Saturday, April 9, 2016

Poetry in a Time of Terror

Tonight I cannot write
Of love won and lost,
Dreams dreamt and burnt,
Palm fronds silhouetted in the moonlight,
Salty rivulets coursing down my back
in the summer heat.
Tonight I cannot write
Of twilights in russet splendour,
Jacarandas raining down on my graves,
Labyrinthine daily mundaneness.

Tonight, when flowers are doused with kerosene
and set afire; when the craggy moon spews blood; when nightingales
are strangled and sparrows hanged; when humanity is splintered
to make coffins for the young with old eyes;
when fetters festoon every heart and hearth;
when streets resounds with the footsteps of fear;
when they stifle, muzzle and muffle, with the mob behind
baying for blood—your blood—which
would be ideal to varnish their nation
which once was yours as well; when to think is to feel
is to question is to die—instant annihilation or a slow
dismembering of your memory, your history, your very being.

When ghettos spill over and smudge coffee tables, desks
and benches, parchments and temperaments; when the dappled tree
shades where we walked scream an eerie silence; when the letters
vaporise from the books we read; when the lakes
freeze in the centre, afraid to lap their shores,
and the peacocks forget to squawk; when the cold stars sing dirges
for the newly dead and dying, in a land where
they alone live who have already died—
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.

Tonight, with my son at my bosom breathing baby’s bliss,
I weep for the ashes of my yesterdays, and for his tremulous
tomorrows that shriek with outstretched arms.

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