Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Puška


I once stood in a market place surrounded by people, who had just fled a nearby village. They carried whatever they had been able to grab before they had been forced from burning homes, they were almost all women and children.

I was part of a small team and we were very much on our own. After a while things got quite unpleasant and we were forced to withdraw. The strange thing about that day is that the events which inspired the following poem where the most pleasant, yet harrowing, part of that day.

I hope you like the poem.

Puška*

They stand in front of me
wide hollow eyes search my soul.
Grubby faces, ragged clothes, empty eyes.
Itchy fingers point,
the word "puška" comes again.
In my hands it's a tool of the trade;
yet their young eyes have seen,
their young ears have heard
and their, so very young lives, have lost.
"Puška"
I reached into my pocket
pulled out marbles and squatted.
There in the dust we played.
That day I lost a few marbles,**
learned the word "puška"
and the hollow eyes still haunt me.

John Carré Buchanan
10 February 2014

* Puška - Rifle
** Lose your Marbles - Ideom, lose your mind,

32 comments:

  1. Bosnia? when I did my teacher training, one of the schools I trained in was a downtown school in which there were a lot of refugees from Bosnia Herzogovinia. I remember one of these teenage girls saying to another girl, born and raised in Vancouver, she couldn't believe she had never seen someone killed in front of her or watched someone die. That was a horrible conflict and so pointless, as indeed most such things are. Lovely poem by the way. A touching reminder of what is lost in war, and who is most hurt by it. You should consider it for the contest this month!

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    1. Andy,Thank you. Yes, it was Bosnia. The children's fascination with our rifles was what hit me, perhaps it was that the SA80 looked so space age (or plasticky) when compared with the AK. Everywhere we went children wanted to look at it.
      As for the schools, I have lived in deserted school houses during a number of conflicts, education and innocence always seems to be amoung the first casualties of war.
      I'm glad you like the poem, as The judge I can't enter the Poem on a Photo Competition, perhaps we will have to have a guest judge some time.

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  2. Great poem John, really liked this one, very tense

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    1. Ian, thank you, I'm glad you liked it.

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  3. Well done John. As usual you tell the story so well.

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    1. Thank you Janet, your comment is very much appreciated.

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  4. A tool of the trade.. that is heartbreaking that war is a trade and the gun is a tool and the world goes on ok with that.

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    1. Hi Thotpurge, Thanks for your comment,

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  5. The innocent interest of children in weapons is part of their learning. Even as a child in WW2 in can remember writing to my uncle in Italy to send home some bullets for me!

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    1. Hi Old Egg, Thanks for your comment.

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  6. Even in the middle of a hellscape, young ones will be curious and want to play. It's one way to hold on to some semblance of sanity and normalcy in a world that seems to be short on both.

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    1. Hi Rommy, Thanks for your comment. As I say in the poem, it cost me a few marbles, perhaps not the best way to hold on to ones sanity!

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  7. I would imagine that those hollow eyes will never go away from your memory.

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    1. Hi MMT, thanks for your comment, you are right, they are one of a number of things that were seared into my brain during that tour.

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  8. Awesome write John. Luv the juxtaposition of peace and war

    Happy Sunday

    Much😍love

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    1. Hi Gilleana, Thank you for your kind comment.

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  9. I so love that you lost them some marbles... maybe it would move their fascination back to being children (at least a bit).

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    1. Hi Brudberg, Thanks for your comment, perhaps you didn't read the footnotes.

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  10. In their "hollow eyes" you have captured the grief and terror of civilians during wartime, John and those eyes haunt me now too, after reading your poem. I LOVE that you played marbles together, such a human moment in what is otherwise so fraught. It is that kind of humanity that can change the world, if enough billions employ it. You have lived an amazing life, John. Wow.

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    1. Hi Sherry, Thanks for your comment. That was a pleasant moment, in a terrible day. Sadly the 'metaphoric' marbles I lost that day still cause pain 25 years on.

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  11. This is a haunting piece John--I enjoyed it very much!

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    1. Hi Audrey, Thank you for your kind comment, I am glad that you enjoyed it and that you found it haunting.

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  12. This is a very moving poem. The image of these children is haunting. Hopefully they will remember playing marbles more than they will remember the 'puška.' It is horrible that children in so many parts of the world have had to endure such horrors.

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    1. Hi Mary, thank you for your kind comment.

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  13. That was excellent and touching.
    ZQ

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    1. Hi ZQ, thank you for your kind comment.

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  14. So much can fascinate a child and how interesting they were enthralled with the thing that can give death....it makes sense in the context of what they were living through but still brings me sadness.

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    1. Hi Donna, thank you for your comment, I suspect they were looking for assurance of safety.

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  15. It is the little things after all. Children love marbles. Love to play, how great you had marbles in your pocket. You were just a boy, too. You could see the tragedy in the eyes of others, I think it was a tragedy for you, too. I am sorry. A beautiful piece, but your sadness comes through.

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    1. Hi Annell, Thanks for your kind comment, you are right, it still affects me 25 years on.

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  16. In the best of all worlds, children would never have to see guns. Your story touched my heart and I felt sad for the children ... and for you.

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    1. Hi Indybev, Thank you for your kind comment and thoughts.

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