Refugees by Bill Lythgoe

Number 3:
Someone’s mum,
everybody’s auntie.
Her round black face
beams in greeting
then fades, frowns.
We have no papers,
no passports, no ID.
When you see
your husband slaughtered,
meat on a slab,
you don’t grab your documents and run.
You grab your children.

Number 7:
Uprooted from his mountain village,
transplanted to a bare bedsit,
softly speaking foreign English.
When they hanged Saddam Hussein
they did right,
he was – what do you say? –
one of the mafia. Yeah,
a gangster.
You’ve  heard of Halabja,
you say Saddam killed
a lot of Kurdish people. Yeah,
he killed my dad.

Number 12:
A pretty face,
short black hair, tight curls,
a tear in her right eye.
An ugly bruise
on the left side of her neck,
parallel to her jaw.
Do you know about Islam?
You have friends who are Muslims,
you’ll understand
I’ve left him.
Last night he hit me.
Then he divorced me.


Bill Lythgoe has been writing poetry seriously for about six years. He has won four prizes in Writing Magazine. He won second prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly competition and was published in their Oct-Dec 2013 magazine. He has also won prizes awarded by the Wakefield Red Shed and Nottingham Poetry Society and been published by Earlyworks Press, Strong Verse and Southport Fringe Poetry. If you Google Bill Lythgoe poems you can read some of his work.

3 thoughts on “Refugees by Bill Lythgoe

    • Thanks for your perceptive comment Peggy. I was a volunteer working with asylum seekers and the people in the poem were based, with only a few changes, on people I knew. “You grab your children” and “He killed My dad” are real quotations.

      Liked by 2 people

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