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

8 comments:

  1. It is worry some.

    How do we teach the value of life to people on both the sides? I don't think I will find an answer in my life time.

    There is beast in the form of humans on both the sides.

    Here, we are hearing that a lot of times, two sects of the same religion are at war with each other. Also we are told that revolutionary groups instigate violence and get retaliated by the governments in each of the suffering countries.

    We are here making a living, working hard and raising kids in spite of hardships. The difference is that we try to pick up the pieces after being discriminated against every step of the way, yet try not to give up. We do begin to see the blessings.

    I hope that some day people in every country become strong enough to see clearly through storms that one day the sky will be blue and sun will come out. How ever they will have to look and see and find out what they can do.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Maybe they cannot be counted. But least, they can be and should be respected.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I second Aiza :/ This is heartbreaking :(

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh God this is sad. There are a lot more ways. Millions of them. And thoughts are running in my mind to write of all the ways to count dead.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This poem is very powerful and moving. War is senseless.

    I thought you had written this one at first. I see now it was written by a professor, but I have been reading your work enough to know that I wouldn't have been surprised to see something as good as this come out of your pen.

    I have been MIA for a while now, but I'm slowly returning to my blogging world. Looking forward to reading more of your recent posts!

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is actually so hard to read, for all the emotions those words transfers to your soul. Really well written.

    xx

    ReplyDelete