Margin Notes


around the military cantonment
the way this city has grown:
a camouflage truck, a school bus,
an ambulance,
wait together for a green light


past Danang and Hue
a few miles from the DMZ
the guide pulls out two cans of coke —
one day soon, he says, 
he will move to California


origami cranes
one, two… a thousand —
waiting at the Hiroshima memorial:
things fall
things rise


the invisible wars:
the invisible dead:
“what big eyes you have,” she cried,
“the better to see you with, my dear,”
the wolf replied


on a quiet street
in Luang Prabang
the unexploded ordnance centre —
a grandmother covers
a little girl’s eyes


downtown Berlin:
in a dozen languages
they ask for directions —
to the topography of terror
to the palace of tears


at the bottom of every sea
a ship, a plane, a soldier
asking evolution
the same question:


on large banners
in the Warsaw museum
bits of resistance poetry —
outside, a man dozes
in a rush-hour bus
heading to the new old town


folding a world map
war zone collapsing into war zone
someone will die
from something that will fall
from someone else’s sky


late March in London
a fog-laden sky
goes from pewter to troubled black
somewhere the sun has set
somewhere the sun has to set


space and time morph
at yet another border crossing —
she bows under the weight
of an entire lifetime
stuffed into an old backpack


Kanchanaburi war cemetery
so many people
so far from home:
here lie so many stories
unheard/ untold


adrift, afraid,
on a refugee boat:
home, already
a memory
limp from cold sea-spray


ringing in the desert air
children reciting the alphabet
A for anti-aircraft guns
B for bombs, big, bad, bombs
C for compassion that still hasn't come

26 thoughts on “Margin Notes

  1. Powerful snapshots of pain from around the world. Wouldn’t it be nice if humanity could stop adding to the images in that album of horrors and add more moments of peace?


  2. Tidbits of inhumane side of humanity almost bring tears to soothe even hardest if hearts. Most touching for me was “grandmother covers a little girl’s eyes …”


    1. I read a book called “No friend but the mountains” by Behrouz Boochani about his journey to Australia as a refugee and how he was incarcerated in Manus Island… a heartbreaking account. It really is a global pandemic of unkindness…


  3. Each of these is so powerful, Rajani. I especially noted the one about Hiroshima, and the lines “something falling from someone else’s sky.” Wonderful writing. Thank heaven for poetry so we have somewhere to put these feelings.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, Rajani, this strikes so many chords and conjures so many images. Would you permit me to share this with the national chapter of Episcopal Peace Fellowship in the US, as well as my chapter at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Cleveland? Or, may I simply forward the email in which it arrived? If not, I surely understand.

    Liked by 1 person

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