Shortlisted Poems

The Crossing

by Marion Osieyo

He heard stories about people,
in capsized boats,
swallowing small cups of salty water and
‘father, help us’
on their tongues.
Their aging photographs,
torn and worn out,
with the desperate hands
of children
back home,
wives lulled to sleep
by the hunger of no news,
palms clasped in silent prayers,
wailing to creased memories.

He became the story about people,
in capsized boats,
swallowing small cups of salty water and
‘father, help us’
on their tongues.
Fear and solitude,
lining the helm of his forehead
as the Sea looked on,
ever so graceful,
grateful, for his visit,
her belly soon to be bloated
with limbs
and lungs,
full of unfinished goodbyes to God.

Biography

I am a young professional working to advance women’s empowerment and youth rights. I volunteered with a local women’s organisation in the UK for four years supporting women and girls from refugee and migrant backgrounds, In 2015, I was selected by the European Commission as a ‘Future Leader’ of international co-operation and development.


The Wonderwalls

by Sashenka Lleshaj

Farewell Grandmother
Dad is taking me to Wonderland

There is the moon
We are hiding, we are running, mom is crying
And a man shows up; not a man, “the Wonderland’s fairy ship sailor” dad says,

There is the sea
We are running, we are begging, dad is paying
And a boat shows up; not a boat, “the Wonderland’s balloon orange ship” dad says,

There is a lot of water
We are shouting, we are shaking, mom is drowning
And a ship shows up; not a ship, “the Wonderland’s envoys” dad says,

There is the land again
We are running, we are shivering, dad is crying
And police shows up; not police, “the Wonderland’s clowns” dad says,

There is a crowd of people, and smoke and blood
We are huggggging
And a wall shows up; “a wall…”, dad lies to me

And there is silence
My childhood just ended at the walls of Wonderland
Where my dad first lied to me

Biography

I remember when Kosovo refugees came in my small town when I was 8. We would play together, but they always refused to play what we called “to play wars”. My mom said it was because the war took their childhood. I never played war again!


Show and Tell

by Glen Wilson

It’s been forty one nights since
I was in my own bed and Aleppo
feels like another person’s film.
We were two doors away
from where the first bombs spoke;
one demon summons others,
saints are chased from holy places,
forgotten altars are blooded again.
When I was a child I needed stitches
from banging my head against a wall,
it is no longer there.

We drove to the next town
then the next town,
as they fell like dominoes
our numbers grew but thinned as well.
I got seperated from my father,
A rebel soldier told me to run
for they would be here soon.
I left a message for father
head towards Germany,
my hand shook as I chalked my name.
I had been training to be a teacher.

Biography

Glen Wilson lives in Portadown, Co Armagh with his wife Rhonda and children Sian and Cain. He has been widely published having work in The Honest Ulsterman, Foliate Oak, Iota, Boyne Berries,  A New Ulster and The Interpreters House amongst others. In 2014 he won the Poetry Space competition and was shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize. His work also appeared in the Making Memories Anthology and he has work forthcoming in The Stony Thursday Book. He is currently working on his first collection of poetry.


M-moments

by Lind Grant-Oyeye

Silvery hair, bones thinned in-out, of life the silver screen speaks.
Letter M, embossed in audacious colors. It had begun long before her time….

time when clay pots were sanded out to shimmer.
It starts by falling- falling in love. Minute carts tenderly packed
full of moments, full of memories delicately loosely tied together.

It flows with fantasies of prized certificates, a desire for a stamp-the majestic seal of approval.
It flows to the stage of self- journey through dark subways, tunnels to the unfamiliar…
untested promise lands. She heard some had swam bellied-up in wavy pools,
Chillin’ to the historic tempest.

Others swim to “bien venue” cat-calls, to honeymoons filled with French kisses,
flowers and fresh caresses, beauty and beautiful feet planted on cozy carpets,
romance lasting into wintery and the hurricane hugging days.

On strange lands were some feet planted. They kissed strangers
and slept with enemies -red juices pressed against their lips,
with the firm force of a heavy weight boxer’s strength, kissing Judas’ doppelgänger
to the sweet sound of the language from Babel, spoken with a lover’s passion.

