Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Warrior Poet

Stay, listen, friend...
feel the age-old rhythms stir desert sand,
hear poets past whisper bygone praise of tribe, lord and land.
There rest our forefathers, brave deeds writ in more blood than ink,
proud men who built cities, wrought rich cultures, worked, loved and planned.

I too have loved, loved and lost, felt ache in heart, gut and loins,
penned ghazals ’neath starry skies, eyes fiery, hair clenched in hand.
That boy is now dead. The fool chased dreams across shers in vain:
no dream endures light of day; few truths can youth’s hopes withstand.

Head hung I cried hearing gunshots crack as men screamed and fell.
No metred foot stops a jackboot; more than words, times demand.
That day I picked up a gun, though never laid down my pen;
long roads I now trek to fight, hide, write for dear motherland.

Sunrise to sunset I kill; sunset to sunrise I write,
seek solace dark nights in verse, fete men and bold rebel band,
chant praise for lost brothers’ brave deeds writ in more blood than ink,
sing songs of hope, justice, peace. Home. Rights that free men command.

We pray.
Sipping hot sweet tea we plan, check our guns,
eyes fiery, ride out on flatbed trucks through wild hinterland.
God willing, none die today; God willing, no mother grieves.
Know though, if death finds me, I, Abu Azzam, made a stand.

© Anthony Baverstock

Author's note: I wrote ‘Warrior Poet’ as a qadisa, the pre-Islamic Arabic narrative form introduced to English by Tennyson in his poem about a soldier’s memories, ‘Locksley Hall’. I’ve followed the classic qasida pattern (as far as I understand it) though in a more condensed manner than usual:

1) Evocation of the past
2) Tale of love and loss
3) Story of a journey
4) Call for deeds to be well-remembered

Syrian rebel commander finds solace in poetry

Anthony Baverstock is from Colchester, reputed home of Humpty-Dumpty.