‘Someone asked me, what would have been the make-up of your ideal platoon – athletes? No, I said: poets.’
Sydney Jary, WW2 Platoon Commander
At times like these I would suggest we might do better to listen to the poets, rather than the politicians, the soldiers, the commentators et al. With that in mind, my favourite living poet, Warsan Shire, in the aftermath of the London riots:
they set my aunts house on fire
i cried the way women on tv do
folding at the middle
like a five pound note.
i called the boy who use to love me
tried to ‘okay’ my voice
i said hello
he said warsan, what’s wrong, what’s happened?
i’ve been praying,
and these are what my prayers look like;
i come from two countries
one is thirsty
the other is on fire
both need water.
later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
where does it hurt?
Title image is ‘Response to the Sandyhook School Massacre’ by Jeremy Collins