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

The R(efugee H)aven

They came upon a midnight dreary, took my father weak and weary,
Executed him that night in the name of a curious but forgotten war —
While we hid, our confines trapping, our minds constantly lapping,
grappling with our futures, we started mapping — our pathway to that shore.
'Our future is not here’ we muttered, and we set sail for that shore.
This is our only hope, nothing more.

Now distinctly I remember, the bleakness of December,
Christmas, once a happy time and not an island for the poor.
Waiting on time we’d borrowed, perhaps we’ll be free tomorrow,
Our applications finally processed and we’ll set foot on that shore;
That rare and radiant country with its open borders for
Us Asylum Seekers. Nameless here for evermore.

And the tears of sad uncertain eyes are symbols of the hurting,
If I stayed they would have killed me, terrorised like ne’er before.
So now there’s still my beating heart but some of us stopped eating,
And we’re just jumping queues they say, all fury and furore.
They say we’ll take your jobs and such, of this you must deplore!
‘These people are illiterate — only this and nothing more’

As our souls grew weaker, our outlooks ever bleaker,
‘Sir’ said I or ‘Madam — truly your mercy I implore’.
You see our homes are there no longer, and our families are yonder,
And we cannot say we’re stronger than a tyrannical warmonger.
But I’m scarcely sure they’ve heard us, begging for an open door.
A detention centre — and nothing more.

Deep into the darkness peering, long we sat there floating, fearing;
Crammed inside a shoebox we had risked our whole lives for.
But the silence wasn’t broken and we’ve not received a token;
Of respect from those unwoken by our stories of before.
Yes, although our lives are desperate, still we sit and wait unsure.
They say it’s ‘processing, offshore’.

While from some we draw such ire and our situation’s dire,
One man set himself on fire, how do they just ignore
The screams and fits of terror from these people through no error
Of their own are now the bearers of this secret, silent war?
When will they see our faces hiding histories so sore?
We’re still sitting here unsure.

And so the refugees, never flitting still are sitting, still are sitting,
On Nauru, and Manus, and other hells offshore.
And their eyes have all the hoping of a people still unbroken,
And a government that won’t see that their policies are flawed.
But a change can be effected simply by knowing you’re
Not powerless; not helpless. Think. Talk. Vote. And share a poem, I implore.


Historic Torso of Apollo

Christopher Robin on Manus