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Langford, Martin --- "Poem: Brain damage" [2000] AltLawJl 3; (2000) 25(1) Alternative Law Journal 8

Brain Damage

As if it had just been a joke, showing off­

like the one who'd said

he could ride fastest, no hands, down the hill . . .

one perfect morning

he went down the scrub

with his mates, and an old crumpled can, and sucked in the most petrol:

holding his breath

till his lungs, and the world, buckled in ...

till he spasmed and sank to forgetting ...

till they tucked him in tight

in the quietest room in the State: because, being black, he, now, was a problem,

and they didn t want him, not now,

showing off

with his needle and drip.

Martin Langford

I was teaching at a school in Sydney's Western Suburbs when the word went round that a young Aboriginal student would not be coming back to school as he was in a coma from sniffing petrol. What upset me at the time was that we were instructed not to discuss or advertise the incident. The student never did return to school. I have no idea what happened to him. • ML

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