Poem: Questioning A Tank | Cassandra Voices

Poem: Questioning A Tank

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Questioning a Tank

Into the shocked, shucked shell
of the hospital at Kunduz, which

for ten days past, in streaming light
(the season’s slant of sun), has spilled

a steaming trail of twisted bricks,
chewed up rails, a grieving mist – the site

where the counted, cradled sick
burned up, the still un-

bordered doctors tell, in beds
the red-blue bombers targeted

and turned to smoking tar –
into the murdered spectacle,

a spangled, metal beast, a tank,
has since arrived, to crinkle

underneath its feet
the very residues of war,

a mounting dust-heap mingled
in its wake, whose quiet particles

now drift and sway,
dissolving in the blue –

as the learned pugilographer
appears in print, enrobed

in points of lucidation, the buff
and cleanly Michael Newton,

who, pending
Pentagon investigation, will clarify

the one un-
answered question
thrice

for all concerned:
Who had control, that day,

of base-defensive protocols?
Why include

a hospital
among the targets pre-approved?

And what, he wonders,
happened on the ground?

Feature Image: Kabul, Afghanistan. 5th Nov, 2015. The damaged sign of the Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) hospital in Kunduz is displayed at a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, 5 November 2015. A month after the US airstrike on the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, the aid organisation has repeated calls for an inquiry. PHOTO: MOHAMMAD JAWAD/DPA/Alamy Live News.

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About Author

Ciarán O'Rourke is a poet, based in Galway, Ireland. His first collection, The Buried Breath, was issued by Irish Pages Press in 2018 and highly commended by the Forward Foundation the following year. His miscellany of essays, One Big Union, was published in 2021, and his second poetry collection is forthcoming. More information about his work can be found at www.ragpickerpoetry.net/books.

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