Does a body need a passport when it crosses borders?
Who vouches for the grimaced face if one is still attached?
A loadmaster or an administrative clerk?
A paper shuffler, a Northern line strap hanger in training shoes?
The piece of meat that once was a living thing, where will it come to rest?
The birds pecked it while it smouldered, recently detached.
I recall staring vacantly at the matted mess wondering whose flesh it was,
It didn’t matter anymore as both minds had ceased to function.
I will never know what part of you that carcass was….
I hope that it got home and someone lays flowers where it lies.
© Wolfgar 2020
11 thoughts on “Meat”
I often recall this incident but not too often purposely. Six years ago now, yet still the anniversary comes around without me ever having made note of the date and still I am drawn into the memory. I recall after this event the amount of human flesh across the site seemed extraordinary. Very soon after the detonation whilst helping to clear an area and identify the injured I came across what seemed to be half a human head lying in an area which was otherwise untouched by the explosion. I was transfixed by the image, the mass was glistening and in some way still seemed living. I recall standing over it and trying to imagine who it might have been and just how many minutes ago it was still part of a whole human being. Soon after I remember taking a conscious decision to think of it as meat in an attempt to expel the image from my memory. Now that tag has burned the image firmly into my psyche and I doubt it will ever leave me. For some days after that explosion “meat” was being discovered on roof tops of buildings and in hidden places across the site. I wonder about the recovery of body parts and their journey home and all that surrounds that process. Anyway, that is where this comes from. Often people ask me why I am so serious and appear sad…it is of course usually a question those people think they already know the answer to (whilst the truth is even I don’t know) I despair of attempting to explain my experiences to those who glaze over as my mouth moves and their ears close. So I write words like this in the hope that one day someone who cares about unadultarated truth might just notice. We live in hope I suppose.
Thank you for this poem. We get anesthetised by news “coverage” of bombings. We see maybe twisted car parts, police, ambulances. And they give a number of dead: 71, 43, 20, 82. Yes, we should face the reality of it. I’m sorry it has to live on in your head.
Thank you John,
I have just uploaded a recording to accompany this, I hope it adds something.
Yes, David, thank you for this. I stumbled upon this poem in the early hour before dawn, with my first cup of coffee and was immediately “sobered” from my reveries. I must tell you, all the wild & beautiful things I see today will be grown from this poem, or lain upon it.
This is just fantastic, David
Thanks Devon and Bobby for stopping by and commenting, much appreciated.
Hi mate. It occurs to me that the core of this is how violence can be so calculated and yet random, beyond sanity. Added to this is the need to keep on functioning as a normal human being. A bit reminiscent of Apocalypse Now .There can’t be many options open to deal with such shocks. At least a poem can grip us and go some way towards a rationale.. brave as always!
I think Roger Waters invented the term “Random precision” when he used it in “Shine on you crazy diamond” modern terrorism seems to encapsulate the meaning of that..pure fear that an act can occur at any time and place irrespective of those within it’s killing field. Col Kurtz contemplated the sheer genius and simplicity of the idea..I would agree that it is genius of the evil persuasion. So yes, there is an “Apocalypse Now” feel to this. A friend of mine (former military) suggested that without context many might not latch on to the meaning of this, whilst I partly agree I am unconcerned that may be the case. A reading of historic war poets would reveal the same dynamic until such time as the general population became more familiar with the practices of modern warfare. These days with terrorism reaching its fist in to the very heart of our modern cities it will not be long before everyone recognises the context of this type of writing. “Evolution means the extinction of history and the revealing of uncertain futures”
Today 22 July is the sixth anniversary of this event, unfortunately it has revisited me in a manner that has had impacted in a way which I can no longer deal with without help. My thoughts are with all those who are affected as I am and all those who are no longer with us as a result of ignorance and hate.
I am very sorry that you are/were/will be suffering David. I listen out for radio news on Hellman. The Afghan army seem to be still taking an intermittent battering. It is interminable.
This is a poem that I wrote about 10 years or more ago concerning the last group of Hindu/Animist people. who were forcibly converted to Islam in 1895:
Nuristan, in eastern Afghanistan, was formerly known as Kafiristan (کافرستان, “land of the infidels”) until the inhabitants were converted from an ancient Hinduism, to Islam in 1895, and thence the region has become known as Nuristan (“land of illumination”)
The Hindu Kush
The mountains of the moon
And the valleys where we lived
With the faeries and the spirits of the wood.
We bred the Shen – the bravest of the horse tribe –
Grew the scented root – the Yu-kin –
We had our coins – copper, silver, gold –
And our open-faced beautiful women.
They dressed so colourfully in furs and wool
Loved as they wished
Changed their husbands on a whim,
Grew old in love and children.
We men, we carved our wood
Statues for the temples,
Decorations for the birthing huts.
We grew much fruit and grain.
We had many, many gods –
Every day was sacred –
But the faeries cursed us,
Brought Abdur Rahman Khan,
With the plague of belief.
They burnt our temples and our carvings –
Fire destroys the wood
That only time can make –
And all, all we had was gone.
Our beautiful women covered
Their faces in mourning
Many, many, many died
Even the red Kafirs converted
They called our land ‘Nuristan’
‘Land of the enlightened ones’.
Now only the black Kafirs remain –
The brave Kalash –
All else is dust –
This is what it is to be a man.
Thanks for sharing that John, I recall reading it somewhere before and being taken on a journey with it. The ancient civilisations have so much to teach us from Persia all over the Middle east into Africa and Southern Asia. We have been ignorant to many of the lessons we could and should have learned. The truth is that many of the “indigenous” people (not a word I’m fond of) have also become ignorant to their history. Did you happen to watch the BBC series “Once upon a time in Iraq” I thought it was generally very well done, with such a huge subject to cover I think they did it justice.
Thanks again, I hope you are doing OK..I always look forward to keeping up to date with your writing.