I saw the horrors on the Internet,
Of little children lying dying, dead,
Of adults kicking, spasming, being held,
As poison did its cruel work on them.
And if I hadn't had my dinner, then
I probably would rise from watching this,
With dinner warmed and ready, and would eat,
While chatting with my wife on this and that.
I wonder what we all would do if all
That's perpetrated in a war or peace,
Would reach our screens, so sights of burning flesh,
And sounds of screams were heard as watchers dined.
I wonder. Then I think, how every day
The men and women drive to work and sit
In front of screens – and guide, to targets, bombs
That then explode in places far away.
And some of them may see the ones who burn,
Who run like ants with clothes and flesh aflame,
And some are children, mothers burned to death,
Or maimed, disfigured, left to rot in pain.
And each of these must then, in turn, arise
And drive to homes where they can eat and talk,
With children and with spouses, some of them,
At peace again at end of working day.
So if indeed we saw what nations do,
Be they perceived as foes or closest friends,
I wonder if the world might change or not.
I think I still might eat and carry on.
But then, of course, we haven't reached there yet,
And if it goes like this, might never do.
We'll see the horrors that we blame on those
We see as foes, but rarely what we do,
Each land has troubles of its own enough,
But when the powers use it as a stage
On which to fight their battles, then we see
Unending grief and endless misery.
In Syria, we see what might be us,
If we have come from India or a place
Where many peoples mix and live as one,
With tensions past and present underneath.
We know the fuse, when lit, will burn and then,
If not put out, will lead to lethal end,
A death not brief and merciful but one
That makes of life and land a living hell. 2013 August 31, Sat. Brooklyn Strange Encounter