Open Letter to a Lady

Open Letter to a Lady


by Troy Bigelow


Some of us douse the fire of the torch, Lady.

Some of us black out the sympathetic harbor—we are

not in agreement, Lady Liberty, never


in agreement on who and how to absorb the poor and weary

bombed out of homes in Basra—Syrian people not sleeping

but lying cold and awake in a Turkish camp.


Hungry people are dying cold doomed homeless,

and some of us say it is too dangerous to help;

Lady, they make you stand with a raised octagon:


four white letters on a field red as a bloodletting:

STOP, Lady Liberty, in your right hand in a harbor,

harbinger of sorrow, a burned out light on a hill.


Some of us sit and drink glasses of wine,

cuddle beneath soft electric blankets,

and feel sad about the huddle of refugees,


but I don’t think we really understand, Lady,

the little girl so hungry she cannot


stop trying to scream through the cramp

where the food once was.


Some of us export rockets and missiles and earn the refuge

of gated mansions and armed security guards and walls

ten million dollars deep, from waging the business of peace


in lands we will never really see on TV, where a little boy’s

left leg was blown through his father’s bedroom door,

but his sister still has the chance to starve some more.


There are some, Lady, who want a door and a wall

to bear a sign that says, KEEP OUT in letters

the size of the book in your left hand, red letters


painted high and mighty enough to maintain our safety

against starving, fleeing, displaced and desperate daughters

and sons of men and women who might be radical killers.


Refuge is a dream that we, Lady Liberty, can cut off

in their sleep; so many more line up to be refuted

by the land of the free—we create more refugees.


Troy Bigelow,


When Mouths Say No

When Mouths Say No

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

—Henry David Thoreau, Walden

 by George Kalamaras


Was Jack Spicer a refugee? Was Thoreau?

One man cast into the expanse of Martians,

the other thrown from the woods of his own


heart into the swampy dark of possum scent

and skunk. The owl is whirring through the chests

of every child who crosses the border of here to


nowhere. Of nowhere to there. To certainly not

here. Not in my state, proclaims the Governor

of the United States of Goodliness. Let Greece


or some other cradle of possibility

take in all the bad-as-it-can-get. If we step from

the easily said into the way words could


and would but won’t. If we go to the woods

to grieve deliberately, to front only

the essential facts of dearth. A mother moves


from Sudan, from Rwanda, toward mouse bone

cracking in the wind’s wind. We are all buffeted back

by our buffeting back? We retreat into pond scum


of sassafras hollow, stagnant and sad,

as we rush to guard the well? One man

spoke to Martians, was banished


to a Tennessee still. The other said no to war

taxes, and before jail only the woods would take him

in. What if you lost your home to dragon smoke


and screech? Your family cast into splinter-shunt

and shake? Not in my mouth, reiterates the Governor

of Good. Syrian airstrikes, then airdropped


powdered milk. Lentils and rice. Fruit leather, salt.

Let some other home of Democracy, he says, hold

the democratically poor. Not in my mouth. Not in yours.

When Neighbors Can’t Be Neighbors Bop

When Neighbors Can’t Be Neighbors Bop

—for the refugees


by Curtis L. Crisler


Grump’s plan—to stand fences so neighbor can’t see Grump’s eyes.

All neighbor hears—murmurs, a shrill buzzing instrument—

a circling of fussy gnats, invisible, at height of the fence.


Grump hands toss countries over barrier, don’t want that “debris”

in his yard. Grump hands want spotless life, no dislodged hearts

or babies, no dislodged longing for back there, older cities.


      Somebody’s knocking at the door,

            somebody’s ringing the bell.


Good knocking lets neighbor hands exchange casserole dishes, apple pie.

Bad knocking is a diamond needle stuck in the groove of scratched

memories, a wedging in the heart’s glovebox, hiding your


first-aid kit, or a perennial Phillips head screwdriver that never fixes or gets

used, but just rusts. A precaution for caution, for that love-box of equity.

Oh, to decree for love. Oh to nourish for love. Then, to stomp


love into sordid sod, expecting lilacs to grow? Neighbors saw Grump push down

his boot on the shovel’s head, knows Grump has dreams to be neighborless.


      Somebody’s knocking at the door,

            somebody’s ringing the bell.