Faint memories show M in the alphabet song, is for Migration, for marriage.

Biography

Lind was born in Nigeria. Her poetry is a voice in social justice , gender and human right issues. She has work published in several international literary magazines and contributed to the Cultural aspect of the Greek economic crisis. She is currently working on her first book length collection of poetry.


Dehumanised

by Safoora Masood

I wake up
To be dehumanised
I wake up
To be processed
I wake up
With little regard for my human rights
I wake up
To be told that  my fingerprints will be taken within days
I wake up
Distressed and confused by the process
I wake up
To be photographed for a database, to be tracked down
Wherever I go
I wake up
To be numbered in red pen on my arm
I wake up
To be detained for up to 18 months without charge
I wake up
To another nightmare

Biography

I am a mother with 3 children and recognise everybody is precious.


Taking A Break

by Fiona D. Kelly

We leave our woes
for warmer climes,
to tour bus trip
and culture-soak.
To cocktail drink
and sunscreen dab,
to nightclub hop
while pool-side clad.

We leave our woes
for warmer climes
To snapchat sand
on flip-flopped-feet.
To selfie-take
our sunburn peels
and Instagram
our five star meals.

We leave our woes
for warmer climes.
Bikini-waxed
and fake-tanned thighs.
To read our books
and prop up bars;
shop for sarongs
in Turk bazaars.

We leave our woes
for warmer climes.
For maids to clean
our hotel rooms.
Escape the hum-
drum nine to five,
to make us feel
like we’re alive.

We leave our woes
for warmer climes
To break the year
and ease the mind.
To take a dip
in the iron red,
Syrian blood of
the eastern Med.

Biography

My name is Fiona Kelly, I’m a 30 year old woman living in Dublin, Ireland. On September 3rd, 2015, I woke to the distressing images of a young Syrian refugee washed ashore on a Turkish beach and felt compelled to write this, to share it with my fiends, my family, my colleagues, to show them how truly lucky we are, and how blinded we are to the plight of others. We holiday on the beaches of Europe while refugees risk everything they have, just for a chance to live somewhere without bombs, without persecution, without fear. How lucky we truly are.


 

Ostensibly White

by Maida Salkanović

My skin is white
So you don’t see
My hidden black identity beneath.
You cannot fathom the oppression
Denial of the right to be.
All those times
Mighty White People
Looked down on me
My passport
My accent
My existence.
The time a border agent
Stripped me down and searched my bags
My body
For a hidden weapon
Because he heard me say a word
Of a wrong language.
Foreign is forbidden
Foreign is unwanted
Foreign is exotic
But only if you’re beautiful and rich.
I was sixteen
And powerless
The mighty border officer
Looked at me with a smirk.
Did you find my bomb
I asked sarcastically
No, but I still haven’t searched your backpack
Said he, reaching for it.
I was sixteen
And already a threat to humanity
Already ostracized
My white skin did not help me
Oppression is not about color
It is about power.
I was born in a wrong place
That was all it mattered.
I was told to go home
But there was no home for me.
Sometimes I imagine
What such place would look like.
Utopia
Of tortured souls
Where no one knows
Of passports and borders.

Biography

Maida Salkanović is a writer and an award-winning journalist from Bosnia-Herzegovina. She has spent her formative years and most of her adult life outside of her homeland.


I wonder if leaving home made me this way

by Masinga Nkateko

I am childless and wondering if I should raise my children here,
Or even have them at all
If they will grow up wishing their skin was disposable;
With a label that reads:
“To be peeled off when blackness becomes too heavy.
Caution: This world needs you to be lighter
Than the brown you inherited from the soil back home
And the luggage you left behind when escaping the war.”

In art class I was taught
That brown is a mixture of
Red (for the blood of those who died on their way here)
Yellow (for the sun that also shines on those we left behind)
And blue (for the sky we all raise our eyes to).
In art class I was taught
That my body is
Death,
Sunshine
And prayer.

