Union Songs

A politician's conversation with an asylum seeker

A poem by John Tomlinson ©1998

You want what!
To stay in Australia?
You reckon you're a refugee
because Indonesia invaded your country
and you fled across the Timor Sea?
Brothers murdered,
sisters raped,
mother jailed
and father disappeared.
Did that justify you fleeing across the Timor Sea?
On what basis do you claim to be a refugee?
Don't talk in generality,
of escaping oppression and tyranny
or simply wanting to be free.
You say if you return you will be shot,
come now; don't exaggerate, we think not.
We've signed oil deals with generals,
treaties too important for us to lose,
we know your comrades disappeared
and many friends were shot at Santa Cruz:
but we can't help you-
so go to Portugal if you choose.

A child's question about abolishing native title

A poem by John Tomlinson ©1998

What did you do Daddy
to assist John Howard's ethnic cleansing?
Did you just go around:
donging dagos
bashing boongs
wacking wogs
slashing slopes?
Mr. Brown was a Storm Trooper
at the Met Bureau.


A poem by John Tomlinson ©1998

You ask me not to clench my fists
to hold my anger down.
You ask me not to purse my lips
nor swear nor wear a frown.
You tell me - let my anger go
that I should reconcile
that it is me that I must know
to feel at one, and smile.

It's not what they have done to me,
it's what they've done to you;
children taken and not set free
that keeps my anger new.
Native title stolen now
not 200 years ago
I'm angry and I'm asking how
and I will not let go.

Invasion, theft and genocide
carried out in my name.
It's something they'd rather hide
I'll voice my anger and my shame.
The theft of land is violence;
while Blacks in prison die
I refuse to stand in silence
they'll hear my anger and my cry.


Many thanks to John Tomlinson for permission to use these poems on the Union Songs site.

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