The Arrival

Twelve-year-old war veteran

Joma, what did you see?
Confused, searching with a hurt-filled mind
Our alphabet and teachers cannot reach him
Fourteen-year-old made-to-be a mother
Chinar, are you going to have children of your own?
Lonely, isolated as a foreign-speaking teen
When our language comes to you surely you will leave
Eight-year-old wanna-be
Shivan, do you really want to play football?
Those boys and girls spit and curse and growl
You are still an eight-year-old boy
Twelve-year-old anxious joiner
Sawson, have you forgotten the camps?
Those girls can’t comprehend your world
They never lost their families, comforts or universe to war
Then Samir, Ayob, Mister Qadir (Abrihim) and Hamsi
Are you stuck on North Sixteenth, or are you happy?
This city is a friend and an enemy
You discern what is best for yourselves.

Adam’s note: I wrote this poem after working with Kurdish and Iraqi refugee families in Nebraska.

Published by Adam F.C. Fletcher

I'm a speaker and writer who researches, writes and shares about youth, education, and history. Learn more about me at

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