I am preparing for motherhood in this new home
That calls me a foreigner,
My mother a refugee
My sister an asylum seeker
My uncle an illegal immigrant.
But my children will be called
Beautiful;
With skin like mahogany,
Like wooden floorboards creaking beneath their mother’s feet before the war sent her running
and running
and running.

Biography

Nkateko Masinga is a 23 year old student, poet and writer who was born and raised in South Africa. She is a medical student at the University of Pretoria and hopes to specialise in paediatrics (child medicine) on completion of her undergraduate degree. She writes poetry in her spare time and has had her work published in poetry journals and anthologies.


For Aylan

by Laura Taylor

I just wanted you to know
your lovely bones have not been wasted,
that your tiny little body in a picture on a beach
made the world sit up and notice that you’re there

and I know it’s much too late
and you’ll never be a father or a lover or a man
but your passing in the tide has helped the families
who follow in your wake

and this will never make your mother feel better,
feel at peace, but I wanted you to know
that your tiny little body in a picture on a beach
forced the powers of the world to rally round

and babies shouldn’t die in plastic dinghies in the night
while their parents flee the trouble that we caused
and the people selling arms to the Middle Eastern maniacs
should not be leading countries
telling lies
making wars

and I just wanted you to know
your lovely bones have not been wasted
that your tiny little body in a picture on a beach
made the world sit up and notice that you’re there
night night
sleep tight
take care

Biography

Laura Taylor has been writing and performing poetry for the last five years, and will continue to do so whilst injustices are wreaked against the poor and vulnerable.


Where to, sir? Life, please.

by Jana Gajic

I see Him passing by.
I don’t ask Him for his age.
Though I wonder.
I see His eyes,
Sunbathed grey once,
now are those of an aging warrior.
He stole them from a callous fight dog
He doesn’t  beg, He grabs,
rightfully, for life that was ripped from his possessions.

He’s thirteen years old
And the colour of His eyes is a fresh-painted,
Chirascuro, masterpiece of an unjust world.

The morning His older brother was beaten till he saw his own Sun rising,
He became His own older brother.
Mother and sister, uncle, father that he’d never had.

For a slipping moment,
The vivid scene flies before my eyes.
He is sitting in a classroom,
Gazing at  that same girl He always does.
But then she’s gone,
Swallowed,
Crushed by epiglotus,
Choking  Aegeus.

He knew no border,
But today His only hobby is crossing one.
Reminiscence of a shooter video game,
But these guns are loaded,
And bullets do kill.

I pronounce His name,
But He doesn’t answer.
The name is long vanished.
Out of inhumane frost and vicious waves
He grew a new one.

Biography

A High-school student from Belgrade, a witness of sadness and cruelty.


Night Terror (for Alan Kurdi)

by Colm Ward

You wake in a fury
of tears, skin fever-red,
barely aware of who
or where you are;

I switch on the lamp
to scare away the dark
but the nightmare won’t
let go, its current pulling

you away from me still:
a powerful undertow
dragging you back out
into the depths of fear.

I pull you closer,
stroke your sweat-soaked hair,
shush you back to sleep
as your sobs subside,

and slowly the terror ebbs,
eyelids start to droop,
head sinks onto the pillow,
your breathing deepens.

In the morning you’ll wake
and remember nothing
of this swell of terror.
But I’ll remember and remember

too your brother, curled up –
like you now – on the wet sand,
lost to a cold sea and
a terror that won’t recede.

Biography

Colm Ward is a poet and journalist based in Limerick, Ireland


Helpless

by Tina Pisco

I am wasting water, Soraya
Let the dogs’ bowl overflow
Watch the hose whip like an angry snake
Gushing water across the yard
Splashing  the dogs, spraying a river of rainbows
I am wasting water Soraya
I am wasting it for you

I am wasting water, Malinka
I press the shower at the pool again and again
Let hot water cascade over my head
Like a halo, a waterfall, the Virgin’s mantle
Until my skin is rosy red, my body wet and warm, smelling of coconut
I am wasting water Malinka
I am wasting it for you

I am wasting water Amal
I fill the bath to the brim,
Pour perfumed oils, blue bubbles, scented salts
Light candles and soak, pull the plug when it gets lukewarm,
Add more hot water for you, Malinka
I am wasting water for you

I am wasting water Rhina
Like the water wasted you, flung you up out of the boat
Wrapped you in its waves, tore your children from your arms
Entered your nose, your mouth, your lungs until you became one with the sea.

