Melting Pot Poems

This poem is from Duane Vorhees:


An Open Letter to the Critics of Dawn


Long before your stagemother

awaited her darling in the wings,

that trouper’s name was up in lights.

Can you add one iota

to dawn’s theatric timing?

–That great ought in the sky

enters stage right,

after night’s tired delivery

has put the curtained audience to sleep.

That hoofer who has played

the boards of history’s every stage

still performs early matinees every day.


If this longest-running act in showbiz folds,

what will you tell his sellout crowds?

Of what use then your much-lauded stars?

To treat us hungry groundlings,

what bright youngster will you trot out?

If the dawn ever retires,

won’t you critics then be delighted?


© Duane Vorhees




A poem from Lisa Saffron, to those living in countries free of war.


That Woman on Lesvos


That woman,

the one climbing out of the sinking boat

the one with blue lips in a light summer coat

the one whose life jacket does not even float.

That woman could be you.


That man,

the one with holes in his worn out shoes

the one who has nothing left to lose

the one you saw on the six o’clock news.

That man could be your brother.


That elder,

the one so weak she can barely stand

the one clutching grandchildren in each hand

the one uprooted from her ancestral land.

That elder could be your mother.


That little girl,

the one too dazed to take sweets or fruit

the one not crying, the one who’s mute

the one Assad’s soldiers didn’t shoot.

That girl could be your daughter.


That toddler,

the one who arrived sick and damp

the one who was crying and suffering from cramp

the one playing happily in the refugee camp.

That boy could be your grandson.


That fisherman,

the one overwhelmed by the thousands who flee

the one fishing bodies out of the sea

the one abandoned by the powers that be.

That man could be your father.


Those people,

the ones selling life jackets – useless and fake

the ones smuggling people in boats at daybreak

the ones who are desperate for money to make.

Those people could be us.


Those people,

the ones on the shore offering sweet cups of chai

the ones handing out clean clothes that are dry

the ones who can’t bear just to stand by.

Those people could be us.


That politician,

the one for safe passage, who won’t let folk drown

the one welcoming those who flee their hometown

the one opening borders, not closing them down.

That politician could be you.



© Lisa Saffron





A message poem from a tree to you and me from Kate O’Neil.


The Royal Tree

Chrysophyllum imperiale

(planted 1868. Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney.)


Affie planted me.

He’s ‘Prince Alfred’ to you,

but Affie and I,

we go back more than 100 years,

and have special bonds.

Let me tell you about it.


You’ve noticed my nick-name –

“The Royal Tree”?

Well, I am majestic –

just look at my leaves –

and I’m twenty metres tall

so you can call me “Your Highness”,


but Affie, he was true Royalty;

second son of Victoria and Albert,

and the first Royal to visit this country.

Both of us were strangers here,

he from the old, the civilised world,

me from the wild, the rainforests of Brazil.


Both royal, both strangers,

we’ve both faced dangers and survived.

Not long before he planted me

Affie was shot. He was guest of honour

at a Clontarf picnic when a crazy Irishman

tried to assassinate him.


Not far from here is a famous hospital,

Royal Prince Alfred, RPA.

Yes, you know it.

Sydney nurses helped Affie recover

and this hospital was given his name

to honour him, and them.


The threat I face is happening now –

extinction in my homeland.

When Affie planted me here in 1868

I was a common tree around Rio de Janeiro,

Emperor Don Pedro’s favourite.

It was he who sent me as a gift.


But as Rio grew my family fell.

Close to extinct where we once grew wild,

only Botanic Gardens can save us now.

And here in Sydney, I’m playing my part,

growing seeds for Rio, for the world,

for times to come.



© Kate O’Neil 2016



“Affie” was the nick-name used in the family.

Clontarf – a Sydney harbourside suburb.





This poem is from JJ Evendon, of Cheltenham.


A Better World, But Square


May I ask a question?



Why do you think you were born?

Because of love shared between two people.

Yes – but what else?

To bring them happiness and to see me grow.


That’s fine – but what else?

Be proud of my achievements.

OK – but what else?

To respect the world as a whole

and leave it better than when I arrived.


But what if that wasn’t possible?


It’s not just me, we all must try otherwise we all fail.

If you had the power to shape the world, would you?


What would you do?



© J. J. Evendon




A poem from Alison Williams:




my world is fluid

in a constant

state of flux


I am an ocean

who once spoke

to the dry land


I told him how much

I admired his



he answered me

with rockfalls, landslides

lava fields


he showed me

all the pain there is

in rigidness


when change comes

then the hardness somehow

has to break


rending himself apart

and shedding

tears of fire


he gave me

just a glimpse

into his molten core



© Alison Williams




A poem from Liz Young, Sussex:


Slaughtered Souls


Did your mother love you?

Did you spread your starfish hand on her breast

as she nourished you

with milk and murmurings –

did she teach you gentleness and respect,

kissing your small hurts better

while you grew strong and straight?


Of course she did.


So what changed you –

what ripped out that well-loved child

leaving only emptiness and hate?

How could that mother’s son

scythe through crowds of children

spreading pain and death

without a qualm?



you took your own life –

was that from fear

or overdue self-loathing?


Let me tell you this –

where you are going

there will be no virgins –

the souls of slaughtered children

will bar you from Paradise.


© Liz Young