(I had to publish this as I have added a couple of paragraphs since I began to write it in 2001. It was turning into an extended version of Homer’s Iliad)

The seas swell; I hear the ancient ship’s horn,

Slicing through the air in a bitter, thieving sojourn,

Hear the sounds of wailing and suffering from below,

Smell human waste from human cargo, carrion, compressed, row by row,

Dying now, or later,

Stolen, starved, stacked,

Those who live are going slowly to slave, slave, slave,

Going somewhere to thirst, thirst, thirst,

Slowly down to unhurriedly die, die, die,

May man terrify no more.

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Skeletal bodies, hairless heads encased in striped overalls,

Numbers tattooed, separates man from beast,

Beast, beast, beast,

Beast who numbers man, deprives him of his name,

Locks him in ovens,

Smoke spiralling out of the chimneys the only evidence that the nameless skeletal phantom ever existed,

A fragrance that God cries over,

A stench that men deny,

Say holocaust, say holocaust, say holocaust.

May man terrify no more.

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Silence abounds in the midst of the land;

Death and destruction lies; so nothing stands.

For the people of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, nuclear hell fell, well, from the sky

Today is the terror, tomorrow is no more,

War in boardrooms, and roundtables, is death in bedrooms and on dining tables,

And long after it seems that everything is normed,

Generations of innocents are born deformed.

May man terrify no more.

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Skulls, fleshless, crushed, damaged, destroyed skulls

So many skulls, bring back the terror, the horror, the dread, the mind numbing stench of limbs, bodies, blood of children, women, men, aged, blood, blood, skulls, skulls.

War. This is war, between Hutu and Tutsi.

Tens, hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands killed, maimed, scarred, quickly, swiftly, rapidly and very, very, deliberately.

Echoing the battle for Bosnia,

For as in Bosnia while they died, the rest of the world turned away, ignored the deaths for football, fashion shows, pets and politics,

Rwanda and its dead, destroyed, lay alone, forgotten, unmourned and forlorn.

May man terrify no more.

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Silently they take their meagre midday meal,

With one hand, for they will never be able to feel

The other one cut off from the elbow, the elbow, shoulder or wrist.

Short-sleeve, or long-sleeve, they asked him,

Short-sleeve, or long-sleeve or death, he knew,

Still living, hoping that his 6 year old son is still alive, a soldier of no cause,

His 10 year old daughter a wife of no marriage.

The savage scourge of Sierra Leonean life in war,

The world closes its eyes, turns its back as we march to hell.

May man terrify no more.

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A still dark night in the streets of a city,

A savage city, an urban jungle, a thriving Heliopolis

There he lies, bleeding, broken, bruised almost beyond hope

There near death in the alley, there.

Set upon for his difference, for his wallet, for being or just for fun,

There he lies, we see him, but walk past, look away,

More important than this soul is our mortgage, that appointment, our precious time, our cup of coffee,

And though he lives, his life is over, humanity dies in our Heliopolis.

May man terrify no more.

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Two towers stood, and in moments

Rubble and wrath,

Blood and despair lie here on the blasted ground,

No towers, no hope, a human missile flung at humanity,

A pistol to the temple of accepted charity,

Call 9/11, answer, death, death, death, despair,

While those who survive must deal with their loss,

The country tries to avenge their losses with force, destruction and force.

May man terrify no more.

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“Avenge the blood!” they cry, “appease my pain”, release the shame

And for the lives for 3000, we take 100 000, and yet it is not enough

We want more, more, more.

More blood, more rage, more pain, more anger, more shame,

Iraqi, Afghani, Afghani, Iraqi body count, can we ever count all the bodies,

Countless bodies, children’s bodies, the bodies of old men and women bowed down

By oppression, the body of a new bride, from hell to heaven to hell.

Limbs, skulls, torsos lying around, the ground, when the dust settles for now,

Countless bodies, endless blood, bloodshed, no life, no hope, just doom, just gloom.

May man terrify no more.

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The shouts of the violent rise up in the deserts sands,

Their bulging eyes unleash the terror in the hearts,

The terror in their hands, the machetes, the guns, the hatred, the blood.

Blood flows through the streets of the city, mingles with the dust,

Mingles with the age old blood, shed down the ages,

In the name of religion, politics, money and power,

And in the forest lands and the savannah people weep,

Their arms empty and bereft of their loved ones as long as we dwell on this side of eternity.

May man terrify no more.

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What shall we call them this moving mass of people?

What can they give us as they flee from destruction?

Load them in their thousands on the battered boats

If they drown we know that only a dead body floats.

We turn away from the desperation in the eyes,

We turn to those who will feed us with lies,

‘Here are those who threaten your existence,

Here are those against whom you should mount your resistance’

Convinced that refugees are leeches,

We let dead children wash up on beaches,

May man terrify no more.

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In our homes we have drawn battle lines of war.

They are not warm, safe havens anymore.

Say violence, violence, mental, physical, emotional violence.

Love is dead, hope is frail, trust, decayed,

We look for answers, when we have lost the questions

We look for keys, when the door is rotten.

Violence, violence, abundant violence,

The world looks on in dumbfounded silence.

May man terrify no more.

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The answer: we look up to God and take our stand

For people lie broken in all lands,

For those who would break the oppressed in their hands

God hears the desires of the needy from where they lie.

He encourages them and listens to their cry.

He defends the fatherless and those of lowly birth,

In order that wicked man, who is of this earth,

May terrify no more.

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