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Poetry on the Lake


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

1st April

So I am here    by Rahma SaroorRiyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

But I don't know where
 I just run, fall, stand, fall, run
I have walked along with this huge crowd to survive, 
And now we are here. 
In front of this gate, somewhere on earth
I have heard that people like me, live in tents, 
where summers are much scorching and winters are much freezing
But everything is fine, 
when you have something to eat twice a day
A myriad of people always come to us,
they supply us food, water, blankets and other stuff.
But I am unable to reach over there, 
they do not allow people like me, Countries have now closed their gates
But then, my question is  "where should people who escaped with a hope of survival now go?"
Should we wait for them so that they come and take us away from you?
Away, again from our last hope of survival
Away, again, far away from the rays of the sun
Away, again in blood
I don't understand who they are to close the doors,
 the earth belongs to all 
How can lines divide humans? 
And if it does, then, i may not be what I am TODAY, TOMORROW

31st March - 2 poems + 1 in Italian, to end on a note of hope

Collective Memory in the Women’s Centre, Grande Synthe Refugee Camp  
                                                                                                         by Aine McAllister

When I am sad, I remember
the beach. I watch the boats move on
the water.  Clouds light in summer sky,
I watch the rising and
the setting of the sun.

In springtime in Kurdistan, we
go to the mountain, there
are flowers, trees and figs.

I remember my father, he
puts his arms out and says come here.
My father is good and beautiful.
Now I’m happy when I
help my child write his name.

author’s note: I wrote this poem after a visit to the women's centre in Grande Synthe Refugee camp where I went to use poetry to teach English to the women over the New Year. I hoped that teaching English through poetry to the women in the centre would allow me to contribute to making the voice of the vulnerable stronger than the voice of hostility.


The poem Collective Memory has been put to music in three separate pieces, the scores are available to download at www.hutchingsmusic.co.uk  as part of #choirsagainstracism. They are free to use in any initiative against racism or in aid of refugees. 

Nature’s refuge                 
by Afric McGlinchey


The fields and hills are arriving

in droves, skittish and prone

to explode,

though the trees darken

with kindness.


Even in the ruined places,

woods are still present,

enriching the world

with mulch

and invisible spores.


This is the not-speak refuge:

perfect forest,

adding its own scent

to the thrum of rain

and all weathers.


I, too, come here

to rest my bones,

find the wart well; an order

of instinct

that prevails.


published in the Poetry Ireland/ Trocaire anthology



Madre                                                                                                 Donatella Valsesia

A te Madre, che porti un bimbo in seno verso la vita
Stanotte e' in scena la speranza di una terra lontana.

Sei li tra i flutti, su un barcone, in un gelido mare d'inverno
Il passato dentro agli occhi; l'odio, la guerra e l'orrore.
Culli il tuo bimbo nel ventre, orfano di padre, ancor prima di venire al mondo
Il tuo pianto e' sommeso tra le onde. Silenzio e' notte!
Questa madre e' sul barcone, disperazione, sua unica compagna.
Ecco una spiaggia s'intravede e Tu,Madre, tendi le braccia verso la liberta'.

Nascera' libero il tuo bimbo stanotte, nell'accoglienza e nel amore.
Splendida, unica Madre, ti abbraccio.

30th March: 2 poems

Fata Morgana             by Jo Burns


I fear the fear that their fear is breeding and we share, as one, the fear

of fallout. My passport, buried in my heart, is fading. We pack tight in prayer,

but the days grow mould and I search for pride in each trauma blow.


Vultures swoop wanting to know what I’ve seen, as if bones will open 

my ways, in clues or unmute the thrums of engines where I staggered in

to the beat of children’s fists, cries stuffed with acrid gasoline.


It’s not yet safety and I’ve lost myself on the way to shore, and shore 

was just the start, I am learning now the cost of things, as my expenses grow over 

my hopes and I write as black holes suck at me, pulling air from my cheeks. 


Sometimes I dream of nebulas designed to burst me. Stubborn, I know 

I won’t send this letter. I'll write again and tell you what you want to hear back home. 

When I know my own Exodus end, I will tell you what I’ve become.

Farid                                                                                                    twitter @joburnspoems


Emigrant                            Maurice Franceschi

Nowadays she’d be bit with a microchip,
rifle-butted far from Dover
but back then

my mother simply left her peasant village
caught her first train
that hoisted her up through France
boarded her first boat
and upwards to London

a handkerchief of sterling in her pocket
and a few pennies of English

no education to speak of
no useful skills
no points

a quiet courage
that failed her
when she faced her first escalator


all a sudden unsure of her next step
as paws of metal clunked and clawed at her
challenging her ascent.

29th March

                                               They say                                   by Susi Clare


I’m old enough now to be told,

old enough to learn about the bomb

                                               they say

my parents died in the rubble,

buried inside four storeys of concrete.

I was five months old; almost

every bone in my body needed mending

                                               they say

an English doctor mended me;

I’m lucky I only have scars, a limp

                                               they say

afterwards, I was sent to a camp in Tunisia;

it took the doctor six months to trace me,

his miracle baby, spoke with a smile

of refugee quotas, Europe, England

                                               they say

I can’t go home, there’s nothing left.

