Monday, June 28, 2010

Every Word

So apparently I can write poetry in my sleep.

I just started reading a book about the civil war in Mozambique (1970's-early 1990's), and it is harrowing. It was nothing like the American civil war: two armies of soldiers, either volunteers or drafted, who meet each other in battle and fight until one side wins or surrenders. No. Here it was more like bands of raiders attacking innocent villages, raping women and girls, stealing everything of value (including all doors, windows, roofing material, electrical wiring, plumbing... everything), and killing the majority of the population and enslaving the rest to carry said stolen materials into neighboring countries to sell. The few who managed to escape would huddle in refugee camps throughout the country, dressed in tree bark since they had no clothes, usually starving and lacking clean water. Sometimes the rebel bands would even attack hospitals, killing the sick and injured, and even babies. No one was safe.

Even in my sleep last night I was haunted by some of the stories described in the book, the ruthlessness of the attacks. In my dream I was writing a poem about how I felt, and when I woke up I could remember most of it. Here it is...

Every Word

as I looked out
I started to sing
it was a song I had never heard before
yet I knew
every word
even though it had many verses
and even variations in the chorus

it was a sad song
played in a minor key

if you had come and stood beside me
you would also start to sing
though you, too, had never heard the song
we could sing in perfect unison
every word

how else but song can you describe
a battle with no heroes
where those who died—
were not soldiers
and those who lived—
will not live long

looking out across the scene
we would stand and sing together
in perfect unison
every word

for it is a song