pictured words

a simple pairing of pictures and poetry

Tag: Refugees

A COMMON THIRST

They come to my city from distant lands –
Homelands. 
Their reasons, many and varied –
most, too heartrending to ponder. 

They arrive parched –
a desiccation born of dearth and death.
Thirst knows no race, class,
religion, or language.
It knows only burning need for
a well of hope from which to dip.

The ache of a woman,
isolated in a strange new residence
and unable to connect to life-giving resources,
drowns in unanswered questions.
She holds no words to pose them,
and no near ear to hear
her broken attempts. She thirsts
at the well of understanding.

The profound pain of parents
daily delivering their children into
the hands of strangers
who struggle to teach and to reach
these children who hear only indistinct sound,
and see the blank stare of confusion.
Parents, unable to engage, thirst
at the well of advocacy.

The fatigued fret of the soul weak with illness
who has no visible path to wellness.
The one whose world is silent,
limited, and invisible.  This soul thirsts
at the well of wellbeing.

The yearning of a man
to make known his skills,
let alone make use of them to provide
as he once did. To make known his intent
to be self-sufficient.  To be quickly found to be
hardworking and capable.  He thirsts
at the well of opportunity. 

The deep craving of the foreigner
to make known their honorable intentions.
To prove they are grateful and giving;
loving and fun-loving; brave and tender.  They thirst
at the well of accurate perception.

They arrive parched from a common thirst –
a thirst ready to be quenched
in a city flowing with Water for Ishmael.

© Marie Elena Good, 2021

In Genesis 21:14-20, we read of Hagar and her son Ishmael, who were sent to the desert to die.  God heard the boy crying from thirst, and He provided a well from which to drink.  Water for Ishmael is named for this scripture passage.  WFI’s intent is to quench the thirst of the “strangers in the desert,” by following the instructions of Leviticus 19:34: “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

If you would like to give to our mission: https://waterforishmael.kindful.com/

Resumé of a Ten-Year-Old Who Wants to Volunteer at a School for Refugee Women and Children

Photo and hair by Nina Bass Blatnik

She spent the entire afternoon asking me relevant, insightful questions about the school’s students, staff, and mission. How do you teach babies and preschoolers a second language? What countries do they come from?  What languages are spoken? Which is the most common?  (She made note of Arabic, and couldn’t wait to ask her mom if she can begin studying it via Rosetta Stone or Duolingo).  Would I please contact the volunteer coordinator to see if it is acceptable for a ten-year-old to volunteer to help the adults care for the children? Are masks required? Is there a dress code?  Is there a form her parents could complete and sign, giving her permission to volunteer there?  Even if they can’t let her volunteer yet, can she take a tour of the school, and meet the staff?  Oh, and would I please tell them she is mature for her age?

Eager native sprout
seeks to share energy to
root and bloom transplants
.

© Marie Elena Good, 2021

A Walk in Mid-April

Photo by Keith R. Good

We walk around the park’s pond,
eyeing mallards and geese,
clear blue skies.
Tree blossoms of white, pink, and purple
dapple sunlight on the greening grass
and manmade path at our feet.

Lilacs scent the breeze,
as does the pleasing sound of
improving English
from my brave and delightful friend.
She speaks of her sweet/smart girls,
(the youngest of which, with her large dark eyes and
dark golden curls, holds tight her momma’s hand,
and her little bag of chips),
Syrian war,
and lost and scattered family.

© Marie Elena Good, 2021

In response to Robert Lee Brewer’s 2021 April PAD Challenge: Day 14 – Writer’s Digest (Day 14: Write a “from where you’re sitting” poem.)

FUGITIVE

CONVERSATIONAL ENGLISH CLASS (a Naani)

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Countless countries,
make-ups, cultures, and creeds
learning the language
through laughter and love.

© Marie Elena Good, 2019

And It Makes Me Wonder

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There’s a man who is sure
That he glitters like gold
And he’s building a wall for safekeeping.
In the office he sought
When he got there he thought
With a word, he could get what he came for.
Oh oh oh oh, and will he build the wall he had promised?

When he speaks, is there truth?
See, I want to be sure,
‘cause I sense that his words have no meanings.
And these memes that we share,
They don’t mean that we care.
Sometimes ALL of our thoughts are misgiving.

Oooh, it makes me wonder.
Oooh, it makes me wonder.

There’s a feeling I get
That’s too much like a threat
That’s expressed as “kind” words are escaping.
Through his acts have I seen
Rings of smoke through the mirrors,
And pained faces of those who are seeking.

Oooh, it makes me wonder.
Ooh, it really makes me wonder.

And it’s whispered that soon there will come a new moon,
And the piper will be charged with treason.
Then a new day will dawn
Talk of walls will be gone,
But will we have the peace we’ve sought after?

Could be a hustler in our Whitehouse,
But how do I know?
It’s just an inkling from what I’ve seen.
Yes, I have seen our politics spun
And in the long run
It’s all talk to spin the road we’re on,
And it makes me wonder.

My head is aching, and I can’t stand
This hate in my land.
The piper’s calling us to join him.
Dear Lady, do I hear you weeping,
And do I see
Indignant tears on the whispering wind?

And as we contemplate our walls,
Do we not stand to lose our soul?
Is our safekeeping worth it all?
Oh Lady shine through harbor’s fog!
Let dialogue be kind and true.
And let us listen very hard,
And tune our heart-song from our past,
When liberty was welcoming
When we were hailed as brave and free,
And we hadn’t closed our stairway to heaven.

© Marie Elena Good, 2019

Please note:  Some phrases from the original Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin were intentionally used in this poem. 

SYRIA (Sonnet for the Severed Souls)

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The images.  The videos. The news.
The view from here is simply that – a view.
For I can just ignore it if I choose –
Not take in what I’ll wish I never knew.

But you?  You watch your babies breathe their last
while hospitals are bombed before your eyes,
and lifeless neighbors’ bodies are amassed.
You plead for help to long-obscure allies.

I want to send for you, and beg you come –
To sing soft lullabies to sooth your sleep.
But see, you are a fearsome threat to some.
That takes me to my knees to heave and weep.

While dead and dying lie within your reach,
Your wails are hushed by those whom you beseech.

 

© Marie Elena Good, 2017

Mother of Exiles

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Photo credit:  “Bill” of lovethispic.com

Silent lips call not the privileged,
But the pillaged –
Lifted lamp in hand, pursuing
Pomp’s undoing.
Mother of Exiles’ mild eyes
Don’t canonize ennoblement,
Nor demonize the waifs’ lament.
Her lamp is lit,
Her mission, writ –
“Send these,” her timeless, ceaseless plea.
Dear homeless, come. Be loved. Breathe free.

 

© Marie Elena Good, 2016

Beneath a Common Moon

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Could we respect our elderly,
Our mentally
Unwell and worn;
Our foreign-born?

Opinions that oppose our views?
Please let’s not choose
To denigrate.
Let’s celebrate

Divergences.  Let’s love despite;
And so ignite
A shared esteem –
A common dream.