Syria, Syria

We did not know the young doctor and his wife.

We were sailing down the Nile and having dinner together on the upper deck twenty-two years ago. There was a warm breeze and an atmosphere of relaxed pleasure. Falucas in the distance glowed from the sun setting over their bows.

We had spent the day at Edfu with the God Horus in his temple.

Today as Syria is disintegrating, ordinary people are being bombed, raped and murdered. I think about the young doctor and his wife with whom we had dinner low those many years ago. Are they alive? Are they all right? Where are their children? She had been pregnant on that trip down the Nile.

We enjoyed one another’s company, dining together, socializing, just being. He was a good man.

In the Tomb of the Kings he was responsible for saving the life of an old man in near cardiac arrest, an old Jew.

We all played together, enriching one another’s lives taking pleasure in each other’s company for days. These were European Jews, Israelis originally from Yugoslavia, France, Italia and other countries, Jewish children, refugees of WWII and the Holocaust.

Two young Americans, two Syrians and about 6-8 old Israelis hanging out on a boat going down the Nile visiting the ancients.

Not long after awaking the next morning our boat sank. We were hung up in a series of locks while navigating a dam. When we finally pushed through, there was a gaping hole in the hull, the boat filling up with water very quickly. We were rescued by the Egyptian Navy and never saw each other again.

But I think of them today. I know that most if not all of the Israelis are gone. Then I think of the doctor as his country is in ruins. I wonder if he is alive – does he practice medicine today?

Is he an enemy of the state or a part of Bashar al Assad’s inner circle? I am sad when I think of him and his family. He gives to Syria a very real face of war in a way that the nightly news cannot do.

Two years now and 70,000 dead. Stirring and poignant headlines daily:

The Guardian: Syria: Bashar al Assad interview to be broadcast – live updates.
Milwaukee (AP): Parents talk about journalist kidnapped in Syria.
India Today: Armed and Courageous: Meet Syria’s women rebels.
Philadelphia Enquirer: The hopes and fears of secular Syrians.
USA Today: Obama warns of extremist threat in Syria.

Two years into the war and 70,000 dead. War again taking its toll on a people on its children. One man destroying an entire country, greed and power at the core of his soul.

Many have become refugees on the borders of neighboring countries, living in squalid conditions with some but little water and food.

Some have left bombed out homes and towns taking refuge in ancient forsaken cities that look bombed out themselves. They live underground in caves with dank air and little food.

They took with them remnants of their possessions; a torn blanket, a doll without her left foot, one large bent aluminum pot, a fork and spoon, glass jars and two pillows.
What will become of these people? Will the massive and significant government armed forces intent upon their destruction destroy them?

I think of the doctor, is he still alive? What side is he on? Sadness fills me yet again. Tears fall yet again for another war.

Syria, Syria another war, another loss.

This poem is posted at dVerse

The Afghan Middle-Class

I have not written a poem in some time. I have not been inspired – and I cannot tell you why. Perhaps with age comes an inability to multitask. Perhaps I have been gathering inspiration and now it is time to write a bit.

The New York Times is my computers Home Page. Some of you know that war has long given me inspiration. Today one of the headlines is: “34,000 U.S. Troops to Exit Afghanistan Within a Year.” This headline has five photos next to it, yet they are a part of another article titled: “New Afghan Middle Class Fears for the Future.” Each photo is current. I find the first photo riveting. It is modern but looks like a painting done in the fashion of realism, but set in the latter 19th century. Poem linked to dVerse Poets Pub OpenLinkNight Week 83.

The Afghan Middle-Class
Your country in ruins, toppled, rubble all around you.
Yet oblivious you stand at the bar ready to drink the blood of your brothers.

Yes, you are the middle class, the class that capitalism and war have built.
In your dark Brooks Brothers suit you stand at the bar Martini in hand.

Confidence gives you a slight aura of a halo. But it is the wrong color betraying your motives.
You don’t see those behind, pressing about you, men and women in tribal dress.

For you it is about the money, the power.
For them it is about little pieces of freedom.

How long will her face be uncovered, her dark glasses go un-cracked?
What peace has come to them through ten years of war?

War torn, this a country of fragmented pieces without peace yearns
To be put together and made whole. Will you rebuild with these shards, this detritus of war?

Or will the broken buildings simply become bunkers for the next battle?
As I look beyond the holes in the earth, the dusty playground, I see new tombs of the rich, ugly monolithic apartments built with acts of corruption.

They create a backdrop for war-youth playing kickball in the dust.
Afghanistan has a new and fragile middle class.

A middleclass made all the more fragile by a thin partition,
the wall pushing back against poverty, ever present.

The headline reads: “Fears of the Future Haunt a Budding Generation of Afghan Strivers.”
The strivers are in their tall semi-safely constructed compound.

They are separated from the youth playing in the dust of the street.
The strivers are mere feet from poverty. How long before they fall to the next war predator?

Always the illusion of safety, created by the money of corruption separates one from poverty, until poverty comes knocking on your door again.
Better, so much better to dismantle the wall yourself and meld with a piece of that poverty, lifting up rather than separating.

Yes, what will become of the middle-class?
The middle-class is in their wasteland.