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The Ruin of the State
Although I’m stateless, am I not a man?
Your feet and mine stand grounded on one sphere.
I hear you say you’re doing all you can –
but let me speak: this towered shanty town
was where I ran to earth, pursued by fear.
War made me stateless; am I not a man?
The rooted burgher, trustafarian,
and well-found families deep-rooted here,
believe the council’s doing all it can.
Fleeing the flames, a father ran back in
for one of his children thought to be still there.
Both are lost now. Was he not a man?
In God’s name, pull the blackened, damned thing down,
sell the rotten City, clear this char;
and build for humans now. We know you can –
or else, each sight-scarred boy, when he’s full grown,
unloved, untaught – but fed all right in care –
will think himself a proper Englishman
to let the stranger burn – because he can.
Sarah Watkinson is a plant scientist and her work has appeared in The Rialto, Antiphon, Litmus, Under the Radar and various anthologies. She was a winner of the 2016 Cinnamon Press poetry pamphlet prize and with Jenny Lewis of the Poet's House Oxford she organises an annual science poetry event, SciPo.
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