Maybe one day, one day

                                               they say, they say


28th March 

Please Respond Today                            by  Sarah Westcott


The Times' Classified, June - September 1939

Honest German couple 

strong and healthy, non-Aryan, seek post in British household.

Wife: good cook and housekeeper,

fine needlewoman, fond of children.

Husband: butler, private secretary, travelling companion.

Write  -


Married couple seek immediate employment.

Wife perfect in all household duties,

trained tailoress for ladies and children.

Husband: gardener, handyman, locksmith, valet.

Modest terms. First class testimonials.

Please Write  -


Still in Germany: Married couple

of excellent stock, urgently seek position

of any kind, willing to do any work

indoor and outdoor,

immaculate housework, gardening, best references.

Please write as soon as possible -


Married Jewish Gentleman, 32,

(wife in Poland)

of highest culture and education;

perfect knowledge of French,

seeks post for pocket money, anywhere  -

Please respond today.



 28th March

‘Guardian essentials’*            by Jill Boucher                                                      Stratford-upon-Avon


Coming to Europe?


For the boat you’ll need

our thermal socks,

waxed jacket with bush hat,

‘All-weather boots’ –

a windproof umbrella, perhaps?


On landing,

our dehumidifier

heated clothes dryer

and luxury towels

are ‘must haves’

(if you’ve a tent).


And for the walk

a folding walking stick

a unisex urinal

and for the children, toys –

a mini drone?


What? None of these?

Only a pulse monitor?


*All the items mentioned are advertised for sale

 in the Guardian under the tag ‘Guardian essentials’

27th March

Burkini                                                     by Cassie Smith-Christmas


You shed your skin:

pulp from pip,

by gunpoint, of course,

for you are in a






and here,

skin should be incinerated,


branded with Robespierre

and a cult of reason.


Faces weigh

hot and white

on your body

yet this is freedom, don’t you know,


the same all-mighty glory

that lets us in our






watch children wash up

like plastic bags


and do nothing:


for their skin is like your skin,

and that is reason enough for us.



First published in Gutter magazine no. 16.

26th March

The hunger-monger                                   by Camilla Lambert                                                                                                                                                                                    

He can be a hurdy-gurdy man, jangling

and cranking his drone for skeleton figures

to totter in a slow sardana. In another guise

he wears a long coat of piebald browns

and flutes promises of asylum far away,

where beds are soft and walls protect.

He plays at vanishing, returns to tread

field-edge dust, kicks away the dying weeds.


In his wake a cow stands motionless;             

its head drags skinny shoulders down,

scant measure of hay long gone,

and a child cries, nuzzles unappeased.

Shadowed by him a hugger-mugger crowd

drags bundles to a drab encampment

where they may be fed. After empty days

they have forgotten what it is to eat.


In presidential corridors he is spotted

dressed in minion grey. He exits the rooms

of braided colonels or ministers of state

guarding a heavy bag, lips tight. And always,

like the hungry he needs to gorge upon,

he circles in and out of borderlands.

He hides in camouflage, sharing fires

by ragged shelters with the prey he trades.



25th March

Feather-Shelter                                 by Mandy Pannett, West Sussex


Let’s say

it’s morning with a chance of sun

and I’m waking up to myself and all the stuff

outside my window – birdsong, traffic, footsteps

on a gravel path.


Voices that were calling to me in the dark

are now switched off.


Let’s say

the fabric of life for some

is too thin for repair.

Who darns a sock these days, turns a collar,

weaves a sackcloth shift?


Let’s say

it happens offstage

as in a Greek tragedy where a messenger tells

that children have died in the wings


but the impact is less

if I don’t see bodies

or sense the no-breath in a van.


So let’s say

it’s easy to airbrush, photoshop and sink 

an image, blur a face, a hand

or turn the volume down low,

so low


that a feather-shelter may disperse

and I won’t even know.


First published online in Poems for Calais Refugees


24th March

Hunting Lizards in the Dark    by  Niels Hav, Copenhagen 

During the killings unaware

we walked along the lakes.

You spoke of Szymanowski,
I studied a rook
picking at dog shit.
Each of us caught up in ourselves
surrounded by a shell of ignorance
that protects our prejudices.

The holists believe that a butterfly in the Himalayas
with the flap of a wing can influence the climate
in Antarctica.  It may be true.
But where the tanks roll in
and flesh and blood drip from the trees
that is no comfort.

Searching for truth is like hunting lizards
in the dark.  The grapes are from South Africa,
the rice from Pakistan, the dates grown in Iran.
We support the idea of open borders
for fruit and vegetables,
but however we twist and turn
the ass is at the back.

The dead are buried deep inside the newspaper,
so that we, unaffected, can sit on a bench
on the outskirts of paradise
and dream of butterflies.

© Niels Hav 

Translated by P. K. Brask & Patrick Friesen


23rd March

Veiled                        by  Alwyn Marriage, Surrey
If I veiled

would you know me

or pass me unsuspecting

in a crowd?

Will you see below

the colour of my skin: the shape

of nose, or curve that catches

smiles born in my eyes?


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.

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.




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?





21st March:

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.



on wet shingle,

she counts her stations:

hunger, terror, flight,

abuse, exploitation,

a merciless sea




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,


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


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.





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


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).


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?



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.



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.



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.





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.



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.



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