message Stick: Contemporary Aboriginal Writing (ed.; IAD Press); Ngunnunggula (Belonging to Here): Stories and Poems (ed.; FreeXpression); and Black Woman Black Life (Wakefield Press).

In 2006 she received an ‘Outstanding Achievement in Poetry’ award and ‘Poet of Merit’ Award from the International Society of Poets. In 2005 she toured Aotearoa New Zealand as part of the Honouring Words 3rd International Indigenous Authors Celebration Tour. In 2003 she was awarded an International Residence from ATSIAB to attend Art Omi, New York, USA; and in 1997 she toured South Africa performing in ‘ECHOES’ a national tour of the spoken word.

Her work has been translated in French, Korean, Bengali, Dutch, and other languages.