Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Poetry: David Roberts

Words, words

Gaza, 6 January, 2009

The Prime Minister said today
"This is a very dangerous moment.
I think everybody around the world
is expressing grave concern,"
but what use are words?

On Saturday
after days of bombing and shelling
Israeli ground troops moved into Gaza.
Tanks, grenades, machine guns,
helicopter gunships,
bombs from the air
shelling from the sea.

More than 500 Palestinians killed
men, women and children.
Hospitals overwhelmed.

Five Israelis killed.

More than 700 Palestinians killed.
Hospitals are out of supplies.
People are out of food and water.

Nine Israelis have been killed.

The killing goes on.

For six decades
the killing has gone on.

The Israelis want peace.
The Palestinians want peace.
The Israelis are seeking an end
to violence.

Words, words.
What use are words?

The Israelis are only attacking
Have they ever considered
what creates a militant?

What is a “militant” ?
Maybe people who are fighting back?
To stop them fighting back
maybe you shouldn't attack.

The Israelis say
we are only attacking “militants”.
We are not attacking “civilians”.

Bombs are falling.
Tanks are shelling.
Helicopter gunships are strafing.
But they are not attacking “civilians”.
They are “discriminating”.
Oh yes they are.

Words, words.

They are “discriminating”.
Only attacking human beings,
a university,
a police station,
people leaving prayers outside a mosque,
a United Nations school.
Completely “accidentally”
bombs fall on houses.


Words, words.
What do words mean?

Who needs words?
Forget words.
We are not fooled by words.
There are too many words.

(what is a statesman?)
urge peace talks.
More words.

There have been peace talks for decades.
What use have they been?
Don't answer.
We don't need more words.
The Palestinians don't need words.
They need justice.

Words are camouflage.
If politicians
cannot say something meaningful
let them be quiet.
We would welcome the news:
Today no politician spoke.

Let's get to the nitty-gritty.

Who pays the Israelis?
Who supplies weapons to the Israelis?
Who trades with the Israelis?
Who could influence the Israelis?

Do we have moral leaders?
Do we have civilised leaders?
Do we have leaders
who understand the meaning
of their own words?
Do we have leaders who really
give a damn?

Could they stop the torture
of the Palestinian people?

Could they stop the persecution
of the Palestinian people?

Could they stop the robbery,
the imprisonment and murder
of the Palestinian people?

We are facing
avoidable human suffering.

The whole world knows
what is going on.

Should we speak out?
Bleat like lambs?
More words?
What can be done?

We can be sure
that leaders will speak out.

More words.

Words are falling on Gaza.
Words words.

David Roberts

(Published at War Poetry.)


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