“Ordinance on Arrival”

Poem for a Tuesday – by Naomi Lazard

“Welcome to you
who have managed to get here.
It’s been a terrible trip;
you should be happy you have survived it.
Statistics prove that not many do.
You would like a bath, a hot meal,
a good night’s sleep. Some of you
need medical attention.
None of this is available.
These things have always been
in short supply; now
they are impossible to obtain.

This is not

a temporary situation;
it is permanent.
Our condolences on your disappointment.
It is not our responsibility
everything you have heard about this place
is false. It is not our fault
you have been deceived,
ruined your health getting here.
For reasons beyond our control
there is no vehicle out.”


Naomi Lazard is an American poet, children’s literature author, and playwright. She is the winner of two Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and a former president of the Poetry Society of America. Her poem “Ordinance on Arrival” appears in A Book of Luminous Things, ed. Czeslaw Milosz (New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1996), p. 304.


“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 19:33-34.

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh on Pexels.com

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