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Julia Barrell Aug 2020
“Stranded Strangers”

The life raft rocked from one
Careless wave to another,
As I drowsily lay
On the damp floor and ponder,
Helplessly holding
My heavy, eternal sin.
My sin of originating in a country
Careless of my life expectancy.
My sin of coming from a country
Where it’s illegal to be free.
My sin of fleeing a country
Where war rages on every street.
My sin of not belonging to a family
That could spare me from this barbarity.
So I ran.
I ran with
my bare soles
to the shore,
with the hope
that this boat
Would save me.
From the inhumanity.
But the indifferent sea
Will not guarantee
A secure journey.
This isn’t a sacrifice for me.
For my country ruthlessly robbed
Everything that was of value to me.
My family and my identity.  

But I’m afraid.
Much more than you will ever be
Of me. You see,
I have no power.
I can’t chose my future,
Like you chose to shoot our heads,
Like you chose to turn your head,
When you see us drowning at sea,
Land only meters ahead.
Yes I am afraid.
That no one will set us free
From this strangling tyranny.
You know it’s a bleeding tragedy,
But you turn your head,
And shoot our heads,
And deny. Dare deny
This clandestine genocide.

So I float between countries,
Balancing on cold water,
A stranded stranger
Begging to belong.

Millions of hefty diamonds
In the deadly silent nightfall
Are scattered on the unreachable  
Celestial crown.
They look down
on us with disdain,
All proud and pretentious.
My muddy skin,
My blistered soles,
My ragged clothes,
My ruffled hair,
My hollow cheeks.
As if to remind me,
Of the riches I’ll never see,
Of the happiness I’ll never feel,
Of  the safety I’ll never get,
Of the home I’ll never have,

So dear cherished official,
I am a stranded stranger.
You could easily be me.
But I’ll never be you anymore.

‘Cause I’m Discomfort, and you’re Warmth.
I’m Sorrow, and you’re Hope.
I’m Fear, and you’re Peace.
I’m Servitude, and you’re Freedom.
But I’m also a Crisis, and you’re also Ignorance.
Because I am Muhammad Gulzar, and you are a Greek official.

So I float between countries,
Balancing on cold water,
A stranded stranger
Begging to belong.

All this to say, I’ll never be safe from here on,  
No matter where I run,
They only care ‘bout where I come from.
A burden I got no control upon.
Rooted before I could even say “Mum”,
Why do we run? On and on?

Why do such meager differences
Develop colossal separation,
An impenetrable iron wall
Between Us and Them?
Why are you more worthy
Because you stand on the other side of the sea?

I wondered who, over there,
Understood the horrors we saw,
When they don’t seem to  know more
Than what the dividers of mankind
Instilled in their minds,
To form such cruel people.
Do we have to be rivals?
Just tell me your cause!
Is it because fate willed me to be born
On the other side of the wall?
And is it because fate willed me
To have a different complexion?
And is it because of my weird religion?
Oh, you think I don’t know your intention?

I’m a victim of the imperialist wars
To control oils, and other raw materials.
You exploited, oppressed and devastated my land
Simply to expand your sphere of command.
Where are your morals?

You western imperialists
Bear a decisive responsibility.
And I will not cross you off my list
Until you have done your duty.

Greek officials robbed and beat 30 migrants yesterday.
1000 others were abandoned off Greece’s bay.
And 8300 are gonna be thrown away
From their homes in greece. Did you hear?
Boris.J wants to legalise sending away
Refugees who reach the UK.
But today, I want to see you change your twisted ways.

But today, my last handful of air
Was taken away.
My body’s too bony
To hold a head so heavy.
I collapsed into the cold sea.
Weighted thoughts dragged me.
Sinking into eternity,
I did not dare to break free.
I was finally reaching Heaven
To join my long lost family.
There at least I would belong,
It had ached too much and too long
To to be abandoned by a world,
Drifting from country to country,
Begging to belong.

‘Cause you stuffed your words into my mouth
Since as long as I can recall.
There was no space for my own.
So they scratched my throat
As they tried to climb up
Desperately reaching for the door,
Ready to inform you
How much it wounds
To be nothing,
To be a phantom figure,
Worse, to be a number.
But they never get to the exit.
And time turns them
Into a bitter taste.
Until we suffocate,
In our unsaid words.
We die from remaining unheard.

So you’ll probably think it’s absurd.
But in these forgiving waters,
I am free
of  your merciless grip.
Quite ironically,
I can finally breathe
Out. The unsaid words stream
Out of my lips.
Role into the current.
They sing in the sea
The pitiful story
Of my suffering existence
Of unacceptance.
But still,
These words
Will never be heard
By your oblivious ear,
Dear cherished official.
How many more bodies like mine will it take,
To make you understand what is at stake.
Lives are not living,
Because of your domineering
Xenophobic habits.
You’re tearing the world to bits.
Tell me,
Where is your humanity?

‘Cause dear cherished official,
I’m all the innocent bodies
Sunken in the depths of the sea.
I’m all the stranded strangers,
Who ran away from danger.
You could easily be us,
But we will never be you anymore.
So you can turn your head,
But our world will not move ahead
Until you acknowledge your responsibility
And accomplish your duty accordingly.
Only then will our bodies
Rest in peace.
So Prove,
Prove to us you’re capable of humanity.

{A stranded stranger’s closing contemplations}
- A poem by Julia Barrell
This is a poem I wrote, dedicated to the Greek soldiers and all the countless others who mistreat migrants, in hope that they be held accountable for their crimes.

This is a tribute to all the refugees who lost their lives on their way to a safer land.

This is a reminder that it’s not the refugee’s fault if he is running for safety in your country, nor is it his choice. It is the fault of his government, our governments, of the western imperialist countries, who fail to admit their fair share of responsibility.

This is a plea for acknowledgement of the horrors happening all over the globe to refugees in search of a safe home. LET THEM BE HEARD.

This scenario could happen to anyone. So this concerns everyone.

— The End —