Helpless
I feel helpless
So I am wasting water for you,
It’s all that I can do
Let the tap run, run and run
Icy cold or burning hot
just to watch it flow

Biography

Tina Pisco is a professional writer living in Ireland. She has a multi-cultural background and considers herself an Earthling. She has published novels, non-fiction, short stories and a collection of poetry


Can’ t You See?

by Maja Bajric

Though I now am only four, the world’s wisdom lays in my eyes.
Emotions I have yet not known are an unwelcome surprise.
For how am I to comprehend
Things I wasn’t asking for,
How am I to understand ?

Look into my eyes and see, look deeply, come closer to me.
Look and try to feel the fear from a place you’ll never be,
You luckily will never see.
‘Cause you are free.

Biography

Female. Born on Sept. 30th 1982 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Graduated on the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo in 2007, as a Professor of Fine Arts. Spent four years as a refugee in Austria during the Balkan war. (1992- 1996) Currently working as a freelance artist in various fields of fine and applied arts.


Ode to the free willing helpers in Austria/an die freiwillige helferinnen oesterreichs

by Genevieve Diamant

Do not despair.
Do not forget to sleep, and to eat. Know that everything and anything you do
is enough and you are loved from beyond. Carry on.

I have heard professionals and people from the news say
the chaos is caused by the helpers themselves. Laugh at that lunacy.
If professionals had bought blankets and homes
instead of tents in May that would be useless by September,
we would all sleep better now. All.

The chaos was caused long ago by bombs that none of us bought, so
let us work together, somehow.
Our task is to empty the ocean of its tears,
one teaspoon at a time.
Do not despair.

Each of us can help two, five, maybe ten people if we are lucky.
Look to your own teaspoon.
Scoop it out of the ocean with care.
Carry it straight to the gates of hell, mindful not to spill a drop, and do not despair.
Throw it as best you can.

We will empty the ocean of its tears.
We will put out that fire.
One teaspoon at a time.

Biography

I was born in New York city into a family with members who themselves were refugees forced to leave Vienna at the outbreak of World War 2. I moved to Vienna in 1996 and studied at the academy of fine art (Akademie der Bildenden Kunste). I have worked in Vienna as a researcher, writer, and editor for various NGOs and international corporations. I also write fiction and poetry and volunteer, as circumstances permit, for people such as those who have passed through Vienna recently.


Suitcase of life

by Esma Dziho

I see A woman in black walking , looking down
I know what is in it, in her suitcase
Because I, myself wore it
When I was forced to leave my home
No clothes inside
But one life , a book of her life
printed
Thera are her dreams , sadness , happiness
Tears in it
love and the first apprehension
Suitcase of life traveling with her
Where it will take her
She does not know
It may be dust on the suitcases forever
Or some new love will come
They call her a refugee
What the horrible word!
She left her home because she had to do it
And suitcase of travels
Maybe she will be back home
Maybe to see the grass , to touch it
When the madness of the war stops

Until then
Suitcase and the woman in black are Refugees
Travel on the road
Refugee from meaninglessness
Not from her country
Maybe she will awake in her house one day and tell to somebody
There is one country said her Welcome
There is one face smiling to her
Where she and her suitcase finally found the peace

Biography

My name is Esma Dziho I am a teacher of Bosnian language. I live in Mostar and I work at school. I like reading books in my free time. During the war in Bosnia I was a refugee. I lived the horrible moment during the war and many members of my family were killed. Because of that I have written this poem that I devote to all refugees of the world. Now I live in Mostar . I am marred I have two daughters.


My best friend is a social worker…

by Valeriia Pishchanska

My best friend is a social worker.
We never had fights before
Her Syrian client was pregnant.
“A toddler’s body on a Turkish shore

Hasn’t she seen?” I demanded.
The silence between us was fraught.
…My own family fled from Tajikistan.
How can the memory be so short?

