The Song of War

Light was frozen,

Dead.

The sun had forgotten how to smile.

Sunlight was no longer warm.

It was frozen.

It was dead.

So were the eyes of those who starred upon

The earth covered with an elaborate carpet of

Bleeding corpses,

Rotting as time skipped over them.

Rivers bleed crimson,

Tears turn red,

As winds unknown to the human eye,

Chant the ruins of human song.

This is a time of terror,

This is a time,

When chaos turned black.

Hand in hand,

Gun with gun,

Shoot down the enemy,

Conquer for your country,

They bribed us with the concept of elusive bravery.

“all’s fair in love and war,” whispered the wailing faces.

Light was frozen,

Dead.

The sun forgot how to shine,

The clouds forgot how to cry.

“this is peace,” declared the priests of terror.

Soldiers fall like flowers,

Dirtied and bloodied-

Pink and red.

Their faces all the same,

Their eyes frozen,

Pleading for an escape.

The same haunting smile,

Their skin, pale and white-

Snow-like.

“this is life,” declared the priests of terror.

Films of daylight and midnight,

Sail across the oceans of time,

As the bells of the past summers,

Echo in worn whispers.

Light was frozen,

Dead.

A ghost

Surrendering its pride to its dark victor,

As the soul deserts the body,

Torn to shreds,

Shattered like the glass pieces

Scattered across the floor.

THE DEATH OF GOD

God is dead.

Good is dead.

Did it even exist in the first place?

All that existed was the human mind.

What did not kill it was good and what did was bad.

God is Bad.

God is Dead.

God killed the human mind when he created Humanity.

He made his children bleed.

He made them argue with fists, blades and bullets.

He created the art of war.

He created war to be kind.

Humans were born to be torn apart,

To be bled as pigs and treated as dogs.

God killed humanity when he created it.

He hated Adam.

He despised Eve.

He created the virtue of slaughter.

He created the worship of war.

He created the virtue of torture.

God is bad.

God is dead.

God is dead.

Good is dead.

Did it even exist in the first place?

All that existed was the human mind.

What did not kill it was good and what did was bad.

God is Bad.

God is Dead.

THE ANTHEM OF THE SINNERS

We’re all born sinners.

All sinners go to Hell.

So how does it matter what we do?

Take a life,

Spare one,

Create one-

It just doesn’t matter any longer.

We’re all born sinners.

All sinners go to hell.

Yes, you heard me right.

I met Satan, Lucifer too actually.

They taught me the art of warfare.

The art to kill

The precise skill to take a life and enjoy it

It really is an ordinary job.

Everyone is eligible.

That’s why they recruited for the war,

Snatching away the youth and time

From the hearts of the living

And trust me,

They have a strict no discrimination policy.

It is really not all that bad

You get to steal the lives of your enemies-

You get paid for that too.

‘It’s the best job I ever had’

And they’re not joking around.

They play with guns and dance to

The music of the shattering shells,

On a dance floor of shattered skulls and bones.

They dance with death.

And those who he rejects return,

Scarred for life,

Alive on the fringes of society like starving wolves

Always craving for another drop of human blood.

But it is alright.

We’re all born sinners.

All sinners go to Hell.

Blood

Nothing has changed.

Knives tore flesh apart.

Knives were stained with blood.

Knives tore us apart.

Today the same knife is a bullet,

shot from a gun-

one trigger, one finger, one thought.

“blood lust, blood gore, blood sabotage

what more do you want?

blood enemies, pick up the knife,

shoot the bullet. end the universe tonight,”

At one point, this was the language of adults.

Today, this is the dialect of childhood.

Oscar Wilde once said,

“Every man must kill the thing he loves,”

Nothing has changed.

Shoot the bullet.

End the universe tonight.

Follow the light.

Don’t bother putting up a fight.

After all, you did know-

Satan is always right.

“Tortures” by Wisława Szymborska

This has to be one of the most moving poems I have read in a long time. Like any poetry, it can be interpreted in a thousand different ways. I’d like to give my own interpretation to the poem. Wislawa Szymborska, often described as the ‘mozart of poetry’. Polish, born in 2 July 1923 in Prowent, Poland, in 1996 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature “for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality.” She became better known internationally as a result of this. Her work has been translated into English and many  European Languages, as well as into Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese and Chinese. Wisława Szymborska died 1 February 2012 at home in Kraków, aged 88. Her personal assistant, Michał Rusinek, confirmed the information and said that she “died peacefully, in her sleep”.She was surrounded by friends and relatives at the time. Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski described her death on Twitter as an “irreparable loss to Poland’s culture”. She was working on new poetry right until her death, though she was unable to arrange her final efforts for a book in the way she would have wanted. Her last poetry was published later in 2012.

