Monday, Nov 28, 2022
World Poetry Day

Five Poems On War

When the sky becomes a quiet swathe of tension and uncertainty and the airspace is filled with birthing cries

Five poems on war
Five poems on war Getty Images

March 21 was declared as World Poetry Day by UNESCO during its 30th General Conference in Paris in 1999, with the aim of ‘supporting linguistic diversity through poetic expression and increasing the opportunity for endangered languages to be heard’. It is the occasion to honour poets and their work. In this series to mark the day, Outlook showcases the works of those who revel in ‘one of humanity’s most treasured forms of cultural and linguistic expression and identity.’ 


suddenly the sky is a quiet swathe 
of tension and uncertainty

the field on the other hand 
is ablaze, ablaze with hope 

between the two, lines ricochet
and break into questions and answers

staining the horizon of a species 
drawing to an end 


roar, they say, roar 
but where are the bunkers, the bomb shelters? 

detonate like a seed, they say 
observe trees and learn
how they fulminate over a lifetime 

measure your velocity, they say 
spread out like da Vinci’s 
Vitruvian guy
the flank strategy can work, they say 
just don’t let your chest constrict 
it’ll gum up the effort 

roar, they say, roar 
but I’m not certain I can 

battle cry

a thick battle cry 
develops in the limbic system 
as a response attuned over time 

like practiced aggression 
accepted within the boundaries 
of sport 

entering the lungs from the gut 
as emotions do 
and we count one, two, three

until it is uncontainable 
and releases like triumph
from the mouth  


when I explode I’ll be a flower 
in hyperbloom, throwing 
head, petal, stem back in ecstasy 
into the womb of the sky 

and my voice will ring in your ears 
after it’s free of me
like tinnitus 


this is a makeshift tube 
made of skin and marrow
to siphon blood inland
we’ll begin the transfusion here 
under the airspace where birthing cries 
fill our ears 
beyond the metal garbage and grates 
from which silent prayers rise 

note the blue landscape 
the earth couldn’t fathom 
it expands and contracts 
with reference to context 

we’ll evacuate with pistons 
and escape with empty lungs

then retract bombshell shards
choking our refugee throats 
if we reach