The HyperTexts

Genocide Poetry: Poems about Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide

These are poems about Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide, the two worst crimes known to mankind, or "manunkind" as the poet E. E. Cummings rephrased the term. There are many examples of ethnic cleansing and genocide in human history, including the Holocaust, the Trail of Tears and the Palestinian Nakba (a catastrophe that continues to this day, funded by American taxpayer dollars and supported by advanced American weapons).

compiled by Michael R. Burch, an editor and publisher of Holocaust and Nakba poetry

Epitaph for a Palestinian Child
by Michael R. Burch

I lived as best I could, and then I died.
Be careful where you step: the grave is wide.

Come Lord and Lift
by T. Merrill

Come Lord, and lift the fallen bird
   Abandoned on the ground;
The soul bereft and longing so
   To have the lost be found.

The heart that cries—let it but hear
   Its sweet love answering,
Or out of ether one faint note
   Of living comfort wring.

Palestine by Houda Shams

Ethnic cleansing and genocide are the most terrible crimes known to humanity. And yet the United States, which claims to be the world leader on human rights, justice and democracy, has produced three Holocausts: (1) the Trail of Tears, which caused millions of completely innocent Native American women and children to suffer and die prematurely; (2) American slavery, which caused millions of completely innocent African American women and children to suffer and die prematurely; and (3) the Nakba (Arabic for "Catastrophe"), which continues to this day and has caused millions of completely innocent Palestinian women and children to suffer, and many to die prematurely. To cause the premature death of an innocent person is murder. To cause the premature deaths of large numbers of innocent people because of their race or ethnicity is genocide. When will the United States ever live up to its stated ideals, and end the wholesale ethnic cleansing and slaughter of innocents abetted by its financial aid and weapons sales to Israel, a nation that insists Jewish babies are born with infinitely greater rights than non-Jewish babies, then herds the "inferior" babies into giant walled corrals? The millions of completely innocent Palestinian women and children who suffer inside the walled ghetto of Gaza, the walled bantustans of Occupied Palestine and refugee camps across the Middle East never did anything to harm Americans. So what right do Americans have, to say that they should live and die as rightless serfs on their native land? Why does the United States preach "equal rights" and "democracy" to the rest of the world, while always denying Palestinians any possible chance of equal rights and self-determination?

International Quds Day by Mojtaba62

The poems on this page protest such injustices, and call for compassion and equality for all human beings, without excuses. How is it possible that American presidents and presidential candidates can deny that Palestinians mothers and their children deserve equal rights and justice? Why is what once happened to darker-skinned Native Americans and African Americans now happening to darker-skinned Palestinians? How is that not racism of the worst kind? Since the direct result of the Nakba was 9-11 and two terrible, decade-long wars, what has been the real cost of American racism, hubris and hypocrisy, but hundreds of thousands of lives lost, and trillions of dollars down the drain? I am reminded of what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in his "I Have A Dream" speech: The whirlwind of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our Nation until the bright day of Justice emerges. We need to do abroad what we have done within our own borders: stop favoring the "Chosen Few" over other people, or the people we deprive of justice will rebel against us, just as Americans once rebelled against the British monarchy.

Epitaph for a Palestinian Child
by Michael R. Burch

I lived as best I could, and then I died.
Be careful where you step: the grave is wide.

At Least, Save Children by Fidia95

This is a page of poetry about ethnic cleansing and genocide, about Holocausts and the horrors human beings inflict on each other ... even on completely innocent women and children.

Epitaph for a Sahrawi Child
by Michael R. Burch

I was only a child
in the Saharan wild.

What matter — my death
as long as you draw breath?

Forget me — I die.
Never ask yourselves, Why?

Bloodshed in the Sahara: The Sins of Colonialism and the Plight of the Sahrawi People is the latest addition to our Genocide Poetry Index: the one we really, really wish we didn't have to keep updating.

Ogaden Poetry is a page dedicated to the Ogaden people of Somalia. "Somalis have been known to the world, at least since Richard Burton's time, as a nation of poets." — Cedric Barnes, University of London

The poem "Auschwitz Rose"
by Michael R. Burch
is dedicated to all victims
and survivors of the
Holocaust, and their
families. "Never again!"
To read the poem, and
for an explanation of the
image above, please click
the title of the poem.

Make no mistake about it ... there have been many Holocausts in human history. Please consider the images of the Jewish children below, and please also consider the plight of American slaves, and of Native Americans who were forced to walk the Trail of Tears, and of the children of Darfur and Gaza today. f you are a student, teacher, educator, peace activist or just someone who cares and wants to help, please read How Can We End Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide Forever? and do what you can to make the world a safer, happier place for children of all races and creeds.

