Counting Sirens

Shalom everybody,

So today I thought about something special for you; you are to be introduced to a side of my person you most likely do not yet know. It’s poetry. You knot, the thing you can put even those feelings into that would otherwise object from being told.

Green Zone

ya allahu take good care
of my mommy
she’s gone so deep
into the danger zone.
Ya-allahu let her be soon
back here save and sound.

And on the market
there is a blast,
all light and flames,
eats her alive.

And in the green zone I hear
little soldierboys singing.

I wrote this one in March after I had been talking to a young man who then worked as an African contractor of the US Army in Baghdad. He told me about the Green Zone, the zone where Americans and their contractors are working and living (he actually had never left the “Green Zone” and wasn’t likely to). He told me it’d be a whole world of its own where one would find pretty much everything you would find in the average US American city: Cinema, the usual fastfood chains, even a theater and concert hall. And it’s at least somewhat safe thanks to strict security procedures and rarely any Iraqis working there. 

Learning about that somehow triggered the poem that can be read above. The idea of how it must feel for people in Baghdad who have nowhere safe to run to to know that there are sanctuaries for the US Army’s personell that are what they crave for so much: At least a little bit of safety.

I am recently reading a novel by Yasmina Khadra (who’s actually a man who’s true identiy hasn’t been known for quite a while). It’s called “the sirens of Baghdad” and features a generic boy of a Iraqi village and his developement into a suicide bomber. I’d love to know where Khadra’s way of describing something so terrible in such a natural way, one that even allows you to feel emphaty with a murderer comes from, he sure is a gifted writer.

Anyhow when it comes to sirens I wrote one about that too in March which is not about Baghdad as the first one but about another city that in some ways could be called a twin city of Baghdad: Jerusalem.

counting sirens

I have been
counting sirens
all night
worrying where you are

What is the critical number?
How many
ambulance cars a night?

I have been
counting sirens
all year
wondering if one day
I would stop.

In intifada Israeli cities, especially Jerusalem, you’d know if another terrorist attack happened by counting sirens. If there are too many of them; to many ambulance cars, firefighters and police at one time you’ll know. It has somehow developed into a science of its own.

I remember how when I lived in Tel Aviv and it was a hot night I couldn’t sleep and I too was listening, without knowing about people counting them during the intifada by then, to the ambulance car’s sirens – that sound like the American ones by the by – wondering if one night I would hear too many of them. Actually the first couple of days my body tended to be flooded by adrenaline when there where more then two or three but as time passes by the critical number rises. It’s just the usual thing: Denial. The art of survival in a sourrounding that could give you PTSD within the minute.

Yet even now that I am back to safe little Austria the sirens have never again been the same to me.




One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s