“Tortures” by Wisława Szymborska

Nothing has changed.
The body is susceptible to pain,
it must eat and breathe air and sleep,
it has thin skin and blood right underneath,
an adequate stock of teeth and nails,
its bones are breakable, its joints are stretchable.
In tortures all this is taken into account.

The fact that Wislawa begins with ‘Nothing has changed’ distinctly sets the tone for the entire poem. It clearly indicates that even in the so called ‘modern’ world, things are absolutely the same. This is further reinforced by her description of the body from Line 2-6. At the end of the day, prehistoric or modern, the human body has remained absolutely same and thus, nothing really has changed.

The descriptions in line 2-6 are rather interesting. ‘It must eat and breathe air and sleep’ in Line 3 for example, if deprived of these aspects, the human body slowly begins to decay and that is a form of torture. The fact that she describes the human body as having ‘thin skin and blood right underneath’ indicates how fragile we truly are. To remain strong, people often tell you to “grow thicker skin”. However, Wislawa indicates that no matter what you wish, the human body will always have thin skin and thus, there are certain aspects of life which we simply can not shrug off.

The fragility of the human body is further reinforced by the alteration ‘bones are breakable’. The repetition of the ‘b’ sound can be interpreted as the explosion of bombs on a battle field. For the sort of torture described by Wislawa, it often occurs during battle, when the other side captures prisoners of war. Hence, she could be alluding to that.

The fact that the human body seems to have an ‘adequate stock of teeth and nails’ almost sounds like a green light for torture. We have more than enough and hence, if a few are ripped off our skin, it would hardly matter as they would grow back. Thus, it sounds almost encouraging.

The last line of the stanza: ‘In tortures all this is taken into account’ draws an eeire picture of the idea of torture. Once again, it indicates that from the start of time, the methods of torture have never changed because the human body has never evolved into something different. Thus, no matter how ‘modern’ we may become, the existence of such torturous practices indicate that we are and always will be fundamentally the same.

Nothing has changed.
The body shudders as it shuddered
before the founding of Rome and after,
in the twentieth century before and after Christ.
Tortures are as they were, it’s just the earth that’s grown smaller,
and whatever happens seems right on the other side of the wall.

Wislawa begins the second stanza with ‘Nothing has changed’. That one statement reinforces the thoughts of the first stanza  bluntly stating that as long as the human body does not evolve, nothing will change. This is because the human body has the same flaws as it had ‘in the twentieth century and after Christ’. Both Lines 10 and 11 provide a wide spectrum of time indicating the rough timeline of human history by listing out some of the most important periods of human history.

In line 8, ‘shudders as it shuddered’ indicates, once again how the human body really hasn’t changed. Moreover, repeating the ‘s’ sound, it alludes to a snake, indicating how treacherous people can be at times, especially during times of war. It also may allude to the snake-like nature of most people. Every person has their positives and their negatives and thus, the snake here may allude to this fact.

When Wislawa states that “Tortures are as they were, it’s just the earth that’s grown smaller,” clearly indicates that the only difference between then and now is that the human population has exploded to such an extent that the earth seems smaller. Due to this, whatever torture practices are implemented are amplified.

In the last line of the stanza, ‘whatever happens seems right on the other side of the wall’, Wislawa may be alluding to the Berlin Wall. At the time, the entire world considered communism to be the spawn of evil. Hence, it was automatically assumed that life in East Germany was horrid. For that reason, ‘whatever seems right’ would be practiced on the other side of the wall- in West Berlin. This was particularly common for those who grew up in the restricting, repressive nature of communism. To them, the capitalist philosophy was absolutely liberating. Wislawa may have carried over the same sentiments, having lived in Communist Poland herself.

Nothing has changed. It’s just that there are more people,
besides the old offenses new ones have appeared,
real, imaginary, temporary, and none,
but the howl with which the body responds to them,
was, is and ever will be a howl of innocence
according to the time-honored scale and tonality.

