Poetry | December 2019

Please stop walking, and look at us
Raise your head and look at us
Raise your hands and look at us
Look at the life lost in our abode
Look at the tears our eyes have lost

We lost a year, when we lost the dream we wept 
We lost two years, then we lost how to understand time
We lost three years, then we lost our appetite
We lost four years, then we lost sleep

After five years lost, we became addicted to medical drugs
After six years lost, we became addicted to the disease
After the seventh year lost, we became addicted to
          the thought of hating our bodies
Lost in our eighth year, we were addicted to oblivion

Lost in our ninth year, we were addicted to the question
          of “What is living?”
After ten years away we are slaves to a shadow
          of an idea of “life”



Note: This is a 150-word poem reflecting on the tenth anniversary of the detention of three Tamil Asylum seekers in Australia. It was written by a Tamil asylum seeker who was detained with them for 6.5 years.

Sriharan Ganeshan

Sriharan Ganeshan was a film photographer and journalist in Sri Lanka before fleeing the war. He documented many of the atrocities that occurred in the north, and was forced to flee his homeland 15 years ago. Sri arrived in Australia by boat and spent six years in detention before his release in 2015. Sri lives in Melbourne, has been involved with MAFA since it started in MITA detention centre in 2013, and has participated in the BriefCase exhibition at The Immigration Museum, The Whirling at NGV and had works in a recent show at No Vacancy. His main field is writing and he is working on his volume of poetry and stories called I See The Moon and The Moon Sees Me. Sri’s writing has been published in Overland, Peril, Writing Through Fences, the Key of Sea Journal and Writing From Below. He has also produced recordings of his poetry in Tamil which have been broadcast in France.

More by Sriharan Ganeshan ›

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  1. Searingly poignant, devastatingly relevant- an evisceration of the Australian colonial settler-state’s bread and circus concentration camp racism and profundity of cruelty. The kind of poem we need, tragically.

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