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

Beached Dreams

Silently and gladly to the reefs of Christmas Island
the convoys of asylum seekers come;
at night they cling to the boards of wooden boats that roll
and list in heaving seas.

Between the fob and mincing of the sound bite,
no-one, it seems, has time for this—
to pluck them from a watery grave, wrap them in blankets
and raise a glass to honour

their remarkable courage, their very ordinary dreams
and their right to be proudly Australian. Instead,
we drive shards of broken tidewood into their beating hearts,
sealed by the signature

of our feckless leaders, written with such pragmatic
cowardice, with such unfeeling stubbornness
that the words choke as they begin—“Unknown human”—
the ink bleeds and fades

in a sea strewn with the wreckage of decency,
the withdrawal of compassion, the failure
of a nation to face its fear, to understand that, like all of us,
they come in the hope of a better life.

Nauru/Papua New Guinea

Christopher Robin on Manus