The Cleave Poetry Webzine [ISSN: 1758-9223]

Speak ill of the Dead by Steve Parker

In submission on February 14, 2009 at 8:51 am

Speak ill of the Dead (Gaza 2009)

They are the exalted birds and their intercession is required indeed
—Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

Blitz By May 1941 43,000 civilians many of them horribly as cellars
filled with sewage escaping from burst heads heads that lay with the corn dollies
of Dresden whose skin grew vapid as tubers of fire and wind
whose horses were silhouettes capering on sidewalks of armour and ashen ghosts
whose Pompeiis cooked down like stock unstuck in Time
there in the rising in the Thames in the Elbe the horses at night
they came to feed of shadows of the Dead after night
a three year old child in Gaza City dying
with a broken back of rivers running hard into deltas
over two days in the rising through the Thames of concrete
of heat of her mouth with petals and song
filled with dust on the green banks folded aloft in the arms
of mothers of the history of mothers of the mothers of mothers
and of the baking of bread at dawn and at the going down
of the sun will we consume thee thy flesh thy bread of glory
as white phosphorus as coins they inserted in the loaves
of an Intifada like vast catfish coins for the raising
of the drowned in dust face down now be still
do not fight do not fight as the horses fought it will be over the sooner
into that glory or thrust upon shadow and exalted aloft
upon high in the upper air and upon the heights in cannonades
in loaves at dawn they seek the drowned to ask
why one child whose skins grew vapid as tubers of fire why one child
of another race worth so many of hers unable to move her arms she who will never know
knows only of snow and one catfish king says Jim to Tom of its taste
its cold soft iron is much like another much like one another and all of it

no damn good


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