Lament for Aleppo
Even the buildings, beat and bent,
Have given up their allied front—
All the facades have fallen in
To crumpled spines and shattered shins;
Their broken ribs have been disrobed,
Leaning in to woes exposed—
That no father will find safe return
To rest from decent labour done;
No bread be broken, table laid;
No child delight in stories shared;
No mother kiss a sun-blessed cheek
And lay her down to easy sleep.
No-one will mark this story down
As evil vanquished, justice done—
No innocents saved, redress remiss.
No honest record will find any good in this.
Even the walls seem moved today
Though still they stand in their silent array.
quiet into the void
“There is, in every event, whether lived or told, always a hole or a gap, often more than one. If we allow ourselves to get caught in it, we find it opening onto a void that, once we have slipped into it, we can never escape.”
— Brian Evenson, ‘Fugue State’
no towering pyre is lit on which
will crackle bright against the pitch
the cracked and creaking broken bones
through silent night unbreached by moans
no gatherings of black-armed guards
no haggard hags in tattered rags
with gnashing teeth and wringing hands
no half-mast flags and martial bands
no vigils clasping candlelit
where mothers hold to clinging kids
no flowers piled upon a verge
by hush-filled mourners stiff as serge
no loyal hound morose and still
with hanging head will sit there till
beside no stone-marked burial mound
within no elm-lined hallowed ground
no golden light breaks through the clouds
no oils alight, no laying out of sacred shrouds
no vestal virgins swept along
in reverential dirgeful song
“Democracy is dead
Vive la démocratie!”
Anne Casey, appearing in numerous journals and magazines and in a wide variety of mediums, is an internationally acclaimed poet and the editor of two of Melbourne based Swinburne University online literary journals. Both her debut collection, where the lost things go (2017), which sold out twice and the following, out of emptied cups (2019), have been published by Salmon Poetry.
Lament for Aleppo was inspired by a news photo of a man smoking a cigarette while sitting on the edge of his bed in his house with half the walls missing in the war-ravaged Syrian capital; while quiet into the void is a mock-lament at the death of democracy – the French line to finish is a subtle reference to the heavy-handed response by the French Government in January 2019, cracking down on ‘yellow shirt’ anti-government protestors. The later poem first appeared in Visual Verse: An Anthology of Art and Words, Volume 6, Chapter 4 in February 2019.