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From The First Wellington International Poetry Festival Anthology edited by Mark Pirie, Ron Riddell and Saray Torres

The Doves of Peace by Ron Riddell

For Emad Jabbar, Basim Furat, Sayeed Baksh
& in memory of Mohammed el Durrah*

Did anyone say?
Did anyone see?
Did anyone know

How far you carried
That child in your arms -
His blood, your tears?

Did anyone count
The steps you ran
With him, over

The broken ground
Did anyone hear
The prayers you wept?

Did anyone notice
The world was watching?

Did anyone count the aeons of exile;
The displaced millennia?

Did anyone say?
Did anyone ask you
Your identity, your name? -
Did anyone ask you
Why you came?

Did anyone offer you
A flower; a rose and say
How it was crushed -

And left lying at your feet?

Did anyone ask you
For your life; your blood?
Did anyone toy with it
Wordlessly, before
Tossing it aside?

Did anyone take away
Your tears, your dreams?

Has anyone seen
The doves of Palestine
Flying above the ruins of Gaza;
Above the temples of Haifa;
The minarets of Damascus,
The date palms of Basra?

Has anyone seen
The doves of peace flying home
From the phantom marshes
To roost in the rooftops of Jerusalem?


* Mohammed el Durrah was a 12-year-old Palestinian boy
shot by Israeli soldiers in Gaza. He was killed as he
tried to shelter behind his father from a hail of bullets.

Death of a Friend by Alistair Te Ariki Campbell

Friend, you died at Florence,
    tragically close to war's end.
        We crawled through a mine field
to escape Jerry's net. I got
    through safely but a land mine
        blew off your leg. I heard you
cursing horribly calling down
    every possible evil on the evil-doers
        who had done this to your leg
and you used a belt as a tourniquet
    to stop the bleeding, but your life
        flowed away and I heard
your spirit wailing as it flew
    over my head seeking faraway Reinga.
        You had just turned twenty-two.


Reinga - Maori leaping-off place to the Underworld

© Ron Riddell and Alistair Campbell























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