On May 8, 2019, the President of the US, Donald Trump, was asking a crowd in the Florida Panhandle how ‘we’ can stop immigrants coming into the US.

He laughed when someone shouted:  “Shoot them!” 

Those in office before him are also implicated. So we don’t think it is just he.  Although President Obama is reported to have said that his co-operation with France and the United Kingdom in  destruction of the Libyan State was his greatest mistake.  Necessary apology; but not sufficient.

Nor is it just the United States who is implicated. Of course.

Blame can be thrown in many places and we can drown in the blame we assign to decades of the murderous governance of regimes who don’t care about the lives and flourishing of their own peoples.




Home, 2009

Warsan Shire, born 1988, British Somali, born Kenya



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.



Jon Kessler (b. 1957), Exodus, 2016. Trunk, wood, aluminum, rubber wheel, found  figurines, iPhone with selfie stick, LCD  screen and motor. Collection of the artist; courtesy Salon 94, New York on loan to the Whitney Biennial, 2017, NY.  Photograph by Bill Orcutt




your neighbours running faster

than you, 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.






As above




no one would leave home

unless home chased you, fire under feet,

hot blood in your belly.




As above



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 toilet
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.





As above



you have to understand,

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






As above



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






Regugees Series, 2017/18, scrap metal:  bronze (boats), steel (figure groups).  Ginane Makki Bacho, born Beirut, Lebanon, 1947




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





As above




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




Damascene Athan, 2017, plaster, paint, found objects. 

Mohamad Hafez, Syrian born 1984. Exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, NY in 2018/19


no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now






Bagage Series 4, 2016, plaster, paint, antique suitcase, found objects.

  Mohamad Hafez, Syrian born 1984. Exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, NY in 2018/19



i dont know what i’ve become

but i know that anywhere
is safer than here


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