Watching the news tonight, there are awful images of the destruction of a beautiful, ancient city and the awful living conditions of Syrians fighting against the Assad regime.
The BBC images are truly appalling, revealing a dangerous life where the state kills indiscriminately, with death falling from the sky. This tragedy was playing on my mind over six months ago, and led me to change what is usually a light-hearted poetic form, the abecedarian poem, into what I felt. What is truly horrifying is that the destruction and murder continues.
This poem was recently published in Peterborough Writers’ Circle’s 2014 Anthology.
Aleppo, not abandoned, but collapsed through conflict into a caldera
by Government tanks, incendiaries and makeshift barrel bomb.
Children covered in burns or choking on chemicals so caustic –
Death hovers close, a parasite scrabbling at the side of the bed.
Everyone knows what it is that Syria has slowly become:
fighting between factions, be they democrats or for a Calif,
giving succour to Bashir Al Assad and his Ba’ath Party gang.
How has the World allowed this ancient city to fall into wrath?
I think we all know there can be no realistic alibi –
just as the whole Islamic world prepares for the annual Hajj
killers stalk terrified families in the day and in the dark.
Love is truly lost and in the misery, survival is all.
Meanwhile a cowardly West sends aid but will not confront the grim
notion that Syria’s become yet another Afghanistan.
Oh when will the vicious Assad regime face its own Alamo?
Politicians meet but there’s no ending of the country’s hardship.
Quietly winter creeps over towns with little food in the suq,
rioter and protester replaced with refugee or fighter.
Shells still fall while millions have escaped to the distant mountains
to eke out what has become a hopeless existence in a tent.
Unfortunately, there appears to be no end to this tableau.
Victory is important to all sides and none will drop the shiv.
We hope the negotiations in the UN bring sudden thaw:
Xanadu beckons, but the talks may not stem the hot bloody flux.
Yet our hopes must be that, for once, a kind of peace comes suddenly;
zealots chastened, calm restored, no return to calamitous blitz.