Remains of a War
They carry their dead on the shoulders
They are on the look for a place in the earth
Before they are dead. The fire emitting angels
Wait till the last minute decision. Raped, strangulated,
From an unknown disease, in a holy war, or just named shreds.
They await a long jury, because they had been born to humans.
They are the remains of a war, like fire in compost,
Neither ash, nor ember. Smoke neither. They have been seduced,
Misled, enchained, with their own will. Is this a holocaust,
Or when the Moses fled the Pharaohs, to the promised land.
They are carrying the earth under your feet, like bull’s horns.
The earth you call homeland. They have been carrying, you,
You-worthless, on their shoulders. And you, of stars and spangles,
You have won your peripheral war. The hammer and sickle,
Cross and crescent, every one declared victory.
They are still carrying their dead, on their shoulders,
What if, had they been walking on earth alive or declared martyrs.
With a little moisture, this land is rich and bountiful,
Whether from hills, or from desert, they make good fodder for cannons.
Poet's Notes about The Poem
For the second time in three years, the World Press Photo Contest has been won by a young Danish photographer. Erik Refner took the winning photograph in June 2001 in the Jalozai refugee camp in Pakistan.
The photograph shows the corpse of a one year old boy who died of dehydration being wrapped up in white shroud according to the Muslim tradition. His family, originally from the northern part of Afghanistan, sought refuge because of the political situation in their country and because of the drought which deprived them of food. @ Erik Refner
Comments about this poem (Remains of a War by Sadiqullah Khan )
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