By : Zieba Shorish-Shamley

February, 2001



We are orphaned children, we live in this ruin

We will die of hunger, no help will come soon

Window glass is gone, no door to the room

No food or a fire, we face our own doom

I am the eldest girl, my age is only eight,

I must care for us, we have bleakest fate

Painful cries of hunger, children weak and sick

Bare ground their bed, they shake, cry and kick

I go to the window, to see the outside world

Looking out I see, winter's gloom and cold

People walk around, they look like dead souls

They have lost all hopes, as well as all goals

People wrapped in rags, they limp or they crawl

Some have fallen down, some lean on the wall

Women old and young, they beg on the street

They're sick and weak; they have nothing to eat

A woman wails in pain, holding a lifeless child

Militia yells at her, he is crazed and wild

He has become enraged, he yells "Be Silent!"

The woman can't stop, militia gets violent

Beating her with gun, time after time again

Helpless women and men, cannot stop her pain

She does become silent; she falls on the ground

Her baby on her side, no one makes a sound

I run from the window and hide in the room

No hope for us all, we are faced with doom

Shaking hard with fear, I sit in the dark

Militia keeps on yelling, it sounds like a bark

I call to the children, to come huddle around

"You all must be quite! Do not make a sound!"

"A monster is outside, he has the biggest gun"

"He will beat us to death! No way for us to run!"

The children are quite, shocked by fear and cold

Militia must not find us, in markets we are sold

I heard they take children, and cut them all apart

Selling hearts and kidneys, militia's latest art

They burn people's homes, kill animals and dogs

They cut hands and feet, chaining people to logs

They shoot women and girls, elders and young boy (s )

They hunt people like games, in this they are not coy

I do not know how long? We hide in this ruin

No food, cold, and hunger, we all will die soon

Winter's accursed chill, it cuts like a knife

I wrap us all in rugs, loosing warmth of life

Sun shines for an instant, I see a horrid sight

>Children all still, they don't cry or fight

The color on their faces has turned " Navy Blue"

>What is wrong with them? I don't know what to do?

Oh God! It's so cold! It does freeze the tear(s)

I must keep us hidden, militia creeping near

My body feels so numb, I must stay awake

I am sleepy, tired, my belly growls and ache

I will close my eyes, may be for a moment

I may escape the cold, fear and my torment

I may dream of food, warm hugs by my mom

I may dream of safety, no gun and no bomb


I Have Heard

By Bahar Saeed

Translated by Sherief Fayez

I have heard that in my land

the night is afraid of the stars

the trees of the moon

the day of the sun

the rivers of the water

I have heard that in my land

hopes seek refuge in shrouds

beggars in homes of the famished

Fathers in their wheat-dreams

sleep on a harvest spot.

Mothers put before orphans

roasted parts of their livers.

And babies in place of milk

chew their mothers' breasts

I have heard that

houses are wounded

with nobody to cover the open scars of the walls

And streets scream in pain

when sounds of bombs and rockets

break the bones of the windowpanes

I have heard that

winter with snow

has written in ice

their vow to shiver the unclothed

I have heard that

youths often fall in love with fruit trees

and brides beautify their eyes with soot

I have heard that

lambs eat human flesh in place of grass

And tomorrow signifies nothing

other than a hen thinking of laying an egg