Hounds of War

(the child soldier speaks)


What will you say that will sever the head from the neck,

held in arms, peering into a future foretold,

that if I run to the warlord—that I will—I must bleed

and tear my skin to stand between the gun and Dad,

explain to him the sight of blood redder than the fleeing comrades

we flogged to death the night they begged for freedom

to spring from jungles and run over our camp


voices whispering


Just hit me on the head, I promise to lie still.


Clubs crushing skulls, machetes tearing tendons from bone

to kill our desire to heal before it was over.


We drunk from vessels from our mums and seethed

at why they could not even gather with us on marble to drink the wine

and discuss where power will start.

With smiles and light from cameras flashing,

raising ghosts in the nights, we ambushed ceasefires

the day they drugged us into nightmares with hallucinations of

sweeping perimeters.


I want to quiver, beat the night we ran into kids and their mothers

lined up against walls, hands tied at elbows. We listened to whines

as we carved bullet holes to complement the cracks,

their faces kissing the wall, right at the feet of divine statues,

mumbling silent prayer trapped in the web of shaitans

while the world switches channels,

invents hashtags without shedding blood of their young ones

for a cause. Time would blow away in desert storms


without oil and uranium you are but an ant


that if he dares gaze into my mug, he must tremble

at the sight of fear he scared away when I was twelve

when they dispatched my little sister

and made me hold the barrel against friends

I had barely known except in fights under the big tree


when they affrighted us with freedom.

That if we ran we would fall into trenches and drown in rivers

for the enemy to finish us off with hounds licking our wounds,

so not even our blood would spill over to the new world

when the war was finally over.