Friday, January 2, 2009



Thirty-nine children destroyed.

Four of them, sisters.

Their blood a red atlas, spattered roses

on the bedroom walls they cringed behind,

their unfinished bodies and minds,

finished. Does anyone remember

what a child is

when it is not collaterally dismembered

into small feet and hands and faces

that had no choice but to trust the world

that savaged it like roses?

Five toes, an ankle and a heel

still occupy the floral running shoe

that never made it all the way to school.

Your bootprints on the throats of baby swans

like the bombpits of mass graves

where the hysterical mothers rave

in grief and rage

over what you have damaged

like ferocious boars who wear

the tusks of the moon like missiles

to gore children embedded like roots in the night

out of their sleep

like a plague of angels

sanitized by the height

you kill from.

You are not a man.

You are not human.

The lightning is more merciful than you.

Don’t let the medals

or the protocols of murder

you glory in

fool you,

you’re a ghoul in a cockpit,

death’s eye in a drop of dew.

Nine civilians killed for every soldier,

the cowards are herded into the military

for their own safety

and for the civilians who take it by the millions

on the chin,

they don’t hand out medals,

there’s nothing to win or promote.

Do you know how much courage it takes

to die when you’re nine years old

to gratify a general’s heart,

to advance the campaigns of the politicians,

to appall the pundits into passionate opinions

that suckle the mob at the faucets of their fangs

with the milk and honey

of primetime bedside stories

to make hate and war

and the obscenties of human lovelessness,

rape, disease, indifference, and mutilation

seem the reasonable acts of old men

whose hearts clamour like swords and anvils

like hammers and gavils

to inspire others to kill children

in the arms of their mothers

so they can stand like a lighthouse of history

on the coast of an idea

lost in the smog of their ghosts?

Hideous, geriatric monkeys raging

against their own androphobic hallucinations,

fashioning nooses out of umbilical cords

and fuses out of the spine

to ambush a shopping mall,

a school, a hospital

to expedite the death of innocence

as the necessitious consequence

of their long, hard experience

as seasoned executioners

trying to get it up

like flags in the morning

to sway spring blood into dying for them

even before it’s fully unfolded

like the proxies of autumn

shedding their patchwork comforters

over the coffins of the dead

who are forsaken by the earth

like the windfall of a poisonous tree

rooted in their hearts like a foreign policy.

Thirty-nine children destroyed.

Thirty-nine candles of life

it took a universe to tallow and ignite

snuffed out like thirty-nine birthdays by cordite

dropping like serpents from a sky

through bomb-bay doors

that open like ovens of manna

to make bitter, black bread

out of the bodies of children

who thought of God as the pantry behind their prayers.

Is your god leavened by the dead?

Does your country own a concentration camp yet?

Does it sow and reap and thresh like a cannibal?

Does it eat its own and those of the others

who were born of the same mothers as you

until you unbound your thread of blood

from the strong rope of our common humanity

and singling yourself out for a manifest destiny

you expeditiously improvise out of your lies as you go along

threatened by Goliath in Gaza

throwing rocks at David in an F-l8,

you remember the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising,

you remember how the Nazis fought

and obliterate the neighbourhood

as if the only thing you understood

of all that courage and suffering

were merely a change of jackboots

and the star-crossed symbols of blood

that drive the people out of their homes

like the innocent scapegoats of the tribes

that drove their sins out into the wilderness solitude

to turn into Azazel, Satan’s standard-bearer,

master of all evil, spawn of the void, returning.

Thirty-nine children destroyed

and the whole neighbourhood burning.

The new crematoria fall from the sky

and it’s ashes in the blink of an eye

for thirty-nine children in sneakers

who had the wrong ally,

who did their homework

and went to bed to bed early

to learn how to die.

I’m sick of your holy wars. Muhammad,

peace be upon him,

would cover himself up again

under his cloak,

this time like an eclipse of shame

when the angel came

to demand he recite light upon light,

nur wa nur,

were he asked about the blood

of the mothers and the children you killed

like hashashim in the shadows of noon,

to rewrite the book that makes things clear

like a blood smear

you can’t wash off the light.

And I’m sick of the supermen,

the ubermensch

and the chosen people,

and all the righteous bells

that have been shoved down the throat

of the crooked church steeple

like a goose that’s been stuffed

for spiritual pate.

I’m sick of the indifference

of the glossy, intellectual versions

of the human perversions

they discuss with rubber gloves

fitted neatly like theories over their hearts.

What theory ever picked up

a child’s body parts?

See a naked man. See

a naked woman and a child.

No sound. But the man batters

the woman and child to death

whether with a bomb or a club, no matter,

until all that’s left is splintered bone, blood

and a pulpy mess.

Now ask yourself,

the sound back on,

what could the man say,

what could the man possibly say

that would make these exactions okay?

What reason, what ideology, government

faith, loyalty, career, political advantage,

what military passion, or zeal

for revengeful reform,

what lie to caress the mob,

or bobbing apple of truth

could be recited

even out of the mouth of an angel,

or the orifice of a demon, or worse,

both ends of a human

in front of a microphone

to justify what was expedited

to get the voters excited,

convinced of your will to kill?

To get the job done?

Thirty-nine children destroyed,

and their spirits stream through the void

like small thoughts that were easily forgotten,

their lives unravelled like stars

before they had a chance to shine,

and their hearts, crushed like young grapes

before they could taste their own wine,

and in the souls of the mothers,

thorns, and feral blossoms on the vine

that hold their wombs hostage with razor-wire

as the one-eyed liars,

their magnetic hair on fire,

take questions from the choir.

Thirty-nine children destroyed,

tiny hands like starfish and flowers

blooming through the rubble of cement

you broke like bread over them.

That is not what Jesus meant.

That is not what Moses meant.

That is not what Muhammad meant.

That is not what Buddha meant.

You burn butterflies with an airforce

you say was heaven-sent

as if they were children

to scourge the rockets in the snakepit

and embellish the odour of hatred.

But you don’t get it.

That isn’t what life means

when a child screams out in the night

at you in her dreams

descending from hell

like the mouth

of a terrible, blood-stained bell with teeth

that look like crescent moons

and the long, prophetic scars

of the black stars on your wings

to eat her.

And if I were to curse, and I won’t,

what could be worse

if you were to meet her,

after her death, after your death

after the fanatical insanity of the slaughter,

is the footnote of a slugline

that impaled the matter

on the stakes of axial cliches,

if you were to remember what a child is,

if you were to meet her

and know in the flash

of a bomb to the slaughter,

as she looks up at you like the sky,

like thirty-nine flowers in terror,

you fell upon your own daughter

like a perversion of rain

again and again and again?