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Fiona Owen

On hearing of Jo Cox’s last words
June 18th 2016

My husband is out in the June sunshine
filling the bird feeder, hanging it back
by the bay tree. They have been waiting for him;
a finch is first, then a sparrow, the pair of collared doves.
Blessed are those who feed the birds,
like Saint Francis, who knew them as kin.
The roses hang, heavy with blooms,
but the fuchsia, today, its myriad scarlet droplets,
can do nothing.

She died in too much pain, that life
that served those in flight from harm,
stolen by knife and gun, her world work
done.

I watch the birds, their to and fro. Blessed
are those who build the kin-dom.

A lone feather lies in the grass,
the sunshine catching its iridescence.
A breeze is picking up, lifting it on.

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Lesley Quayle

Asylum

Every day the ocean stirs,
wearing its distances like sagging weights,
its H2O, soft rills or rearing breakers,
the ebb and flow a centuries old game
of Chinese whispers,
as drowned and drowning
murmur names and prayers, their voices
widening across the skin of water
in anguished shoals. 

Plucked from the sullen sea
a tiny shoe, a dripping toy, a photograph,
the carrion of broken boats and bodies
caulking the shoreline,
the latent dreamers,
the nameless hopers,
the no longer screaming,
the seekers after nothing more
than safeandsound. 

And this is their destination, in the cold pre-dawn
as stars crackle in their constellations,
after the thousand dangers of a journey,
they arrive, wet to their terrified bones,
washed up on the muttering tide
in their wreaths of kelp and algae,
lungs blistered with salt,
their eyes dead moons.
Hold out your hands – say “Welcome home.”

Judi Sutherland

Writers Against Prejudice

For Jo Cox

I’m thinking of the man who murdered Archduke Ferdinand
and how that shot would ricochet
along the trenches of the Somme, loud enough to echo
on the far side of the world. And all the men since then
who levelled the barrel of premeditated guns
and took aim at life, as though that could solve anything.

I’m thinking of the awful randomness of a death
that someone chooses for you
without permission, while all your future selves collapse
into a bullet hole. And afterwards, the press
decides if your killer was a mad lone wolf
or a terrorist, as if these two are mutually exclusive.

I’m thinking of that philosophical distinction we all make
between nature and nurture, although
motives are seldom pure and never simple –
and how they say there’s no free will at all;
that the finger muscles squeeze down on the trigger
before the…

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Susan Evans

Child Resources

Child, aged six, plays
`let’s pretend’ ‒
whitens his face;
tries to blend.

gels his hair
does his best,
to appear
of the West.

Learns to play
with identity ‒
fears new status
as refugee:

Fleeing bombs,
running scared;
praying
that his life be spared.

In vest and shorts
he makes his way
for the border
of Calais.

One, small rucksack,
for all of his things:
Bandages, marshmallows ‒
no apron strings.

Sue Johns

Before Borders

There they are,
the Middle English:
fenced in with wages and pension promises,
stealing the sun from another world,
watching its innocents sink
as they haul in their safety nets.

Here they go
the governors of our great isles:
convinced that ‘the hand that feeds’
will be consumed to the elbow,
triple locking our doors,
bricking up our borders.

Here we are,
the liberally raised:
clinging to compassion as if drowning,
digesting the stories,
trying to put faces to the numbers
as they drift in and out of the headlines.

And there they are:
war-torn, brackish sea-sponges,
tormented in origin and transit,
fiscal invaders or expellees?
Men, women, children, people!
Foil-wrapped, camped, waiting to be processed.

Bec Draper

And There He Sat

A small dark-haired boy in a sweet rocket shirt, grinning beside his big brother,
Loving life and its gifts, and the safety he knew in the arms of his father and mother.
They’d fled from their land seeking freedom from fear, long before he had known
That this foreign abode was far from his birth, and far from the place they’d called home.

