With His Shoes Still On

With His Shoes Still On

his shoes are still
on his feet
he lies face down
so soft and supple
you imagine, somewhere
he still breathes


like little children do
on their tummies
their little palms
fingers slightly curled

you know if
a child such as he
lay on a blanket
near you
you’d reach out
and gently
very gently
so as not to wake him
stroke the soft
hair on this head

you’d run
your fingers
along his soft
dimpled arm

and kiss the little hand
not with your lips
but with your breath
so as not to wake him

but this little boy
who looks like he’s asleep
with his shoes still on

he’s not lying
on a blanket
but on the beach
his lungs full of water
his body
empty of life

his untold story
forever untold
in the sea

nothing can wake him now
no caress, no stroke
no kiss
no words
no wounds
no shouting
or shaking
no hope 
no dream
no fear
no help, prayer
or weeping
no newspaper article
no appeal
no campaign
or policy meeting
no grandiose words
no grand gestures


and you sit
and you stare
your heart full
of the agony
of your helplessness

and you think
there are barbarians
amongst us
who care for nothing
but money
and power

there are barbarians
amongst us
who care for
blood and gore
and terror

who are these people?
you wonder
how did their hearts
become so hard?
how dark
how impossibly dark
must they be?

have they never known
have they never loved
a little boy
such as he?

who are these people
who drive soft little boys
their fathers and mothers
their sisters and brothers
from their homes
in unsound boats
to the vast, cruel sea

to be swallowed whole
with whatever
his little heart knew
and loved
and wanted
in this world

swallowed whole

who are the people
with important jobs
who send heartless guards
to their borders
to safeguard their countries?

from those who flee
their homes in terror
because they're 
defenseless and weak

who are the people
who’ve made
little children’s homes
more dangerous
than the sea?

who are they
are they like you
and me?

and you ache
yes, you ache
because you know
as he lies on the beach
with his shoes still on
looking as if
he’ll get up
and walk

this little boy
will never wake up
or walk again
in this world

3rd september 2015

Dedicated to Aylan Kurdi, the little Syrian boy whose body washed up on the Turkish shore as his family tried to flee to Europe, his brother Ghaleb, his mother Rihana, his father Abdullah
and the Syrian refugees.  May Allah grant them ease, comfort and peace.  may He grant peace to Syria.

for a copy of "Set My Heart On Fire" in pakistan nalayn publications
in South Africa intent publishing
and internationally amazon


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