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


The Artist sits cross-legged

lone in his bedroom fortress

avoiding ankles of uncles

jibes from aunties’ moustaches.


‘God willing I will be an artist’

    He stirs crayons on a 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

grasped from cupboard, laid 

    like a message of intention 

    sent when the bell rings.


The Artist becomes The Teacher, looking brothers deep in their eyes

tired boy, empty 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’

put wallet in plastic-bag

‘Goodbye Aunt’

pulled on sweater in rising Syrian sun

leather-jacket, trainers, cap.


This film will be a letter,

perfect and imperfect as ‘O’

sent in pixelated love 

when he finds a socket

in the British seaside hotel.


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 phone-camera’s lens.

    shadows shout in darkness

‘We are saved.


 We are saved!’





The Cleaner mirrors his mentor

pulls on anti-gravity skin

leg by leg, careful as hide and seek

two spacemen disinfecting wings –

    ‘Maternity’, ‘Surgery,’ ‘End of Life’ all opened with givers names.


The Artist performs with precision

each surface blasted;

      like 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 sent in pixelated waves

bundles uniform in a hospital locker

slings on: leather-jacket, sports-bag, shades.





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