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

Waiting in the Stew

The night attendant, a Wilson veteran,
rouses from the mare's-nest of his online porn
propped on The Meaning of Demeaning.
He catwalks down our corridor.

Blinding day
makes my white-barred window starker.
Chaukas maunder on the simmering fairway.
Absence! My heart grows tense
as though a pencil-pusher were stamping my fate.
(This is the house for ‘hopefuls who wait.’)

What use is my sense of humour?
I grin at Mehdi, now sunk from his sorties,
once an Afghan editor-in-chief,
(if such were possible!)
still hoarding the dreams of a boy in his twenties,
as he lies, a genius
with a steel trap mind
on his firm bunk,
spotted and mouldy from the tropical clime.
A thinly veiled profile in a Nike baseball cap,
worn all day, all night,
he thinks only of his future,
of supping on shish kebab and pale ale—
more cut off from freedom than a trap.
This the way day breaks on Manus Isle in PNG;
the hooded night lights bring out ‘Wakar’
off SIEV X,
a replica of SIEV Y (?)
without the rig—
stateless and susceptible as lost mail,
as he swashbuckles about in his birthday suit
and lunges at stars.

These faltering figures of bravado classified young.

In between the limits of day,
hours and hours go by under the crew haircuts
and slightly too little nonsensical bigoted twinkle
of the Wilson Security attendants.
(There are no Foreign
queue-jumpers on the Wilson Watch.)

After a heartbreakingly similar breakfast,
I weigh sixty kilos
this morning. Sick of the talk,
I strut in my donated ‘Just Do It’
before the metal shaving mirrors,
and see the shaky future grow familiar
in the pinched, indigenous faces
of these thoroughbred displaced cases,
twice my age and half my weight.
We are all bad-timers,
each of us holds a locked razor.


The End of Hope: Sonnet for a Soul Seeking Asylum

Midway Through Our Life's Journey