// materials presented below are all writers' take on the subjects//

 

THIS IS NOT A POEM

This is not a poem

and I am not a poet

when I can’t find eloquent words to describe

that more blacks are incarcerated in America right now

than in apartheid South Africa.

 

When beautiful words fail me, and I can’t express

the worries of the deprived through the complexity of language,

that our key policy makers and leading civil servants

have never had a job outside of politics.

 

That sixty percent of Jews identify as atheists since the holocaust

no, I am not a poet

when I can’t find crafty words to illustrate the fact

that before 2008 Mandela had been on America’s list

of most dangerous terrorists for more than half a century.

 

That

massacres and genocides and partitions and conflicts

give way to erratic sensationalizing where no one can hear the cries

that when the ending is unsatisfactory

not many stick around to watch.

 

Some wax lyrical about the tragedy and the shock

about something tangible lost by something intangible;

the pleasures of life lost to the end of a sharp knife

the joy of living lost in a bullet wound.

 

But the real comedy is how some fail to acknowledge it at all

chaos befallen on them who dared to utter a syllable

lest someone knows it was their fault;

the plot twist is that there is no plot twist.

 

And I wish there was some metaphor

to lower you into this grief

but that is why this is not a poem

and I am not a poet.

 

But it’s fair to say:

the heart’s crafted to evermore persist

a rugged pioneer of time, relentless optimist.

That sometimes it’s an act of bravery even to exist

but you see,

 

I’ve crossed lines, not followed traditional poetic form

failed to construct elaborate metaphors to explain

that immigration isn’t a choice,

that a person probably has more Muslim blood

than the people in the mosque they conspire to blast.

Never is survival available to all those who deserve it.

 

And so, it goes.

How do I explain all this and still retain artistic worth?

The wanderers, the grievers- here they are doomed to roam

hatred boils in them and sears the world like a blazing scar

and humanity falls when tyrants are hailed.

 

But how can one be falling, if flying feels the same?

How does man forgive himself

for all the things he did not become?

A refugee buried within suffering

for a war he cannot comprehend.

 

But it’s all done now.

Anger surrounds us,

hate courses through us;

yet, this hate is unaware

of the humanity she births into us.

 

We are made of all the things that break us

just to keep us alive

maybe I should’ve just said that, but I didn’t

because

this is not a poem

and I am not a poet.

 

‘DEMI LOVATO IS IN THE HOSPITAL AGAIN FOR AN OVERDOSE’

and i guess this is the part where you tell me / celebrities are not invincible / that sure / singers shoot up / and all actors are addicts / and if you dont wanna overdose dont do drugs in the first place / don’t wanna crash don't drive / don't wanna die don't breathe / and you know / it's all fun and games til the Joker isn’t around anymore / and you know / I’ve watched this episode so many times each channel / shows another repeat / and you know / i'm tired of people pretending they’re above popping pills when they can’t even quit sugar for a week / or how children stop becoming children at the hands of adults / and you know / when chester bennington killed himself I think we were all a little shocked / and you know / when kate spade killed herself I think we were all a little shocked / and you know / when Avicii killed himself i think we were all a little shocked / and you know / and you know / and you know / and i know / it's not our sons or daughters / but it could be / get lil pump off the tv / saying / ‘take a lot of drugs don’t think twice’/ ‘do this every day and all night’ / but you know / ‘that’s just a rap song’ and / ‘she’s just a crackhead’ / so i’ll write an ode to a skeleton / with my phone notifications on blast / and when i read ‘stay strong’ / i won’t clench / my throat / and when i read ‘condition unknown’ / i won't reach for water / and when i read ‘overdose’ / i won't throw my head back / and swallow / bite-size pieces of suicide / instead / choke on the legacy / she would’ve left us / scream / at the top of a skyscraper / until the channels run dry / until we stop re-rolling seasons / and end the show / altogether.

 

WE

There's a strange sensation that suffocates my thoughts every time I glance over the headlines

Conflicting thoughts, words of fear, plague every page

My mind swirls through the letters, images muddled then lost

Some say that they hate all people like me, and sometimes, my mind says they're justified in their thoughts

The world has seen both my eyes and my shoulders, and in summer my clothes fall above my knees

Lurking superstitions hound minds down, and I pray before I fall asleep

 

I despise those who devastate, whose brains have fallen deep

We all wish for these beings to leave

But I urge you to believe me when I say, all of these people are not me

Don't hate me for what I believe.

 

I swear this country is all I've ever known

It's everything I hold dear

The skies, the lake, my lovely city

Constantly pulses through my veins

It is all  my heart and language

More than anything I crave peace

I urge you one more time,

Don't hate me for what I believe

 

No fleeting moment passes by when I don't want justice from them

The lives constantly demolished by their fiery wills, the devastation needs to end

The maniacs whose voices plead to be heard

Are not the ones who truly know their word

Because we don't know anything at all…

And those who believe that they know more

That their answer is the one worth killing for

Are the ones who deserve to fall

 

Can we spread our beckoning arms across the world as it crumbles?

