Sentinel Poetry Magazine December 2002


A plea against war

Tortured out of bed at the yawn of dawn
I compose another mad song about this circus:
our world, and us; its dying players rotting in life
like putrid shins of the war-maimed, the ulcerating
displaced people weeping in the night.

I sing about padlocked lips of viewless apes
crouching past the White House butcher
and his sidekick at Downing Street heavy
with vulpine battle cries soon to decimate
the innocent, the nameless, the powerless
those bushdamned collaterals!

Collateral cull, collateral cull, with luck,
of the yet unborn or toddling destined-to-be terrorists…
collateral cull is great coinage at press briefings
on other people's affordable losses,
bereaved beloveds feed flesh of their flesh
to the insatiable desert earth
and may never understand what for. Afterall
the pallbearers' burden is only firewood
if it is somebody else's child.

I sing in the choir of small sane voices;
the often-deemed mad, pools of poets
like clans of cursed scribes, who record
in delightful words the harrowing deeds
that eat the world to death, and capture
the blood for blood war songs of world leaders.

Yes, the spectre of terrorism walks the world
like a drunken bully with bloodshot eyes.
We feel the heat everywhere we go;
tour coaches in Israel, office towers in America,
nightclubs in Turkey, churches in Pakistan
streets in Nigeria - even in our hearts!

The legacy of terror in our time is a story
of innocent neighbours butchered like cows,
of necks freshly-kissed broken with every blast
like a toothpick between fingers of a belching despot,
of bodies recently-hugged crushed by planks and bricks
like oranges in a field of quickstepping elephants,
of suits recently-cleaned burnt in the same bonfire
that burnt beards, chest hair, and pubic hair,
putting out lives like aberrant light bulbs smashed
in the name of a cause or a God.

But if today we resort to terrorism to fight terrorism
who can tell us apart from them?
When was the last time two wrongs made a right?
Why do these makers of mayhem we write about
do what they do how they do it?
Why are they so mad?
George Bush, do you know? You treat the disease
but ignore the cause. I say, hold back a while
your killing machines, for they are incapable
of telling men of terror from children. I say, STOP!

If you try you may find a clever way to kill killers
and safeguard the world without making orphans
of innocence on the trot - innocence that will grow
to commune - hurt to hurt from monasteries
to nunneries of sorrow's kinship and seek
revenge against your children and their children:
a cycle of blood-letting that cuts deep our world
till we write its lyrics in inks of blood.

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