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Asylum seeker sonnet

Brendan Doyle, Ben Walter and Rob Wallis |  27 May 2013

Treasure Island, a sonnet

Within our happy harbourside retreat
we put on show of affluence and glee
and round the barbie with our friends we meet
or watch the footy final on TV.

Our leaders stop the boats, turn back the tide
of those who seek to storm our golden gates,
to let them know that God's not on their side
nor will we ever count them as our mates.

With every boat that sinks our grief's untold,
the smugglers just don't care they're overfull,
so join the queue, no need to bribe with gold
and get a proper visa in Kabul

or if we must, illegals to prevent
we'll just excise the whole damn continent.

Brendan Doyle


small and smaller islands

beaches, these doors swung wide
through barbed-wire cliffs, gates
held wide by a welcoming smile
of sand; land a place for landing and
the landed, greeting and the waving,
new bricks farmed and growth
embraced like fresh children;
across the valley there
a tragedy of cliffs, no garden clinging
by its fingers, no symbiosis blending
in the soil; standing straight-backed,
staring out to sea.

Ben Walter


Blind tiger

They repatriated this security risk.
You'll be safe back home,
they assured him, the war's over.

He knew about the war,
forced to fight when still a child.
And he knew about over.

Over was why he risked death
to escape to a place
that sounded so safe and festive:

Christmas Island. Only he was flown
to another island where men
hung from beams like strange fruit.

Now he sits on a footpath
begging for coins, his eyes
punched out by bicycle spokes.

You'll be safe there, they growled,
the war's over. He knows
what it means to be blind. 

Rob Wallis

Brendan Doyle headshotBrendan Doyle grew up in a house without books, and now wants to build a house of poetry. He has published poems in Islet, Five Bells, Get Reading Postcards, Famous Reporter and Four W. 

Ben Walter headshotBen Walter is a Tasmanian writer and poet. His work has appeared in Island, Griffith Review, Cordite and Overland, and his debut poetry manuscript, Lurching, was recently shortlisted for the University of Tasmania prize, as part of the Tasmanian Literary Prizes. 

Rob Wallis headshotRob Wallis has published three volumes of poetry, the last, Man In A Glass Suit, in 2011. His poems have been published in Woorilla, The Mozzie, Poetry Monash, Wet Ink, Blue Dog and Westerly. He has won first and second prize in the FAW John Shaw Neilson Poetry Award, the Martin Downey Award for Urban Realism in the MPU International Poetry Competition, and the Castlemaine Poetry Prize. 


Brendan Doyle, Ben Walter and Rob Wallis


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Submitted comments

Keep writing . . . I'm reading. We have to stop singing 'we've boundless plains to share' if we don't mean it. P'raps we'd better excise our national anthem, too?

glen avard 28 May 2013

Thank you for these timely, strong pieces. When policies deliberately punish and wound, when leaders fail to lead, we must look to artists and writers to revive what's left of our national conscience. These poems point us to the hell 'we' are inflicting on innocents. They remind us that Australians, as represented by those we elect, are lousy Samaritans.

Barry G 28 May 2013

Terrific pieces that also convey a sense of betrayal, of the victims but also of our values. I also like the way you each use the title to sum up the poem but also convey an idea in its own right. Blind tiger, I assume, hints that the subject is Tamil but also, very subtly, that the LTTE suffered a certain blindness too.

Pat Walsh 28 May 2013

As I read the poetry, I was thinking about last Friday here in Kabul when I heard the explosion of a car bomb and then a suicide bomb followed by hours of gun fire as the remaining attackers were fought and eventually killed. Same thing happened in another city to the north at the same time and, again, a week earlier in Kabul. Each time I hear these haunting sounds I wonder who and how many are dead this time? Staff of the Australian Embassy here live behind their compound walls and wire and are rarely allowed to venture out. But "it's safe" their colleagues in Oz say .....

Anthony P 28 May 2013

Why is it that it's alright for our government officials to commit murder? For every refugee killed because we sent them back, someone over here needs to serve a lengthy jail sentence. Then maybe we wouldn't be so keen to wash our hands of them.

Bernadette 29 May 2013

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