For: the Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers Support Group, its sister charities, and thinking of our own inner conflicts from pro-immigrants and anti-immigrants groups in America. Section titles are based on sections in the anthology of women asylum seekers, Fragments From The Dark, edited by Jeni Williams and Latéfa Guémar
We come from unsettling shores
in boats stuffed to the walls —
no room to move, no baggage at all.
All we could carry was ourselves,
the rest we left behind,
trying to forget.
We left bombed villages,
the destroyed roads,
the dying, the desperate, the disease.
We left some of our family,
friends, and our enemies.
We left what we knew for a place we knew not.
The sea tossed our stomachs,
the crew took our money,
we took great risks going nowhere —
to be hated, to be chased, to be protested,
to go hungry, to have no shelter,
no place to rest that was not shattered.
They said this place would be better;
they were wrong, or lying.
We all heard of this great place,
but we are not allowed to settle.
We are hated again. The world is vicious;
not one religion lets us stay and helps us.
When we were in a war torn land, at least
we knew the enemy who moved among us,
and persecuted us. Here, we did not expect it.
3. Arriving and Not Arriving
I know when I am not wanted; it is written on your faces.
The memories I miss are simple: a rose; a house of stone;
a kettle making soup out of potatoes and chicken bones.
There was a gate; I could close every day,
until they destroyed it and the dog limped away.
The people I could count on were killed trying to escape.
When I left, I left a part of me, waiting on a stoop.
All that was left of my house, reduced to kindling.
I ran from the reddening fields and non-stop killing.
When I reached here, scared and alone,
the first person I met cursed me, casting stones,
hitting my face until it sagged and swooped.
When does someone arrive?
Where do they find a safe place?
When will they realize I almost died?
Martin Willitts Jr. is a Quaker and organic gardener. He has been a part in building 100 houses for Habitat For Humanity and a tutor of immigrant populations. He is the winner of the Dylan Thomas International Poetry Award. He has 6 full-length collections including ecological contest winner “Searching For What Is Not There” (Hiraeth Press, 2013) and 28 chapbooks including national contest winner “William Blake, Not Blessed Angel But Restless Man” (Red Ochre Press, 2014).