Emily says it’s the ‘here’ of home
she wants
Niloofar says it’s the transit between ‘home’ and the ‘here’
she does not want
the fear, danger, pursuit, borders, longing —
can we, today, have the ‘here’ and ‘home’ in one place
the journey, the journey end
and Ithaka?
It’s a long way to go
it was a longer road to get here
she cannot go back

Sandra Renew


folds in transit

changing climate folds the weather along unfamiliar lines
populations move across the world through
state borders, fold lines that change and close in a day

there is death in the struggle to rebalance power and resources
… and life
I can’t keep my eyes closed anymore

no-one is illegal
help the people stop the war
and the planet to right itself
I can’t keep my eyes closed anymore

Sandra Renew

orange dinghies

in defence of our island
we need fancy new jet airplanes
with stealth and fight capacities
and secret new equipment
we bought lots of orange dinghies
and we’re giving them away

the threat is not yet specified
but we need to be quite terrified
in defence of our island
against a thousand seeking refuge
we have lots of orange dinghies
but we’re sending them away

to keep our borders sovereign
in defence of our island
against a thousand seeking refuge
we have lots of orange dinghies
and we’re pushing them away

Sandra Renew

Today we bombed Syria

Today we bombed Syria
today we agreed to give asylum to a small number of refugees
running from bombs under a dangerous sky

we refuse the history of Vietnam
we did not learn from Iraq or Libya
today we bombed Syria
this same today refugees from Syria
rot in tropical jungle camps in our name
in our name the bombs are dropped on Syria

Sandra Renew

two old men divided up the world

two old men sat together over tea
dividing up the world of empire
with lines drawn in pencil on a map
first they produced astonishment
that peoples and land could be divided and contained
with a pencil marking arbitrary borders
but then, people being people, the people
found difference, dissent and division
re-inforced their estrangement
with fences and walls and policies and politics
and bolstered their courage with religious belief …

the point at which the loose ends became the untied knot
is that which is undoing the world today

Sandra Renew

The School for Ancient Music

The School for Ancient Music stands in a desert sand mounding against stone
mistrals blowing between the walls, notes and melody sounding above the wail and moan —

the pillars of the entrance arch are carved with script we do not remember
with words on the left that do not appear in poems of war
and words on the right that are not read in poems of love

we wait for the ancient music to tell us something new
about love and war — something we still pretend we do not know
the ancient music drums our blood as sharp as blowing sand,
as mellow and smooth as sun-warmed honey

ancient music telling again and again
of wars in deserts fought for a god, a belief

of sheltering towns and villages made of mud
and cities of antiquities as ancient as time pulverised from above

of women sent as emissaries for peace
to make friendships with yesterdays enemies

telling again and again of families fleeing
crossing mountains   shadows passing borders

and leaky boats with venal traders drifting to beaches and harbours forever foreign
island prisons remote and lost sung into memory with oud and lute

Sandra Renew

I stole these words from Syria

why are the poets the first to be killed?
he was killed because of that poem
where did he hide his poems?
he hides them in his head
and so did we…
when they opened his chest with those bullets
they saw the words on his heart
a poet is a dangerous thing to be …

Sandra Renew