For World Refugee Week: 4 Poems

Refugee Week runs June 20-26. 

refugeeweek2016_ogo2From: The refugee tells

By Sargon Boulus, trans. Youssef Rakha

The refugee absorbed in telling his tale

feels no burning, when the cigarette stings his fingers.

He’s absorbed in the awe of being Here

after all those Theres: the stations, and the ports,

the search parties, the forged papers…

[the poem in full]

From: The Last in a Line of Refugee Descendents

By Ashraf Fayadh, trans. Jonathan Wright

Being a refugee means standing at the end of the queue
to get a fraction of a country.
Standing is something your grandfather did, without knowing the reason.
And the fraction is you.
The country: a card you put in your wallet with your money.
Money: pieces of paper with pictures of leaders.
Pictures: they stand in for you until you go back.
Going back: a mythical creature that appears in your grandfather’s stories.
Here endeth the first lesson.
The lesson is conveyed to you so that you can learn the second lesson, which is “what do you signify?”

[the poem in full]

From: No search, no rescue

By Jehan Bseiso

Maps on our backs.
Long way from home.

[the poem in full]

From: A refugee in the paradise that is Europe

By Hassan Blasim, trans. Jonathan Wright

In their pictures they draw you drowning.
They put you in their museums and applaud.
They decide to stop hitting you and set up a military unit to confront you.
Academics get new grant money to research your body and your soul.
Politicians drink red wine after an emergency meeting to discuss your fate.

[the poem in full]