And there he stood, in his yellow sweatshirt, as plans for the future were formed –
This refugee camp was not a safe place to raise the sons they had borne.
They could not go back to where they had been, for Terror and Torture and Death,
Stood in their way and vowed to consume any man, woman or child that was left.

And there he sat on the couch in his faded white shirt, as his parents watched hope slip away,
The impossible paperwork process demands stole a little more freedom each day.
As he slept, late at night, his parents devised their last desperate plan to be free,
A plan to reach shores far away from the fears, that tormented this lost family.

And there he slept in pajamas of blue, as his parents packed basic supplies,
Then gently woke him, and carried him out ‘neath the darkened midnight skies.
Silently, softly, his mother dressed him in shorts and a shirt of bright red,
A new set of clothes for his new home to come, a fresh start for this journey ahead.

And there he sat in his new red shirt, in a boat on a soft moonlit night,
Nestled in by his brother, ready to sail, toward a future more hopeful and bright.
His sturdy new shoes that his Mama had tied, were ready to walk him to freedom
When they stepped from this boat, his brother and he, with Mama and Baba to lead them.

And there he sat, in his damp red shirt, when the boat, over-filled, took on water,
When panic prevailed and fear froze the night, and they knew they would not cross the border.
Into the ocean the family plunged, Mama grasping for arms that could save her,
As she clung to her boys, and Baba held her, and they prayed that their strength wouldn’t waver.

But the ocean was cold, and the night long and dark, and nobody knew they were waiting,
The waves rose around as they clung to the boat, til the moonlight and hope began fading.
And there he held on in his wet red shirt, until he could fight no more.
And then there he lay in his cold red shirt, stilled, in the sand on the shore.

And there he’ll stay, awash in our minds but forgotten by hardening hearts,
Mourned by the world and lost to us all while-ever we stand apart.
A small boy dressed in a shirt of bright red, now forever asleep on our beach,
(more…)

Ian Whiteley

The Song Of The Wandering

In darkness deeper than the mine
where, once, I scraped my fingers to the bone
a silver seam of moonlight
breaks across the boiling blackness
and I let those self same fingers
idly trail in the cold Mediterranean.
I dream of the golden sunlight
left behind in the dust, distress and bullets.

That was then and this is now.
The churning sea, the angry orders
snapped at us in foreign tongues.
The smell of fear permeates this shanty-boat.
I drowse and dream of figs and apples,
sweetness quenching the arid desert mouth
of this poor orphan cast adrift
upon a ship of dreams.

Like fish in open boxes we lie back to back,
tightly packed Into the wooden crate
that bears its cargo to the free world
where, they promise, we will be safe.
We sing ancestral hymns,
learned from nuns in schools under African skies,
who all lay dead beneath
the soldiers boots.

Songs of the wandering.
The crossing of oceans –
first Saharan, then the tides.
Buying a future that cannot be foretold
even though they call these vessels ‘Zodiacs’.
Counterpoint rhythms of futile calls to God
to save us from this undulating hell
and lead us to redemption.

A creak…
a groan…
wetness rushes
into the mass…
we move…
it rolls
and all
is lost…

Rifugio

AnimALiena

Testo originale di Nina Simon qui. Tradotto da feminoska.
Il disegno è di Guy Denning.

Rifugio

In un’afosa sera d’estate
siedo in giardino
ricordando come
siamo arrivati con null’altro
che i vestiti che indossavamo
presso un indirizzo sconosciuto
scarabocchiato su carta sciupata
sognando salvezza,
una città lastricata di libertà.
Due camere squallide
in un caseggiato popolare
che puzzava di cavolo,
corpi sudici, pareti umide e muffe.
Dieci ore al giorno
la schiena curva sulla macchina in fabbrica,
contando i penny
da dare al padrone di casa per l’affitto
caldo estivo, gelo invernale.
Ma non sento più
il pestare degli stivali dei soldati
il fumo nero dalle case in fiamme,
nessun colpo sparato, nessuna donna stuprata
nessun fiume di sangue
scorre verso i campi di sterminio.

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