"I Never Seen Such Days As This" - Poem by Sholeh Wolpe
—Bahram (Pakistani 14-year-old held in an Afghan prison)
Like the pied piper
the mullah drives his battered truck
through dusty villages, his loudspeaker
singing: Join the battle against the infidels.
Fight for Jihad and live eternally with Allah.
Lift up your guns for Him and you shall never die.
Barefoot boys ragged, hungry
from years of hard soil, follow him
dancing into the straps of loaded guns,
pirouetting into caves and broken buildings
And the boys end up in a land not their own
but are told God is everywhere.
Many die. Others disappear
into dark prison bowels
where each day if you are 12, twelve filthy men
one after another . . .
if you are 14, then fourteen is your lot.
A father sells tea from a cart,
one cup at a time, washes the tiles
of a mosque with a yellow bar of soap
to earn the ransom the soldiers exact.
Every night in his dreams his son stands, calling:
Father, I never seen such days as this.
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