I was a newborn when we came to Ukraine
With its piece as round as its bread.
I was an adult when I have forgotten –
No human should live in dread.

Whether Eastern Ukrainian border,
or Syria – why should it matter?
People have their right to live,
love, give birth and hope for better.

Biography

Born in Tadjikistan and grown up in Ukraine, I currently live in Germany. My family fled from the civil war in Tadjikistan in 1992. The best friend I write about is a fascinating young Ukrainian woman and a social worker, who taught me and many other people to judge the refugees drama with our hearts instead of our heads.


I am here, Europe!

by Sowjeya Joseph

I am here, Europe!
I left my home,
my friends,
my family,
even a part of myself

to escape violence, destruction and death.

I am here, Europe!

I have nothing left,
no home,
no belongings,
not even a picture of me

but I have hope
to find peace, acceptance and a little happiness.

I am here, Europe!

Please let me be here, help me to overcome my pain and loss and to find a new part of myself in you.

I am here!

Biography

Born in Sri Lanka, parents escaped the war with me being a baby that time in 1985 and sought refugee in Germany. Now a German citizen and German Qualified Lawyer with a LL.M from UK focusing on “R2P and Sri Lanka 2009”. Currently living and working in London, UK. I am a human rights defender and have been to the Human Rights Council Sesssions and submitted reports to the HRc as well as Treaty Bodies making aware of Human Rights Issues in Sri Lanka. Growing up as a migrant and refugee in the 80s and 90s in Germany, I put my experience and hopes to be construed in today’s light into this poem.


Far Away From Home…

by Christos Kariotis

As the sun goes down
your heart is bleeding
An endless journey
far away from home

The seeds of hope
now are growing
inside you tortured soul
As you sail across the seas
of sadness

A new dawn
A new morning
Without tears
Without rage

You’re free
You’re safe
But still… so far away from home

Biography

My name is Christos Kariotis and I am from Greece. I am 47 years old. I started writing poems since I was 17 years old. I have written two poetry books in Greek language so far. I’m also a musician and composer.


Silence noise

by Safoora Masood

I am haunted by the past
Uncertain of the future
I know the journey
I have made
I know the trauma
I have endured
My body is tired
My legs ache
My tummy is hungry
My eyes are tired in need of sleep
Inside me
The rage lingers on
My silence speaks volume
I will speak
When I am ready
I will speak
When I can make sense of it all
I will speak
When I can process what has happened
I will speak
When I feel safe

Biography

Life is precious


This is the world we stand

by Jason Ang Wei Lung

This is the world we stand;
“Human Rights” is the word we defend.
We are all the same;
We grow and we die;
Human rights will be the remain;
It’s the rights we sustain;
It’s the principle we retain;

We are not alone;
Nobody knows;
What happens tomorrow;
Future is unknown;
But we never let go;

For our dream;
We never die;
For our home;
We never cry;
We look up, We stand up;
We never give up;

Life has unlucky number;
Life has hazardous angle;
From spring to summer;
We hold hands closer;
From autumn to winter;
We stand up together;

We are civilized people;
Life is an adventure;
This is our desire;
Looking forward to a better future;

Let say a little prayer;
With a heart of sincere;
Wish us a peace of world;
Living peacefully ever after.

Stay strong when thing goes wrong;
It is not wrong to stay strong.

Over seas and coast to coast;
To find the place we love the most;
Over years and at all cost;
To build the home we ever lost.

We are not refugees but HUMANs.
We just fight for our RIGHTs.

Biography

Grew up in a fish village and currently studying Bachelor of Aeronautical Engineering in Malaysia. Had bad childhood of nearly depressive disorder, blind, drown, bitten by poisonous snake. Thus, believe it is a destiny that I was born to make a difference in this world. Traveled to 12 countries, won over 6 awards, 160 certificates/ trophies/medals, 120 competitions’ experience, spoke 7 languages and created 400 poems/sayings. Consistently striving to achieve what I believe.


