Poems about Houses & Homes

Home is an open space
Green fields where I can breathe
Where I don’t need to hurry
Where I can show my true face.

Home is a place of peace
Where a seed is planted
And from it rise trees –
For me, a child’s kiss.

Home is a hopeful light –
The first rays of sunshine
After every dark night
Guiding us though life.

Written collaboratively by the students of Leeds Refugee Forum’s Intermediate ESOL class.

for Dawn Fischer

each one in each corner of each shelf
of my past vacation house
i used to bring them back and forth
as real amulet – small houses
that make houses houses,
such as roofs and floors and walls
make houses houses,
such as people make houses homes,
and hearts make humans beings.

i really believed in the metaphysical character of shells,
the attributive aspect of them.

i never really thought properly
about them as houses in themselves though.
some people lived there inside them for some time:
(ages? years? months? i really don’t know.
more research is needed.)

more research is needed about if shells
are houses or bodies, and
if by carrying them as objects of love
am I accidentally killing someone.

and if that’s the case, this is just a proof of how
lost in suffering we all are destined.

i loved my shells, but i lost them.
losting houses, i lost them.

where are them now?
maybe in a forgotten carton box
inside a wardrobe of a very hot city,
north brazil?

or maybe on a big pile of trash
in another forgotten poor city
somewhere again north brazil,
receiving the air, the water,
and the light until it will finally
disappear? (my poor shells,
one day they were so mine!)

or are they back to the sea?
or in another shelf,
being again an object of love for
someone else? a friend of mine,
by chance?

A nest is a refuge
not a home-
temporary at best

Carefully constructed bring
wool tuft ring-pulls
pilfered twigs and feathers a

good nest is a secret
of cups and cushions is
strewn with food and bits of bone

is moved
but not destroyed
by weather is

as long as others
stand guard


A family who nobody knew moved into the house
with no windows and a hole in the roof.

They had hay to sleep on and collected sticks
for a fire in the middle of the room. A refuge

together. They laid the table on the terrace
with cutlery and plates they found in the cupboard

and sat down to lunch on nothing. They’d clink
the glasses and shout Chin Chin but had no wine.

They banged their spoons and knives on the plates
talked loudly of food they liked. When war started

they upped and left and the stones of the house
were lifted to repair damage in others.

A home is a ground sheet
when you’re on a housing list,
away from the eyeline of window shoppers,
living free or confined by boundaries,
remember when you were a cub scout
and learnt how to make a bivouac,
preparing to survive with wildlife and circumstance,
tying sheet bend knots and rubbing sticks,
that majestic wood, a childhood space, an open dream.

But no one holds you when you reach out,
only your shell to keep you attached,
living on the edge,
only one way to keep your life intact,
looking out for one another like brothers,
you could only ever run so far
before they turned out the light.

I open the door,
let you in.
Look at me,
not yesterdays dust.
Sit on my dog-eared cushions,
feel their softness surround you.
My fire burns brightly.
Catch the sparks in your fingers,
before my flames become ashes.
Smoke curling,
like poems, lost in the air.
How now we think of hallways
   that shape our lives with longing —
Their passage calls with polished floors
   and echo walls and stairwell ends
   as stars to rise
And life is in their ceilings
   as lights switched on are heavens
Because wandering through as if by quiet’s dust
   floats unknowing
   with windows reached
   like spirit’s whim
   or hollows
And how the doors where narrows end
   give then to us
And we begin to feel a leading edge
   of startings
   all within
What may display along the way
   With tacks or nails or beveled mirrors
   So be it
   And shoes for scuff —
   The years that learn
   Are waiting
As plaster peels and wires reveal
Along this painted way of being
Vast in view the echoes speed —
This home this hall this long enough
   that calls us

Since I lost my mother, I’ve been a ghost,
dressed in traces of what she liked the best.
I wander the street where I grew up,
where she played drums with pots and pans,
slip in and out of my school playground
where seasons take their turn
the green, the yellow, the red, the icy-white.
Another family lives in our house now,
bang doors, shout commands, snore.
They can’t see me hang in hall shadows
or curled up by the skirting board like a dormouse.
Our big mirror’s gone. I can’t see me. Or Mum.


I called you ‘my home’ once
Someone in me used to live there
“I’ll Keep you safe and of course sound”
“Rely on me forever now”
It was then, wait
(quick reminder)
you named it ‘vow’

The door’s open
The lights are still on
It’s not me, NO!
You’re the one who’s gone

Do take action
Burn that house down
No one’s stopping you
Empathy’s lost in this strange little town

No scream, no tears, no shout
You’re not grieving,
And all my trust issues are out

It’s cold outside. No sun, only rain.
But I only have my warm and quiet home to keep me sane.
With a nice hot cup of cocoa and a toasty fire,
I sat down in peaceful bliss with things for me that inspire.

