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  • Tamara Chicoine

Detroit Burning, Sing to Me



In the dawn I wake,

and inhale the scent of Detroit burning.

A red sun rises over boarded factories,

shrouding shadows of workers' ghosts.

Fire engines wail, packs of wolves in the night.

Another match, another arson, and another.

Dreams burn too, just like sticks.


I hear your song, Robin,

through my open window.

Your notes transcend chaos,

anesthetic for my soul.


Sing to me, Robin,

as I rise from my bed,

to hear the news more missiles are flying in Syria and Yemen,

This morning, children will become orphans.

As the sun sets, wives will become widows,

sisters will lose brothers, fathers will lose sons.

Shrapnel has no boundary,

no moral compass.


Sing to me, Robin

while boats rock like cradles

in the Mediterranean Sea's deadly embrace.

Refugees pay the man who stands in the dark,

before he gets them to the other side.

How many can he fit in a filthy boat?

How far before waves wash over them?

Trust is another word for betrayal.


Sing to me, Robin,

while a young man stands in line for food,

his hands longing to work, his mind yearning to learn.

When hunger consumes him, he will enlist to fight.

His hands were made to hold books, not guns.

It is not the enemy that will kill him, but his own goverment that sends him.

Tell me, Robin, what his song could be,

if a door were held open for him?


Sing to me Robin,

when a child's throat aches from thirst,

too parched for tears to fall.

Hunger closes ranks on thin limbs.

How many days can a child live without food?

How many days can a child live without water?

How far must a mother walk and walk, with dirty water in her jug?


Red Robin,

do you sing a eulogy?

Sorrow for what is our future, condolence for what is lost?

Or do you sing a song of hope,

days of peace and prosperity to come.

Do you take flight with the white dove?


Can enemies shake hands to save a child,

to build a school, to treat cholera,

to give a crutch for a missing limb,

to dig a well, to seed a garden,

to medicate the sick, to safely give birth,

to walk without fear, to sleep with warmth, to wake with hope,

to grow old with contentment.

Tell me Robin,

sing to me.


An original poem written by Tamara Chicoine

written January 2019




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