I choose!

by Citius (Tadiwanashe Muganyi)

I choose to forget ,
Not that i do not remember.
I remember all too well,
The fear , death and despair.

I choose to forget ,
Not as a sign of inner weakness.
But a symbol of mental fortitude.
For my strength is not in what i hold on to,
But what i can let go.

I choose to forget,
Not that i desire to forgive,
But i have to so i may live,
Free of hatred and resentment

I choose to forgive,
For the past has nothing for me.
The future a mystery ,
But one i march to with hope.

I choose to progress,
To create a brighter future .
Not only for the infant on my back ,
But for my nation.

Accept Me,
Embrace Me ,
Choose to forget , to forgive,
To progress ..Choose life.

Biography

I am a young development practitioner passionate about youth empowerment and human rights awareness. I believe the multitudes on Europe’s borders today are our brothers and sisters before they are migrants or refugees. Lets embrace them . We all have the right to choose our own destiny.


We Have Come Home

by Ikeubabo, N.H.

To unsung praises of ferocious tales
From tomorrows struggles and
Yesterdays lust, bearing tales
Of lands seven seas untold

From silent arguments, screaming
God’s name upon bloodied hands
From pridefull wars, persecution and poverty;
Embroidering permutations willing to
Let us lay

Yes! We have; Minstrels,
frenzied voyages like bees
Swarming on a pile of sugar.
“Our light is come” clearly spelt out
On faces of spent out ‘guests’

We have come from agelong prophesies
Weaving through time,
Bending futures as the spirits taught.
From the Alps to Bavaria
From Milan to Kiev, Moscow and Madrid

‘Guests’ from all over clan
Sufferings smeared with that smile
Deception is the greatest miracle!
Heads held high, we bow
Not for papas gains, posterity
Assures of fairer biddings.

Faces crowned with laughter
Masked in rejection, but do we know
What fate lies beneath the hour?
What lies ahead, we

Do not know, but for
The lowly crow of a disturbed cock
Heralding an unending dawn….

Nightingales sweet eulogy,
Merrymaking on tombs meant for us,
We conquer, if You stand with us
In the end, we call.

Biography

Nigerian, born 5th December, 1994, Final year student of the Department of Foreign Languages(French/German), University of Benin.


If We Could Unzip Ourselves

by David Canning

If we could unzip ourselves,
Starting behind the head,
Take off our bodies like removing a coat,
What of us would be left?

Beneath shirt and tie or blouse and skirt
Once we have peeled away
Skin, sinew, bone and brain,
What of us remains?

Is it fat or thin or in between,
Beautiful, ugly or plain?
Is it short or tall, is it big or is it small, or
Are we all the same?

Is it young or old – does it have an age?
Is it male or female or neither?
Does it even have a human face?
Does it have a colour?

Can what is left be owned?
Can it be held or treasured?
Can it be valued, priced or traded?
Can it be weighed, counted or measured?

Can it hate or be hated?
Can it be hunted, caught or caged?
Does it hope, or pray for justice?
Can it be rescued, delivered or saved?

Can it be taught, deceived or indoctrinated?
Is it blind or can it see?
Can it be misled or misguided?
Can it be freed or is it free?

Biography

David Canning is a poet from Colchester in the UK, who has just published his debut collection, ‘An Essex Parish’. He has performed his poetry locally and further afield and has been published in poetry magazines and in an anthology on the theme of conflict, commemorating the centenary of the First World War, called ‘So Too Have the Doves Gone.’ He is the grandson and great grandson of migrants to the UK, who were escaping war and persecution in different parts of Europe. He has written many poems on conflict and its inter-generational effects. His collection, an Essex Parish explores this theme including those of cycles of violence and redemption.


A welcome distraction

by Kauser Parveen

They are young girls running across a dusty pitch
Kicking up dust
Screaming with joy
Screaming with hope
As they chase the football
They ignore the afternoon heat
They carry on playing
These traumatised children
Have overcome many obstacles
In their short lives
War, leaving their homes, bereavement and crossing borders
Now refugees
Football has become
A welcome distraction
From their grim reality
Their shouts, smiles, hopes, dreams
Bring home
That they are alive
Have a spirit
A determination
A resilience
A heart beat
Of striving forward
Just one smile
Brings hope
This is priceless

Biography

It is the start not the ending.


