Photography © Jennifer Matthews


In the thick of it

War, again within my lifetime
tragic to watch helplessly, the ache of human suffering
rushing to leave their homes
scattering like cockroaches when light hits them
sent reeling as impact bombing upends a settled life

Urgent, scrambled exodus
carrying what they can, hoping, perhaps wistfully,
          they’ll return
dependant on the kindness of others
neighbours, petty grievances forgotten now, help each other
funds from overseas, refuge offered

News reports on this unfolding disaster
highlight another injustice, one that marked me even more
brown faces, students, doctors, workers, residents
hit square in the face by blatant racism
the seat you’re occupying on the train must be surrendered

Here’s the rub, the unspoken hierarchy of human value
dogs were allowed to travel before the guy from Congo
stay and fight with us, one was asked
he laughed derisorily
like the black character in any disaster movie, would be
          the first to die

Scratch the surface and it’s there
former alliances with left leaning countries opened avenues
          for study
a black man or woman in ‘eastern block’ countries lives warily
in full knowledge that the host and the dinner party can turn sour
given their coat, shown the door

This time, however, the party over, the door is being blocked
we’re leaving
stay, make yourself at home
those words, contemptuous, foreshadow an inevitability
countdown to ultimate death, the host’s hatred laid bare


Alexandrina: “Over lockdown I started a practice of writing one poem a day. It’s quickly become an obsession. I tell stories through my poetry, using the spectrum of human nature and life experiences to create a moment of observation and reflection.”

Poet/Photographer Jennifer Matthews’ poetry has been published in Nepal by Pen Himalaya and locally by the Wilderness Retreat Writers Organization, Midway Journal, The Somerville Times, Ibbetson Street Press and Boston Girl Guide. Jennifer was nominated for a poetry award by the Cambridge Arts Council for her book of Poetry Fairy Tales and Misdemeanors. Her songs have been released nationally and internationally and her photography has been used as covers for a number of Ibbetson Street Press poetry books and has been exhibited at The Middle East Restaurant, 1369 Coffeehouses, Sound Bites Restaurant in Somerville and McLean Hospital.