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Tuesday, 14 May 2013


An old man sits in the town square
smokes his pipe, reads his paper
feigns normality
in the place where sirens blare;

a hundred dead a day.

A young man kneels in the dirt
where his brother was shot in the head
on an errand to buy milk
in the place where shells split air;

a hundred dead a day.

An old woman wails on the doorstep
of her rubbled home with
fourteen family members gone
in the place where bodies rot in the sun;

a hundred dead a day.

 A young woman kisses the bloodied face
of her husband, his body three weeks
dead and decomposed
in the place where snipers pick off people as bait;

a hundred dead a day.

An old man tries to tell the tragedy
but can only sigh and gasp, his pain
flailing the words to pieces
in the place where grief is certain as night;

a hundred dead a day.

Children don’t play outside anymore,
the park full of bodies buried
in makeshift unidentified despair
in the place where war avenges its bidding;

a hundred dead a day.

A group of old men play chess
in a spot of the town not far
from the river that deposits human detritus
in the place where gravediggers shovel endlessly
to close the gaping maw of death;

hundreds dead in days.

© Siobhan McLaughlin

The River Martyrs

Siobhan is an aspiring poet who chases many muses with avid enthusiasm. She is of the firm belief
that words can change the world. Her blog is: and her Twitter is: @siobhan347


  1. Siobhan, you've dug deep and made this sing eloquently. Riveting read and told with much tenderness and caring still allowing the horrors to shine. I love the rhythms in this as well.

  2. Thank you Mari! I just found it really moving the way the horrors of war were juxtaposed with the tenderness of humanity in the article. I'm glad you think this comes across in the poem.