Mediterraneum 2011: Charge Number Three – A Poem

By Pina Piccolo

(In honor of the 16,000 specimens of homo migrans who have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea since the beginning of the second millennium of the Common Era.)

For us no squawking helicopter ever flew
To hoist us up on a silver rope
Nor did invisible, pilotless planes
Ever lower Jacob’s ladder
For us never did the Buraq trouble itself
With its great, white wings and soft velvet saddle
No enormous whale ever chanced by for us
With its capacious belly
Savior of lazy marionettes and prophets
With little inclination to deliver bad news

For us Sindbad’s carpet never took off
Elegant and aerodynamic to deliver us from the billowing waves
Never did hundreds of swans join into a flock
Tangling us in an aerial net and daringly lifting us up to safety
No Renaissance winged horse ever did halt its voyage to the moon
To recover the misplaced brains of knights
Neither did the yachts of tanned politicians
Ever make haste to reach us
As we were lackluster prey for electoral campaigns

For us there were neither jiins nor saints
No Triton reached out to us with his trident
No Superman ever challenged
The surging seas skimming lightly over the foam
Nor did any Messiah walk for us upon the waters
No Colapesce ever emerged from the watery depths where he had taken shelter
From the delusions of love and the unreason of men

For us no motorboat was ever launched at crazy speeds
Nor did any of the patrol boats that zealously inspect that spit of sea
Ever stop
No siren ever clutched us in her soft arms
To take us to a Happy Isle
Nor did any prophet separate the waves with his cane
Creating a no drown zone
No guardian angel ever caught us by the hair
Nor did any devil ever approach us proposing pacts

No dolphin, friend of man, smiled
Ferrying us to an amusement park on his back
No swordfish stood ever faithful by our side
While Wall Street was harpooning us
No Olympic swimming champion
Ever offered to be our testimonial
Nor was a press conference ever held in our honor

For us nobody bothered engaging in extraordinary deeds
No dare-devil rescue teams were ever sent in the nick of time
On no occasion were there any displays of heroic frenzy

It was just the Red Sea sharks that beat a tam tam on the waves
And let their cousins on the Mediterranean side know
That a succulent banquet was on its way
And the tunas rejoiced because on that day
It wasn’t them who would be slaughtered

Of us, the drowned, no griot will ever extol
Either the lineage or the descendants

For our body there was no flat line
On the encephalogram to mark
The end of the struggle, the route and its finish line

Only the Mesektet, the night vessel
 silently sailed upon  the waves
 “… with its glorious coverings
the color of the amethyst and the emerald
made of jasper lapis lazuli and the luster of gold” (1)
Sacred to the god Ra and gathered us all
To continue the journey

– Pina Piccolo contributed this poem to


(1) From The Book of the Dead, Ancient Egypt.

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