Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Counting (with sadness) in Syria

Burmese poet ko ko thett is an activist-scholar and, at present, a resident of Vienna, Austria. I became acquainted with his work through Kyi May Kaung, a writer, artist, Burma-activist-scholar, and friend who currently lives in the Washington, DC area. Here is a poem by ko ko thett  -- for Syria.

the 5000th    by ko ko thett

                        for syria

let’s count
there were tanks
there were snipers
there were heads
there were bodies
and counting
there were commotions
there were other things to attend to
there were condemnations
there were concessions
there were other wars
there were other springs
where were we
one hundred
there were murderers
there were thugs
there were heads
there were bodies
there were potential peace laureates
there were martyrs
there were emergency closed-door meetings
there were rebel armies
there were public debates
there were policy deliberations
there were strategy statements
there were sanctions
they had reshuffled the cabinet at home
they had formed a parallel government in exile
there were more meetings
there were more campaigns
there were more concerns, more lobbies, more statements,

     more statistics, more sympathies
nine-hundred and ninety-eight
nine-hundred and ninety-nine
one thousand
there were more news, more no-news, more news-news
there were raiders
there were rapists
there were trained assassins
there were untrained butchers
there were prisoners of conscience
there were prisoners of sub-conscience 
there were spies, there were stooges
there were negotiations
there were heads
there were bodies
there were heads of children on their mothers’ bodies
there were voiceless protests by headless bodies
there were headless protests for voiceless bodies
four-thousand-nine-hundred and ninety-eight
four-thousand-nine-hundred and ninety-nine
five thousand
concerns get more profound
prayers get more desperate
there were more candles at vigils
their faces get more serious on tv
it’s crime against humanity
it’s crime against crime against humanity
it’s crime against crime against crime against humanity
by the way
where were we
let’s do it all over again

ko ko thett

Note:  ko ko thett's poem  reacts to the announcement by the UN on December 12, 2011 that more than 5000 Syrians had been killed in the nine months (now eleven) of the Assad regime's military crackdown. 

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