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The Empathy Poems project is designed to raise awareness about the plight of asylum seekers and refugees.

If This is a Man

You who live in the land of plenty,
Safe from war, torture, and civil unrest,
You with your families and homes close by,
Consider if this is a man.

Who knows not war.
Who works in his office
And eats fine food.
Who fights for a seat on the bus,
Who tells his children bedtime stories,
Who goes to church and prays to his God,
And dies in a hospital with his family around him.

Consider if this is a woman.
Who uses laws to restrict rather than to enable,
Who uses language to isolate and other
To make it easier to hide the stranger on our doorstep.
Who signs away people’s freedom in her notebook
Sending the desperate to distant isles
Far from eye or care,
So she won’t have to see men abandon hope and children go mad,
And says she is following orders.

Consider if this is a person.
Who casts the first stone of deterrence and prejudice
Via the ballot box
To shrink the sphere of kindness
To those who deserve it.
The birth right of a fortunate people
Who stole a wealthy land.

Ask yourself
If this is a man.

Published in the Writing to the Wire’ poetry anthology and reprinted by kind permission of UWA Publishing.


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