Thursday, July 12, 2012


By a strange coincidence both my poems today have a similar theme. I, too, once looked for a better life, and I, too, came to Australia by boat!

'differ, halt, imagine'


Of all the great dilemmas that occupy our minds
And cause us to sit perching on the fence,
The plight of the planet's refugees cause us the most distress!
The problem is so widespread and immense.
Imagine all those yearning souls hoping for calm and peace!
Imagine all those war-torn refugees!
Imagine how it feels to hope that homelessness will cease!
It's terrible! And everyone agrees!
They come here by the boat-load, some drowning on the way;
The little children wide-eyed and aware.
'Australia is enormous......just look at it' they say;
'There must be a little part that we can share!'
Now some say we should call a halt and deny these people entry,
'Enough's enough!' they cry 'Get in the queue!
Australia's mostly desert so we're not that huge at all!'
And that, of course, is absolutely true.
But others differ saying, 'Let us open wide the gates!
There's room enough for all and they're our brothers!
We are a land of immigrants, Italians, Greeks and Poms.
What makes these people different from the others?'
I hear the different arguments and waver, day to day,
And many other people do the same;
And when a boat goes down and there are bodies in the sea,
All of us simply hang our heads in shame.


It was an Alice in Wonderland world,
A very strange enigma,
In which everything one touched
Was tainted by the stigma.
I was one of the lucky ones,
With a skin of pallid white,
And so I could hardly imagine
My African neighbour's plight.
Not that he really was 'neighbour',
He lived 'over there' somewhere,
And we knew, in a vaguely complacent way,
That the way of life wasn't fair.
We weren't allowed in his township,
So we never came face-to-face,
With the shanty-towns in the distance,
The national disgrace.
Then, one day, I was on a beach
Where Blacks did not belong,
And 'Biff!' it suddenly hit me.....
Apartheid was so wrong!
I looked along the golden beach
Bathed in the sun's bright light
And all I saw were White bodies;
Everyone was white!
I knew I was living in 'Wonderland',
Where Carrol's Alice found
That everything was crazy,
Upsidedown and turned around.
I left South Africa very soon,
Although I loved it dearly,
And I left with selfish motives,
I see that very clearly.
I was part of a strange experiment
That now is history.
But the fact that it ever happened at all,
Is due to folk like me.


Old Egg said...

How apt your poems are today. Australia is as you say an immigrant nation but with quite a shameful history of intolerance. I think the trouble is that politicians don't live by the rules themselves and so are incapable of making just decisions to solve our current dilemma.

Lmkazmierczak said...

You have lived a large enough life that you can see with clarity what kind of a world we live in. Enjoyed this poem♫

Sheilagh Lee said...

all of us could choose to share our countries and let others have a better life.