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black ink faded to green
and stretched over weathered fingers
the tribal heart an illusion due to
my grandmother’s name

layers of memory etched into his skin
five cents a name and twenty dollars
to hide his impulsive nature
I never knew the other woman

the symbols of his past
shine through grease and scars and sweat
and his honest work
tools held aloft like a sabre

hands that fixed all the people around them
but still broke every thing they touched
pieces of video recorders and televisions
still litter our world

I remember tracing each image
with tiny fingers
and feeling dwarfed by his greatness
he lead by example

those identifying marks saved him
when I could not recognise
his clean shaven face
and screamed for my bearded oddball

the diamond, the heart
the spade and the club
I learned the value of when to fold
and spent hours practicing my poker face

those hands shaped my ideals of class
with rebellion on his sleeves
and the biggest heart for all
book judging never made sense to me

I vowed at so young an age
to replicate his cards on my own
more delicate knuckles
illusions and faded colours and all

promising to be faithful to
his hierarchy of wrong order
past his objections to be right
and his warning of job killers

my own suits will sit mirror imaged
my right hand to dominate
the body art movement
with a unique twist on an old favourite

and although I generally wear
my heart on my wrist
I’ll proudly show my hand
and we’ll walk away with the pot.


Samantha Hogg is a 22 year old Indigenous poet from Western Sydney. Her poem ‘Suits’ was commissioned by The Red Room Company for The Poetry Object.

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Tamryn Bennett is an Australian writer and visual artist currently living in Mexico. Since 2004 she has exhibited artists books (Showers and Clearing and Polaroids and Postcards) illustrations and comics in Sydney, Melbourne and Mexico. Her poetry, illustrations and articles have appeared in Five Bells, Nth Degree, Mascara Literary Review and various academic publications. She has a PhD in ‘Comics Poetry’ from The University of New South Wales and when in Sydney was Art & Publications Director for The Red Room Company.

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