MISSING

Rider at my doorstep dark
Whose steed begets what frantic art
Who is this king whom shadows hide
Whose victims tumble on the tide
And sprawl upon the morning sands
With ‘traitor’ etched into their hands?
Who is this king whose sole decree
Steals fathers in some frenzied spree
Of lead, and lies, and broken glass
And then begins to blame his brass?
Who is this king whose sins I find
Leave behind a child? His sign:
“MISSING – Father – 2010”
(I thought the war was done by then?)

– S.S. Bartlett

I wrote this circa 2012 about Sri Lanka’s white van culture and journalist abductions/murders. The original has been edited, ironically to silence the voice of my seventeen-year-old self.

Thy Kingdom Come

“Thy kingdom come,” the old man wept
As beneath the clouds he slept
Upon those streets of stone and steel
Where men before their wealth did kneel

“Thy kingdom come,” the lady sighed
Walking past the boys who cried
And raised their hands to shout a word
Which from her youthful days she’d heard.

“Thy kingdom come,” the mother shook
— Her son filed by without a look
To the rattle of some marching band
Spurring him to far-flung lands.

“Thy kingdom come,” the soldier prayed
As the turret spat and sprayed
And scores of lead soared overhead
To count his friends among the dead

“Thy kingdom come,” the surgeon heaved
Before the iron tool could cleave
The struggling boy upon the bed
All swathed in white and rushing red.

“Thy kingdom come,” the small one said,
Scrambling through those fields of dead
Where murderous men had only sown
Those crimson streams of ill renown

Hear us God, thy kingdom come,
Establish yours — Ours overrun.
Thy kingdom come, ours is lost —
And for what prize and at what cost?

S.S. Bartlett


Note : For many youth in my country  violence, wickedness and war (especially war) have had some sort of a presence and impact in our lives. While war has not affected me directly  I have seen its aftereffects ; beggars, blind men, amputees and orphans. This has no disturbed me, but allowed me to acknowledge the violence men have sown themselves and the discord with which we have overridden our lives. It is for this reason that I believe God’s divinity should transcend our ways and be applied in our lives

 

Crimson

What pile is this? Dumped –
Red rivers running down,
Against the wire slumped
Adorned with crimson crown.

Did you pray O quiet pile?
Did you say a prayer?
On the bloody battlefield
Angels do not dare.

I pity thee — you butchered youth.
You fought for naught, but lies
And now you gape at the truth,
Accompanied by flies.