Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

quote- home May 21, 2017

Filed under: Quotations — Shawn L. Bird @ 6:54 pm
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“Wherever you have friends, that’s your country.

Wherever you receive love, that’s your home.”

Tibetan proverb quoted by the Dalai Lama in The Book of Joy (I highly recommend this book!)

This quote brilliantly summarizes my experience of life with and as an exchange student.   Half your heart has moved to a new location.


poem- walk for refuge February 8, 2017

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 2:32 pm
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During the election

we heard some American folks joke

If he wins, we’re moving to Canada!

and we laughed.


four hundred and ten

have really done it.

Last week alone


walked for frozen miles

in minus twenty Celsius

to cross the border

to freedom in



They lost fingers and toes to frost bite,

but not their lives to the sound bites

of a xenophobe.




poem- My Refugees November 17, 2015

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 11:32 am
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They escaped from beneath the thumb of a Ugandan despot

Fleeing between gazes of men armed with machine guns

And appeared in my back alley. Brown skinned.  Muslim.

My friend. My first love.

His soundtrack music now echoes from our TV screens.


They escaped from Soviet Russia during the brief window when

Jews were allowed to leave

And appeared in the junior high gym on the first day of school.

My best friend. Now in Geneva,

with the Humanitarian Commission for Refugees.


They escaped from Eritrea as it tore itself from Ethiopia

Newly weds running by night, sleeping through days

And appeared at my husband’s office,  to defend children

Our good friends, first social work

Then labour mediator,  helping opposites agree.


They’re escaping from Syria and the religious extreme,

Risking their lives for a chance of happiness and security.

Among the crowds, will we find

New friends making new lives

In our neighbourhood, where there’s safety?



I was pondering last night, that some of the most significant people in my life came to Canada as refugees. How different my life would have been had they remained in their home countries!  While I would wish them never having to live the fear of their respective escapes, how blessed am I than Canada welcomed them, and how blessed is the country because of their labours here!  They have each contributed greatly to society.

My mom’s first friend in her new community as a newly wed was a refugee from Germany who owned the apartment they rented as well as a business and other apartment buildings.  I’ve taught students who were refugees from the civil war when Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia dissolved.  Our country was not weakened by our welcome to these desperate people; it was strengthened.


poem- refuge September 5, 2015

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 3:43 pm
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The sea

rocks tiny feet,

caresses small hands,

steals breath and rests

tiny bodies on the shore

where they’re at peace,

but out of reach

of their father’s desperate grasp.

The sea

rocks small boats,

of dubious sanctuary

and with each wave it tosses on the beach,

points foaming fingers at those

who turn faces from the tragedy.



I decided not to attach the iconic photo of Alan Kurdi to this poem out of respect.  Instead, here is an interview with his father describing the tragedy.


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