Poems From Where We Would Never Tread

 

Syrian Butterfly

 

Butterfly, buffet your wings sea-ward

A unicorn on the salted winds,

Leave behind the garden wall soaked in gunpowder.

Why do you stay, in the bloodied dirt

Where bombs make beds out of children?

Sweet yellow butterfly, fly, migrate!

 

 

Stifling Conceit in Concentration Camp

 

My mother used to say that conceit kills a man;

If I still had enough muscles on my cheeks, I would smile.

 

Here the Great Command is a god worse than death, we’re not even mortal,

We’re twigs broken underfoot, I don’t recognise myself through the stench of death,

In this lagoon of yellow death we drown in the ether.

 

I look at the dogs prowling the burials we dug in the gorgeous sunset,

They sniff at us and turn away in disgust – not a bone in our body is worth their canines,

And I am entangled in what I will soon become.

 

But Mama, I will not be conceited,

I will not let you down,

I will not be conceited,

Maybe I’m still human.

 

 

In The Pits of La Chureca

 

Hands as dark as rubbish bins scurry in the waste,

The rise and hold a plastic bottle.

The dark face smiles as if it has found gold in the mines,

And he celebrates tonight!

 

Ah, a dollar in hand, leave me to death’s jubilation!

In the west the sun descends and life is an anaemic haze.

The evening burns its bridges and in our breast

We know a joy that will last only as long as the dusk.

 

 

A Different Mediterranean

 

Like brine are the tears of the lovers

That sit and gaze across the Tripoli beach:

The setting sun flirts with the waves

The lover caresses his lips on her lichen-soft cheeks,

But he won’t kiss that veiled bird of paradise.

He dallies as the sun emboldens the waves

And the rising moon demands sacrifices of the sea.

A seagull hovers above, and then another, then a regiment,

The lovers dare to look up at them only to look down

And hardly notice the flotilla of corpses

Slowly invading their naked beach.

 

Childhood in Haiti

 

Outside the shack where the ocean whips the palm trees

A football lies as deflated as a mummified star.

Stabbed by the rain, shot by the lightning

The storm hides the hands of brotherly thieves.

 

Within the house voices rise in anger, lowered only,

When the day rises and they must rise and sally.

Will it be the storm or the thieves it conceals

That ends childhood from its very ovaries.

 

 

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