Poem

Maxine Beneba Clarke
Jacqui’s law

they say the people’s senator

        from tasmania

has the deciding medevac bill repeal vote

 

so, quite simply, we are asking:

                     does senator jacqui lambie know

 

that hamid khazaei

     died from compounding errors

 

the coroner’s report said

 

in detention, on manus island,

          it was just a minor infection

 

                     does she know

 

immigration delayed his transfer

         and then the leg wound went septic

 

                     let jacqui lambie know

 

that hamid khazaei

was twenty-four years old

 

                     when he was killed

by a state he came to

   for help, and safe harbour,

         and maybe even

a home

 

in photographs,

          his eyes are as deep

as where the gulf of aden

                greets the arabian sea

 

and the aching amber hue

    of falling

       autumn leaves

 

                     does jacqui lambie know

 

how omid masoumali,

      who only sought asylum,

            lit flame to his own flesh

 

                     has she heard

 

that sometimes it’s hard

               to tell the difference

 

between a voting hand

        and the smell of death

 

                     tell her

 

omid masoumali needed painkillers    

            and an urgent flight

 

that it was all preventable

 

and after he died,

          the inquest described

his wounds

   as survivable

 

 

the death count is up

 

               in the australian border camps

on nauru, and manus island

 

and i don’t mean to press

          but the people need to know

 

      how will history speak of jacqui lambie:

 

                             which way does she intend

                                                                                          to vote

Maxine Beneba Clarke
is The Saturday Paper’s poet laureate, and the author of The Hate Race and Foreign Soil. She is a winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry.