Taking Refuge

I am a child,

and I already know more
of war and devastation
than you do, if you are
listening to me now.
You might hear my bold assertion,
and simply ask yourself how.
Do you know me?
Do you know yourself?
Do you even want to?
Will you ever grow to see
the wisdom and compassion
in those scriptures on your shelf?
or will your willfull ignorance
forever haunt you?
You may think the world
is simply filled with don’ts and do’s,
things you should and
shouldn’t choose,
real and fake news,
moments of celebration
far outnumbering those that give
us the blues,
so how can you condemn me
for doing what you yourself
would do,
if you were stuck right here
in my shoes.
I am a child.
Proove to me
you are worthy of trust,
you are ready to listen,
you are able to hear me,
and I will share my child’s
voice with you. The truth is
I’ve only known despair,
war, torture, abuse, and hunger,
but still I’d rather rejoice with
you. Make the choice
to pursue a dreamland.
Boisterously scream
at the top of my lungs
for all the stuff I’ve already
seen and been, and had to
take on the chin, I can’t even
begin. And then,
I get here, thinking
for a tenth of a second, ‘win’
when this all happens
and I don’t know which end
is up, I’m too scared to count
to ten, I dont speak the
language, and now there’s
frothing dogs barking
at me again. I can only
see my family if I close
my eyes and really think.
There’s never enough
food to eat or
water to drink.
My whole life has
become a ship
you watched sink.
And now you have me
sleeping on the floor
of a clink.
I am a child.
When you look into
my eyes you might be
surprised by how wise
silent replies seem.
You feel your own mortality
a bit more than usual.
You see your own
soul looking back
at you.
I want to wrap my
arms around the
ones I love and trust
more than anyone,
but I can’t.
I am a child,
there but for the grace
your child.
And I’m growing up
in a world where
might makes right,
and tonight could be
the final night,
and no concept
of any rights,
just that I’m alone
and scared, and I can’t
sleep because of the
lights. But I’m trying
and trying with all my
might, to fight for my
life. I’m a child in a fight
for life, and all that I’m asking
is that you acknowledge
that I exist. I exist in space
and time. I’ve committed
no crime. I inhabit this
turbulent, tempestuous, telltale
climb for a shot, at a chance,
at a breath, at an opportunity,
at a lucky toss for a life
I could be happy with,
which you might throw away.
A life in which hope might
begin to rain someday.
And I’m not even asking you
to pave the way.
I am child who could
have been your parent,
I am a child who could have
been you.
I am a child who could
have been yours
to raise amidst
military uprisings
over property, and
ongoing civil wars.
I am a child.
I am a refugee.
I am a fighter
for life, with a soul.
My whole existence
has taken its toll,
and I may or may not
make the evening news roll.
I may never grow old.
I may never hold my family
again. I’m doing what I’m told,
but my teacher is pain,
and I’m a child.
I am a child in this world.
Your world.
I am a child in
your world.
I’ll let you sit with that
and rest.

About SIDEWAYS EIGHT

Being heard, stirred, and perhaps cured by life's many hidden images and the written-spoken word.
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