Osmosis

by Priscilla Takondwa Semphere

When they perished under ocean waves
we built our walls of stone
as they whimpered in the twilight
we tossed in bed at dawn.

we sauntered off, unbothered
by chalkings on the ground-
the names of murdered brothers
and sisters heaped in mounds.

Their mourning was our silence
we never heard their cries
and when we did their broken shrieks
became our lullabies.

Our anger was a scoffing
that echoed in their skies
our hashtags an illusion
our sympathy a guise.

We battled with our demons
they wrestled for their land
our long rants blotted out their names
“we lent a helping hand”.

They listened in the silence
as fingers danced on screens
they gazed at heaps of rubble where
their hopes and dreams had been.

We settled in our silence
we prayed on bended knees
we blamed the money and the men
who hold the large brass keys.

And so it stands, we sit here
with theories in our head
we sit, we grieve and we forget
these roads we’ll never tread

and so it stands, they’re running
with terror in their wake
into the grasp of wringing hands
who lie in wait to take.

Biography

Born in Lilongwe, Malawi, Priscilla Takondwa is a college student in the USA. She is a storyteller, and has written and self-published a children’s book which is the first of a series that seeks to promote tolerance and the celebration of culture on the African continent. She is also an independent contractor for the Huffington Post.


 

Refugees Rescued

by Stanley Arumugam

Like so many hundreds that day
He eventually reached his destination
The European shores of refuge

We stood by with our global media
to welcome him at the water’s edge
but he would not speak as usual
his mum said he was a shy boy
Still we clicked our cameras
beamed our global images
moved on to the next story

He lay there alone – black and blue
watched by a policeman – unsure
how to handle this crime scene
a foreign child washed up
on the water’s edge

The meticulous autopsy revealed
he had a swollen head
still full of grandiose stories and lies
told by his mum every night
fantasy stories that kept him warm
as she dragged him
walking mile after mile
after mile like weary soldiers

I see a Syrian child – head held high
Moses-like walking
out of the icy Mediterranean
leading a band of desperate children
exhausted, broken, scared, starving
smiling with renewed hope
walking to the Promised Land

No Pharaohs chariots in chase
I see instead a hundred trucks and tanks
barbed wire makeshift border posts
box cars packed to camps of death
overflowing in the Promised land
of milk and honey

Biography

Dr Stanley Arumugam Works at ActionAid International – a global human rights organisation fighting poverty. He is Senior Head of Governance, Leadership and Accountability. Stanley has a PhD in Community Psychology. He lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa.


 

Not My Child

by Lindsay Oliver

Not my child
Laying limp in the sand
Face down in the sea

Not my child
Huddled unbreathing
In a cargo container

Not my child
Stranded alone
Dead on a beach

Not my child
The curl of his fingers
The curve of his cheek

Not my child
Hair soft as thistledown
On the nape of his neck

Biography

Lindsay Oliver lives in Leith. After losing her job due to illness and disability, she took a writing course at the local community centre and fell in love with writing. She writes poetry, short stories and longer fiction. She regularly takes part in open mic nights. Her writing has appeared in two anthologies, and an online journal. She recently had a poem in the Doric dialect accepted for publication by the Scots Language Society.


Farfalla

by Morgan Downie

migration season
the trade winds turn
blowing north

up across
the blue eye’d
mediterranean

that middle passage
whose depths are
seeded with bones

ship graves
their hulls stream
with tidal veils

as on rescue boats
uniformed sailors oil
their gun sights

a closed
blue door
to meet them

the old greeting
for returning
ghosts

Biography

Morgan Downie is a visual artist, short story writer and poet. He is a keen collaborationist and cross disciplinary practitioner and this underpins many of the themes of translocation in his practice. His published work includes stone and sea and distances, a Romanian- English photopoetry collection. he lives in scotland