I met a traveller from an antique land

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Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on November 28, 2015 at 6:54pm

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
pitied

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

the
go home blacks
refugees
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
savage
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
drown
save
be hunger
beg
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
saying-
leave,
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here

A poem by Warsan Shire.

 

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on November 28, 2015 at 6:57pm

Well, I think home spat me out, the blackouts and curfews like tongue against loose tooth. God, do you know how difficult it is, to talk about the day your own city dragged you by the hair, past the old prison, past the school gates, past the burning torsos erected on poles like flags? When I meet others like me I recognise the longing, the missing, the memory of ash on their faces. No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark. I’ve been carrying the old anthem in my mouth for so long that there’s no space for another song, another tongue or another language. I know a shame that shrouds, totally engulfs. I tore up and ate my own passport in an airport hotel. I’m bloated with language I can’t afford to forget.
 
*
 
 
They ask me how did you get here? Can’t you see it on my body? The Libyan desert red with immigrant bodies, the Gulf of Aden bloated, the city of Rome with no jacket. I hope the journey meant more than miles because all of my children are in the water. I thought the sea was safer than the land. I want to make love but my hair smells of war and running and running. I want to lay down, but these countries are like uncles who touch you when you’re young and asleep. Look at all these borders, foaming at the mouth with bodies broken and desperate. I’m the colour of hot sun on my face, my mother’s remains were never buried. I spent days and nights in the stomach of the truck, I did not come out the same. Sometimes it feels like someone else is wearing my body.
 
*
 
 
I know a few things to be true. I do not know where I am going, where I have come from is disappearing, I am unwelcome and my beauty is not beauty here. My body is burning with the shame of not belonging, my body is longing. I am the sin of memory and the absence of memory. I watch the news and my mouth becomes a sink full of blood. The lines, the forms, the people at the desks, the calling cards, the immigration officer, the looks on the street, the cold settling deep into my bones, the English classes at night, the distance I am from home. But Alhamdulilah all of this is better than the scent of a woman completely on fire, or a truckload of men who look like my father, pulling out my teeth and nails, or fourteen men between my legs, or a gun, or a promise, or a lie, or his name, or his manhood in my mouth.
 
*
 
 
I hear them say, go home, I hear them say, fucking immigrants, fucking refugees. Are they really this arrogant? Do they not know that stability is like a lover with a sweet mouth upon your body one second and the next you are a tremor lying on the floor covered in rubble and old currency waiting for its return. All I can say is, I was once like you, the apathy, the pity, the ungrateful placement and now my home is the mouth of a shark, now my home is the barrel of a gun. I’ll see you on the other side. 

Comment by Davis Goodman on November 29, 2015 at 6:57am

Thanks Reg. These poems put things as clear as daylight.

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on November 29, 2015 at 10:19am

.........you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land.......

Comment by Strega on November 29, 2015 at 11:07am
Thank you. Thank you for putting this into words that cannot be misunderstood.
Comment by Belle Rose on November 29, 2015 at 11:48am

@Reg that was one of my favorite lines as well. Powerful poems Reg, thank you so much for sharing them!!!! It's so true!

Comment by Sankev on December 13, 2015 at 8:24pm

Wow! Reg The Fronkey Farmer. I'm impressed, beautiful poem of Warsan Shire and awe-inspiring story, inspiration, Odyssey...  you made me be in those shoes that walked that story, you made be in that hotel that you tore up and ate your own passport... Right now I'm standing up saluting you.

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on December 14, 2015 at 5:47am

Thank you Sankev. We need to walk a few miles in each others shoes. Our empathy increases our understanding and this informs our actions. I linked this story about your fellow Canadians in my Sunday School post. It does not take much to lift our arms up and open them wide. Maybe some day I can buy Sara some ice cream.

Comment by Sankev on December 14, 2015 at 11:24am

Yes, Reg, I saw it in the news, I'm glad Canada has open arms for them.  I know that feeling of leaving my own "mother land", my "Llacta" -Quechua language-  I did it 25 years ago, but my reason were for my son's health and my: 'my son one day is going to hear me calling his name" became true.

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on December 14, 2015 at 12:05pm

Everyone is Haykuykuy!

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