Holocaust Children Skeletons Emaciated

The Holocaust was the horror of all horrors, but sometimes one horror leads to another because today the Jewish Shoah (Hebrew for "Catastrophe") is being used to excuse the Palestinian Nakba (Arabic for "Catastrophe"). Jews and Christians also use the Bible to condone this terrible new Holocaust by saying that God "gave" the land of Palestine to the ancient Hebrew tribes, when in reality the Bible clearly says that the land was taken by ethnic cleansing and genocide, the "slaying of everything that breathes." If God "gave" the land to Moses, Joshua and King David, why does the Bible relate how time and time again they slaughtered defenseless women and children in the process of taking it? How is it possible that in the 21st century human beings continue to use religious texts to excuse collective punishment and the ethnic cleansing and genocide of innocents? How can rich, powerful Jews and Americans continue to wage a senseless war of attrition against the suffering children of Gaza and Occupied Palestine? Is land, money or political influence worth the terrible price of the lives of so many innocent women and children?

by Michael R. Burch

What good are your tears?
They will not spare the dying their anguish.
What good is your concern
to a child sick of living, waiting to perish?

What good, the warm benevolence of tears
without action?
What help, the eloquence of prayers,
or a pleasant benediction?

Before this day is gone,
how many more will die
with bellies swollen, wasted limbs,
and eyes too parched to cry?

I fear for our souls
as I hear the faint lament
of their souls departing ...
mournful, and distant.

How pitiful our "effort,"
yet how fatal its effect.
If they died, then surely we killed them,
if only with neglect.

Holocaust Mass Graves

The ethnic cleansing and genocides of the children of Darfur and Palestine are crimes against peace and humanity. Obviously, the women and children of Darfur and Palestine are not "terrorists" ...

IMG_6011.jpg picture by eshaameena

... so why are they being collectively punished? Of course it was wrong for the Nazis to collectively punish Jewish women and children during the Holocaust. But surely it is just as wrong for the government of Israel to punish Palestinian women and children collectively today (just think of the movies "District 9" and "Avatar" to understand their dilemma) ...

The pictures on the left are of the Jewish Shoah. The pictures on the right are very similar pictures of the Palestinian Nakba ...

We Love Gaza

I live in Gaza.
My hope for the future is to free Palestine.
Living in Gaza is like living in prison.
The borders are closed, no airport like other countries, wars, people dying.
We want freedom like other countries.
When I hear bombing I’ll be afraid.
I really really wish for freedom.
―The Child Poets of Gaza

My nightmare

I had a dream of Jesus!
Mama, his eyes were so kind!
But behind him I saw many Jews and Christians
hissing "You're nothing!" So blind!
―The Child Poets of Gaza

I am just fourteen

Hot tears racing down my cheeks
Deep wounds that shall never heal
Dreams of peace that had already ceased
Corpses, blood everywhere
Greed is to blame
Beauty and peace no longer there
Just in fantasies they lay
Souls and objects full of life
Eaten away by fresh fire
Destruction, deception that is left
What good will they get
Murder, death of loved ones
Filling hearts with bitterest desires
Terror and fear surrounding me
Closing in upon me
I stand silent, in a silent scream
That nobody can hear
For God’s sake I am just fourteen!
―The Child Poets of Gaza

When I am President

When I am president, I will be the president of Spain because I love Spain a lot.
I will live in Barcelona and the first thing I will do
is that I will collect my army and go save Palestine
and control Israel and give it back to Palestine.
I will buy limousines, Jeeps, phones, laptops and bodyguards.
I will make everybody happy and I will let everybody call me the best president ever!
―The Child Poets of Gaza

I have a dream ...

I have a dream ...
that one day Jews and Christians
will see me as I am:
a small child, lonely and afraid,
staring down the barrels of their big bazookas,
knowing I did nothing
to deserve this.
―The Child Poets of Gaza

Suffering in Gaza…through the eyes of a teenager

I want to write about the suffering of the people in these days of siege...

We can’t get basic things…I think that there is no future for us…I mean for Gaza’s people. There is no safe place we can go there, even we can’t communicate with our friends because networks are down. Our life is centered around those who have been killed.

There is horror every minute and it’s clear, especially in the lives of children…

I just want to ask the people who are living outside of Gaza...

Imagine your life with no electricity or basic things? Destroyed home, a lot of children who don’t have parents, the sounds just like the roll of thunder…BOOM…all the time. Imagine your children tell you through their eyes and cries, “We are afraid, we can’t take it anymore and we can’t even sleep!”

Imagine yourself with no one beside you, to take care of you or even to look after you…and the people around you are strangers…How long could you stand it?

If the world stood with us we will not stand it any longer or anymore. But unfortunately there is no ”doings” just other people who are trying to help us by saying words, not more. They don’t do for us any good things.

