Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Oh dear, I had such good intentions but here's another poem, the next post will be something I wrote, I swear!

I like Wislawa Szymborska. The fact that I like writers like this is probably indicative of why I never really got on with traditional pedagogical education. I mean, we never read anything like this...

The Terrorist, He's Watching

The bomb in the bar will explode at thirteen twenty.
Now it's just thirteen sixteen.
There's still time for some to go in,
and some to come out.

The terrorist has already crossed the street.
The distance keeps him out of danger,
and what a view - just like the movies:

A woman in a yellow jacket, she's going in.
A man in dark glasses, he's coming out.
Teenagers in jeans, they're talking.
Thirteen seventeen and four seconds.
The short one, he's lucky, he's getting on a scooter,
but the tall one, he's going in.

Thirteen seventeen and forty seconds.
That girl, she's walking along with a green ribbon in her hair.
But then a bus suddenly pulls in front of her.
Thirteen eighteen.
The girl's gone.
Was she that dumb, did she go in or not,
we'll see when they carry them out.

Thirteen nineteen.
Somehow no one's going in.
Another guy, fat, bald, is leaving, though.
Wait a second, looks like he's looking for something in his pockets and
at thirteen twenty minus ten seconds
he goes back in for his crummy gloves.

Thirteen twenty exactly.
This waiting, it's taking forever.
Any second now.
No, not yet.
Yes, now.
The bomb, it explodes.

I like the anxiety of the terrorist, and also his egotism, sitting and watching to see exactly who will be killed or injured, indifferent. Despite the fact that people are described solely by their physical features their humanity still breaks through despite the protagonist's perspective; which of us hasn't returned to collect gloves or an umbrella we've forgotten in a bar or café? The victims are random, the target a cross-section of society, terror targeting everyone. The terrorist will even wait to see the bodies carried out, but still his anxiety forces us to identify. A great poem, in my humble opinion...

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