Home, by Warsan Shire

Warsan Shire is a Somali-British writer, poet, editor and teacher. Her poem Home has become a rallying call for refugees. There are several versions of Home online; this one is based on a reading by the author, available on YouTube.

Home

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 neighbors 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
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you would not be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one would put their children in a boat
unless the sea is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the cold bladder of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.

no one crawls under fences
wants to be beaten
wants to be pitied

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 safer than fourteen men
who look like your father
no one could take it
could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

the
go home blacks
refugees
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
savage
messed up their own country and now they want
to mess up ours
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your back
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’s 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
drown
save
be hungry
beg
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home unless home is a sweaty voice in your ear
saying-
leave,
run away from me now
i don’t know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here

Advertisements