There are no new words but everything is a poem

There are no new words for

in Syria,
where children are dying of
bombs and bullets
and polio,
because disease
is DNA
and a human being with his finger on a trigger.

The family with eight sons in Syria, each with a name of his own
has only two left,
five lost to shelling
one to a paralyzing virus.

The polio came to Syria in the veins of foreign groups
come to fight a war
bringing with them
another battle.

They say the fighting might stop
so they can save lives, prevent an epidemic
so that bombs and bullets
can do the job instead

they’re messy, but far more efficient
than a debilitating disease
that first takes your movement
then your life.

There are no new words for

because we say
never again
but we really mean
never again for this country
or these people

because Rwanda
because the holocaust
because Armenia
because Palestine

will never be enough
to say
never again

for Syria


people are reduced to numbers
in arial, font size 11
to fit in a small box
in a small newspaper
read on the way to work
and forgotten on an empty chair
on a train
thousands of miles away

and shallow graves
and playgrounds made of
bomb shells and napalm

wiping out an entire family’s future
in one strike.

There are no new words
for war

where men smell like
cigarette smoke, desperation
and gunpowder shot from the mouths of people
with no family to go home to

like citrus-lemon catching
in the paper cuts of men and women
filing the numbers

and two years is a lifetime
of counting 115,00 lifetimes,
shorter than they should have been

of counting the millions
whose homes are just houses
or rubble
or tents

and behind closed doors
men argue
about airstrikes and no-fly zones
and sending strong, clear messages
and jostling for power
and boots on the ground
and Iraq, and Afghanistan
and more never agains
and red lines
that fade in the sand
of the wreckage
that was


a country


there are no new words
for Syria.