Home Poem by Warsan Shire


Rating: 4.9

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won't let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it's not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn't be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

go home blacks
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
be hunger
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i've become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here

Bill McConnell 05 November 2018

How can anyone read this and say they like it, it's sad period and I don't like it not one bit

7 24 Reply
keely 23 July 2021

reality is hard sometimes. this poem makes the situation visceral. that is its beauty.

16 2
M’Lin 18 June 2018

Beautiful, and terrifying.

10 4 Reply
irene george(Tanzania) 29 October 2018

Warsan i really love your poems they teach nice

8 4 Reply
Martha Loewenthal 01 July 2018

Interesting and deep

8 4 Reply
MAHTAB BANGALEE 16 November 2022

if anyone knows that what he has become then it's sure that he knows all; something introspective note I feel; nice to read

0 0 Reply
Pasin Taeem 16 November 2022

I like this poem, its theme and imagery. Some changes would improve its presentation: (a) replace ‘in an airport toilets' with ‘in an airport toilet'; (b) replace ‘means something more than journey' with ‘mean something more than journey' and (c) replace ‘be hunger' with ‘hunger'.

1 1 Reply

A terrible account of refugees forced out of their homeland

2 0 Reply
Reich Junker 11 May 2019

Home is supposed to be a place where everyone feels safe, secure, and loved. There are just circumstances that force people to leave their homes. This world needs healing and mending.

8 0 Reply
Prabir Gayen 24 February 2019

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear saying- leave, run away from me now i dont know what i've become but i know that anywhere is safer than here...beautiful poem

2 2 Reply
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