In the light of the unfolding tragedy in Ukraine, peace-loving people must stand up and shout: “No more provocations, no more hate, no more self-righteousness, no more wars, not in our name!”. Wilfred Owens’ poem “Anthem for doomed youth” (1918) was warning enough. Here my own attempt at poetry against modern aggression, the war industry, merchants of death, war profiteers.
Can you tell me who is good and who is bad ?
The ancient “we and they” divides us artificially.
Yet for the children of Kabul, Mosul and Baghdad,
only one equation counts — their shared humanity.
Woe upon the men who have unleashed war after war
through brazen lies, in breach of every law !
Alas, the many nations that such crimes abhor
let drums of war develop into “Shock and Awe”.
Remember: silence now will make us guilty too.
Protest we must: Condemn imperial wars !
Who are the victims, who the victimizers? Who ?
Ourselves, our leaders! To the White House: Mirrors !
Blest are the peacemakers, children of our God.* Deplore
the wielders of the sword: they shall one day account.
Our presidents invoke our God, but do they grasp the core ?
It is the Sermon on the Mount.
* Matthew V, 9
in black and white
are played by ideologues
whose world is colourblind.
With certainties of good and bad,
they drive young soldiers to their graves
and carnage the civilians too
in name of just wars and democracy.
Fatigued old myths of patriotism
hide the slaughter in a haze of heroism.
Perpetrators play the role of victims
Victims are maligned as perpetrators
Top dogs dress as underdogs,
while underdogs await their turn.
In cycles guilt and innocence
are galloping to nothingness.
Janus-faced our world
is jugging yin and yang.
A chorus sings our requiem,
while Lysistrata offers peace.
have set the world in flames.
have torched our human rights.
PANEM ET CIRCENSES*
No need for gladiators, chariot races,
CNN and Fox can always entertain us
with much better shows.
Our clever drones and smarter bombs
can conquer terrorists in Syria, Libya, Yemen —
Yes, we like to stomp on Raisi, Assad, Putin, Xi Jinping.
Who cares about the death and damage,
whether willed or just collateral,
when science is so pretty,
weapons so aesthetic?
After all, depleted uranium
only generates low radiation.
Let’s be patriotic, not pathetic —
Pathos is for adolescents.
We want war to be primetime,
with few or no commercials.
Yes, we love our panem et circenses* :
it’s the modern ad leones** show !
* Bread and circus games (Juvenal, Satires, X, 81)
** Christianos ad leones ! Tertullius, Apologeticum 40, 2
Nocturnal darkness overcomes receding Earth,
enveloping the silent hemisphere in black.
The velvet air of night a perfumed mist brings back,
while starry skies glow softly on renewing birth.
The warming sun has sunk beneath the West at sea …
But what if break of day repeat itself no more ?
What if that pristine fount of light ne’er reach the shore
of day to brighten our universality?
What if that vast black blanket change into a pall,
a still and suffocating garment, drowning out
forever and anon the world’s exultant shout
of joy for its mere drawing breath at all ?
In global warming and pollution we eclipse,
in lies and wars to nuclear apocalypse.
For two hundred million years
they roamed the planet,
the great and lesser dinosaurs.
One day they disappeared.
Deservedly or not.
For scarcely a million years
hominids have been pretending
to be rulers of the earth
Alas, our love of war
and habits of pollution
soon may hasten our demise.
(c) Alfred de Zayas, UN Society of Writers
 published in Sam Hamill’s book “Poets Against the War”, Copper Canyon Press, 2003.