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There’s still no water
Someone distributes shoes
We bring a birthday cake
I’ve brought juice too

But no water
The children are looking better dressed
There’s shit on the floor in the basement
A woman wants hair dye
There’s a pigeon sitting on the ceiling fan blade
But no water
There’s art on the walls
On a table leaflets for unescorted minors
A food delivery every Friday
A shampoo drive
Head & Shoulders a favorite
There’s a dentist who sees the kids
Kastro who organizes
Kastro who tries to clear the pipes
But still no water
Kastro pulls at a hose and smokes a cigarillo
He sprays the playground that smells of piss
But there’s no water
Unless it’s siphoned
From the street outside
The chemical toilets are leaking
It costs 80€ every 2 days to clean them
But there’s no water
So Kastro tells the municipality
He’ll drill into the public waterway
Below the pavement
If they don’t fix the plumbing
So the next day, or next night
The municipality cements the pavement gap
The next day
There are games in the playground
There’s jump roping and hopscotch
Mothers from Kurdistan in a circle
But no water
There’s Alicia with shoes to distribute
Hair braiding and nail polish
A delivery of six boxes of fish on ice
But still no water
There’s a boy who nabs Judi’s flip-flops
But no water
To wash or brush teeth
There’s a lighter I borrow from Jahal
To light the birthday candles
There’s a boy who wants green sneakers
There’s a mother who says do something
Please, the shut school is now a squat for refugees
They managed to fix the plumbing
But the pipes clogged again
There were dolls down the drains
There were Selfies of us helping out
There was Sheeman
She missed the green olives of Kurdistan
There were lessons in English, Farsi and Arabic
A key to a room
Abeer turned into a classroom
But no water
And when Abeer left
There were maps left behind
Fairytales, a chalkboard, puzzle pieces
But no water
Mohamed looks at me
It’s his birthday and we brought a cake
There were study-abroad students
Someone recommends support for refugee meals
(we’re not sure what that means)
But still no water
We bring it in bottles, containers and tubs
Inshallah I say to Mohamed
His pregnant wife and baby daughter made it to Germany
Inshallah, God willing, we say
That next year finds you with your family
Mohamed blows out the candles.

Adrianne KALFOPOULOU’s latest publication A History of Too Much (Red Hen Press 2018) is her third poetry collection. Essays, poems, blogs, & assorted rants, have appeared in print and online journals such as Slag Glass City, Hotel Amerika, Superstition Review, Plath Profiles and the Harvard Review online. 


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Partner to a press called Tenement, Hotel is a publications series for new approaches to fiction, non fiction & poetry & features work from established & emerging talent. Hotel provides the space for experimental reflection on literature’s status as art & cultural mediator. 

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