Lament for the children

We’re aching the children,
we want to wipe their tears
We want to give them freedom,
we long to end their fear.

We can feel the shame,
the helplessness and pain,
of children in detention,
their lives held in suspension.
We mourn with them and grieve,
and we won’t be relieved
Until the suff’ring kids are freed
Until the kids are freed.

These families are sentenced
to futility and despair
while those who sit in judgement
condemn without a care.
But no crime has been committed,
they came looking for a welcome;
they asked us for protection,
and we stole their hope and freedom

We’re aching the children,
we want to wipe their tears
We want to give them freedom,
we long to end their fear.

The criminals in Canberra
pretend to serve our interest.
They claim it’s for our benefit,
that it’s for the best.
Our moral compass has been lost
on that we can be clear:
It’s been swallowed by the politics,
of racism and fear;

On the tiny island of Nauru,
amidst the desolation,
no one’s going anywhere;
there is no destination.
There’s nothing to look forward to
just more desperation,
for children and their parents, too,
a helpless situation.

We’re aching the children,
we want to wipe their tears
We want to give them freedom,
we long to end their fear.

Childhood should be wond’rous,
with laughter. and with learning;
without the fear and sadness,
the aching and the yearning.
If we only could we’d make it right,
create a justice outcome,
take their hands, hold them tight
and make these children welcome.

How long must the children wait
for justice and compassion?
Kindness, hospitality;
why must these things be rationed?
We will raise our voices high,
together we shall loudly cry:
Until the suff’ring kids are freed,
Until the kids are freed.

We’re aching the children,
we want to wipe their tears
We want to give them freedom,
we long to end their fear.

Ken Rookes 2018

I wrote this for the Bendigo Rural Ausralians for Refugees rally held last Wednesday, calling for the release of children and their families from detention on the Island of Nauru. The people were invited to participate in the response (Bold). It works as a sort of rap.

I was invited to offer it as a prayer at Eaglehawk Uniting Church this morning. People responded positively, and it opened up some good conversations

 

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They brought their children

Haiku of blessing

They came to test him,
the Pharisees, loving law;
What about divorce?

For your heart’s hardness,
Moses permitted divorce.
Human brokenness.

Two becoming one:
a generous unity
and image of love

They brought their children
to be embraced by Jesus,
seeking his blessing.

The twelve gatekeepers,
also known as disciples,
spoke sternly to them.

Let them come to me,
said Jesus indignantly,
and do not stop them.

To children like these
the kingdom of God belongs;
enter like a child.

He took the children
into his arms, blessing them,
declaring God’s love.

 

© Ken Rookes 2018

Even the dogs

Weary from the crowds,
he slipped across the border for a break.
A holiday with a few close friends,
up north among the foreigners.
Different people, culture, food.
Best of all, no one knows him here.

The woman’s love
has grown achingly to despair;
such is her daughter’s illness.
Her dormant hopes quicken
when she learns the identity
of the stranger from the south.

Disregarding his request for privacy,
she intrudes, insisting that he intervene
to heal her child.
His response disappoints.
Wrong race, wrong religion.

The man offers a domestic metaphor to justify
his lack of compassion.
Sorry, I can’t help;
the food is for the children, not the dogs.

It takes our breath away.
Suddenly we hear the shrill, cheering voices
of the xenophobes, islamophobes, flag wearers,
shock jocks and opportunistic politicians.

But the story continues;
this foreign woman does not know her place.
She accepts the racial calumny,
but, with impertinence,
throws the image back at the teacher:
Yes, but even the dogs . . .

Even the dogs.
The woman, he concedes, is correct.
There are no boundaries to love
except the ones we fashion from our fears.
The man accepts his lesson with grace,
and setting aside his weariness,
offers her the crumb.

 

© Ken Rookes 2017

Rosalind Park

Acrylic 50 x 70 cm

I took part in the Bendigo Easter Festival Paint out where a number of artists were invited to paint aspects of the festival. This is my painting of children in Rosalind Park. The paintings are on display for another week at the Information Centre.

 

It becomes a companion piece to my painting of the children’s petting farm last year.

Warlpiri Children # 3 Willowra

Lino cut 31 x 47 cm

The third in my series of lino-cuts of the children of Willowra. I printed a proof in 2015, but only recently produced an edition.

We left Willowra late last year, after three years, and we deeply miss the children. They are beautiful.

warlpiri children 3 (2) sm