Publication in ‘The SHOp’ magazine (Autumn/Winter 2009)

 “Sir? Yes, back row, left… Just hold for the mic
 a moment, if you will… Yes, sir? … …
–ohm– it’s a multilayered process.
–ohm– the particularities of each instance
 –ohm– permutate. Permutate
 –ohm– even as events are still
 in progress. –ohm– But yes, we might have been
 –ohm– better prepared for the eventuality
 –ohm– that came about. –ohm– Yes,
 something programmatic like this, –ohm–
 that is to say –ohm– something planned
 –ohm– could’ve have been, –ohm– should‘ve been
 –ohm– quantified in terms of risk,
 strategic out-comes, types of ordnance. Yes
 –ohm– I would agree with you, yes. –ohm–
Yes, that would seem now, –ohm–
would now be seen as a preferred scenario
–ohm– and –ohm– we regret,
as always in these combat situations
–ohm– we regret collateral damage
anywhere it happens. –ohm– As regards
the numbers you have mentioned, sir –ohm–
regarding civilian casualties –ohm–
we have no official information yet to hand
So –ohm– I cannot comment on –ohm–
I am unable to confirm or deny
–ohm– the figures you have mentioned. –ohm–
Except to say that –ohm– –ohm– reports
of civilian casualties are probably
–ohm– exaggerated. –ohm– Yes, sir.
Yes, sir… well, I am trying to give you answer…
Well, if you will allow me… Thank you, sir…
–ohm– Yes, there are some reports
of children, of child casualties. –ohm–
unconfirmed as yet –ohm– –ohm–
Sir, if you will allow me… Sir,
 I am trying to answer… Sir… Thank you, sir.
 –ohm– As soon as –ohm– Immediately
we receive reports from commanders in the field
–ohm– a decision will be made –ohm–
as to whatever investigations are needed
–ohm– into the concerns raised –ohm–
Faint against the drifting sands
our elders— Silhouetted
on long strands of half-uneasy
sleep, their hands outstretched, their voices
trapped in syllables echoing
out of childhood. Deep
within the coils of dreams
our elders— Moving nightly
where the oil-lamps flickered
in the half-breeze, features
those remembered out of yellowed
photographs. We stir,
we turn, we stumble towards
their whisperings, across the dunes
we’ve crossed before so often, struggling
towards the rim, the moment when
we feel the final chrism cool
against our skin. And firmer
in the swirling sands our elders
every night that passes, every
night we strain to glimpse
their distant faces, hear
their voices clearer every troubled
sleep that draws them nearer, nearer…


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