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WORLD POETRY DAY

Crossing Lines, poems for immigrants & refugees

COPYRIGHT: the individual authors. No part of these literary works shall be used, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the  express written consent of the author

23rd March

Veiled                        by  Alwyn Marriage, Surrey
 
 
 Hijab
If I veiled

would you know me

or pass me unsuspecting

in a crowd?
 
Chador            

Will you see below

the colour of my skin: the shape

of nose, or curve that catches

smiles born in my eyes?

 
 Burka                    

A fleeting image of a woman, shrouded,

scuttling out of the side of a television screen.

 

In the foreground men, burning books

burning flags, burning with rage.

 
   Niqab                     
A London street,

miles of cultural alienation

from the place called home.

 
I smile at you

and in return receive

a miracle of veiled communication.

 
 

www.marriages.me.uk/alwyn/ 
www.marriages.me.uk/alwyn/blog

 


22nd March


For the children of Syria             by  Colm Scully, Cork, Ireland

 

Syria sits in darkness,

our children locked in their living rooms.

Women make their way to the market

or wait at the food station.

The doctors have left for Europe,

the young men have joined the resistance.

Our Alawite friends have fled to Damascus.

 

A breeze rolls down the street by the kid’s playground.

A barrel bomb sits in the sandpit unexploded.

Two French nurses walk by carrying a coffin.

The words of peace at prayer time seem empty.

The children of Syria are starved of the joy of being children.

How many have died in this war I'm afraid to ask.

When the war ends who will be in charge?

They will tell us we need to rebuild, to work together for Syria?

 

When my husband comes home this evening

from the university

I will say tonight there will be no prayers.

I am sick of praying and dying.

What can we do to help end the war?

 

https://www.facebook.com/colm.scully.12

https://vimeo.com/user29903251/videos

 


21st March:
UNESCO WORLD POETRY DAY

The Poem                                                                 by A C Clarke, Scotland

The poem is my motherland, my refuge,

my friend and my travelling companion

Adnan Al-Sayegh

 

I carried a poem in my pocket as cash

for those who won't take plastic,

carried it across grey level plains,

each more featureless than the last

into crowded cities, each more like the next

until I settled - the way a butterfly

settles  - in a place

foreign as its people’s moonfaces,

their blurred vowels.

 

And the poem

turned itself into a room:

I was inside its words

safe as houses.

 

Then tanks came, helicopter gunships

police who said

we are only protecting you

who said

don't say we didn't warn you

 

soldiers who huffed and puffed

and blew the poem inside out

so I stood homeless

in the ruined street,

words strewn on the sidewalk

running black in gutters.

I heard their groans.

 

I took a taxi to the airport

to catch the last plane to somewhere else.

My eyes stung with salt

as I searched the aisle for a seat.

When I slid in beside her,

a woman turned and smiled:  

 

Don't fret, the poem said,

I'm coming with you.'

 

The Poem was first published in Scottish PEN’s online magazine PENning and is included in her fourth collection In The Margin (Cinnamon Press 2015). It will appear in I’m Coming With You, an anthology of poems from PENning to be published soon.


20th March

Guerrilla Bay                                            by John-Karl Stokes,  Australia
  “And still they come”

 

Salt on the rock

A single drum

Stung mouth of the waters

 

and rain on the strata

Who wins. Who loses

Who pays the ignorant boatman?

 

The sea will use its fingers

to claw at the opening

dark veins

 

the bay’s rubbed language:

swell and knock

swell and knock

 

This the sea’s language:

the urgent hope of the lover

the entry into the dark arch

 

The fingers break

out of the sea

parting the strata

 

Swell and knock

The fickling stars

disappear in the night

 

A coin-hard wailing:

the boatman’s naked wife

calling in the tide.

 

               .  www.johnkarlstokes.com, 



19th March

FLOTSAM                                       by Richard Fleming, Guernsey

(noun: wreckage, remains; debris, detritus,

waste, dross, refuse, scrap, trash, garbage, rubbish.)

 

The sea does not want her.

It takes the others:

her, it discards

half-dead on shingle-sand,

the reek of salty fear

on brown skin.

 

Gulls shriek

and quarrel overhead.

She lies face down

barely breathing,

a human starfish,

one black asterisk

referencing nothing.

