The Emptiness of War

A city empty of children in a cold, dystopian shell (Janice Turner, The Times, 15th April 2023)

At the end of the war, after years of hiding,
Bombs had destroyed their homes.

Children and mothers returned to a subsiding
Dystopian shell, to cities of bare bones.

Enemy soldiers came, destroyed and, conscienceless,
Fleeing the scenes of devastation, they are

Gone, they do not care about the emptiness,
Hunger and despair they left behind, whether

It would leave survivors hopeless, the afterbirth of
Jet contrails still fading in the silent sky,

Knowing it would take years to clear the earth of
Long-lasting mines and brick and rubble. Why

Men have to fight and kill, destroy futures,
Naïve, unworldly children, I don’t know – people who

Open their hearts and arms to strangers.
Plaintive cries roll among remains of walls, echo

Quavering into infinity. War does no right, only wrong,
Reaching far into crumbing hearts and souls,

Stealing their poems and their songs.
Though they are now ragged and cold cold,

Untended, thirsty, unfertilised for so long,
Verbs, nouns and adjectives will not wilt,

Words have lives of their own; they stand strong,
Xanadu is within reach, the city can be rebuilt.

Young and ambitious, they just have to remember:
Zealousness is the first step towards a new future.

Kim M. Russell, 18th April 2023

Image by Olga Drach on Unsplash

It’s day eighteen of NaPoWriMo and our challenge is to write an abecedarian poem – a poem in which the word choice follows the words/order of the alphabet. We could write a very strict abecedarian poem, in which there are twenty-six words in alphabetical order, or one in which each line begins with a word that follows the order of the alphabet. Ee have been given examples by Jessica Greenbaum, Howard Nemerov and John Bosworth.


9 thoughts on “The Emptiness of War

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