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The Quiet Killing

What did you feel while you lazed
In the spring of '88,
When the bulldozers slow
With dull blades dug trenches
In the shifting sands,
When the stinking, crowded wagons wheeled
Their sullen load through the deadly desert
To the waiting, hungry grave?

Nothing! No tremble in the firmament mocked
The death of the children. No quaking Earth
Vomited forth the torn flesh, the bloody bodies.
No Valkyrie Angels screamed for vengeance, to waken
The ignorant masses of the world
To a horror revisited, a killing once again
Of human cattle, the cattle of Cain.

Their cousins awaited them, whole families, children
Of different faiths beneath the blind eyes of God:
Gaunt Cambodians from the killing fields,
Chinese bayonetted in the streets,
Starved and slaughtered Russians,
The many, many Jews.
The arms of the Armenians opened wide
To welcome the Kurds to genocide.

Where are the villages that once dotted the hills
Lay graceful and green beneath the gentle sky?
No trace of them remains - they were
Erased. Their people were loaded into
The tumbrel trucks, packed until no more
Could stand, locked in beneath the oven sun
In a cage of sealed steel
Without water or food.

What use are such to the dead? For dead they were
(Though still living) as they rode to resettled destiny.
Some babies went gently (the lucky ones)
Killed by the fever heat, their bodies untorn
By the savage steel, the crazed fear that awaited
The rest at the end.

At last they arrived, the trucks backed up to the edge
In the numb and ravaged silence of the doomed,
The damned. The locked doors opened.
Into the ditch prepared they were pistol-whipped
While fat thugs in black and sexy uniforms mocked
And cursed to the beat of their bone-breaking clubs.

The order was given, and with formal precision
The machine-guns erupted their slugs
And worked the ditch with discipline
From left to right and back again
Gazed with pitiless eyes of belching flame
Upon frail flesh surrounding fragile frame.

No men were they, who manned the guns
For how could human mind endure
The innocent lives by grinding fire consumed
The sight of skulls exploded
The thin-clad chests wetly cratered
The arms and legs shorn away in shards
As they the screaming stream directed
Into the pleading faces, the upraised hands below?

No men were they. Something Else
With a Hunger, possessed of human form,
Drank from the pit the human Host
Washed down with sanguinary sacrament
In Demonic communion with unholy ghost.

The big guns fell silent after sharing their wine
Around, glasses enough for each and every one
To get two or three.
There continued a while the occasional pop
As joking officers walked the line,
Shot to a stop
Any that still showed animation
Or screamed for Mercy
(Absent that day on vacation).

One alone arose from the pit and crawled
To an empty trench, a waiting oubliette
-While the killers took ten from the stench,
For hard-earned coffee and a cigarette-
To bear witness to the world.
Then steel machines spat their diesel
Thunder and smoked, stroked the fresh earth
In to cover the (mostly) corpses
Tangled in family masses.

Here a mother mangled cradles
Her wailing daughter's shattered hips
While dirt silences her cry, covers her lips.

Two brothers sprawl awry,
Wasted lives, with chunks of their sons draped
Over eyes blind and staring, they greet
The uncaring sky,
Surrounded by their wives shot naked and raped,
Transformed from miracle to meat.

How could we not hear, in the West,
Their echoed screams, their empty curses?
Can we only hear our jingling purses?

May God damn in all His many names
The killers of babies
The butchers of boys and girls too young
To take part in the endless, witless games
Of who will rule, and who obey,
Who will speak, and who will slay.

May God damn the sellers of death,
The merchants of malice aforethought,
Who profit from every bullet bright
That snips the thread of a child,
Who feeds the maw of final night
With the last breath of a child,
Who sells the butchers the very knife
Designed to drink all human life.

May Allah grant the wicked ones to be reborn
As each and every victim, pull back every fool
Through wormholes in Time, to firmly school
True justice: the closure of the Golden Rule,
To feel one's own evil, one's own scorn.

May gold pour molten from an endless trough
Into armsmongers' upturned, pleading eyes,
To quench their anguished, bleeding cries
Until the last victim looks down from paradise
And says, ``Hold. It is enough.''

May the eyes of the World be washed in this shower
Of blood, opened at last to a truth which appalls
As the faraway firing of more guns recalls
In echos, the cost far away from the halls
The dark halls, the secret, soulless halls of selfish power.

The guilty know their dishonored deals
The bargains written on parchment
Made of human skin
And signed in baby's blood
With the Turks of our time:
To void the Kurdish question;
To leave in strength the wicked
And unrighteous; to hold back the sword
Of vengeance from the neck of the devil.

Slow sands sift the hollow winds,
Drift across deserted graves.
Concrete fills the empty wells, no brick remains
Of the erstwhile walls. Wailing women wait
In camps for word that the world listens
At last, and will count the corpses
(At least) to tally a bill, and deliver
For the lost souls, the husbands and children,
The lovers.

The strong and the rich in the fat lands
Who tremble must now bear this burden
And swear by this oath:
No matter the cost, in blood or in pain
In riches, in lives, in sorrow or stain -
Swear, before God! Never again!

next up previous contents
Next: Life and Death Up: Man and the Gods Previous: Resurrection   Contents
Robert G. Brown 2007-03-21