We are now better than before, at least we can go to school everyday instead of seeing others dying.

I hope Gaza will change and be as the other countries…we just have to pray all the time!

We just want PEACE.

Living in Gaza

Living in Gaza is not always easy. When I came to Gaza, I did not believe what I saw. I saw buildings that were bombed, houses that were burned and people who were happy. I didn’t think people could be happy living like this. Now that I have been in Gaza for months, I realized that we don’t need to have the best stores, the best restaurants, or the best houses. As long as we have our friends and family, we can be happier than the people who have those things.

While I am in Gaza, I have learned to make better use of my time. I used to think that when the power goes out it would be hard to do anything. You actually can have a fun game or talk to your cousins. I can’t say I hate Gaza because it is where I am from so I am happy here. I am proud of where I am from and happy to be here.

My Hope for the Future

Future – it’s a big word for me and I have a lot of dreams. One of my dreams for the future is that I want to be a journalist. Two years ago I decided to be a journalist because I saw that my friend was so happy with that work and I like to write and take photos and things like that. These days, I started to think about that idea.

My friend is Egyptian and she traveled to China, India, Iraq – all those places, so I thought of being a journalist just like that; traveling, shopping, taking some photos and writing essays but I forgot that I live in Gaza and those things are impossible for us.

I can’t travel at any time or write anything here. No one writes anything except about war and enemies (Israel) so my dream started to vanish.

Now I don’t know what I want to be and have no dream.

Living in Gaza

Living in Gaza is like living in a cage. We can’t travel, we can’t take our own opinion and we should always be ready for anything unexpected to happen, such as a bomb far or nearby, war or a problem anywhere. You could even be kidnapped for a political reason.

In Gaza, each day that passes by, there should be 8 hours without electricity.

But, whatever you hear about us...we are powerful, we are strong and we have brave people but we don’t have the minds to work on our case. We sometimes make ourselves happy just to run away from worries. It’s as making ourselves confident.

In Gaza, the only thing stopping us from peace is that we should be on one side, not including the games of political parties. We also, in Gaza, share anything around the world. We are people the same as any country. I guess so…!!!!

The things that we love in Gaza is our friends and family. It is the only thing that we are alive for!!

In the Future

In the future, I will make a factory for cars and I will make it in Gaza because Gaza doesn’t have a car factory. I will make a car company and I will sell them to Gaza’s people and I will give them to my dad and mom. I will give each of them two cars and to my brothers I will give them each two cars. My uncle will let me study with him and I will give him the latest model. I will bring a quad for myself. I want the quad now.

The future will be nicer than we are now.

Suffer the Little Children

by Nakba

I saw the carnage . . . saw girls' dreaming heads
blown to red atoms, and their dreams with them . . .

saw babies liquefied in burning beds
as, horrified, I heard their murderers’ phlegm . . .

I saw my mother stitch my shroud’s black hem,
for in that moment I was one of them . . .

I saw our Father’s eyes grow hard and bleak
to see frail roses severed at the stem . . .

How could I fail to speak?

The oppressed can but pursue suitable tracks
Learning to heed the lessons of awesome war
But will the mighty listen to reason’s voice
That justice will accomplish the peace of Rome?
Or will conscience’s dictates be inexorably ignored
As war’s clouds hover over culture’s great cradle?
And yet we do not harbor the odium of hatred
But pray that peace can still be humanity’s finest hour
―Khaled Nusseibeh

Djembe Drum Beat
by Debbie Amirault Camelin

He placed his brown hand over mine
stopped my rhythm-less banging
and pulled the drum away
to cradle in his legs
and caress the taunt skin
of the carved conical drum
comforting it against my assault.

I folded my hands in my lap
the proper lady thing to do
when defeat feels imminent.
I offered, "There is a rhythm in me
but it’s buried deep."
"Very deep", he assured me.

We continued the lesson
left hand gradually grasping the beat
right hand perfectly tone-deaf.

Emergency Appeal: Help End Ethnic Cleansing in Darfur

Skull Trees, South Sudan
Adrie Kusserow

Arok, hiding from the Arabs in the branches of a tree,
two weeks surviving on leaves,
legs numb, mouth dry.
When the mosquitoes swarmed
and the bodies settled limp as petals under the trees,
he shinnied down, scooping out a mud pit with his hands
sliding into it like a snake,
his whole body covered except his mouth.
Perhaps others were near him,
lying in gloves of mud, sucking bits of air through the swamp holes,
mosquitoes biting their lips,
but he dared not look.

