Recently I read The Raqqa Diaries: Escape from ‘Islamic State’ by *Samer. Horrified and often driven to tears as I read, I felt inspired to write a poem, which is not something I do very often. In fact, not something I have done since obliged to do for my MA in Creative Writing at Hull University two years ago. So I certainly don’t profess to be accomplished by any means at writing poetry, more that it is a stream of thoughts on a page.
The Raqqa Diaries are Samer’s (a pseudonym) personal diary entries describing the daily horrors of living in and then escaping from the ISIS controlled city of Raqqa, in eastern Syria. The book ‘should be considered compulsory reading for all who care about the horror of Syria’ says John Humphreys and an extract appeared in the Guardian in February.
Your city raped, your country ravaged,
by hatred so deep
by horror so bloody.
Evil in every corner.
The head of your friend sits
on a stick. His body
on a cross. Crucified
outside his family home.
Outside my home, birds sing.
Dogs sniff the morning air
and sit in the sun.
The same sun, the same blue sky.
How such horror continues
as I mow the grass and weed,
never will I understand.
So underserving of space in our world.
My daily toil so far removed
from your struggle for survival.
You burn books to boil water
to make a cup of tea.
Desperation, sadness, fear pour
down your cheeks.
Lost in the madness and rubble.
Tyranny rules where you live.
Paranoia around every corner,
Suspicion behind every door.
Desperate eyes search in darkness
for sparks of hope.
Worry fills your mother’s eyes,
Treacherous journey taken
To new space, old friends, same plans.
Impotent, hindered by distance.
Prayers and hope my only weapon,
that love will conquer,
that together you can rebuild.