forty-three West Papuan men   women and children
five weeks in wild seas in a traditional double outrigger canoe
drifting four days without food or water
washed ashore on Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula
relocated to Christmas Island − if sent back we will die
one of many who served prison time for raising outlawed flag
pro-independence activists for decades are hunted in the jungle
a slow genocide:  raped   imprisoned    tortured    shot
bodies thrown in the river   houses burnt     land occupied
boys from the remote highlands − sent alone to the sea

while at the northwest point on Christmas Island
construction cranes swoop across a new detention centre
another prison for those who flee persecution

out-of-control bushfires burn red across the skyline
cricket bats thwack    tennis balls to racquet’s pock
in scorching summer heat    frolic in a pool
dive in the ocean     who cares about refugees?

climate change is absolute crap − says Tony Abbott
evacuees from drowned islands     homes swallowed by the sea
are economic migrants we deliver straight to PNG

the Australian navy tows asylum boats back
cuts them loose in Indonesian waters
   saves refugees from drowning
who surrender then to suicidal despair

seeking asylum is a human right − our colonial plan:
   dump ’em overseas
fails to meet international standards
the UN found conditions on Manus Island
harsh    hot    humid    damp and cramped

next we must stop the birds
crossing sovereign borders
send them packing

process them in cages offshore
as the European pigeon said to an Indian mynah:
go back where you came from!

Jenni Nixon

Jenni Nixon is a Sydney author, poet and performer.

More by Jenni Nixon ›

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