Monday, 7 October 2013

Lampedusa

This is where they come from:
villages eaten up by sand
river beds run dry
lands of red earth stained with blood
where there are mobs, bombs, bullets,
crops that fail.

This is who they are:
the young, the desperate, the brave,
fathers with daughters, motherless sons,
whose sin was to be born poor
worship the wrong body
bow before the wrong god.

This is what they carry:
hope. Crumpled dollars, memories of home,
slips of paper with the number of a phone
for an uncle in Milan, a cousin
swallowed in the cities of the north
who has work, who sends back pittances
and letters rare as desert rain.

This is where they place their fate:
in the hands of men with guns and easy smiles
who speak only the cold esperanto of money
who wait, patient and sure
promises tumbling from the wet caves of their mouths
smooth and soft as water.

This is where they lie:
washed up in their scores
on the shores of Lampedusa
their souls slipping the leash
back to Africa
their dreams and their names
known only to the sea.

© Steve Pottinger

Italy sinking: Bad weather hampers search for migrants

Steve loves words, loves people more, and enjoys poetry which makes him smile, or think, or want to man the barricades. When not standing behind a microphone or in front of an audience, he can often be found down the pub. He hopes you enjoy his work. His twitter is: @oneangrypoet

4 comments:

  1. Strong, moving and so relevant , not only here with this massive tragedy, but around the world...
    I love this verse , the rapacity of the people smugglers.

    This is where they place their fate:
    in the hands of men with guns and easy smiles
    who speak only the cold esperanto of money
    who wait, patient and sure
    promises tumbling from the wet caves of their mouths
    Smooth and soft as water.

    Wonderful writing...
    Xx

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  2. An excellent write about the ongoing heart-rending tragedy. Every single stanza full of poignancy.
    Unforgettable.

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  3. A brilliant write, Steve. Every word sums-up the lives of the desperate and oppressed. I love the repetition at the start of each stanza, the way it draws the reader in and helps to immerse us in the tragedy that is everyday life for so many. Very moving.

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  4. Thanks very much for your comments, folks. I wanted - somehow - to trace the path that leads people to board an overcrowded boat in the hope of a better life. I hope this poem manages to, a little at least.

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