Wislawa begins the stanza once again, by the line ‘Nothing has changed. It’s just that there are more people’. She reestablishes that because the human population has absolutely exploded after the industrial revolution, every single offense is absolutely amplified as it is committed over far more people now. 

In line 15-16, ‘besides the old offenses new ones have appeared, real, imaginary, temporary, and none,’ Wislawa indicates how the art of warfare has changed overtime. At first, it was spheres and arrows. Now, its bullets and bombs.  Present warfare also includes chemical weapons- biological warfare. Especially during the Vietnam War, the US were accused primarily for crimes against humanity for using weapons such as Agent Orange that left permanent effects on the population of Vietnam, seen even today. These included strange mutations such as having multiple limbs.

In Line 18, the phrase ‘is and ever will be a howl of innocence’ indicates that although soldiers are not always innocent, they are still tortured as prisoners of war. However, a twisted reality could condemn them to such a thing for killing the soldiers of the enemy. But, what about the innocent civilians who simply could not get away fast enough? They would still be tortured as if they were prisoners of war. Moreover, it isn’t about the civilians or the soldiers. All of them are simply pawns in the hands of the rich politicians who control the fate of the war. If anything, they should be the first ones who are tortured. Yet, they are not.  They are not.

Nothing has changed. Maybe just the manners, ceremonies, dances.
Yet the movement of the hands in protecting the head is the same.
The body writhes, jerks and tries to pull away,
its legs give out, it falls, the knees fly up,
it turns blue, swells, salivates and bleeds.

The only thing that has changed is the time.  From the Victorian era to the Roman era to the modern era we live in, the only thing that actually has changed is the values, ideals and norms of the society we live in. The people and the basic composition of humans has not changed. This is made clear by the phrase ‘the movement of the hands in protecting the head is the same’, which clearly indicates the raw human soul has still remained the same.

Line 23-25 create a rather violent picture, reinforcing the fact of torture. ‘swells,salivates’ repeat the ‘s’ sound, adding to the eerie atmosphere reinforced by the poem.

Nothing has changed. Except for the course of boundaries,
the line of forests, coasts, deserts and glaciers.
Amid these landscapes traipses the soul,
disappears, comes back, draws nearer, moves away,
alien to itself, elusive, at times certain, at others uncertain of its own existence,
while the body is and is and is
and has no place of its own.

When Wislawa finally repeats ‘Nothing has changed’ in the last stanza, it successfully creates a chanting effect through out the poem. It very heavily reinforces that absolutely nothing has changed. We live in the convenient illusion that everything has changed. By listing out the natural features such as ‘the line of forests, coasts, deserts and glaciers’ she expresses that no real natural feature has changed ever since the inception of the earth. Hence, if that has not changed, how on earth do we believe that everything has changed? It really hasn’t. That is what Wislawa conveys by starting each stanza with the phrase, ‘Nothing has changed’. The only thing that has changed are the ‘boundaries’, referring to wars. Countries fight wars to gain more territory and thus, boundaries keep changing. Its a never ending cycle of diplomacy.

In Line 28, ‘Amid these landscapes traipses the soul’, Wislawa creates the image of  the soul moving reluctantly and walking wearily. That image is further reinforced by the descriptions in Lines 29-30, ‘disappears, comes back, draws nearer, moves away, alien to itself, elusive, at times certain, at others uncertain of its own existence’. The hesitation of the soul is captured through these lines, as well as the fact that the soul is an absolutely abstract and elusive concept which still baffles yet intrigues us today. The fact that the soul is described to be ‘alien to itself’ translates to the fact that the soul does not understand itself at times. Its a concept that even the soul itself fails to understand and the fact that it is ‘uncertain of its own existence’ portrays how confused it really is. These two lines perfectly capture the human existence. Every single individual, at one point of their lives at least, is utterly confused about something. Off course, this is most commonly seen with teenagers as they transition from childhood to adulthood, questioning every thing life, causing them to be utterly confused about their existence.

The last two lines of the poem, ‘while the body is and is and is and has no place of its own’, create the picture of a dazed wanderer, who has no place they can successfully call home. They fail to fit in anywhere and spend their lives in desperate search of a place to simply fit in. The body is the way it always was, yet that does not aid the soul from simply being able to settle down, come to terms with itself and simply move on. Seen most commonly with soldiers returning back from the battlefield, they have trouble in settling down and adjusting back to life at peace times, having become absolutely used to life at the fronts. They are unable to come to terms with it often and spend their lives drowning in internal chaos and turmoil because of that. That too, is a form of torture in itself that everyone simply seems to ignore. For them, the war is not over as soon as the whistle of truce is blown. It is a constant  process which doesn’t really end until they come to terms with it. Tat is the most difficult process of all.