 

Cruciform

on wet shingle,

she counts her stations:

hunger, terror, flight,

abuse, exploitation,

a merciless sea

crossed.

 

Land

that does not want her

spins like a mirage:

a half-moon cove,

gaunt trees

aligned like bars,

European houses.

 

She claws wet gravel,

draws herself

to her knees,

kneels to vomit.

Along the beach,

relentlessly,

policemen come.

 

web: http://redhandwriter.blogspot.com


18th March

Phonebox                                         by Alex James

 

A monolith stands,

towering over pigeons

who pick greasy paper

out of fried chicken boxes.

 

Beaming messages

from another world.

Not calls, just things

left, tags, dripping,

skunky as a wet nest.

Calling cards, the soft

pink scales of a lurid

creature, barely seen,

offscreen. The receiver

hangs dead as an arm.

 

Last night, there was

someone. A man,

crying, with his family back

in some distant village.

Last week, there was

no-one. The week before

that, there was

no-one.



17th March

A VISIT TO THE IMMIGRATION MUSEUM                     by Chris Considine

 

Pictures of ships. I imagine their white sails

like flocks of wings blown by the wind out of our harbour

out of Plymouth Sound to the open sea across the world.

 

A grey plaque on a grey wall in the Barbican:

Charlotte and Friendship set out from there

more than two hundred years ago.

 

Below-decks no beauty, each ship holding

a hundred criminals. Eight months of rats,

lice, bedbugs, cockroaches, fleas and stink.

 

Charlotte my grandmother lost her brother

to Australia – 1910? 1920?

Never saw him again. (His voyage made in forty days

 

and nights on an Aberdeen Line steamship.)

My sons too have gone to their far continents,

not carried by lovely squalid sailing ships,

 

or steamers with yellow funnels breathing heat,

but through the sky in silver, propelled by

a sense of adventure, chance-met brides.

 

With some expense of money and spirit

I can visit, along with all those other

grey-haired parents wondering how much longer,

 

can land in January summer, stroll

in white cotton beside the shining skyscrapers

to the museum in Flinders Street

 

and learn about the breaking of families.

Convicts of the First Fleet – first flood to wash up

on this shore to start the new nation.

 

After them wave on wave of arrivals

endless as ocean, millions of scattered souls

spun round the globe on currents of air and water.

 

 

 http://www.poetrypf.co.uk/chrisconsidinepage.shtml 

http://www.cinnamonpress.com/index.php/authors/42-chris-considine


16th March

Crossings                                   by Patrick Williamson


The swell of lift & descent

in the dark a howling wet wind

here we go, half way up, then

pitch again, toss & plunge,

hold on, for life is not drowning.

                     *         *

Softly, like a whisper, the surf

releases, o my god,

its tongue reaches, eyes wide open,

its next breath draws in

harsh & rasping, the rush of silence

the sated wind sweeps up, love

clutching fingers break free

sliding back, tugged by undertow.

            *

I was a child too, imagined

shadowy creatures reach up

& strip away the covers -

the cold, we are joined

myself, black-blue sea,

swept away, swirling rafts

skating over the fathoms.

 

Crossings first published in I am not a silent poet 2015

https://m.facebook.com/PACWilliamson/photos/a.744952525568431.1073741829.525601064170246/744952508901766/?type=3&source=44
http://www.samueleeditore.it/patrick-williamson-a-roma-8-marzo/
http://www.editions-harmattan.fr/index.asp?navig=auteurs&obj=artiste&no=18169



15th March

                                               A Lifetime in Aleppo                        by Maurice Devitt

 

Swaddled into a world

where life is the only antidote

to death, she wakes

to the crumpled landscape

of her mother’s skin. Eyes drawn

to etchings of blood

on bone, she learns

to fear the silence,

count her future

on the fingers of one hand.

 

Born with an inkling

that cowards in doorways

are dazed by the merest pin-prick

of light, she sleeps in the arc

of the moon.

 

Bloated by spaghetti stew,

she takes refuge

in the normality of nightmares,

exhumes a history

of massacres and earthquakes,

re-run to a point,

where every second time

she comes out

on the right side and believes

one night she will escape,

leaving behind

a name and a wooden crutch.