What did he know of the rest of South Sudan, pockmarked with bombs,
skull trees with their necklaces of bones,
packs of bony Lost Boys
roving like hyenas towards Ethiopia,
tongues, big as toads, swelling in their mouths,

the sky pouring its relentless bombs of fire. Of course they were
tempted to lie down for a moment,

under the lone tree, with its barely shade,
to rest just a little while before moving on,

the days passing slyly, hallucinations
floating like kites above them
until the blanched bones lay scattered in a ring around the tree,
tiny ribs, skulls, hip bones—a tea set overturned,
as the hot winds whistled through them
as they would anything, really,

and the sky, finally exhausted,
moving on.

Darfur (Jesus Wept)
by William F. DeVault

Half a million dead in Darfur, in the Sudan.
100 times the innocents who died on 9/11.
Children. Women. Men. Genocide.

Wake up and see.
Wake up and see.
Wake up and see why
Jesus wept.

The rains didn't come
the sounds of the drums
the death knell kept.
Jesus wept.

Over the burning sands
the killing commands
of the warlords swept.
Jesus wept.

It should be true
that the evils evil men do
we cannot accept.
Jesus wept.

The slaughter rained on
as in the blistering dawn
the sun, the horizon, leapt.
Jesus wept.

Half a million women and children and sons and daughters
fall to the hate, their fate as wormfood for the slaughters.
Since when are 100 black babies worth less than one white businessman
in the eyes and lies of people who claim to be, to see, without sin?

Wake up and see.
Wake up and see.
Wake up and see why
Jesus wept.

Copyright by William F. DeVault; all rights reserved. You can hear William F. DeVault perform "Darfur (Jesus Wept)" with his band, The Gods of Love, by clicking here.

You Who Read No Calm
by T. Merrill

You, who read no calm reportings
Of alien, distant, dire events,
But shriek and keen as loves go down
Beyond all help, to violence;
Whose temple's walls, stormstruck and split
By sizzling bolts collapse around,
While mid the crash of chaos hope
Whirls in a death-spin to the ground;
You, who alone in deep distress
Cry out for help where there is none,
All you whom I shall never know:
I know a portion nonetheless
Of cruel trials you undergo.

Killers in many guises come:
Sudden as electric shock
Or looming ghostly as a shark
Leisurely finning toward its mark.
I who breathless and sweating once
Wrestled a devil to the floor,
And saw him rise again when he
Finished what he began before,
I who re-learned each childhood prayer
Forgotten, to the stars once more
Send up a poor and hopeless plea
For spirit's peace beyond despair.

Tears of Darfur
by Mahnaz Badihian

O tired land
O depressed sky of Darfur
O plain of no breath
You are bleeding from all corners
Of your dreams
The bosom of your land
Weeps the bitterness of blood
O tearful Darfur,
Can your hungry hands
One day cultivate those
Dry, sad roots, left from
The countless bones
Of your children
Can your simple dreams
Of having a
Loaf of bread and a roof above
Come through?
Maybe one day
Those broken wings
Will heal
With the caressing hands
Of peace
We the people of the world
With our tearful eyes
Waiting on the day that
Acacias will bloom
On the lands where
The dream of innocence pours
On these hopeless days

War Metaphysics for a Sudanese Girl
Adrie Kusserow

I leave the camp, unable to breathe,

me Freud girl, after her interior,
she Lost Girl, after my purse,

her face:
dark as eggplant,
her gaze:
unpinnable, untraceable,
floating, open, defying the gravity
I was told keeps pain in place.

Maybe trauma doesn't harden,
packed, tight as sediment at the bottom of her psyche,
dry and cracked as the desert she crossed,
maybe memory doesn't stalk her
with its bulging eyes.

Once inside the body
does war move up or down,
maybe the body pisses it out,
maybe it dissipates, like sweat and fog
under the heat of a colonial God,
and in America, maybe it flavors dull muzungu lives,
each refugee a bouillon cube of horror.

Maybe war can't be soaked up
by humans alone,
the way the rains in Sudan
move across the land,
drenching the ground, animals, camps, sky,
no end to its roaming
until further out, among the planets,
a stubborn galaxy finally mops it up,
and it sits, hushed,
red, sober,

and below, the humans in the north
with their penchant for denial,
naming it aurora borealis.

*Muzungu means "white person" in many Bantu languages of east, central and South Africa

A Sudan boy holds onto the barb wire fence surrounding a water point in the Abu Shouq internally displaced people's (IDP) camp in the outskirts of el-Fasher, North Darfur, in 2007.

Sudan's government is still supporting genocide in Darfur, including through rape and holding up humanitarian aid, the International Criminal Court prosecutor said Wednesday December 3, 2008.

Photo: AMIS/Stuart Price

Adrie Kusserow

Sudanese Refugee Camp, Northwest Uganda


Our drivers gun insanely over the dusty, red roads,
       lurching from pothole to pothole.
              Caravan of slick, adrenalized vans,

tattooed with symbols of western aid,
       Will on my lap, trying to nurse between bumps,
              my hands a helmet to his bobbing skull.