With all the chitty-chatter earmarking walls, establishing borders, donning

defenses, how can a neighbor exact the landscape that a neighbor must

traffic on foot? How can neighbors discuss the alikenesses shared


no matter the publicity of fear, of angry teeth? And if Grump’s not searching

for two hands to make a sound, two voices to linger about each other’s flower

bed, how can a neighbor be born if “neighbor” can never be a noun?


      Somebody’s knocking at the door,

            somebody’s ringing the bell.


Andjela’s Love, Mirza’s Sorrow

“Andjela’s Love, Mirza’s Sorrow”, a poem by Linda Bess, was read on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue Unversity of Fort Wayne (IPFW)  during the local event on March 21 2016, as part of the A Poem For Refugees campaign:

Andjela’s Love, Mirza’s Sorrow


by Linda Bess



What can I do when I ache for you

and you, tired with Spanish sparrow’s sorrow

flit from the dream of Sardinia to Serbia?


Take me to Cradle Island,

to our archipelago

to “the city in which I love you”*

to the nest of an eagle, fertile

with no chance of rain

or, with chance of storms,

with no chance of child, but

the warmth of your skin

and the swell of bulbous song,

Sweet Sweet Smile, Passage

careening its groove

a little like a warbler,

genus Sylvia (not Plath).




Yes, I pushed dear into darling with intent,

like the wisdom of the Atlantic Ocean further than the Adriatic,

like Atlas like you like me,

like Sofia hungers for her name,

like the drama in Greece that demands my papers,

like the Danube carves a new bearing,

sustaining Spanish Sparrow’s Sorrow

no bearing on deceased willows that weep

into the empty of childhood

that if I could, I’d remember like a first kiss should be remembered,

but that island wasn’t a part of an archipelago.


Instead, it manifested a recurring dream:

A broken two-story weathered abandoned house

on an island

in the middle

of a torrential

refugee camp.




Yes, I left dear out and forgot my consonant.


I can’t walk. The children I didn’t bear

I now bear in my atrophied arms.

Where are your arms? What arms do you load

under tattered canvas? Do you paint

my picture, like 2,500 faces daily,

like blood leaving your face not your gland not your eye on me my child no child?


In the city in which I did love, I loved you, darling.

I ache for you. Your touch was my sanctuary.

Our child no child is my penchant.

Who’s Black Butler slayed you whilst

a screeching rendition of The Devil’s Trill

drowned me in a river of strange hands,

shafted, spotted with buzzing florescent gratuity?

Who they were they are I cut them away

because, I love you and because, I am Andjela,

and because, you are my darling, Mirza.




How do you bear the loneliness?

*The City in Which I Love You, poetry book title by Li Young Lee

A Poem For Refugees and Immigrants – San Francisco event

World Poetry Movement

A Poem For Refugees and Immigrants

Monday, March 21st 6:30 to 8:30, Martin Luther King Room

Unitarian Universalist Center, 1187 Franklin, San Francisco

San Fransisco event

Poets, Musicians: Melba Abela, Kareem James Abu-Zeid, Jorge Argueta, Mahnaz Badihian, Lisbit Bailey, Judith Ayn Bernhard, Charles Curtis Blackwell, Kristina Brown, James Cagney, Neeli Cherkovski, John Curl, Diego Deleo, Carol Denney, Agneta Falk, Mauro Fortissimo, Martin Hickel, Jack Hirschman,George Long, Karen Melander-Magoon, Rosemary Manno, Sarah Menefee, Jorge Molina, Alejandro Murguia, Barbara Paschke, Dorothy Payne, Greg Pond, Miguel Robles, Shirin Badihian Sadeghi, Mauro Zanetti

Keynote speaker: Reese Erlich ( author & correspondent with CBS and NPR)

Art Work by Sandro Sardella

Co-sponsored by Revolutionary Poets Brigade, UUSF Social Justice Council


A poem for refugees – Global map of participant cities

More that 30 cities around the world have already joined the word poetry event “A Poem For Refugees” on 21 March 2016.

To see the exact locations, click on the interactive map or on the image below.

More details will follow, concerning the events organized in each city.

If you are interested in organizing a similar event in your city, you may contact Poets Circle in Greece at info @