Anser Journal

A Refugee
Boat Sinks

By John Grey

The bloat
of their corpses
evicts them from seabed,
across a rippling stretch
of the Mediterranean.

And they’re not planning anything,
not like before when,
from their failed country,
they scratched at the doors of other places,
anywhere that would not have them.

Now they pop up like jellyfish,
in blue waters,
from a serene sleep,
into somebody else’s sympathies,
another’s virulent hate.

We have liftoff.
We have floating carcasses.
We have a disparaging sun
searing their brown faces,
those eyeless expressions.

They drift toward
wherever they were headed,
as hooks reach down
to drag them there sooner,
for a rendezvous with cheap mass graves.

It’s a Summer’s day,
as cruise ships cross paths with trawlers,
all hope as clearly defined
as a good day’s sightseeing,
an even better catch.

But the good life’s
accompanied by
a bacchanalia of body parts,
bobbing like bergs
against sturdy, indifferent hulls.

Great times
coexist with desperate peril,
glasses clink
to flesh-eating fish,
the razor cuts of salt.

And there, on the surface,
like the spill
of a trash barge,
the dead rise up
but not nearly enough.


John Grey is an Australian poet and U.S. resident recently published in Soundings East, Dalhousie Review and Connecticut River Review. His latest book, “Leaves On Pages,” is available through Amazon.