To stop from tumbling into the sea?

I hope they hear it when I say

Don't hate me for what I believe.

 

The End of Time

The cost of peace turns out to be too profound yet too simple to be paid.

-

Its quarter past three in the afternoon.

The radio is buzzing with a low static noise, a mosquito lazily swoops in and settles on the dark mahogany of her desk.

A scone is lying half eaten on the thin, delicate linen of a napkin, topped with a dollop of cream dusted with small pieces of orange zest. An antique grandfather clock chimes in the living room and a pack of peppermint flavored gum lies half used beside an almost empty glass of orange juice.

Its normal.

Its monotonous.

Its ominous.

She had always thought the end of the world would be more exciting, truth be told.

The ringing stops.

She shakes her head.

-

She isn’t sure when it happens, not exactly.

But it does happen.

It isn’t as dark as it’s supposed to be. Not when electricity is a swiftly diminishing service and its past midnight in January. There’s a thunderous surge of noise as the rickety old fence crushes under the weight of the incoming crowd. The fan overhead spins slowly, sluggishly, tauntingly in a precarious circle-

-destroy those who hate-

The crowd gets louder.

-four, three, two-

Its inescapable, unpreventable, inevitable.

-one!

The fan continues to spin.

-and that’s it, knock it down!

-and then it crackles. Produces a short spark of orange and red, fizzles. Dies.

-

Its chaos.

Its pandemonium.

Her father and mother are fighting one of the Goldstein brothers, two of her brothers are covering for Charlie, who is trying to fight off their old neighbor, her best friend is screaming murder and she whips around for half a second only to see her other best friend fall down in a pile of rubble to never get up again.

Better news is that she no longer cares about things like goodness, righteousness or morality. Her brother is dead, and her childhood best friend is dead and she can’t bring herself to face- to recognize- the bodies lying scattered in her way and so many people are dead.

The worst thing is that she recognizes some of those that come after her.

Its jarring, the realization.

-

Peace being destroyed in the name of peace.

-

There isn’t a bench anymore.

She doesn’t know why it’s the first thing that she notices- leeches onto- but her steps are frail, and her eyes are bloodshot, and her hands are trembling, and she can’t bring herself to look at the pile of bodies strewn along the streets. Streets she had walked upon- had called home.

She can’t.

But the bench-

It’s in pieces.

Several wooden planks are splintered and scarred, the plaster is off in most of the places and there’s more blood than paint on its surface and a peculiar grey haze that’s sitting- settling- in the back of her throat, sticking to it, like a lump she has trouble swallowing.

She looks around uncertainly.

She doesn’t know where to go, not now.

And then-

She sees a familiar face detach himself from the arms of his parents and move towards where the bench used to be. A childhood memory of them eating ice lolllies in the summer heat, lazing on that very bench ghosts on the edge of her mind, and despite herself, the corners of her mouth turn slightly upward. Two more faces emerge from underneath the shattered canopy of the boathouse; and there’s the other three- faces streaked with blood, dirt, shame- and its equally horrifying and fascinating- this fragile convergence of their shared pasts and delicate future.

Almost in unison, they reach the bench, mutely folding themselves into a tight huddle.

She sees the red of their eyes, the hollow of their cheeks- and something in her breaks seeing her friend’s watery blue gaze turn haunted- and her grip on the wood is so tight- so desperate- that her knuckles have turned white with the sheer force of it-

But still.

She has never felt such crushing, overwhelming relief that all of them are breathing and all of them are alive and relief that they are standing and relief that surpasses the mixture of guilt and regret that has settled in her stomach and she is relieved and she knows that nothing will ever be the same and nothing can erase what they have seen, what they have done and nothing can bring back her brother and the gash on her forearm is permanent, but they’re here, they’re together and that’s what matters- it has to be.

Still, no one speaks.

The weight of the moment is unbearably heavy.

Until it isn’t.

Someone snorts.

Its sudden and uncharacteristic and totally unpredictable but it’s something and something is better than nothing-

A muscle in her neck twitches.

It spreads- laughter. Contagious and so unbelievably reliving and its equal parts terrible and beautiful and war shouldn’t be a part of any sixteen-year old’s life, but they’ve seen things, experienced things that destroy the meaning of the word humanity but they’re together and alive and safe- peaceful.

And it isn’t comfortable, and it isn’t joyful, but it isn’t vacant either, and even though their homes are gone, gone- reduced to ruins and ashes-

They can be rebuilt.

She’s sure of that.

-

People might dream that justice and peace win the day, but that’s not how the story goes.

-

Perhaps the anguish of war is the cost of peace that, in the end, the future generations must swallow.

The thundering helicopters and the dogs snarling at crying children, those are the ones who know the cost of peace. The millions of Africans who fight for the abolition of racial injustice while the government saturates on the idea of war and desolation; the hundreds of innocent victims of terror attacks; those are the ones who pay the cost of peace.

The slaughtering of hope is the price a common man pays for peace.

 

 

 

// materials presented above are all writers' take on the subjects//