Poems for People Who Care – 1. The Artist, inspired by Hassan Akkad

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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

‘Goodbye Mother’

laid wallet in plastic-bag

‘Goodbye Aunt’

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.





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