On feline feet

The night’s a shield, on feline feet
he passes watchmen’s lines, to reach
across the border to our streets,

and there at dawn, he’s found a seat
in dust; his red-rimmed eyes: a bridge
through shields of night, on feline feet

But armored we deny his needs
we cannot see: he’s poor we’re rich
with empty eyes that fill our streets.

Our watchman’s heart, still coldly greet
the migrant child, his desert speech
from darkest nights on feline feet.

“My sister’s raped, and I’ve been beat”
His hand is trembling as he speak
“I crossed the borders for these streets”

But watchmen’s hearts are cold with fear:
“We need a fence, so they can’t sneak
across the border to our streets”

But why, as watchmen, don’t we treat
them well, and bring delight to bleak,
for those that come on feline feet
across the border to our streets.

Poor John by Camille Pissarro

Poor John by Camille Pissarro

Today we have a guest blogger at dVerse Poetics, and we are urged to talk about the watchman. A watchman is often something good, and used as such in many metaphors throughout history. Today with people escaping the most terrible ordeals I have a feeling I see the watchman more a the icy cold heart that protects us against compassion.

September 1, 2015

35 responses to “On feline feet

  1. This is an absolutely gorgeous poem that would be exquisite if you dropped the last stanza. It doesn’t feel like it belongs; it lost its rhythm and direction at the end. I hope you’ll forgive me saying so, because I do love this one. >

  2. Your verse is rather a political car toon,
    that we hear the cries of the brother whose sister has
    been raped and think only of ourselves – and a fence
    we can raise to keep more out, keep ourselves safe.

    it fits US,
    just saying.

  3. A very timely and relevant theme Bjorn ~ The crossing of borders, the raping and beating of women & children ~ Our hearts are cold, we are the watchmen, I fear ~ A lovely villanelle, cheers ~

  4. Very interesting take on the theme; one does not usually associate a villanelle with protest or political verse/rant; & still the voice is clear & the message is strong, brother.

  5. wow björn – i just wanna shout: yes, yes, yes
    we need to help them even if it’s overwhelming – and i know that your country is among the few that actually do help and care

  6. So timely, and yes, to me a watchman does have something chilling and cruel about him (something of a border guard). Just one small correction: shouldn’t the second line read ‘he passES the watchman’s line, to reach’? Spoils the rhythm a little bit though.

  7. Poignant plea to help those fleeing tragedy/poverty…our country also faces decisions on how to treat needy immigrants coming on “feline feet”.

  8. Oh, my! You have touched on such a crucial issue, so relevant today, and managed to touch me deeply. Last night I watched a commentary on Syrian refugees fleeing to Hungry. BTW, your use of form is so very impressive.

  9. This reminds me of the refugees who are trying to find a place to settle in Europe. The watchman can only watch and sigh. What is the solution?

  10. Such a problem. They are escaping being murdered in their home country and want a home – as do we all. I heard tonght on the news how many people in the countries they are migrating to fear the loss of European values and the fear of an overwhelming Islamic presence. As a country terrorized by extremists, I certainly understand on one hand. On the other hand, I see the babies and the tired women and the crowd chanting, We are human. And I weep for them. It is a hard situation. You did an excellent job with this poem.

  11. Very true, the watchman is a gatekeeper of sorts.In present day conflicts he wields great powers at the borders. Sometimes he’s involved in life and death situations! Great for bringing it out in the open, Bjorn!


  12. Borders scream differences instead of how we are all the same. We all want to be safe in this world and who are we to turn away those who are suffering because of territories, cultures or lines drawn on maps.

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