Soggy lifejackets clog coastlines, landfills
mound with water bottles, debris from rafts,
broken watercraft, tattered tarps, soiled diapers,
all signs of failure

to respond and to prepare for more to come.
Tarp towns grown along stripped hillsides,
cardboard paths through stamps of land – not sea
at least, there’s safety

in dirt, even as it swells with rain and slides
under flip flops, muddies the laundry sagging
on the line, tee shirts now stained
with Lesbos,

Land of Sappho, singing with lyre,
celebrant of eros and the pulse of iambs –
the tides, our blood, our breath; lover of women
now prey at Moria

Where women cannot wash the sea from their skin,
where men lurk, stalking daughters and smelling their sex.
Concertina wire and garbage fires cannot
keep rats from tents.

Moria Refugee Camp.  Refugees from war,
famine, thirst, from sea-beaten boats,
To a camp – space for two thousand
now swollen to six thousand and more

drifting ashore each moon. The shore tight
with tents and trash and desperation, amid
soccer balls, plastic dolls, and hopscotch in the sand.
No one is going anywhere.

Cruise ships stop on the other side.
Welcome to Lesbos, Isle of Love.

Ellen Taylor is the author of one chapbook and two collections of poetry: Humming to Snails. Floating and Compass Rose. Her work has been published in the Café Review, New England Review, and North American Review, and many other journals. Ellen teaches literature and writing at the University of Maine at Augusta as well as the Maine State Prison Read other articles by Ellen.