Today, right on the heels of Donald Trump's colossal act of hate in banning refugees from America as well as travelers from selected Muslim countries - but not the ones where Trump has business interests - and his repulsive ham-fisted attempt to establish Christianity as the official state religion of the United States, it seemed to be a necessary and urgent time to present a poem dealing with the plight of refugees.
I have published poetry in this space before that reflects the now-tarnished American ideal in accepting people from other countries into our land - such as "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus, the words of which are etched on the base of the Statue of Liberty - as well as poetry focused on the hardships that some endure in getting here - such as "Running to America" by Luis J. Rodriguez.
Today's selection is called "Home," and it was penned by Somali born poet Warsan Shire, a lady still on the front side of thirty who lives and works in London and Los Angeles. Like the poem by Luis J. Rodriquez, this also makes it very clear that people only become refugees when they have no home left to cling to - or when "home" is "the mouth of a shark." It is a very moving look at the hardships endured by those fleeing a hazardous past and searching for peace and security in which to live, work, and raise their families.
Kudo's to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada who has stepped forward to restate his country's continued support and acceptance of immigrants and refugees. Kudos to actor Kal Penn who has raised over half-a-million dollars to support refugees from Syria in just one day - money that he will donate to the International Rescue Committee. Kudos to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz for his announced plan to hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years - as well as plans to help more of his employees with health insurance. And kudos to every good American who showed up at America's airports - as well as at some Trump hotels - to protest our nation's new and shameful stance on immigration.
Trump's poorly thought-out and executed policies to limit immigration and effectively ban Muslims from entering the United States will make our enemies stronger.
Here is why people try so desperately to get here. To stand in their way is immoral and self-defeating. We are better than this.
by Warsan Shire
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
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.
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
and even then you carried the anthem under
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.
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
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
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
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
go home blacks
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
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
than fourteen men between
or the insults are easier
than your child body
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
your survival is more important
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here