A three-legged goat hobbles to the side
       and though we imagine we are a huge interruption,
              women balancing jeri cans on their heads, face our wake
of dust and rage as they would any other gust of wind—

Water, sun, NGO.

We arrive covered in orange dust, coughing,
       fleet of SUVs parked under the trees,
              engines cooling, Star Trekkian cockpits flashing,

alarms beeping and squawking as we zip-lock them up
       and leave them black-windowed, self-contained as UFO's.

Behind the gate, we stumble through the boiling, shoulder deep sun,
       Will and I trying to play soccer
              as a trickle of Sudanese kids cross the road

hanging against the fence, watching the chubby Muzungu boy
       I've toted around Africa like a pot of gold.
              Three years old, he knows they're watching, so he does a little dance,
                     his SpiderMan shoes lighting up as he kicks the ball.


Part African bush, part Wild West,
       we're based in Arua, grungy, dusty frontiertown,
              giant dieseled trucks barrel through, spreading their wake of adrenalin,
                     obese sacks of grain lying like walrus inside.

I chase Will from malarial puddle to puddle,
       white blouse frilled like a gaudy gladiola,
              lavish concern for my chubby son
                     suddenly rococo, absurd.


7 foot giants of the SPLA, huddle together, drinking,
       talking Dinka politics, repatriation, the New Sudan,
              wives lanky as giraffes, set food on the table and disappear.

In candlelight the men's forehead scars gleam—
       I flutter around them acting more deferential than I'm used to,
              slowly I'm learning Sudanese grammar—
men, verbs, women, the conjunctions that link them together.

In the thick of rain we walk home,
       Ugandans huddled under their makeshift bird cages,
              Will now pointing to the basic vocabulary of this road—

dead snake, prickly bush, squealing pig, peeing child.
       Three drunk men huddled at a shack
              scrape the whiteness off us as we walk by.

Though I don't want to hear it,
       though I love Africa,
it starts up anyway, the milky mother cells of my body high-fiving,
my mind quietly repeating the story of my son's lucky birth,
       his rich American inheritance.


My husband drops into bed, dragging a thick cloak of requests.
       All day, I've labored behind him, toting our clueless muzungu,
              watching him, dogged Dutchman in his rubber clogs

climbing the soggy hills of Kampala, despite the noonday heat,
       a posse of hopeful Lost Boys following him.
              He, afraid of nothing, really; not even death,
me afraid of everything really, most of all his death.

In the distance, trucks rev up to cross the bush
       where Sudanese families perched like kites caught in trees,
              wait for the next shipment.

But it's night now,
       the three of us inside the cloud chamber of our mosquito net,
              the two of them breathing, safe.

Will's nursing again, though he doesn't need to,
       swelling like a tick
              and though I don't want to love

the sweet mists of our tiny tent home,
       the lush wetlands of our lives,
              its thick rope bridges and gentle Ugandan hills,

the fat claw of my heart rises up,
       fertile, lucky, random
              pulsing its victory song.

Refugees at the Kalma Camp in south Darfur, in 2005.

Picture: UN

Adrie Kusserow


The pond black and bulging,
ice storm ruins poking from the water
like the stiff feet of, dare I say, fallen soldiers.
Robert still in Sudan,
back in Vermont, the kids and I limp through two weeks of cold rain,

I drape Ana and Will in rain gear
watch the drunken tents run across the field.
Ana plunks her chubby toes into a fleet of tadpoles
cold mud sucking her foot into its mouth.

I drag the branches onto shore,
globs of frog eggs surface like transparent brains,
Ana cupping the dimpled jelly,
the dogs licking it like caviar.
Entranced, she squeezes it
until I tell her to stop
before she crushes the eggs.

I tell myself it's not quite violence but over eager love,
this lust with which they squeeze the living,
smearing the mud onto their own limbs.
But what of this blur
between awe and destruction,
love and violence?

At night, the peepers,
screaming themselves into existence.
Two frogs griplocked onto a female,
her flesh bulging between their swollen fingers.
"They're wrestling," I say, not wanting to reveal the darker side of their mating.

I gingerly pry the males off, Will cheering,
Ana serious and methodic
until she finally dislodges the last one's grip with her twig
and they fall apart wriggling in the grass.


The rains just started in Juba, south Sudan,
making travel, and maybe war, near impossible.
Still my husband pushes a saggy jeep for eight hours
through four feet of mud, a Sudanese boy
lying unconscious in the back seat.

