Poetry: Refuge By JJ Bola

imagine how it feels to be chased out of home. to have your grip ripped. loosened from your fingertips something you so dearly held on to. like a lovers hand that slips when pulled away you are always reaching.
my father would speak of home. reaching. speaking of familiar faces. girl next door
who would eventually grow up to be my mother. the fruit seller at the market. the lonely man at the top of the road who nobody spoke to. and our house at the bottom of the street
lit up by a single flickering lamp
where beyond was only darkness. there
they would sit and tell stories
of monsters that lurked and came only at night to catch the children who sat and listened to stories of monsters that lurked.
this is how they lived. each memory buried.
an artefact left to be discovered by archaeologists. the last words on a dying
family member’s lips. this was sacred.
not even monsters could taint it.
but there were monsters that came during the day. monsters that tore families apart
with their giant hands. and fingers that slept on triggers. the sound of gunshots ripping through the sky became familiar like the tapping of rain fall on a window sill.
monster that would kill and hide behind speeches, suits and ties. monsters that would chase families away forcing them to leave everything behind.

i remember when we first stepped off the plane. everything was foreign. unfamiliar. uninviting. even the air in my lungs left me short of breath.
we came here to find refuge. they called us refugees so we hid ourselves in their language until we sounded just like them. changed the way we dressed to look just like them.
made this our home until we lived just like them and began to speak of familiar faces. girl next door who would grow up to be a

mother. the fruit seller at the market.
the lonely man at the top of the road
who nobody spoke to. and our house at the bottom of the street lit up by a single flickering lamp to keep away the darkness.

there we would sit and watch police that lurked and came only at night to arrest the youths who sat and watched police that lurked and came only at night. this is how we lived.

i remember one day i heard them say to me
they come here to take our jobs
they need to go back to where they came from

not knowing that i was one of the ones who came. i told them that a refugee is simply
someone who is trying to make a home.
so next time when you go home, tuck your children in and kiss your families goodnight be glad that the monsters
never came for you.
in their suits and ties.
never came for you.
in the newspapers with the media lies.
never came for you.
that you are not despised.

and know that deep inside the hearts of each and every one of us
we are all always reaching for a place that we can call home.

Source: JJ Bolapublished in his collection of poems 'Word'. 

Word is a collection of poems that captures the development of JJ Bola as a writer, all the while exploring and speaking on the challenging issues of war, conflict, depression, loss, suffering, as well as hope, peace, and love.

 

Watch JJ Bola perform 'Refuge' below.