Hence, this poem, according to me, is an interpretation of a soldier’s experience at the battlefield.

Blood Moon Rising

The sun never rose that day.

It only set.

The dusk never came that day.

Only tides of blurred faces of the dead.

The shadows didn’t lurk anymore,

The wind ceased to blow,

The ice wouldn’t freeze anymore,

The rivers refused to flow.

The earth was stained red-

Stained with the blood of miscalculation and failure,

Tainted by the stink of rotting corpse

And echoing the damned footsteps of an expected hell.

Eyes didn’t flutter open,

Valentine’s day was forgotten,

Christmas became the celebration of the dead

And people starved, even past their death bed.

The air echoed the voice of the forgotten faces-

The abandoned children playing in tanks,

The aging man deafened by the demented orchestra of shells

The shrieks of women stuck in a permanent hopeless horror

and the gold-clad minister smiled as he hissed for the world to see,

“welcome to hell,”

Gifts were guns,

The infant leaves grew ruby red as yellow and orange-

The symphonies of glee,

Melted away into the river of severed heads.

The sun glared, annoyed and disgusted.

The moon screamed in haunting silence

As the last beating heart finally stopped,

Frozen at last.

The sun never rose that day,

It only set.

The dusk never came that day.

Only the severed limbs of the orphaned dead.

Part Three: Palinoia

Its full.

Its all filled.

Traditionally, Frejya and the Valkyrie picked up the bravest off the battlefield and escorted them to Valhalla.

The ancien regime died with the French revolution.

When the bullet rips through the ripe flesh of the adolescent teenager who was cheated by society and forced into war,

There I s no redemption.

“Keep calm and carry on,”

That’s all you can do.

There is no escape.

Societies destroyed, families shattered, shards of bone and severed limbs.

The soil is scarlet. Crimson. Red basically.

When the bullet rips through the muscle of the beating heart into two, that’s it.

Death overcomes you.

Don’t fear her. Let her take you. She makes life so much sweeter.

It’s a culture dedicated to warfare.

After all, torture is a form of communication.

This is not bravery. It is insanity.

Valhalla is for the brave, not for the insane.

The ancien regime died with the Russian Revolution.

Heaven died when humanity was born.

Part Two: Incineration

Stained with the blood of a thousand years-

Today and yesterday are slaves already. Tomorrow’s next.

The sun-

A golden arc that once represented the hopes and desires of an ever rising empire.

It’s now a floating nuclear bomb and the lazy cotton clouds are the white silk shrouds, concealing the haunting innocent faces who simply couldn’t get away- collateral damage.

Yes, that’s what we call them.

The winds- I imagine them to be giant silver sickles sharpened to slice into two equal parts and I imagine they’d do it with a gleeful grin.

Then, comes rain-

Showers of bullets fired from metallic cylinders-

lethal extensions of humanity, invented by the Chinese, adopted and improved by the Europeans.

“there will come soft rains,”

that’s what they all chant , praying for water to wash away the horror and sins of the battlefield.

Rain comes, but in no means soft.

A shower of bullets and grenades, of severed limbs and droplets of blood sprayed all over the sky, staining the earth permanently. Even if a thousand flowers, red, white and yellow bloom next spring, in their petals, the horrors of the previous year will never vanish.

Can’t you hear the echo of the voices?
the wailing children, the screaming men, the shrieking women.

Can’t you hear the silent wails of the trees whose roots are shattered by the incessant attack of the storm of grenades?

Can’t you hear the silent protest when buildings older than a decade of generations are blown up?

The earth is stained with the blood of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

The skies are burning.

The skies are on fire.

Part One: Orenda

The orchestra of birds chirping early in the morning-

My 3 am alarm clock that repeats every few minutes. I can’t even reach out to slam it into a much desired state of snooze because this particular alarm clock is privileged enough to have wings that it flaps, flying for hours a day, covering a million times more than what I could even dream of doing on foot. At 3 am, it is already succeeded in making me feel inferior.

