If only we could say, “We must fight the bad guy. We must find him, wherever he is, and end him. Kill him. Look at these dead woman and children. Look at these atrocities committed in the name of THEIR god and THEIR government. As a matter of survival, not just of vengeance, we must destroy their ability to act.”
If only we could say, “Even though you look similar to the ones who have done this, or you hold a similar book sacred, or you come from the same patch of earth, I know this is not you and I love you because you are a human, just like me. Because if I hate you without knowing you, I only hate myself.”
If only we could say, “You are asking me to pick a side and so you are not on mine. I am on the no-side, side. You may call it cowardly but I will not be a part of something that I don’t agree with, simply because you insist your side is ‘less-worse’ than the other.”
If only we could say, “Anyone who would kill children, is not on my side. Anyone who would put children in the way of violence, is not on my side. Anyone who would trade bullets for words, is not on my side. Anyone who would blow up buildings, shoot down planes and leave family homes as ashes, is not on my side.”
If only we could say, “I am on the side of the children who have not yet died. I am on the side of the people they can still become. I am on the side of the mothers and fathers cowering in fear, trying to be brave. I am on the side of the old who believe that once again, they are being hunted because of what they believe. I am on the side of anyone who actually takes them time to think about all the things we could possibly say, and actually says them.”
If only we could say.
My grandparents would phone us from England
Down here somewhere on the tip of Africa
On Birthdays, on Christmas, on special occasions
And my parents would call us to come to the phone
To speak quickly because the calls were expensive
And every second and every word mattered
Because they’d go through these cables under the sea
Across deserts and through cities I’d never visit
If people put their heads to the pipe, maybe they could hear them
Whizzing by, sounds and vowels skipping across the dirt
And they’d say “happy birthday, we love you, put your father back on,”
And I’d say “thank you, I love you, here he is.”
And maybe there was a kind god nearby
And he froze time for everyone onboard
And there are families who will forever be going on
And coming home from holidays
And there are people in business class
And they’ll never disembark
And doctors are excited because they know the cure for AIDS
And two dogs are on the greatest adventure of their lives
And all these toys falling from the sky will always belong
To happy children
And all these appointments will always be kept.
Because even the worst, most obliviously sentimental and sincere poem by a love-sick 13 year old is more beautiful than the best tax return ever filed.
Because even if it’s horrible, it’s still poetry.
Because it is an excellent way to capitalise on your overwhelming feelings of alienation and isolation.
Because poetry makes way more than money, poetry makes life.
Because poetry will capture the moments you truly live with the accuracy that only words have and the depth and vibrant, explosive colours that seep from your heart.
Because poetry keeps better time than your father’s watch.
Because everyone else will roll their eyes at it and will do their best to not bring it up in polite conversation.
Because no one else is writing poetry.
Because when those same people lose loved ones or go to war, they will need things to whisper over the soil or engrave on their zippos.
Because poetry is love, war, tragedy and strength.
Then write more poetry.