How to describe history’s grotesque
face, still half-hidden under a mask
of deceit. In some countries, hide
and seek is not a game.
In some homes, the bodies curled inside closets no longer contain enough space for laughter.
I want to nourish my children and also, I want them to hear the gnarl of a not-so-distant hunger as they
their pile of snacks. Tell me what
greater joy than watching your
blow out her birthday candles? How
the flames are quelled in a single
wish without ever searing her skin.
Don’t think about it, they say. As if
our playgrounds weren’t haunted.
Voices encircled by a battalion
of bloodied dreams. The swings heavy. The wind pushing them from side to side, shapeless.
Just because we turn off the television doesn’t mean bombs aren’t falling on schools and theaters.
No matter how dazzlingly our children dance in their spring concert,
missiles will continue blazing through the bellies of maternity wards.
A family lies at the foot of the bridge we almost crossed next to their open suitcases. Next to a bright pink bunny
squashed beneath the rubble.
Explosion after explosion, and we don’t turn away.
Look, I say. I need them to know what may come next.

About the Poem

The poem is about the war-torn country of Iraq, but it can pertain to the entire middle east, from Israel to Jordan to Northern Africa.

About the Author

John Kucera was educated at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His work has appeared in New Reader Magazine, The Sandy River Review, Utopia Science Fiction, Slant, Connections Magazine and Friends Journal. He currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona, where he writes and teaches.

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