Thursday, October 14, 2010


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 don’t know what I’ve become
 but I know that anywhere
is safer than here.

Warsan Shire

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