Shelley Hansen - Lady of Lines

Facets of Freedom

1st Prize - 2017 Kenilworth Arts Festival Open Written Poetry Competition

Over many centuries people have fought for freedom. Countless lives have been lost, countless tears have been shed. Are we any closer to finding it? It's food for thought.

Facets of Freedom
(c) Shelley Hansen 2017

On a street filled with terror a little girl cries.
Dusty tracks of her tears frame the fear in her eyes
as around her in blood pools her family dies
and the flames lick the skies.
What is freedom? she sighs.

In the heat of a workroom for eight hours a day
there are young men who earn just a dollar in pay
beating gold leaf for temples where worshippers pray.
They know no other way.
What is freedom? they say.

Stolen children in countries of riot and rout
are conscripted as soldiers – machine guns to tout,
and are brainwashed to think that each act is devout
till they no longer doubt.
What is freedom? they shout.

On the dark side of midnight young kids on the brink
sell their bodies for drugs in a world black as ink.
Then in filthy back alleys, surrounded by stink,
they shoot up and they drink.
What is freedom? they think.

In the houses of shame that are not what they seem
battered wives cuddle children, suppressing the scream
of their desperate longing for hope's shining beam
while their raining tears teem.
What is freedom? they dream.

The oncology ward holds its patients who bask
under radium's glow, as each medical task
is performed by a faceless nurse wearing a mask
with a chemo-filled flask.
What is freedom? they ask.

As for you – you inhabit a house you won't own,
and you work day and night just to offset your loan.
Taken over by email, attached to your phone
in the corporate drone.
What is freedom? you moan.

All the world is enslaved as the whole human race
lurches headlong, unknowing, increasing its pace
while the earth, everlasting, moves onward through space.
On this planet, our place -
Will we find what we chase?

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