War Lullaby

war lullaby


On your knees now ! How much can you give ?

What you got left ? Let your mouth touch the ground

that’s it closer, until the sand, papers your lips

                                                         with grit

                      and stings the white of your eyes



Your body sags with GRIEF, she clamps you to her chest

can you hear the sound of tanks ?

smell the stench of human sweat ?

and feel the dry desert heat ?

Louder ! Louder! There’s foot soldiers on the march

and the hurrr of the Humvee

so close, elephant wheels treading tik -tik flies and

                                                            roasted lice

that stick to the tyres, a crusted blood ballet of

wing tips, antennae and thorax


Thumpety Thump bump bump

pressure builds

your jaw locks -body shock 

spasms like wasps on jelly,

a flea crawls in your inner ear

biting, sniping a morass of fear

head crack -snap back

your voice entombed in saffron sands.


Saira Viola
Illustration: Elena Caldera






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3 Responses to War Lullaby

    1. Powerful stuff, Saira, powerful stuff. Thank you.

      Comment by Jennifer Knight on 5 May, 2016 at 9:15 pm
    2. Only to be sung, of course, when your baby is already sleeping; otherwise you’ll have a very restive child on your hands, too afraid to sleep for fear of nightmares. btw, the musical theme points to an important aspect of Saira Viola’s work — she writes poetry that is meant to be recited, rather than merely read; it makes for a very exciting oral performance, and it would be nice to hear the poet as well as read the words — Maybe IT could arrange to publish recordings of the poet’s work?

      Comment by Jon Anderson on 6 May, 2016 at 5:17 pm
    3. Always surprising, always insightful, and quite powerful.

      Comment by Verge Le Noir on 6 May, 2016 at 5:28 pm

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