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where does it hurt? #everywhere

November 16, 2015
Atlas Warsan Shire

poem by Warsan Shire

what they did yesterday afternoon by warsan shire

they set my aunts house on fire

i cried the way women on tv do

folding at the middle

like a five pound note.

i called the boy who use to love me

tried to ‘okay’ my voice

i said hello

he said warsan, what’s wrong, what’s happened?

i’ve been praying,

and these are what my prayers look like;

dear god

i come from two countries

one is thirsty

the other is on fire

both need water.

later that night

i held an atlas in my lap

ran my fingers across the whole world

and whispered

where does it hurt?

it answered




You may have seen this quote of the final two stanzas as it circulated on the internet, with or too often without, attribution to Somali-British poet Warsan Shire, or lacking any information about where the quote came from. So I spent a considerable amount of time sleuthing to determine the most legitimate source and to make sure that the quote was punctuated as the poet intended in order to make the image above.

I found that this poem came from the website Riot Poems, a site created by
Poejazzi, in collaboration with Kieran Yates, that includes work by some of London’s finest writers about the riots that took place there August 6-11, 2011: “Some are personal takes, some are damning, not one can fully touch the whole palette of reasons and consequences behind the riots, but it is our hope that one of them might allow you, the reader/listener, to relate and understand this past tragedy a little better.”

The quote continues to resonate with me, especially as I reflect on Atlas, who Zeus condemned to stand at the western edge of Gaia (the Earth) and hold up The Heavens on his shoulders, according to the wikipedia entry on Atlas.

We all need to be Atlas — we must work together to support Heaven and Earth.

When it hurts #everywhere, what can we do?


“All meditation must begin with arousing deep compassion. Whatever one does must emerge from an attitude of love and benefitting others,” says Milarepa.

Start by naming the problem, research and reflect on possible solutions, then participate in a direct action to ease the pain, the suffering, the hunger locally.

It is not necessary to leave the US in order to make the world a better place. Start at home.

In Ventura, Thanksgiving weekend, engage in your community and connect good food to those who need it most at the Ventura Farmers Market! Join the Food Forward Glean Team to collect boxes of fresh produce from local farmers to donate to an incredibly diverse array of direct-service agencies

Date: Saturday – 11/28/15
Time: 11:00 am – 01:00 pm
Location: Ventura, CA
Volunteers under 18 need to be accompanied by a guardian who must register for this event as well. At this time we cannot accommodate youth under 12 years old. Register for this event 

Food Forward rescues fresh local produce that would otherwise go to waste, connecting this abundance with people in need, and inspiring others to do the same. Currently there are two branches, one in Los Angeles County and one in Ventura County. Here’s a calendar of up-coming opportunities.

You might also watch this video of Warsan Shire performing her poem “For Women Who Are Difficult To Love” or check out Warsan Shire’s websites or twitter account (@warsan_shire).

In another poem, Warsan Shire points out
“no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land.”

We can and must help. There is something that each of us can do–physical actions we can take, ways we can help with our bodies and our time. Talking about it isn’t enough. We need to open our hearts, feel empathy, care enough to do it.

Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo created the silk applique thangkas, detailed above.  His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave his blessings to Leslie’s work and encouraged her to make images that speak to the spiritual aspirations of people across religions and cultures. Leslie’s Weekly Wake-ups provide a thread of inspiration to set the week on the path to awakening.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 16, 2015 10:48 am

    Reblogged this on whisper down the write alley and commented:

    not always easy to do the research to determine a source …

  2. November 16, 2015 1:24 pm

    Thank you for sharing :)

    It hurts, and so does healing

    Please enjoy this fantastic poem called Shoulders by Shane Koyczan

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