In that empty lifejacket,
adrift upon the sea,
was lost child or brother,
borne away so far,
to die alone,
reduced to a statistic,

Meaningless data thrown up,
racing endless streams of television,
infographic footnotes risk all,
carrying dreams,
daring tomorrows,
out on the waves,

Driven by the eternal motion,
as the grains all settle back,
washing final footprints from the sand,
no mother’s tears will wet the shroud,
no mark left upon the earth,

Chasing midnight visions,
shining skyline of promises,
on white knuckled final journeys,
to impossible destinations,
separated in the darkness,
from ten dollars’ worth of cheap foam.

by Ruairí de Barra

Kindly published in Live Encounters Magazine in their Special 11th Anniversary Edition, Volume II, December 2020. You can read the four poems in this special volume on the Live Encounters website or download a free .pdf copy just by clicking here.

Live Encounters is a wonderful publication and all of its issues, as well as special editions, may be found on its website at

I would like to thank Mark Ulyseas for seeing fit to include my work again in the same pages of some truly talented people.

‘These words are not just my own experiences, they are also the stories & memories of my friends and colleagues.  The crew of LÉ Eithne whom I was privileged to be part of rescued nearly 3,600 people in 64 days in 2015. The Irish Naval Service since that first mission has rescued over 18,000 people. These poems are also the stories of the migrants and refugees, in particular, these are written in memory of those poor people who never made it. They lie along the trail of bones in the desert or were lost at sea. I write these words to say that I saw you and that none of us will forget you.”

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