Self-Help for Fellow Refugees

I love this title, it lets us know that while a bit of humor is on the way, the poem will still deals with a serious issue. -Kyle Austin, age 23

If your name suggests a country where bells
might have been used for entertainment,
or to announce the entrances and exits of the seasons,
or the birthdays of gods and demons,
it's probably best to dress in plain clothes

There is some contrast between the words "bells" and "birthdays" and the general mood of "plain" in the U.S. The reader feels torn like the poet does, and a hush settles over the rest of the poem. -Patricia Schlutt, age 17

when you arrive in the United States,
and try not to talk too loud.

Right away the reader is set up with the tone of this story. The desire to go unnoticed in a foreign country is something anyone can relate to, but this goes far beyond desire. It is more like necessity. -Sarah Branz, age 20

If you happen to have watched armed men
beat and drag your father
out the front door of your house
and into the back of an idling truck
before your mother jerked you from the threshold
and buried your face in her skirt folds,
try not to judge your mother too harshly.
Don't ask her what she thought she was doing
turning a child's eyes
away from history.

As a parent you are a protector. Our elders impart wisdom, but
sometimes, for the sake of security, they mask the youth from the select troubles. This, unfortunately, hides us from a terrible truth. Is it in hopes of shielding the child's innocence? Isn't innocence that we often try to reclaim for ourselves? -Zachary Tomaszewski, age 22

Maybe there was too much screaming
and weeping and the noise of guns in the streets.
It doesn't matter.
What matters is this:
The kingdom of heaven is good.

I disagreed with this at first, but then I liked it. If you don’t know about heaven on earth there’s no point in it later. -Daisy Hall, age 13

But heaven on earth is better.
Thinking is good.
But living is better.
Alone in your favorite chair
with a book you enjoy
is fine. But spooning
is even better.

This poem is written simply yet beautifully. The images are clear yet the reader has room to imagine and relate to the author. This poem stresses the importance of God’s goodness and that solitary silence is good, yet togetherness is better. -Rachel McGuinness, age 22
The overall message in this poem also applies to everyone, even though it may be directed to refugees in particular, that waiting for heaven may be good but it is even more important to make the most of life while you are on earth. -Laura Crouch, age 20
Through the 3rd Eye was supported in its inception by the Grand Rapids Humanities Council and is currently made possible by continued volunteer effort and private support. Copyright 2013.