I asked the one from Syria,
from al Sham, as he had said,
the reason why he’d left there,
and traveled here instead.
I had heard that he was drowning
but by luck had still survived.
From the cold Aegean waters,
he’d been pulled and then revived.
He looked at me in silence—
he didn’t speak a word,
for he didn’t know my language,
and my question was absurd.
So I left him where I’d found him,
and walking then I saw
the eyes that I had looked at
and that is when I saw.
So I stood there as if rooted
and I saw the world anew,
and it wasn’t as I’d known it
and I didn’t like the view.
So let me try to tell you,
if you’ll bear with me a bit,
as I sketch for you that vision,
if I even have the wit.
There is emptiness and dullness.
There’s the reason that is gone.
There’s the lack of any meaning.
There’s the numbness and the ache.
There’s the past that isn’t leaving,
there’s the present hell to bear.
There’s the hope that has departed
and the future of despair.
There’s bewilderment, confusion.
There’s the sleep that lasts awhile.
There’s the madness then that rises
and the fear that will not die.
There is shock and there is trauma
of the body, mind and heart.
There’s helplessness and trembling
and the orphan’s silent cry.
There’s the parent or the sibling
or the spouse who didn’t die.
And for all this, there are reasons—
for there must be reasons why.
So the arms are flowing freely
from the nations of the west,
through the sheikhdoms and through Turkey,
and the wars are raging still.
So the Russian jets are bombing
and the shells from all are bursting
and the cities lie in rubble
and the drones come in to kill.
So the Sunni and the Shia
and the Christian each would flee,
but there’s nowhere left to go to,
and the snipers shoot at will.
So the cannons still are booming
and the shells are coming near
and the planes again are diving
and the eyes are full of fear.
For there’s Assad and the rebels,
There’s al Nusra, ISIS, more.
There’s the U.S., France and Britain,
And they each have bombs galore.
Iraq was torn to pieces
and Libya was destroyed,
and Syria’s been on fire,
like Afghanistan before.
But who can dare to question—
to ask the reason why?
There’s hunger, thirst and hurting
and the itching and the fly,
and the games are on in Rio
and there’s more who’ve yet to die.
This is what I saw then
and I thought on it a while,
but then I looked and saw you
and so I had to smile.
So now that I have told you,
you can bear it till we go
to the shop there. There’s a salesman
you should really get to know.
2016 August 27th, Sat.
Brooklyn, New York
Related (from 2013 August, three years ago): Syria