Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ways to count the dead

By Persis Karim, poet and professor at San Jose State University

"Keeping track of the Iraqi death toll isn't the job of the United States," a student said,

"and besides, how would we count the dead?"

Take their limbs strewn about the streets -

multiply by a thousand and one.

Ask everyone in Baghdad who has lost

a brother. Cousin. Sister. Child - to speak
their name in a recorder.

Go to every school, stand

at the front of the class, take roll:
for every empty desk, at least two dead.

Find every shop that sells cigarettes -

ask how many more cartons they've sold this year.

Go to the bus station and buy ten tickets -

offer them free to anyone who wants to leave.

Go see the coffin-maker. Ask how much

cedar and pine he's ordered this month.

The dead don't require much. They don't speak

in numbers or tongues, they lie silent

waiting- to be counted.

The War- Painting by Taha Malasi

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