Member Contributions

“On the Grass When I Arrive”.  Cantor Litvack’s New Book.

This new anthology of poetry and prose features contributions by established authors, as well as pieces by newer writers who creatively explore issues of place and belonging. With settings throughout Northern Ireland and beyond, these short works offer fresh perspectives, and attempt to address an essential question: how do we feel about our home, identity, and community?

To learn more about Cantor Litvack’s book have a listen to a recent interview with Kim Lenaghan.

Alpha:  A Poem from Ziy von B

Alpha Ochigbo was born in the Toronto Immigration Holding Centre in 2013. There were no charges against his mother, Glory Anawa, and no way to deport her.

Since 2006, Canada has imprisoned more than 80,000
migrants without charge or trial.

For more information about Alpha, Glory, and migrant justice,
please visit www.endimmigrationdetention.com.

Alpha

Alpha,

You are eighteen months alive

and every one of your days has played out

on the inside.

They are holding your mother

Glory

indefinitely.

For having the audacity to have the tenacity

to try to get somewhere where you could be free.

Punished for her reverence of the benevolence of this country.

No charges or trial, just monthly bail denial.

They say she can choose freely:

take you as her cellmate

or donate you

to the Children’s Aid Society.

More like Family Separation Anxiety.

This is not the Canada I want you to see.

Were there jail guards at your birth?

Were your first sights of sky striped with bars?

Have you ever felt a snowflake dissipate into your velvet-

warm face?

We marched outside the correctional facility

led by teenagers who know this is far from correct.

My baby, born mere months before you

made that same fearful voyage through narrow passage

he, sliding from womb into water,

you, sliding from womb into

custody.

And now my toddler’s waddling his best

all wool and drumsticks

tiny lips curled so sweetly

round the sounds of protest.

What gives him the right over you to be free?

My grandmother clinging tight to her tate’s coat trim

de-boards a ship, headscarf tied under chin.

Authorities butcher their names, but let their flesh in.

Canada’s open arms revealing only soft palms.

Mere months later, and they would have been smacked back

to the sounds of bombs.

On the eve of war

a thousand Jewish refugees

packaged up and returned

to Germany.

Orchestrated or arbitrary?

Who amongst us will defend the way we pretend to have

earned this free?

What gives us the audacity to claim the veracity

of citizenship to this place?

With genocidal origins that leave us shame-faced.

We gaze at our open arms and see firing arms.
This soft palm just the flipside of a powerful backhand.

Alpha,

My little one is gazing up at the slice of glowing moon
a question in his eyes. You are gazing up
at razor wire.  

You toddlers love with your bodies
trust by scent
senses bursting open to environment.

289 more children of migrants
similarly steeped in steel
weapon-flanked authority
and no eye contact.

Your mother had the audacity to have the tenacity
to try to get somewhere where you could be free.

Only to be held indefinitely.

Punished for her reverence of the benevolence of this country.

I have to imagine we will soon transcend our apathy
and demand your release.

I see you riding the streetcar with Glory
from Kensington Market to Little Italy.

Clinging tight to her coat trim.
Peering off the side of the Island ferry.
Registering for kindergarten.
Joining the diversity.

All those kids standing proud.

God keep our land…

And you, proof of the hypocrisy, singing loud:

Glory and all of us free.

And when they ask if you’re sure that’s how it goes
you just answer:

Definitely.


 Dan`s Song

Like many of you, I was haunted by the images of entire Syrian families braving the waves of the Mediterranean and especially of pictures of children drowned on the beaches of Greece. I wrote the following song “Children on the Beach” to help raise awareness of this issue, and to start a healing process.

Recording of  “Children on the Beach”

Click on link to the recording.

NEW! Click on the link to the music video of “Children on the Beach“.

Lyrics to “Children on the Beach”

Oh what a dream I’ve had, of children on the beach
Of plastic boats and ice-cream floats and loving parents within reach
Seagulls soaring overhead, the smell of summer in the air,
Children digging in the sand, living lives without a care,

Oh how my dream has changed, of children on the beach
Of monster waves and killing shores, and daddy’s hand just out of reach
Vultures soaring overhead, the smell of death is in the air
Children lying on the sand ignored by a world that doesn’t care….

But I dream of a world that is forgiving, that can see the G-d in everyone,
And realizes that we are a family, that we’re all a daughter or a son….

And so I dream my dream, of children on the beach
Happy faces running free, and loving hands within reach
The doves of peace fly overhead, the sounds of joy are all I hear
Children playing on the sand living lives without fear,

And I dream of a world that is forgiving, that can see the G-d in everyone,
And realizes that we are a family, that we’re all a daughter or a son.

Dan Houpt

Trillium