2.06.2017

What it means to be a refugee, in poetry

Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!

Because there seems to be confusion about the difference between immigrants (documented or no) and refugees, I want to share a poem (h/t to Shannon).

“Home,”
by 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 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
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 toilets
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 journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
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 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

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 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
drown
save
be hunger
beg
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
saying-
leave,
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here

Warsan Shire is a Kenyan-born Somali poet and teacher who lives in London and Los Angeles. She is the author of Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth and is included in The Salt Book of Younger Poets. She received the Brunel University's African Poetry Prize and was the 2013 Young Poet Laureate for London.

Photo credit: Nóra Bartóki-Gönczy (Own work),
Syrian refugee woman with her sick child
[CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

1.02.2017

Another think coming vs. another thing coming

The copy editor is in.
I'm presenting occasional posts on the use of English,
not to be pedantic but just for the fun of language.

This is one that bothers me when I see or hear it wrong because the original is so sly and humorous, and the "correction" is so dull.

This is the phrase in use:

"If he thinks he's going to get out of paying for that llama, he's got another think coming!"

Too often lately I see it instead as "If he thinks … he's got another thing coming."
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