The jeep rocking and lurching
on the only road cleared of mines
as my husband tries to inch it forward, this, his own labor of love,
like birth, like sex, something always tears,
his foot jammed with a thorn as he heaves and sinks
his toenail tearing off, until even he gives up
and forces them to turn back,
still 40 miles from Aliab, the whole village waiting for them,
caught in an outbreak of cholera,
its one river littered with rusty ammunition,
trucks large as elephants lying on their sides.

When Abraham, their Lost Boy,* came home after 18 years,
the elders sacrificed a white cow.
Jump over it, into peace, they cried
while the women tipped their thin necks back,
their whips of ululation uncoiling in the heat.


The frogs, still wiggling on the grass,
Ana clutches the tan-pink female,
despite its eerie mask, she wants to take it home.
I tell her just one night,
then we'll let it go back to its real home—
but the next morning it's done the impossible,
jumped out of its three foot fortress.

I roam the rooms crazed, desperate to find it.
I do,
a day later, shrunken in the comer of the bathroom
but still breathing. I race it to the pond,
children confused behind me,
watch it sink, stunned, then lethargically swim away,
still dried and wrinkled, despite its immersion in water,
like Abraham, now more American than Sudanese,
sitting wide-eyed and stiff amidst the wailing and singing.


Robert home, worn out, but safe.
I take a walk to the pond and find—
a tan-pink frog, perhaps the same one,
floating in the water,
I can't tell if it's alive or dead.

I know how I came to be married to this man,
I followed him from country to country,
gripped him hard as the frogs—
Still he did not peel me off, as I have tried to do
with his over eager love, for this gangly, barren country of Sudan.
Who knows what will be torn next,
it's just what happens when you love the world
and you move blindly, but well intentioned,
amidst the irresistible mud.

*The "Lost Boys" refers to the 17,000 children in southern Sudan who fled their homes in 1987 seeking refuge from the civil war. They walked 1,000 miles before they finally found protection in a Kenyan refugee camp, Kaukuma. By the time they arrived there, half of the boys had died from starvation, thirst, soldiers, lions and bandits. About 3,700 have recently been resettled in America.

A young refugee child stares from a makeshift camp set up by villagers forced from their home in the latest cycle of ethnic violence that has spilled over from Sudan's neighboring Darfur province to eastern Chad, at Goz Beida, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2006.

Conflicts over land and water between Arab nomads and black farmers are being fueled by governments seeking their own agendas.

Potential oil finds in Darfur is also an issue, involving China, the United States, and Western Europe.

Photo: AP/Christophe Ena


by Michael R. Burch

I admit that my heart recoils
from the thought of your agony
as the hammering machine guns
yammer at your ebony

I am not equal to the task
of your impassioned soliloquy.

Darfur, I am pressed
hard to understand
why men molest
so violently.

Darfur, I confess
I have watched you dying

Darfur, I would bless
if only I knew

I stand helpless,
naked before your indignation

I have only my pen.

Let me wield it like a rapier,
set fire to this paper,

till the world in burning shreds
collapses on our heads

and we see your fate is ours
if we cannot change the course

of this world intent to maim
each man who’s not the "same"

in color and in creed.
And yet the blood you bleed,

as red as mine, demands
that we die holding hands.

O Darfur,
I’ll bleed too
when the ravenous jackals
are through
with you.

Who knows one?
by Rabbi Michael Strassfeld

a Passover reflection, April 2006

Who knows one?  One is the Janjaweed militia cleansing Darfur 

Who knows one?  Two is the stealing and killing of livestock

Who knows one?  Three is the poisoning of wells and the destruction of crops

Who knows one?  Four is the use of rape to destroy and humiliate families

Who knows one?  Five is the creation of two-and-a-half million people: displaced, hungry, susceptible to disease

Who knows one?  Six is the over four hundred thousand people who have already died.

These and more are the plagues of Darfur.

Who knows one?
I know one.
Send a postcard to President Bush.  Urge him to take leadership on this issue.
lo dayenu — but it is not enough.

Who knows one?
I know one.
Encourage institutions to hang Save Darfur banners outside their buildings.
lo dayenu — but it is not enough.

Who knows one?
I know one.
Attend the rally in Washington, DC on April 30th.
lo dayenu — but it is not enough.

Who knows one?
I know one — Rwanda

Who knows one?
I know one — Bosnia

Who knows one?
I know one — Cambodia

There are too many ones.
And I am the child who does not know how to count:
One.  Two.  Four hundred thousand.  Six million.
For six million are the lips of our dead mouthing “never again” in eternal silence.

Who knows one?  I know one.
For I am that one.
One person created in the image of God.
It is for me alone to speak out.  I and no other.
Not a messenger, not a congressperson, not a president.

I alone am here to tell the tale.

Who knows one? I am that one.

And who knows — I may be the one who will make the difference.

