John Mackie

The Golden Door

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” -Emma Lazarus

the tidal amplitude is small
our children’s bodies
half stripped by the sea
wallow long in the shallows
faces down, waterlogged,
bob slowly back to land

our decision was for them –
to leave
bombardments,  burnings,
battle-tanks, black flags’ bombast
religions’ rage, tyrants’ whims
always being
in the wrong place
to head for some place else
beside a golden door
where breath is possible

their search ends here;
lungs clogged
with the ocean’s disdain
or body fluids seeping
through the floor
of a locked
meat truck
in a lay-by

now Europe is
placing razor wire
across our hearts
in the hope that
we will turn away
to decompose
somewhere else

hand me the bolt-cutters
there must be air
around here



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