A Prism; Wet With Wars

by Sinan Antoon

this is the chapter of
devastation
this is our oasis
an angle where wars intersect
tyrants accumulate around our eyes
in the shackle’s verandah
there is enough space for applause
let us applaud

another evening climbs
the city’s candles
technological hoofs crush the night
a people is being slaughtered across short waves
but the radio vomits raw statements
and urges us to
applaud

with a skeleton of a burning umbrella
we receive this rain
a god sleeps on our flag
but the horizon is prophetless
maybe they will come if we
applaud
let us applaud

we will baptize our infants with smoke
plough their tongues
with flagrant war songs
or UN resolutions
teach them the bray of slogans
and leave them beside burning nipples
in an imminent wreckage
and applaud

before we weave an autumn for tyrants
we must cross this galaxy of barbed wires
and keep on repeating
HAPPY NEW WAR!

Baghdad, March 1991

Sinan Antoon is a poet, novelist and translator.

2 thoughts on “A Prism; Wet With Wars”

  1. this contains some lines which should become classics of English Lit:

    a people is being slaughtered across short waves

    plough their tongues

    the coro “applaud” etc device is very effective.

    I’m glad I took time to read this; I almost didn’t because of the title. to me “wet with wars” doesn’t make much sense. IMO just “the prism” would have been enough, especially if the line about the “intersection” had been placed as the first after the title.

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