Asylum seeking in Australia

Written circa 2000

Blood drenched dreams dangling
from the spikes of the razor wire –
so close to freedom.
Wild fearful eyes stare
into our collective consciousness
and sear our indifference.
Batonned discipline enforced
by Wackenhut guards –
Capitalism’s storm troopers.

Shayan Bedraie starves himself
in a vain attempt to communicate
his family’s need for asylum.
A Pakistani man immolates
in a vain attempt to communicate
his family’s need for reunion.
Daily thousands sigh silently at the razor wire
in a vain attempt to communicate
their need for freedom.

But enough of those people’s troubles,
let me tell you why I dislike Australia’s
policy of locking up asylum seekers.
The other day I was flying to Sydney –
a Middle Eastern family was on the same flight,
they had recently been granted a temporary visa.

One of the sons had a razor wire tattoo
engraved on his neck
a reminder of the Woomera concentration camp.
I can’t forget that young man,
with his tattoo accusing me of being indifferent
to the plight of refugees and asylum seekers.
It is true I did nothing to help
him, his family, his fellow inmates
but why does he accuse me:
after all, you did nothing to help either.
We all just turned away.
So if I am accused
you are accused
we are all accused
so long as we do nothing.