poem: Desperate People



Desperate People


 Robust young Tamil tries to kiss my feet,

Atone for getting drunk, I think.  ‘No, stop!’

I say, confused.  Iraqi man has pain

All over, tests find nothing:  angry and

Depressed I’m sure.  Another family from

Iran has two young daughters; both can speak

In halting English – rare enough – they flee

The wars and terrors, persecuted all.

So many tortured, some have seen friends killed

And other dreadful things.  They voyage south

To Oz in leaky boats so dangerous.

Have crossed by land from Asia Minor, reached

The archipelago, and found the queues

To immigrate to Oz so long and slow.

Fair game for people smugglers, many drown;

The boats are overloaded – smugglers call

These poor folk ‘goats’.  The lucky ones survive

And reach detention, locked away for months

Or years, their fate uncertain, even kids.

And when at last released from gaol, they may

Not work, and live on handouts, poor as poor

Can be – some living rough and eating eggs

And noodles, don’t speak English, culture here

So different, though they’re ‘safe’.  They wait again

For many months to see if they have won

Protection visas, then can try to find

A job.  It’s way too hard for folk who just

Came here for safety, fleeing terror, war

And persecution.  Surely here in Oz

The lucky country we can offer more

And let them work, process them quickly.  They do

Not deserve a further punishment,

And we don’t want to set them up to fail.







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