 

 

first published jn The Open Mousehttps://theopenmouse.wordpress.com/poets/


14th March

Passau: Germany-Austria Border, October 2015                 by Barry Tempest, Dorchester

 

We have passports and spare clothes.

For us the border is open.

 

The police do not even look at us.

They meet the train heading west

 

from which emerge a few young men,

Iraqi, Syrian – we can’t tell –

 

their faces blank with weeks of travel.

We watch, as they carry their lives.

 

They line up meekly and are led away.

We watch, as we carry our bags.

 



13th March

Women Waiting                                   by Thelma Laycock, Leeds

Each day you came to my class:
butterflies in your silks and chiffons,

you made the school colours glow like jewels.

In this photograph you explored a Bradford store,
soft materials from
India, skeined, folded,
made bright shelves.

 

Boys filled your conversation:
a few of you were already promised,

others received cards, phone calls anticipating marriage.

On that day we were on our way to Haworth:

I wondered what Charlotte Bronte, in black bombazine,
would have thought of her young disciples,
who stood tall, black eyes blazing,
the vivid veils setting off glossy hair.

 

My butterflies scattered across a graveyard,
scarlet, yellow, purple,
delicate against stone.

 

Below the dark church reared:
you pressed forward, excited, imagining

Charlotte’s wraith, a smiling bride,
waiting in white by the altar side.

 

For you, white was the colour of mourning.



(In her collection ,‘A Persistence of Colour’, (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2011).

http://www.indigodreams.co.uk/thelma-laycock/4587777435


12th March

Long Division                        by Sue Kindon                                                                            

There are those

who look for connections,

explorers of lifelines

 

and those who stand back

as a boatload of Eritreans

goes down at Lampedusa,

 

or was it a film,

a story of kindness to one

who was rescued and sheltered,

 

a baby born in the house of a stranger

persona non grata

outside of the census,

 

consensus, conspiracy has it

send them all back

these scroungers, these breeders

 

of fear, back where we came from

dark ages of ignorant borders

and fiefdoms with castles

 

where knights would set out

on crusades against infidels

only to end on the opium fields

 

of The Somme, stripped bare

in the leafless searchlights

of Vietnam

 

as Jericho falls,

or Palestine rattles

with bones of revenge

 

on blackened New York,

where the white of an eye

is shot down by a cop,

 

and it doesn't stop there

 

first published on Reuben Woolley's site, "I am not a silent poet" in December 2014.



11th March

I Never Go There                              by Tony Frisby

never tend the flowers,
never rip the clogging weeds
from sacred places, never make the journey,
never visit the graves of my own dead.

But we meet, and though scattered
to the seven corners of the earth,
it's an ever-growing entourage
of souls and spirits that gathers

on Whiteway Lane to talk,
to laugh, to console
as we set out together to walk
the gentle hills above Saltdean;

a man, his loved ones
his friends and relatives
strolling the ups and downs
of a shared and cherished past.
*
But what to make of those stragglers,
that group pleading in the wake
of our procession?

What to do, or say; how to act,
how to deal with those drowned children,
the frantic parents

searching amongst my dead for comfort?
How to tell them that their
tear-soaked cortège

winds a different route to mine;
that theirs, beginning in a nightmare
ends, not in a gentle walk,

but in rubber death-traps
that flounder on a sea
of mistrust and bigotry?

 

http://www.stridemagazine.co.uk/Stride%20mag%202014/august%202014/Modern%20Romanticism.htm

10th March

Pawn                   by    Jenna Plewes

 

This is all she has now,

she will make it hers. 

She’ll find a space, unpack,

 

lay out her plate, mug and spoon,

take the photo frame and candle

from one pocket, from the other,

 

seeds in a screw of paper,

her little moon-gazing hare.

 

She’ll unroll the muddy sleeping bag,

 take off her sodden trainers,

look out at the stars   pray.

 

When everyone’s asleep

 she’ll close the canvas flaps

against another night,

 

lie, dry-eyed, watching the past unreel.

Perhaps tonight she’ll sleep a little

 

while a cold moon stares

at a dark chessboard

of identical white tents.

 

 www.jennaplewes.com 


9th March

What is a man anyhow?  What am I?  What are you?               by Richard Westcott

(line 391 of Song of Myself  by Walt Whitman)

 

What am I?  And what are you?

