Those who come across the seas

[On April 16, 2009, a boat carrying 47 Afghani asylum seekers exploded near Ashmore reef after being taken over by Australian Defence Forces. 5 refugees died and many survivors sustained critical burns.]


Nation: now just a memory
Ocean: our deliverance or our grave

Open-ended: furious heat, incessant thirst
Navy: two warships gleam in the horizon’s haze
Escort: our hope steered two thousand kilometers astray

Inferno: for the match-striker, death defied detention
Skin: our last defence incinerated

Identity: father, taxi-driver, BOAT PERSON
Letter: go back
Lies: boundless plains to share
Essence: pain is to life like blood is to veins
Grafted: in this sterile purgatory they piece me together
Attentive: a guard at my bedside watches
Lest I rise like Lazarus and live here


Susan Austin grew up in Queensland and has settled in Hobart where she writes poetry in between working as an occupational therapist and being an eco-socialist activist. She has published poetry in various newspapers, journals and anthologies. She has won prizes in several FAW (Tas) poetry competitions, and was the judge of the 2012 WILPF Eve Masterman Peace Poetry Prize. Susan has been a featured reader in many events including the Hobart Republic Readings, The Tasmanian Living Writers' Week and the 2011 Tasmanian Poetry Festival. The poem 'Bookshop capers' appeared in famous reporter 43, and in Susan's collection Undertow (Walleah Press, October 2012). She blogs at