For Armitage and Duffy

I’m not a soldier, suffering from war

No poet laureate champions my cause

I’m an Iraqi fellah, or trader

Or a young Gazan girl or baker

I’m an imam or a seeker of truth

Or a spent mother spurned from a camp roof

No special words remark what remains

Of my shattered country and shuddering frame

No empathetic, humanising verse

Speak of the time when our lives got worse.

Fine documentaries, carefully crafted

Fresh books of poetry, with publishers grafted

Capture the war photographer’s pain

And the soldiers who left our dwellings in flames

But none do observe that my heart is cleft

From the visceral horror of my sisters’ deaths

No thoughtful sonnets, nor ottava rimas

Conceive that drones are just terrible screamers

No stirring voltas turn on the lights

When the voltage runs out in the sinister nights

My world’s turning red, and the room grows dark

And nothing remains but my simmering heart

But here’s a secret that exists in lieu

A Nobel prize or a gallery view

Me and my people. we live and breathe

Live and breathe like you’ll never believe

Our soil sings our praise and the skies, they cheer

The ink may dry up, but we will remain here…

(check out Simon Armitage’s poem, Remains, and Carol Ann Duffy’s poem, War Photographer. Both in GCSE English literature anthologies)