Two sides


I am asked where I stand, as a test, as a demand

to take sides, to show my true colours, who I am 

in the fight over words, over whose atrocities are worse

whose hurt is more deep, whose mothers weep

more loudly, whose cries are heard more widely

in the forest of press releases and international appeals.

It has to be the one rather than the other, for you cannot 

mourn another more than those whose blood 

is close to yours, those whose DNA you share, not

the ones you were taught to hate even if you chose

to marry them, you are expected to carry

the tribal pride in your heart to trump any concern

for children burned or crushed to death in houses

that were high rises just moments before and now

lie in a rubble, and that should not trouble you

because the people inside got warnings to leave

before the bombs would fall, that’s fair, you must agree?


I took my children up to safety from the need to run for shelter

and the fright of being woken by the sirens in the night.

I took them up to stay in the safety of the city

of their father and his side. It is their side.

This city is not ’mixed’ in the sense of ethnic labels;

despite eclectic neighbours and many forms of worship

the city is united in nationalistic fervor.

I feel at home here. In normal time.

But it is not ’my side’

If I walk here in the streets with emotions running high

they won’t stop to ask if by any chance I happen to belong

or what might be my views on the daily news

they will only see what is right before their eyes

in the features of my face and the way I walk and dress, 

no matter what goes on inside my head, inside my heart.

Heads or tails

And what goes on inside my heart?

Forgive them Father..

That is what I think as I struggle to persist in my compassion for us all. 

When a mob gets on a victim with fists and clubs and kicks,

do you need to first be asking what ethnicity he is? 

Do you need to ask the lynchers how they identify

before you make a judgement on whether they are right?

..for they know not what they do.