Some facts about kindness
Five prime ministers in five years,
two of them the same man. (Outwardly anyway).
A population of some 23,000,000. Give or take
a few. More hungry and homeless than a census
dares to count. There are 90,000 empty houses
in Sydney alone. Vast untameable tracts
of land, a wild red, a jagged bitten coast,
a bounty of priceless wonder bleached white
over the years, and the famous Great Barrier
reef too. It can be seen from space. The loss
of colour cannot. The loss of colour cannot.
This place is haunted by ships, boats, sea
-worthy vessels, call them what you will.
People are starving for this lucky dirt
but the ocean is hungrier still.
One prime minister apologised
for what the government did a while ago.
Sorry is a small word. Genocide is not,
attempted or otherwise. He said nothing
about what is still being done. Apartheid
South Africa had a lower rate of incarceration
for black people than we do. So many die in pens.
On Nauru & Manus, children, women & men
have their names replaced with numbers.
Officially labelled detainee or transferee
never refugee. Refuge is denied.
Many detainees are raped. Men,
women, and children. Sometimes
the guards film their ruin. Each night
each transferee costs taxpayers $1095,
the equivalent of a luxury hotel room.
A high price to pay for numbers, some say
the ugly mathematics of rape. One number
set himself ablaze the other day to reclaim
his name in ash and light and flame: Omid.
Two letters away from my burnable name.
Omid, 23 years old, is dead like the others.
Hamid Kehazaei. Ali Jaffari. Rezene Engeda.
Fazel Chegeni. Mohammad Nasim Najafi.
Khodayar Amini. Robert Peihopa. Leorsin
Seemanpillai. Omid Avaz. Reza Barati.
The nameless outnumber the named.
But the new PM says don’t get “misty-eyed.”
You have to be cruel to be kind sometimes—
this is the lie being sold to a generation,
this is what kindness looks like to a country
built on it.
Which is why, when you see me
standing on the street, please, I beg you:
be anything but kind.