If you heard the noise
of kids on their holidays
you’d be surprised
I actually bought it

it’s not thatched
it’s not detached
though that’s not a problem
as next door’s never there

it’s the rest of the year
when the peace and quiet
of village and countryside
just overwhelms me

those weekends I can leave
the stress of the job
the noise of the city
pack the car and away

or my weeks in Spring and Autumn
when I get an opportunity
to chat with a few older folk
who tell me what it was like

make me miss the community
sad about the closure
of the pub and shops and
who used to live in my cottage.

You’re safe now.
Safe from that monster
masquerading as a family man.
Though your body remembers.

When we’re out and you see a hairless head
Or some wrinkly skin
And you want to run home;
to the only place you now feel safe.

Home is walls and doors.
Blankets and cats.
Sibling and mum.
Home is your sanctuary.

The unsafe world of outside
On alert, in an exhausting state of hyper vigilance.
You see threat all around.
And the people you fear aren’t safe.

Will you ever again feel safe out there?
To be comfortable out in the world?
He took your innocence from you.
When your other home became torture.

Two homes.
One needed to recover from the other.
When both should have been safe havens.
Not something to fear nor need to heal from.

I hope this home we live in
Helps you find to peace.
Provides space to heal.
And know what it feels to be safe.

I add a bridge where I might think in miniature
Itchy as a crumb, I build my house

Water pulling along the mango tile as I step into the shower,
I lean against the turfed wall and imagine I am in a water park, concoction of
chips and fizz and toilet bowl rides

That bit of kitchen, sunflower everywhere
Three tablecloths three patterns
Identical circles, ever so slightly damp
Patchwork linen, needlework of average to expert talent
A continuous and single, stroke, a mannequin’s stiff suit, a diorama dress
Between this and that, it’s all traffic, between corridor and garden, gridlock
where you can’t turn your head for that feeling of jam pressed to your ears
These walls are flat packed, covered in either appointment or decoration

Tiny letters sit throughout the house, making me nervous
They are those gaps between clarity and bumpy thought, candy apple red against soft neck
The washing line forms a landscape, and I pull the patterns out of my pillows

I dress down welts of mouldy strawberries, that ripen in my dream

I remember your house as a refuge
Away from the worries and cares
Sat in your lounge or your kitchen
Just talking in separate chairs
Or closing our eyes for a moment
Where we found a brief break in the day
Amidst all the books and the paintings
Where we kept the bad dreams far away
I remember that day in your study
When you found me there sat without light
And I thought ‘If I could just stay here’
Where there’d be no more reasons to fight
I remember a place I found safety
In the rooms an oasis of calm
When the noise of the past turned to silence
And there seemed no place further from harm
I remember when I felt in danger
And I ran to your house from the flood
But your house wasn’t where I’d remembered
In its place just some rubble and mud
Had a bomb just been thrown through a window?
Leaving dust where there once had been bricks
Now I wonder ‘Was that house a real house?’
As I do know the mind can play tricks

Prom shelters were for smoking
smooching boys from the year above
skiving Maths and the rain.
Ammonia sprayed and banked with sand
there was refuge to be had in the nooks
that were missed by the wind and the gathered gaspers.

It’s been thirty years.
For fear of colonisation they took them out.

Don’t give them a bench for pity’s sake, you’ll never shift them.
They shifted to the toilet block at the Battery.

Attendants came in the mornings
to find sticks rammed into driers
fat lot of good that did
and all the paper gone.
Sleeping bags stashed for later, who’d nick them? And no graffiti
because who carries a pen these days?

If you can afford a tattoo, you can afford a bedsit.
Let’s see them pay for their own leccy

Sea-front-gutted boarding houses showcase objects in their windows
a mannequin, maybe in a jaunty hat
a vase of peacock feathers
Views from every room – the next step up from the bogs.
You wouldn’t want to be out in weather like this.
It’s the dogs I feel sorry for. There’s sanctuaries to be had for the dogs.

Buses go the back way out of season. It’s been thirty years, I’ve forgotten.
The Prom, abraded by the wind, is no place to wait.
I clip into a café,
when it eases up I’ll walk.
An empty wrapper and two receipts blow in at my heels

If they did something useful it’d be different.
Get them picking litter. Most of it’s theirs.

I am served by a boy from the year above, he’s untidy
it really has been thirty years.
I don’t remember if I smooched him and he doesn’t remember me at all
He’ll bring it over and says isn’t it nice to be out of the rain
there’s refuge to be had in a milky coffee when it’s bad out

He really is untidy

There’s refuge to be had in minding your own business.