Poem

ASSIGNMENT

Only Muslim in the workshop,
I went on about the President’s
Shocking and Awful on Iraq,
civilization’s cradle,
bombed back to the Stone Age
for non-existent nukes
sold by capitalist gunrunners.

I am a witness, I said,
I must howl: In every well
in Baghdad a rafiq is weeping
while long black coats
(with gas masks)
huddle at the Wailing Wall,
as if prayers could halt smart bombs.

“Rhetoric, not lyric,” my peers echoed
Yeats. “Argue with yourself not others,”
the adjunct professor said, “A warhead
rising from its silo was over the top.
Nike stockpiling kneepads was sick.
Not ars poetica.”

By Rafiq Kathwari, winner of the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award 2013.

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