Poems for People Who Care – 1. The Artist, inspired by Hassan Akkad
The Artist – inspired by the story of Hassan Akkad
(If you like this poem, please donate a few pounds on my Just Giving page to protect NHS workers: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/tamsin-flower)
The Artist sits cross-legged
lone in his bedroom fortress
avoiding ankles of aunties
jibes of uncles’ moustaches.
‘God willing I will be an artist’
He stirs crayons on his page
‘God willing I will travel oceans’
He slings on: leather-jacket, sports-bag, shades.
The Artist surveys desks one to fifteen, beginning the ritual of pens
clasped from a cupboard, laid
like a message of intention
sent when the bell rings…
The Artist becomes The Teacher, looking brothers deep in the eyes
tired boy, empty boy, bored boy, cheeky boy
floating, breathing minds.
He claps, inviting attention
‘This lesson guys is a gift!
Let’s talk about people we want to meet from TV and the internet.’
The Artist prepared
charged his mobile
laid wallet in plastic-bag
pulled on shirt in rising Syrian sun
leather-jacket, trainers, cap.
This film will be a letter, as perfect and imperfect as ‘O’
sent in pixelated waves
when he finds a socket
in the British seafood cafe.
He saved charge for each ‘chapter’-
Embarking, disembarking the dinghy’s arms
while holding a song, twenty refugees strong
‘In an Octopus’ Garden’ in the storm –
‘Look up Amira, searchlights’
flicker in his camera’s lens.
shadows shout in darkness
‘We are saved.
We are saved!’
The Cleaner mirrors his mentor
pulling on anti-gravity skin
leg by leg, careful as hide and seek
two snowmen disinfecting wings –
‘Maternity’, ‘Surgery,’ ‘End of Life’ all opened with ‘givers’ names.
The Artist-Teacher performs with precision
each surface blasted; a message of intention
God willing you will travel oceans
God willing your journey is safe.
The Artist takes a photo for twitter:
his reflection in Men’s Room light
A man of imperishable layers
‘be proud of me Mother
‘be proud of me Aunt.’
He remembers receiving the BAFTA
love from home sent in pixelated waves
bundles uniform in a hospital locker
slings on: leather-jacket, sports-bag, shades.