369 000


Here is a poem

for the others

who are born on mud floors

marshland and high plain

in homes of plastic and flattened tin

in spat-out estates in lands

whose time has gone

in the mewling sprawling cities 

of the south and east and rising world

who tumble down out of shanty towns

looking for work and hope and food

who doss down in shop doorways

on park benches in abandoned cars

who snatch sleep on night buses and on tubes

amid the echo of gunfire

who ride the long trains north in the night

running the gauntlet of gangs, police, La Migra

who slip across borders soft as water 

on blistered feet

and take their calloused hands 

to the sweatshop, the factory, the scramble

for work at the corner of the street

who live in fear of being 

denounced, detained, deported,

who will be trafficked, who will be sold

who will die before they are one year old

who will deal drugs in the barrio, the favela

who will get by, whatever

whose crops will fail

whose names will be known to no-one

but themselves and the hot dry wind

who dream, as we do


who are coming now, 

an unstoppable future.



© Steve Pottinger. 23 July 2013

◄ Mum's the word

Lampedusa ►


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steve pottinger

Mon 29th Jul 2013 12:02

Thanks, Jane. Glad you enjoyed it.

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jane wilcock

Sat 27th Jul 2013 16:55

great poem. I like the Queen but I see the world as you do in this poem. Never mind royalty, we each have our blame.

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steve pottinger

Fri 26th Jul 2013 09:48

Thanks very much for the kind words, Simon and Greg. I'm really pleased that you enjoyed the poem. :-)

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Greg Freeman

Fri 26th Jul 2013 09:31

Outstanding poem, Steve, reaching out across the world, beyond the little Englanders. I loved these lines particularly:

"who ride the long trains north in the night
running the gauntlet of gangs, police, La Migra
who slip across borders soft as water
on blistered feet"

and these lines, to strike fear into any Daily Mail reader:

"who are coming now,
an unstoppable future."

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Fri 26th Jul 2013 07:58

Thanks Steve.

For me the problem seems to lie in the fact that wherever in the world power shifts to - economically those people born in mud huts seem to have the same lot. And I think it will take a whole lot of change before their own governments start to prioritise welfare...

I'd agree that we all need to have that dream though and I love the way you have explored that common humanity in your poem.

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Simon Marks

Thu 25th Jul 2013 21:01

Superb! Been waiting for some pertinent and meaningful comment on a certain birth and you've done it!

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steve pottinger

Thu 25th Jul 2013 20:35

Hi Isobel!

I'm really pleased you enjoyed the poem, but I'm always really nervous about explaining what I've written. *deep breath* OK... the line 'who dream, as we do' is there - after the list of what their lives may hold for them - because we all, rich, poor, 1st & 3rd world, have dreams. Common humanity and all that.

The final two lines are intended to mean that the future, demographically, lies with the citizens and the cities of the developing world. Power and population are shifting away to new centres: China, Brazil, India etc. I suspect you may have taken that who to refer to the we in 'as we do'. It doesn't!

Hope that helps. :-)

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Thu 25th Jul 2013 20:11

I read your comment before I read the poem and didn't imagine I'd like it as much as I did.

I love it though - it's wonderful poetry - strong, powerful and beautifully written.

I'm not sure I get the last two lines though. They seem to represent what you would like to happen rather than reality. Or does the 'we' refer to you and other protesters rather than those people born on mud floors?

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steve pottinger

Thu 25th Jul 2013 14:23

I wrote this because amidst all the fuss over one baby, the other 369 000 born that day were being written out of history. Which is what always happens. I wanted to shift the perspective a little.

Thanks to Poetry 24 for publishing it today.

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