I wake up, officially this time, at 8 or 9 am,

“A respectable hour of the morning” as my mother would off course say. Any time later, even if it is just a few minutes past “the morning”, she would automatically classify it as afternoon, according to her watch off course. Naturally, the world follows a much more reliable system of the GMT, according to which, all time before midday is morning. Regardless, I’m awake- if by “awake” you mean the wonderfully dazed state of mind, where I float, halfway between the conscious and sub-conscious realms of my mind, drifting without a single care, watching the world and its events pass by my eyes- blurred, like the images I see from the window of my car. It’s the state for the rest of my day of course.

Morning becomes noon, which transitions to afternoon and then dusk. Or twilight. Whatever you prefer to call it. I know it as evening. Is it only me who finds it odd that 4 words describe one particular time of the day? How beautifully odd really. It’s why I love this language. Each day is a scavenger hunt for new words. Join me sometime. Hunting alone gets terribly lonely don’t you think? Besides, two arrows would hit wider targets right?

Have you ever noticed the skies at dawn and dusk? When I was a child, I thought the skies were stained with candy. I wanted some. I wanted to grow tall enough so that my fingers would grab those cotton-candy clouds, tall enough that I could stick my tongue out and lick the candy stained skies and the giant crimson lollypop floating in the sky. My grandmother heard of this. She didn’t laugh. I spent a large part of my childhood, deceived into drinking milk twice a day, along with curd and all my vegetables and whatever was given to me on my plate for my meals- breakfast, lunch and dinner, in hopes and expectations that I would be that tall one day. I obviously did not. What did happen was that I grew out of my innocent daze of childhood where I viewed the world through my rose-tinted glasses that made the world seem like a wonderful utopia. That is childhood.

I’m no longer a child. Now, the skies at dawn and dusk are on fire in my eyes. The infant rays of the sun pierce the darkness, bringing light. But it isn’t white. Its fire- a demented orchestra of yellow, red, orange and pink- screams echoing, bombs exploding, guns firing. The sky is a battlefield, stained with the blood of those who dare to step foot on it.

The sun rays are like the rain of bullets fired from a gun- revolvers and what not. A gun is a gun and the moment a person holds it, he becomes lethal. The bullet pierces through the young flesh of the innocent teenager who they bribed into fighting for them. A soldier is a pawn to them. Yes them, the ones who sit in their offices, sipping their expensive coffees from their white china cups, leaning back on their leather chairs, swirling around, swimming in their shroud of smoke, high up on floors with double digits. Soon it will be triple won’t it? To them, a soldier is a pawn. They forget, a soldier is a child of someone- a farmer, a laborer, or maybe some innocent teenager who’s lost enough to think that army life would be like a game of Call of Duty. No it won’t. There’s no pause button. Once the bullet rips through the flesh and shatters the heart, life is over once and for all.

Wasn’t it Stalin who said, “One death is a tragedy but a million is a statistic?”

I can’t recall exactly. I read it a while back, off the surface of a book whose name I can’t recall. Perhaps I read it in school, or perhaps I read it while I performed my daily ritual of surfing the internet. Regardless, to them, this applies. War is a board game. A soldier is a piece- a faceless piece whose death means absolutely nothing. The point of the game is money. The one who earns the most wins money is land. That’s all that matters. Only one can win and when that happens, the battle ends. The war never does.

The battle ends. The fighting ends. Cities ruined. Cultures and histories insulted and destroyed mercilessly. People dead- on both sides, and innocent spectators who just couldn’t get away in time and got sucked into hell and never survived to explain how bad it really was. Nevertheless, it’s a grim victory but a victory nonetheless. Thus, the skies that previously burned of war and reeked of the scent of rotting bodies transition into the calm blue, almost white really. That shade stays for the rest of the day until evening when the skies burn again. That’s how wars are fought really. There’s always a moment of calmness which is forgotten, absolutely ignored when the first bullet is fired once again.

Evening turns to night. Black. Actually, its midnight blue. Or Prussian. I don’t know. I didn’t really pay attention in art class as you can see. Either way, it is just dark you know? Its the absence of color all together. But that, I will see that shade again and I’m going to think its various shades of the same color but it won’t be. It would be ripples of black satin that I will see before my eyes for the next 7 or 8 hours as darkness fills the crevasses of my mind that would be normally reserved for dreaming. But my sleep is vacant, dreamless- just the way I like it.

After all, silent solitude is always appreciated