Saturday, 5 September 2015


Pic via Avril Sims

I've been watching the TV coverage of refugees arriving in Europe.
Like everyone else, I was silenced, brought to my knees by the picture of little Aylan Kurdi's body, washed up on a Greek beach a few days ago.
I cannot even imagine what it must be like to flee from my home, taking only what I could carry in my arms, whilst trying to protect those I hold most dear, and somehow - somehow - bring them to safety.
I saw this poem on Facebook today, together with these photos.
What more is there to say?

'Why don't the refugees go back to where they come from?'
I have literally no idea.
(Photo and tag line via Jay Wicks)

by Somali poet Warsan Shire

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 neighbours 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 toilet
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 the journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
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
go home blacks
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
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
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
be hunger
forget pride
your survival is more important
no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i don't know what i've become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here.

And if you want to know some hard facts about numbers of refugees, and which countries are doing what to help, take a minute or two to read this recent report. It's enlightening. 

Pic via Avril Sims


  1. Well I think you know my opinion already. I was struck by articles in yesterday's Guardian, maybe you saw Giles Fraser's column? and continue to be struck at how ordinary people, tired of their politicians' inadequate responses, are leading the way. It exposes so clearly how many politicians are led not by conviction, but by what they believe public opinion to be, and generally, it seems, as voiced by the Daily Mail.

  2. No, I don't read The Guardian (altho my husband worked for them at one time!) - not sure that it's available in the wild Wesht. Yes, I have been struck by how ordinary people are just doing what feels right, without waiting for or heeding what the politicians have to say. As if they can't be bothered with dummies who are so obviously waiting to be told what to do/how to respond, they are just getting on with the job in hand. It's good to see people brushing them aside - we are all too much under their thumb and democracy seems to be a meaningless term these days. Oh - I never look at the Daily Mail.


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