The lines that divide us

The lines that divide us grow redder, welts
on the skin of sufferance etched by
concertina wire as we escape the last
pretence of civility. How do you grieve in
an us and them world? How do you
account for grief when them is the face
of a friend. When them is a hand you have
held. When them is a lip you have tasted.
When them is the scary moat that surrounds
us. And us is a star looking out into the night,
seeing only what it can imagine. I look into
their eyes. Eyes that cheer a frenzy. Eyes that
are boundaries. Eyes that deny mine. Eyes that
harden faith. We look away. We die when we
refuse to be reflections in each other’s eyes. We
die when them becomes a different dawn. We die
when us becomes a star their morning cannot find.

35 thoughts on “The lines that divide us

  1. Something tells me climate change denial and far-right populism are the same virus — a willingness to give over reason and cosmopolitanism over to the might of hunkering down. Social media misinformation is the breath that blows the ember of Us and Them to such angry heat … The virus has spread around the world as the entire world heats up. And there doesn’t seem to be any cool enough collective voice to step free of it … Well done and so sorry, friend …


      1. Social media works most effectively when amplifiying our worst fears. It is the handmaiden of viral populism. We created this fire, worshipped it as a late great invention … now governments can’t escape its pyre.


  2. I am deeply moved by your words. You ask about grief, then show us its reality. The first stage of grief is anger at the loss. We can all identify with your words that tell us a truth we dare not forget. We are all human, each and everyone of us. Anger is an energy flow that allows us to choose one of two things. To construct, or to destroy. You have chosen to create something both true and beautiful, reminding us that no matter the feelings, we are all in this together. And together we can create or destroy our beautiful world. It truly is up to each one of us. Thank you…



  3. This poem takes my breath away. Sad what sometimes happens with relationships in an ‘us and them’ world. We don’t see each other any more. You described it so subtly and so well. Your writing is on fire these days! Love your work.


  4. My new favourite of yours. Those closing lines are incredibly wonderful and powerful. Awesome work, Rajani. Will we ever, as a species, recognize there is no Other, just fellow humans, trying to live?


  5. I have been saddened by the state of things in my country too. I’m still trying to find my way back to the idealist who believed in bridge building instead of being angry so often that *I* almost buy into the dichotomy.


  6. If there were no underlying and all-inclusive superior principle, it would be impossible for one to not only know but also be in any way affected by ‘an other’. Then why the polarisation? It’s because of the natural law. Simultaneous differentiation and integration- that’s the way nature furthers evolution. Differentiation seems like suffering. It is painful for the parts that are separated. But the suffering is also the key to prove that we are all ever whole. If the ‘outside’ presents a painful picture, it’s because of a lop-sided point of view. We only need to look deeper ‘within’ to to reach that superior principle that keeps us all one and whole. Wholeness is peace. When we tap into that we become a source of peace ourselves. Or we just remain suffering and share suffering. The very existence of ‘an other’ is a source of pain irrespective of ‘our’ attitude towards ‘them’. We give what we have. What we give, that grows in us.
    Your poems always seek peace. They give and share the vision of peace even though the eyes see suffering. I truly believe that that means you move in close affiliation to that ever-abiding peace that comes from the whole. You never fail to move and inspire. Thank you so much.


    1. Not sure I get all of that- but we have to believe in peace and goodness. Once you give that up, there isn’t a whole lot left. So it may play out differently than we want it to- but there is always hope for better things.


      1. Simply put (which makes it harder to accept), peace, harmony, bliss, call it whatever, isn’t a someday-oneday-maybe affair. It is the eternal immanent reality here and now. It remains illusive for an individual who sees separate individuals. The very experience of suffering comes from identifying ourselves as separate entities, cut-off from the whole. The hope for peace through harmony comes from the core of our being where we are eternally one and ever at bliss. So, no event that will take place in some vague future will give us that. But turning towards the core of our own being, seeing directly what we are truly, removes the notion of separate creatures vying against each other because we see the unity of being that is eternally perfect and beautiful. The hope for a good and peaceful society is nothing but our soul yearning to express that unity which is our eternal reality.

        The outside will never be perfect, as long as there is an outside for us. I am responsible for the suffering i see in others. I see them as others, that’s why i see suffering where there is nothing but the graceful movements of beauty.

        I guess i intented to put it simply, but words have a way of getting entangled when they are used to speak of things beyond finitude. It’s better to be the silence that speaks for itself. I pray you find it in yourself.


  7. A powerful and provocative poem. I am reminded of a years ago “Pogo” cartoon, wherein Pogo shares his observation about war, “we have met the enemy and he is us.” Perhaps it is helpful to laugh at the ridiculous state of humanity, pour down a beer, and then get back to the daily work we can each do to make ourselves and the world better. As always, thanks for zapping my brain into focus. Best wishes!


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