The Only Place They’ve Ever Known

When some decide to not evacuate,
referring to those souls who have a choice,
in war or weather leaving up to fate
preferring God or luck to have a voice –
Is it some strange bravado that takes hold?
illusions they may be invincible
or simply they’re too stubborn or too old,
their eyes and ears completely un-convincible?
Or is it plain and simple awful fear
to leave the only place they’ve ever known
without the roof and touchstones, they hold dear
they’d lose themselves plus everything they own.
For good or ill the winds of change are blowing
The fates will choose, our preferences foregoing.

About the Poem

Hurricane Ian and the war in Ukraine have forced many to make the painful decision to stay or flee. And those of us safe (for the moment) often criticize their choice.

About the Author

Penny Peyser is a writer/actress/documentary filmmaker living in Los Angeles. She is a 2018 winner of the Maria Faust Sonnet Contest and has been published in Defenestration, Blood & Bourbon, Lunaris Review, Page & Spine, Chantwood Magazine, Rat’s Ass Review and White Ash Literary Magazine among others.

5 thoughts on “The Only Place They’ve Ever Known”

  1. Claire Hamner Matturro

    My husband and I live in SW FL and the eyewall of Hurricane Ian went right by us. We decided not to evacuate, mostly because of a fear of being trapped in a car without gas and no place to stay on a crowded highway. We figured we were better off in our newer home, with plenty of hurricane prep and stored water, food, than in a car stuck in evacuation traffic. We also have a cat who hates cars and we would never leave him. Also, family and friends who couldn’t leave and we wouldn’t leave them. A friend who did evacuate nearly drowned in a sudden flood in the center of the state. Please don’t be so judgmental until you are there. Still, a good poem which raises worthwhile questions.

    1. The idea was to not judge given the line “to lose the only place they’ve ever known.” It is the fear I’m understanding and the understandable reasons not to go.

  2. Using clear, simple, and subtly moving language, this sonnet makes a profound point that, whether we realize it or not, applies to us all. Outstanding!

  3. Insightful with empathy and understanding of how tortured the human mind can be when fleeing the known to the unknown.

    Really liked it! NAMASTE

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