Culture & Society

Poems For Children In War Zones

Moumita Alam writes a series of poems for Outlook, dedicated to the children living in war zones.

Palestinian children play around a damaged house in Gaza City

1. Gaza Strip

The new day is 
no less than

But still
In Gaza Strip
the oppressed have hope.
The oppressors have been 
killing them for long.
But in Gaza no one
Is still dead.

It's night but
The oppressed still have dreams.
The world is alive.
The stones are piling up
On the oppressor's side.

2. The Children of Gaza

I'm sorry
I don't know
how to sing a lullaby for you.
Let's pray for the fall of physics.
Let's pray that the drones miss the targets
Of the sleeping children.

I'm sorry
Oh dead children of Gaza
I don't know
How to wake you up.
I'm dead with you.
I'm sorry 
This world needs more blood of ours
to call herself free.

Oh, dear children of Gaza
Don't lose hope, please
The day will be free of gunshots soon.
See your parents are holding the Sun up.

3. Is There Any Art Paper in Heaven for the Dead Children of Gaza?

No one answers,
But each night a voice cries out: Fire

                     –Agha Shahid Ali

No drip drip drip
Though the taps are open.
Settlers have all the powers
Food to water
All are white monopolies.

The tiny faces are huddled together
Someone has learned a new game
Come on! Hurry up! Hurry up!
Who knows
Which launcher has its name?

Distant in the corner
A girl is drawing a baby doll.
She's not in a hurry
Her tiny fingers still have
dust of charcoal.

Then a blast…
Put your head down!
Put your head down!
The children warn the girl.

She asks 
if there is an art paper
In heaven
For the dead children?

4. Evacuation Notice

Evacuate right now!
We will bomb your city…

Holy people! Kind people
Giving 24 hours to evacuate!

The people are running errands in Gaza
Which to take and
Which to leave!
Daughter's favourite teapot
Son's winter dress
The precious wedding gown
Or the late father's last pic.

"Mamma mamma -
Can we take the olive tree
To the refugee camp?
What about the math copies?"

The mother falls silent and says-
The olive never blooms in war zones
And we have our memories.

5. Rigor Mortis

Forgive me, Lord: I’ve died so little! 
                        —César Vallejo

Dear Lord
It's autumn and in the smell of dust
I can sense the winter.

But why am I feeling so cold?
My hands are frozen
My legs are dead cold
My eyes are open!

Why dear lord
I'm being put in a box
And can't shout anymore
The whirring copters are still there.

I see them.
They are dropping bombs
But I'm not running anymore
Or praying anymore.
Why there's no one to lift me, Lord?

Where have they gone?
Why am I sleeping in the cemetery?
Who will say the final prayer?
Haven't you written the prayer, dear Lord?