Refugees

They have no need of our help
So do not tell me
These haggard faces could belong to you or me
Should life have dealt a different hand
We need to see them for who they really are
Chancers and scroungers
Layabouts and loungers
With bombs up their sleeves
Cut-throats and thieves
They are not
Welcome here
We should make them
Go back to where they came from
They cannot
Share our food
Share our homes
Share our countries
Instead let us
Build a wall to keep them out
It is not okay to say
These are people just like us
A place should only belong to those who are born there
Do not be so stupid to think that
The world can be looked at another way

(now read from bottom to top)

259 comments

  1. hello, I am a year 8 writing a short essay on your poem. Is there any explanation for the ongoing stanza in the poem? thanks!

    1. Hi Tiffany, do you mean why is it all in one stanza? If so, that’s because I wanted the flow to be as continuous as possible. I think if I’d have divided into stanzas, the rhythm and the cumulative nature of the poem might not be as effective. Hope this helps! Brian

  2. Hi Brian, your refugees poem is very powerful. I would love to be able to include it in a book on climate change which I am writing with my parents, if you give permission. What is the copyright position please? Would you allow us to publish it please, obviously giving your name as the poet, and listing your website (or citing a book if you have already published it)? We think this would help challenge people to do more for refugees, including climate refugees. Many thanks, Jamie Hawker (age 13)

    1. Thanks very much for this, Jamie. I’d be delighted for you to use the poem in this context. If you just give my name, followed by the book in which it was first published that should do it: ie Brian Bilston, from ‘You Took the Last Bus Home’.
      Thanks again and good luck with it all!

      1. Thanks very much, that’s brilliant! We will certainly list the book details. We are also enjoying your lockdown poems.

  3. My daughter and I are planning an exhibition in church later this year about our lock down experiences, involving others from the village. She has been responsible as a doctor for health issues among the unaccompanied minors arriving at Kent ports and I am involved in support for the Refugee council’s allocation of accommodation for refugees after government withdrawal with lifting of lock down. may we use your poem – which we think is brilliant!! – on our stand? We would of course add acknowledgements as you wish.

  4. Hi Brian,
    First of all i would like to say i loved your poem The Refugees it must of been hard work getting it to work from the bottom upwards as well or did it just fall into place for you? Secondly can we publish the poem in our Church and Village Magazine please, this would be a joy to many who read it, take care.
    All the best
    Carl

  5. Hello Brian, I wonder if we could please use this poem in the monthly newsletter of Marchmont St Giles’ Parish Church, Edinburgh, giving credit to you along with your website, FB and Twitter details? Best wishes, Sue (Editor)

  6. Dear Brian,

    Thank you for creating such a powerful poem, as relevant today, as it was in 2016.

    We are a London based Global Learning organisation and would like to create activities for teachers, inspired by your poem. We will be translating it into Slovak and Czech as well, as it is for a transnational project.

    You can find more info at http://www.globallearninglondon.org/current-projects/sankofa/

    Could you please let us know if it would be OK to print your poem? Happy to share the final resource of course.

  7. Hi Brian. Your poem is so powerful and thought provoking. I am a year 6 teacher in Wales and we plan on using this in our literacy lessons this week as we are focussing on refugees. We can’t wait to use it and to see the children’s reactions. Thank you!

      1. Dear Brian,
        Love your poem, “Refugees” and the reverse technique! I am writing to request permission to use this poem (with full acknowledgment) in the 3rd edition of my book, “Poetry Therapy: Theory and Practice.”

        Wishing you and your loved ones safe and well during these troubled times.

        Take care,
        Nick

        Nicholas F. Mazza, Ph.D.

        Dean and Patricia V. Vance Professor Emeritus

        College of Social Work, Florida State University

        Editor, Journal of Poetry Therapy (https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/tjpt20 )

        FL Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Psychologist, M&F Therapist
        nfmazza@fsu.edu

        ( https://www.routledge.com/Poetry-Therapy-Theory-and-Practice-2nd-Edition/Mazza/p/book/9781138812574 )

        (https://www.routledge.com/Expressive-Therapies/Mazza/p/book/9781138848092 )

    1. Hi Brittany, thanks for your message. I wrote it in this way to illustrate the two very different responses which I was seeing on social media to the refugee crisis. I wanted to find a way to reflect this and find a way to turn negative feelings into positive ones. Hope that helps! Brian

  8. Hi Brian – Thank you – it’s an excellent poem – very powerful. I used it in Geography GCSE lessons last week to support students’ learning about migration. I animated the words both ways in a PowerPoint, to reveal each line, first as written followed by a discussion, then the other way. Some colleagues in other schools have asked if they could use this resource. I wanted to check with you first (can send a copy).

    1. Hi, thanks for getting in touch. Sounds like a terrific way to present the poem – and yes, that would be absolutely fine for you to share the poem in that way. All the best, Brian

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