I am what I seem – I know I am solid

and I know I am sound. See me –

here I stand upon the path

 

where my shadow falls

across the valley. And you will hear

as I sing in these mountains –

my sound is carried strong –

 

yes, some may even hear

afterwards from far away – my words

and music once again

as echo – for those who listen.

 

So now I go – as man must walk along

his ridge – for this my little while.

And I shall meet another traveller

who may ask – what am I? – as I ask him.

 

And he will answer – he's what he seems –

no more – no less.  He feels deathless too.

There is no need to pray or venerate

the many who have passed this way

 

casting their shadow, singing their words.

Later – their journey done – to await

unseen in silence a possible echo –

unseen in silence a possible echo.

 

No – no need for ceremony. But I call to you –

stand forth and sing – then like a songbird

listen.  And as you proceed – ask the one you meet

if he is solid too – and is he sound?

 


8th March Woman's Day - Giornata della Donna

Untitled                                                Eeva Maria Al-Khazaali, Maanika, Finland

The heart is a homeland without borders,
If a negative to the appeal comes on mail
we refugee to Canada whilst you wish
a vacation to Spain

One of the refugees is my husband.
He tickles me under my chin and under my hijab.
I don't talk about my vagina.
We play dice as the morning follows.

The moon, stars and the sun are as many
as the refugees in the world sparing lives
on fingerprints printed on the star-flag of Europe.
I hope every night and every night the hope dims.

 

https://twitter.com/eevaunen




7th March

Migrant                                                                    by Julie-ann Rowell

 

She took me by the arm. All the clocks had stopped.

I said ‘all the clocks have stopped here’. Listening

was the key in the steamy dusty square. Because no one

was listening but me. No one watching but me,

or those white thin bodies of trees, the thinnest trees,

like sticks in the ground, the skinniest trees I’d seen

in six weeks of travelling. At the fountain,

gentle upsurge, pattering, translucent on the stones,

I placed my hand under the flow for an instant,

to feel how cold it was, cold enough to burn,

already hurting. There was a loose wet stone,

I bent to retrieve it. She said, ‘no you can’t have that’

and batted it from my grasp. Dear wet lonely stone.

Then I knew how far away I was and how I could never

get back home. She dragged me to a solid white building –

a dozen faces like mine, hollowed out, excavations

with their little name tags and suitcases and their missing

of themselves. I didn’t want to go there but I went.

Cool immersion, then on the wall a giant railway clock,

stopped. I pushed through the mannequins

to a door with no lock and shoved it free to find fences

so tall even a deer couldn’t leap them and no one

was looking but me. No one was listening but me.

 

http://www.poetrypf.co.uk/julieannrowellpage.html

 

http://www.jarowell.co.uk/pages/poetry.html



6th March

Traffic                                       by John Baylis Post, Castletownbere, Ireland

She knew four languages well, speaking and writing
-fluent, grammatical, literate, precise-

too many to be useful in a small village near Pec'.
 
 
Now she knows how to say ‘darling’ across the atlas.

Glistening neighbours tuck someone else's notes into her thong,
carefully not seeing her or the smears of cheap foundation,
embarrassed by kohl-dead eyes trying not to engage.

Her passport was taken from her; she has no image.

Her clumsy, raucous new friends want not to know
and she half-remembers, half shuts into a dream,
the wistful stench of the lorry and the promises.

Not an au pair, not equal: a depreciating cypher.

Her crumpled, contraband dollars bought her forgetting,
badly waxed stubble, the shadow of innocence, white lady,
detachment, estrangement, the distance of hands brushing skin.

She never writes home. No language can bear her meaning.


http://johnbaylispost.com/section594481.html                          http://hungryhillwriting.org/anthology.html

 




5th March

Vanishing Snows                      Donna Pucciani, Illinois USA

 

In the morning when I wake

my breath comes shallow and regular,

slow as the drifting clouds in a dark sky.

I listen to its passage in and out

of the calm of my body. I am alive.

 

And when I rise from the warm bed,

the new year appears in its utter darkness

just as dawn nets a lemony sun.

 

It’s been a snowless winter,

full of false promises. Pure drifts

used to gather in city streets.

Now children live in tents, or capsize,

mothers are led away, fathers

are handcuffed at the airport.

 

Oceans rise even as water becomes

undrinkable. A universe of small selves

disintegrates as the day begins.

