Deja Vu - by Ray Wills

19 January 2024
Deja Vu - by Ray Wills

Deja Vu

He heard the stamping of their heavy feet

the lines were made

with bodies starved of bread

the women wailing and the curse of men

millions were herded up

and marched into concentration camps

Jews, non conformists, religious zealots.

Also amongst them were those called vagrants

known as Roma Gypsies

those who had over centuries

fled numerous countries

at the risk of death or slavery

the air was full of death

and the gas from within

the government official demanded papers


All were now injected regularly

to avoid the epidemics


He thought back to the days

when his people freely roamed

the country lanes and were respected

Then he remembered

it starting with the signs on the public houses

No Gypsy travellers


And then came the land reforms

and the enclosure Acts

then later came the land snatchers

and the cries of

lock down your goods

in your garages,

guard your valuables

for the travellers are coming


He remembered the headlines

the common lies repeated by the masses

workless layabouts, tax dodgers, dirty filth

leaving their rubbish behind them


He turned around and saw his brother led away

heard the wailing and smelt the gas in the air

he recalled the trespass laws

imposed to stop all travellers

from staying overnight on common lands

of what little remained


Was this a dream


he felt the heavy hand on his shoulder

and was led away


By Ray Wills, the Gypsy poet


(Photograph courtesy of the Robert Dawson Collection: Roma musicians surrounded by German soldiers; 1941, Carpathian Mountains, Central Europe)