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 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 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 dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here

In honour of Bloomsday…


(after Molly Bloom in James Joyce’s Ulysses)

Molly Bloom

…yes and then
I touched my finger to his lips
to stroke away the cider,
and put it to mine
and our tongues went plunging
– such a lush sweetness –
the grass so springy-soft on the cliff
and the waves crashing below
and I had to catch my breath
and the night’s perfume drowned
that tang of lamb
and I thought of my first kiss
– what was his name? Johnny? – yes,
his tongue so unexpected,
wriggling like an eel,
but this time it felt different,
and even his silence didn’t matter
when he stared, stared at my breasts
and I let my hair slip loose
like that Cape Town girl,
and you have moonlight in your eyes, he said
so I took him in my hand
and he whispered, would I,
ma petite phalène, he said
and I thought I may as well,
as well him as another,
and the sea was swirling below us in a froth
the sky gorgeous with stars
and I suggested with my eyes
that he ask again
and I knew he would
and I wondered if I’d say yes
and then I urged him down
and he found his way
through all my layers
and I might, I thought, yes
I think I will
say yes.
Yes is © Afric McGlinchey.
First appeared in The Lucky Star Of Hidden Things, published by Salmon (2012). Subsequently published in Poethead.

Image shows Muireann Kelly performing as Molly Bloom in a production of Liberate Ulysses.


Image result for amy acre poet

After David Jones

Mary is blue and turquoise
standing on a hill
geisha cheek and charring
Mary is rain and dusk
planting a bulb with her lips
bare feet in the moss
Mary is doll white
Mary with a lamb
little love
time still before she’ll lose him to the world
the gurning jaws of heaven
spread banquet for the men while she waits outside
but they won’t know his yawn like a baby owl
meerkat snuggle
smell of yeast and balm
Mary blue and brimming
the lamb on her lips
a soft moon
crescent of impossible flesh
Mary gold before the trade-off
before he grew infinite
and how she wore it then
secretly grieving the moon eyes
that would follow her round the room
Mary doesn’t remember what sex with god felt like
only the sting of something snapped
a broken instrument
Joseph’s breath and beard
three men unwrapping
the infant screech of a goat
Mary with thunder that’s worse before the coming
like a week late period
Mary blue immaculate
blanketed boy on her chest
gone and golden
Mary would listen to all his sermons
scan them for in jokes
white smoke
a secret message
but this fucking public man
Mary doesn’t feel holy
stuffing pigskin in bloody knickers
remembers how she bled for weeks after he came
Mary full of wine
not the warm waters of galilee
assistant magi
tipsy and trussed up
leotard shine
Mary and thirteen men on her right hand
Mary with a lamb crackling on a spit
when he blessed her
she wanted to spit in his face
tell him boy
i’m the one who wiped away your shit
when the moon came
she sank her teeth in
praying for the sweet bellied child
she tasted wafer dust
her blue mouth powder stuck
dry as an empty church

First published in Tears in the Fence. Amy Acre is a poet, performer and freelance writer from London, and the editor of Bad Betty Press.