A mother and her son arrive at the Kalma displaced people camp in southern Darfur, Sudan.

Sudan's government is still supporting genocide in Darfur, including through rape and holding up humanitarian aid, the International Criminal Court prosecutor said Wednesday December 3, 2008.

Photo: AFP/Jose Cendon

Displaced Persons Camp in Darfur

by  Yala Korwin
Please follow me and watch that woman bent,
as willows bend, face hidden in her hand.
A picture of despair, to say the least.
That other one is hiding in her tent.
She was tortured and raped, here on the sand.
The Devil on Horseback did it. A beast.
For her it was a shame. For hima feast.
Now she’s ostracized. Custom of this land.
These orphaned children sit. They never play.
They seem to be so scared. They sit and they
just stare at nothing. They look so spent …
Their future? Who knows? Let’s hope not all gray
This boy is maimed. His sister’s womb is rent.
The men do battle. They kill. The children pay.

Refugees who fled the conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region run for shelter during a dust storm at Djabal camp near Gos Beida in eastern Chad June 19, 2008.

Photo: Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters

What for Darfur
by Ed Miller
There is no oil beneath the ground
Or wealth above the ground to seize
Just villages of African poor
I ask "What for Darfur?"
The hot sun rots the severed heads
Left by these murderous hordes
Widows, orphans, and more
I ask, "What for Darfur?"
We stopped it in Bosnia, was white
Not Ruwanda, that wasn't right
Haven't learned from Holocaust lore 
I ask, "What for Darfur?"
UN pretends to care, without arms to fight
Reports of massacres, camps daily blight
What will finally stop this war
I ask, "What for Darfur?"
An army of righteous, army with might
Disarm the Jonjuive enemy, day and night
Return the people to peace as before
I ask again, "What for Darfur?"

A member of the Sudan Liberation Army

The five-year conflict in Darfur has left 300,000 people dead

On the Propensity of the Human Species to Repeat Error

by Christina Pacosz

                  "And if they kill others for being who they are
                   or where they are
                   Is this a law of history
                   or simply, what must change?"
                                                                        Adrienne Rich

The world is round.
This should tell us
something, this should
have been our first clue
                           what goes around
                           comes around

Scientists are studying
a rent in the roof of sky
over the South Pole
right now but poets
need not adhere
to the caution
of the scientific method.
The message is simple:
                             what goes around
                             comes around

The battery acid of
Plato's Republic
has finally reached
the ozone layer,
a membrane, protective
like skin or an amniotic sac,
permeable and destructible
                              what we take
                              for granted
                              will get us
                              in the end

The Sioux woman's breast
severed from her body
dried into a pouch
for tobacco,
what book was that?
Or a chosen people's skin
stretched across the heavens,
shade for us to more easily
read the harsh lesson
of history.

A mother tries to console her child at the Abu Shouk refugee camp near El Fasher in Darfur, Sudan, August 25, 2004

Photo: AFP/Jim Watson

I am a woman
by Sheema Kalbasi with Roger Humes

I am woman
coming from the desert
coming from the long line of tribes
coming from the long line of faiths

They called me mad
They chained me to the wall naked
yet I broke free the bonds
and ran through the pain of my existence
in search of the innocence that was denied me
and they called me mad
and they called me the evil spawn of Satan
yet I broke free the bonds
and ran towards our freedom
where I knelt
before the Mother and the Son
and I called them Salvation
and they named me Nation
and I tore loose the chains of captivity
only to fall once more into bondage
when I was raped by a Mongol
married a Jew
gave birth to a Muslim
watched the child convert to Buddhism
watched the child marry a Bahai
live as a Christian
die as a Hindu

I am a woman
I am the river
I am the sky
I am the clouded covered trees upon the mountain
I am the fertile earth whose song the plants drink deep
I am the long line of tribes
I am the long line of faiths

Don't try to convert me
into something I am not
for I am already all
that humanity will ever be

Body in Darfur, Sudan.

MASSACRES IN DARFUR remain rampant, a UN investigation has found, report June 14, 2006.

Photo: Taker and date of photo unknown/Raw story

The Blade of Grass in a Dreamless Field
by Takashi "Thomas" Tanemori

Only a few knew it existed;
No one knew its power;
The world would never be the same again,
Changing irrevocably and forever.
The six-hundred-year history of Hiroshima
Disappeared in the ashes,
On this Judgment Day, on this Morning!

Blameless souls forever vanish
on this morning, this judgment day.
Our silent cries, to heaven we appeal,
scattered like the ash of withered leaves.
Our ebbing souls
cling to that lonely sky;
we try in vain to escape this sea of flame.
Oh, Hiroshima, once my haven,
why has your life been sacrificed?

