Some find no shelter

For the earthweal prompt. Shelter is in short supply these days.
Painting by Franz Marc.

Some find no shelter

They flock, the birds by hundreds, thousands,
they herd, the deer and antelope,
the packs stick close in formation,
the prides, colonies and sounders,
sheltering from danger, among their own kind.

I watch the mingled flocks of finches,
the way crows and thrushes fight off the hawk,
their strength in trust, cooperation, selflessness.

We live behind walls in distrust,
and when some hold out their hands,
they face a hail of abuse.

Our barriers are poison and betrayal,
nests of razor wire where children hang,
the ultimate of ultimates,
the solution only a god would contrive,
annihilation, dwindling into the last syllable—
take no prisoners.

Shelter is a concept that changes
from mouth to mouth, day to day,
place to place, slippery as an oil slick,
weaponized, a temporary respite.

Birds flock, hare, rabbit, fox,
huddle together to shelter from winter’s bite,
but where do we shelter from our own kind?

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

28 thoughts on “Some find no shelter”

  1. That is the big question: where do we shelter from our own kind? I am glad you also mentioned the critters, also in search of shelter. The ones in war zones must be terrified beyond belief by the way humans live on this earth. I love this poem.

    1. I see the shelling of villages and think of the livestock, the wild animals as well as the people. But for the first time in any war reporting, I’ve seen coverage of how people are bringing their pets with them. Perhaps even more important, the reporters are sending film of the animals that have lost their families and are wandering the highways looking for a familiar face. We seem to be learning that we bring tragedy to every life form when we start wars.

  2. There is no good answer to these questions. Over and over again we force lives to be spent wandering, the ones, that is, that we don’t destroy. (K)

    1. We don’t behave as a group anymore. Possibly not since we ventured out of the caves. Individualists, hanging onto the coattails of the biggest bully, hoping not to be noticed.

  3. The greatest war crime, is WAR itself… who was it, who went through the blood… the guts… the horde of flies, and maggots, to find out what is objectionable in wars…? Or should I say ‘what’…? For which human is so blind, and thoughtless… it must have been a machine…!

      1. Those who lost the plot several thousand years ago are gone… and we should not allow their ignorance, or shortsightedness to cause us to follow in their footsteps to oblivion… we should recognize their error… become Archaeologist… find, and dig up that dormant plot, and go back to the future…!

      2. We should, but we don’t recognise any error. We are their descendants and our minds are formed in their image. The institutions that form the basis of our societies all lead in the same direction. Oppress and exploit many, enrich a few. The expression ‘to put the fear of God into them’ didn’t arise from nothing.

    1. I feel alternately angry and despairing. I know our leaders have the greater responsibility, but they’re only doing what most of us would if we had the power, so none of us have much of an excuse.

  4. Men have always been at war since the dinosaur times…..nature of the beast Testosterone is the problem.Greed for power and money also….2022 and still no solution

    1. I like the theory that matriarchies preceded patriarchy, a culture of cultivation and trade rather than conquest and war, with the man marrying into his wife’s family and not the opposite, transmission of wealth through the peaceable female line. It all went pear-shaped when men took the risk of doubting the women’s spiritual hold, and using brute strength to overturn a peaceful way of life. Four thousand years of patriarchy has been enough to destroy something that has been around for 4.5 billion years.

  5. An excellent poem that sums the feelings of these times. I love the Franz Marc painting – he’s one of my favourite artists but I hadn’t seen that work before.

    1. Thank you. It’s chilling to realise that the most potent inspiration comes from tragedy.
      I like this painting. His cows and deer are always so gentle. The colours are quiet too.

  6. Where do we shelter from our own kind? I paused on that thought as the question lingers in the smoke and debris… sigh

    Birds do flock together to chase predators away.

  7. Without us, the animals would have more natural cycles–unless we were unleashed as part of nature. Your last stanza made me gulp. And then I remembered we find those who help, too. Would I could be more of one.

    1. You might have a point there. I hadn’t thought about it that way before, but it’s almost a proof of the existence of God. We are so awful, so unnatural, perverted and destructive that nature couldn’t possibly have made us.

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