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The Island Poem

Thursday, 29 October 2020  | Oscar Delaney

An island of happiness in a world of pain.

Some a smile try to feign,

Others, that, don’t even deign.

But you’d be blind not to see the strain

That so many lives still contain.

From the abattoir cries of animals slain,

To the grief of the widow of Nain.

From the moans of the lonely trying to stay sane,

To the weary refugee traversing harsh terrain.

Remember, remember, the poor will always remain.

But why, oh why, does suffering reign?

No, from despondency we must refrain.

An island of thought in an ocean of ignorance.

Our leaders are Trump and Pence.

We bolster the budget for defence,

Pouring in billions of dollars and cents.

But can’t they see that 50 years hence,

The ocean will be lapping at a Bangladeshi fence,

The forests growing ever less dense.

They say their prayers and burn their incense,

But ignore the smell that gives offense,

The reek assailing the olfactory sense,

Of burning plastic outside vagrants tents,

Of despair at stagnant wages, soaring rents.

‘Oh stop, it’s all too intense!

I’d rather watch footy on my TV immense.

Everything’s fine – just keep up the pretence.’

An island of altruism in a sea of self-absorption.

Or have I made the wrong assumption,

And it’s not a dearth of information,

Just a lack of discipline, of gumption.

And the trumpets advertising consumption

Drown out the calls for compassion.

The insidious social suction

Drags us to incessant aviation

And we forget about creation,

Instead causing devastation, degradation.

So do they know the right option

And just not put it into action?

Or are they too enmeshed in their rich faction

For Jesus’ words to gain traction?

Oscar Delaney, 18, grew up in a poor neighbourhood in India where his parents were social and development workers, and is now a second-year biology student at the University of Queensland. He is also involved in climate activism and helps run the youth group at his local church.

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