 

What billionaire brings us to our knees?

What foolish folk pray for salvation

while a man living in a cardboard box

starves under the viaduct? A singular brokenness

greets the morning with a crooked smile.

 

I want the snow again, that visage

of innocence falling from a lost heaven,

covering the brutish rhythms of politicians,

cloaking the monstrous rich with a blanket

of newfound conscience.

 

May I not die before the guns disappear,

water runs clear in glass and river,

and bread falls from the sky like bright snow.

Tomorrow when I rise, everyone will have

a roof, a book, at least one pair of shoes.

Words from many pens will exhume

buried truths in a syntax of the heart.


https://donnapuccianipoet.wordpress.com/about/

 


4th March


Raft of the Medusa                               by Maurice Devitt

After Géricault

 

The sea swells and the boat bares its teeth,

stands tall, pushes into the crowded waves.

 

His skin becomes porous as he clutches

loose handles of air, weight drains

 

and his arms are like ribbons flapping,

his face flattened by the wind.

 

He feels himself swallow the storm,

gulp it down until it rages inside and out,

 

eyes rolling in concert with the sea. No time

to consider the sacrifices made to get here,

 

no time to scan for the cropped shape

of Lampedusa, for now he must scramble

 

with the flotsam of death, swaddle his son

against seething eyes and treacherous hands,

 

count every breath, forget the words

for panic and fear, because today

 

may never spell tomorrow, and hope

is impossible to calibrate, when every hour

 

seems to sneak in extra minutes and the men,

who survived last month, are found

 

smothered in an English lay-by.

 

 

First published in – Amaryllis feb 2016   http://www.amaryllispoetry.co.uk/

3rd March

 

 NO PLACE                                                                                by Derek Sellen, Canterbury

There is no life for you here, said the sands,

edging each year closer to his village.

 

There is a seat for you here, said the truck-driver,

who took him on the highway to the coast.

 

There is no safety for you here, said the thief

who stole his bags as he slept in the street.

 

There is a space for you here, said the boatman,

but the price of the crossing is high.

 

There is death for you here, said the sea

as the waves rose taller.

 

There is a chance for you here, said the soldier,

who treated him as a brother.

 

There is no home for you here, said the woman,

we have closed the frontiers.

 

There is passage for you here, said the smuggler,

showing him where to jump the lorry.

 

There is no rest for you here, said the gangmaster,

who teamed him with twenty others.

 

There is a cell for you here, said the police

when they came to arrest the illegals.

 

There is no place for you here, said the immigration officer,

no place for you anywhere, my friend.

 

http://drs17uk.wixsite.com/archanditsshadow


2nd March 2017


Air Mail           by  Sharon Black  Gardoussel, France

 

She struggles to understand

the man behind glass

pushing the parcel back to her.

His words rush like a monsoon through slums

churning silt and mud

until she feels she’s drowning.

 

Please - madad karo she says,

the phrase trickling over her lip

like the holy water at Tungnath temple.

 

But he doesn’t help –                                  

waves her on, shaking his head

as another customer pushes past.

A poster of stamps reads

Birds of the World

each depicting outstretched wings –

 

she thinks of ioras swooping and diving  

above her village shrine where she used to lay

sweetened laddu, rose petals.

 

 First published in her collection To Know Bedrock (Pindrop Press  www.pindroppress.com)  www.sharonblack.co.uk  


1st March 2017

let’s call a spade a spade then      by Caroline Carver, Cornwall

 

how do you define hunger    exactly?

not enough food?    food shortages?  

 

more than that brother     

more than that

 

even a handful of flour

is something to rejoice on

 

should we say starvation then?  

limbs like dried branches?
 

more than that brother   

more than that

 

perhaps deprivation’s the word    yes

I will write deprivation in my report
 

say    the nation is threatened by famine

there is extreme scarcity and drought

         

stubbled fields bleached white

children light as grass      I will say  

 

the only water-holes are dark pools

in the faces of children     edged with flies

 

brother   you must add

one more thing    in South Sudan

 

children are not counted as souls

until they are one year old


 first published in SUBMISSIONS TO THE BROADSHEET sep 06 issue

www.poetrypf.co.uk/carolinecarverpage.shtml
http://www.indigodreams.co.uk/caroline-carver/4592863147