THE ATTACK OF THE REd

White and Red.

White-

The color of purity,

The color of death,

The color of peace,

The color of nobility,

The color of the absolute monarchy that oppressed, conquered, nurtured and protected people of a primitive race that were children of ice and snow.

White and Red.

Red-

The color of blood,

The color of war,

The color of love,

The color of hunger,

The color of the change that brought a tradition of centuries to its knees and stained its existence forever.

White and Red.

Red and White.

Old and New.

Contradiction, overlapping.

“we’ve got to move into the modern world,

We’ve got to protect ourselves from the epidemic of evil.

The evil shall not penetrate”

Faces blur.

Bodies pile.

Screams and chants echo-

Who are you?

What is your cause?

Where does your loyalty lie?

The Tsar is the Father.

The Tsar is the leader-

Eternal loyalty now questioned,

After centuries of blind faith

France and an unknown continent inspired,

A new empire born,

They screamed out questions-

Questions that were never asked.

Questions that had no answer.

Faces fade,

Words echo,

The dead come and the dead go

Where are the answers?

Who asked the questions?

Confusion is the permanent state of mind.

Determined not to relieve the bloody change of an allied empire,

They’re on their knees.

Children slaughtered in a misunderstood war-

Fight for your nation,

Fight for your Tsar,

Fight for your pride.

Children stolen,

A generation murdered

Where did the time go?

Confusion is the permanent state of mind.

I am a socialist.

I am a communist.

I am a royalist.

Where does your allegiance lie?

Kill the revolution.

Silence the change.

Save the Tsar.

Kill the Tsar.

Change is good.

Silence his supporters.

Inequality is bad.

Promises-

Hollow words-

Equality for all

Food for all

Clothing and shelter

Equal pay

Rewards are tempting.

Stop the war.

Stop the systematic slaughter.

Run away.

Save your children.

Oppression shall not prevail.

New world, New order, New society.

White and Red

Red and White

Old and New

Who are you?

What is your cause?

Where does your loyalty lie?

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Le Miroir

Gold and silver-

Platinum maybe.

It shines.

It’s all the same.

Framing the mirror-

They say it reflects.

It doesn’t. The mirror doesn’

t reflect.

Mirrors were created by the devil.

Envy is a sin.

It poisons the heart in every reflection and whispers-

“Beauty is your only weapon. Use it for salvation”

It echoes a flawed world-

Never beautiful, never perfect, never enough.

Each reflection leads the eye to the brink of insanity.

It whispers everlasting youth-

The greatest lie of all,

Disguised as the greatest wish ever made,

Marching along with faceless soldiers

In a dream parade.

You can’t look away.

It won’t let you.

Your dreams, your desires, your wishes,

Your soul-

You are the slave of your desires.

But when you do look away,

When you return to the realm of real and the sane,

You realize-

You are drowning.

You drown in seas of fire.

AN INTRODUCTION TO DEATH

Day turns to night.

Daylight melting away into darkness,

Life melting away into the arms of

The dead.

Laughter turns to silence,

Memories turn to dust,

All that’s left are burning ashes,

Scattered across the planet’s deserted crust.

We’re all his captives.

We’re all his prisoners-

Pale and helpless,

Waiting for the time he knocks on our door

And offers us a ride in his dark carriage.

Kings turn to servants,

Servants turn to slaves,

Names and faces are forgotten

As crowns and spades are abandoned.

He is the ultimate judge

The unquestioned ruler of the darkness.

We all fall to his frozen touch,

His frozen tendrils lingering and crushing both

Mind and heart,

Forcing the soul to desert

the body it used, tore and abused.

He remained the same,

Since the times of Egypt and Rome,

To the worlds of Hitler and Stalin.

Always prompt,

He executes his job,

never taking a single day off.

He’s an excellent worker.

He loves his job.

He never speaks a word.

He only observes from the shadows,

Like a raven perched on a branch at the graveyard,

He’s got no use for words.

Communication is for mortals.

He watches infants grow.

He courts the lonely teenager.

He comforts the wiling adults.

He guides the nostalgic grandmother.

He resides behind the world,

In shadows where the time refuses to move,

But on that one day,

At midnight,

He steps into the world of the living

Parading off his army of

Unconscious believers that the human eye

Is blind towards

He reaps for his job,

For no single being can resist,

His gentle frozen touch.

Black is the absence of white.

Night is the absence of daylight.

Death is the absence of life.

Midnight

Midnight.

The absolute absence of light.

Midnight.

The kingdom of moonlight.

Cursed to sleep,

Eyes are stitched shut viewing dreams-

Flowers if Hecate is kind and

Skulls if she is not.

Sentenced to a brief period of hibernation,

Only the rebellious winds rustle the leaves,

The flowers,

Obstructed by rocks,

Unable to slice it in two equal halves.

Droplets of condensed milk draw a translucent-trail,

Abusing the silence of the night,

Abusing the silence.

Desolation and isolation are the new norms.

Serenity is long forgotten.

Only the momentary pause of the actions of the day.

Only the momentary absence of the living.

Midnight.

The absolute absence of daylight.

Midnight.

The kingdom of the moonlight.

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.

BLEED

A language is a living organism.

It sheds old words

Every hour, every day, every second, every year.

It sheds words-

Old, unwanted and irrelevant;

And it adopts and absorbs new word,

Each mouth inventing its own word,

Starting its advance from the day the infant was born.

Each word is a declaration of war-

For land, power, hunger, water-

It is a war for the world

Words created this world and they will shatter it.

A language is a living organism.

Words are its blood.

The very thing that brought it to life will cause its death.

It grows, it evolves, it dies, it fights, it struggles-

A language is a living organism.

A language is the thread of society.

Words are its threads and punctuations are its stitches.

A living organism is a language.

A language is I.

WORDS UNSPOKEN

Words, you speak,

Are sounds escaping your lips.

They mean nothing.

Words that sounds different,

Accents of glamor, roughness, ice and warmth.

Each word lingers, carrying forward the accents of another world-

“a collection of words is a language”

Each language holds its own mother religion captive

Each language holds its own culture

Each language holds its own history

Each language holds me.

They mean nothing to me

Words are the threads of society,

The glue that holds it together

The thread that makes unmasked faces dance like puppets

Words are the command for the puppets

The one who speaks these words is the ultimate puppeteer.

The words you speak,

They mean nothing to me.

“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.

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Smoke-

rose flavored, laced with sugar and butter.

I love Turkish sweets.

Gentle spice.

Soft flavors.

An array of colors.

Variant shapes and sizes.

Clay plates.

Blue-tinted glasses.

Wooden tables.

Silver forks, spoons and knives.

White embroidered napkins.

Dim lights.

Echoing Arabic music.

Glass vases filled with roses.

Words unknown but the meaning familiar.

The world forgotten.

Echoing laughter.

The scent of Turkish coffee lingering.

Pinnacle of hunger.

Calmness finally achieved.

Citrus flavors dancing on my tongue.

Warm pita bread between my fingers.

The Gateway to the Middle East.

The start of the Iftar Fest.

I inhale my final breath to rest.

Rosewater, Turkish nuts, Honey, Filo pastry, melted Butter.

I crave Baklava.