The abounding sadness within my heart . . .
drowning my loneliness in tears of self-pity.
Four abandoned children;
wishing to feel our mother's love,
just once more;
if only in our dreams.
The heat of yet another long night lingers.
Oh, Hiroshima, once my home,
my tears run dry waiting for the breaking dawn.

My soul is torn by this rage inside,
an orphan of war;
why does this make me feel guilty?
Why do my neighbors turn away
or, close their ears when I speak?
Bitterness poisons this innocent child,
I madly waste away.
Oh, Hiroshima, once my cradle,
I am waiting to die.

Gathering remnants of my courage,
I stand alone in this notorious America, land of the enemy.
An outcast with slanted eyes,
I fall before the indifference of strangers;
sightlessly, they trample upon my dignity.
This life of anguish seems to be my destiny.
Praying for death, I endure time.
Oh, Hiroshima, once my comfort,
I am lost in dreams of revenge.

Budding leaves renew this tired place, this tired soul;
gently the rain is embraced by your love,
comforting this savaged heart.
A blade of grass emerges from the ashes,
and my heart becomes a light,
connecting me to heaven.
Living for one another, this is my path!
Oh Hiroshima, forever my love,
may my life become a bridge from you and others.

At the dawn of the 21st century,
we honor this passage through darkness.
We must have the courage to enter
the void again . . . and again,
emerging with the gift of new life.
Healing only comes through learning to forgive
and making peace with our past.
Only then, will the wind whisper:
"Hibakusha, you have not lived in vain!"

A displaced Sudanese woman sits with her daughter in their barrack at the Sakali Displaced Persons camp in Darfur city of Nyala, February 2007.

Picture: AFP/Mustafa Ozer

Crisis (Darfur)
by lungelo mbatha

Won’t you help to sing the song of Bob Marley
If ‘tis all we seem to have!
For how long shall they kill our PEOPLE
Genocide after genocide
Whilst everybody stands and looks …
When shall the Children taste the fruit
From the freedom tree watered at its root
By the blood of our people before us
Oh! What a shame on the ‘body of nations’!
Jumping from left to right, round and round
Wasting time, when ever The Burnt Faces are at the receiving end!
Let that old black fist of AMANDLA rise up high
Now open to make it STOP, to make it STOP!

Internally displaced Sudanese women sit inside their make-shift house in their camp near El-Fasher, capital of the north Darfur region, Sudan March 25, 2007

Photo: Michael Kamber/Reuters

A Child of the Millennium
by Charles Adés Fishman

He’s five months old now — a little short
on experience — but if he could speak,
Jake would sit with the Dalai Lama on a red
and golden throne and hold forth on happiness
and compassion   on freeing the mind from vengeance
and regret   and living in exile from the sacred home:
he’s seen the end of days . . . and the beginning.

He doesn’t know about race or gender
or that we are murdering the planet   that the earth
is smoldering with underground fires and with the bone-
fires of hatred    He doesn’t know about ethnicity
or religion   and will not take with him into the new century
memories of calcined corpses or an interior landscape
peopled with napalmed children.

What Jake is best at has nothing to do with genocide
or the acid tides of history   He travels in realms
where tenderness is a face that brushes his face
He feels the strength of those around him   and their love
and time ticks at his wrist like the gentlest rain   His eyes
are the most translucent lakes, his smiles tiny suns
that shine a clear light on the living.

Children of The Holocaust
by Joseph McDonough

The perfectly white
sits upon
the lush green lawn

they run     they run
through fields
of sun
calling     calling its name

Ashes     Ashes
like rain

Poets Against the Genocide in Dafur
by Gordon Ramel

          Nobody knows how many people have died during
          the two-year conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region.

US academic Eric Reeves estimated the death toll at
          340,000 at the beginning of 2005.

          But so far the crisis shows no signs of abating.

If a poet’s true vocation is to speak
with words so well perfected they remain
as thoughts forever in the hearer’s brain,
then poets are the people we must seek.To spin bright webs that will ignite the minds
and wake the sleeping masses of this world,
‘til they become a tidal wave that’s hurled
against the cruel indifference that blinds
the tame and tepid leaders of our time.
The systematic slaughter in Dafur,
this gory, gruesome, genocidal war,
is now our world’s most sick and senseless crime;
and I for one would like my government
to make its end their primary intent.

Black Climate of Change
by Zyskandar Jaimot

gone into giant swirling whirlwinds of khamseens
gone into vicious sprawling outbursts of tribal revenge
mothers, babes all bundled together in refuge
mothers calling, praying to strange foreign deities for succor
their voices unheeded in all the world
their DNA gone – vanished amid waves of bloody sand
     never replaced – never thought of – never considered
their DNA unimportant
their DNA inconsequential
their essence gone

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