06 September 2015

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


Warsan Shire


  1. Thank you. My husband and I were just talking about why people get into overloaded boats sure to capsize at sea. Now I will share this with him. It says it as clear as anything.

  2. Such a beautiful poem. So sad and sadly true.

  3. My goodness, if that doesn't make one think ...

    I was disgusted to learn this morning how many applications are being denied here.