Posted in Poetry

A song on Peace talks

by Noel Ihebuzor
Pieced together peace talks ends. As we wave good byes, I see the short sleeved ex-combatant wave a long good bye to his long sleeved former foe, both now united by a bond of misery!

We sit across tables we once shunned
and speak smooth words with our twisting tongues
the same tongues that once shattered the face of the moon
as it slept softly on the still waters of the lake
We sit across tables in foreign lands,
the tables in our lands are broken, trust too we broke,
we stripped, shredded and mangled trust and truth,
barren stillness and silence now suffocate our land
the hollowing silence contrasts to all the rage and roar of battle,
broken then by the screams of fear of the wounded and the dying
by the sounds of guns and rifles and mortars that are now silent
We are empty victors, we sit and sign
and we soon forget the victims and their unmarked graves
and their un-song departures
for us victors, the dead are gone, no longer matter, invisible, just numbers,
cannon fodder in our selfish quest for space and place,
pawns in our power plays,
the poor dead, drawn from the pool of the poor,
seduced by fake promises of power and prosperity,
now reduced to putrid manure, and the survivors,

the living dead, twisted wrecks, shattered nerves and traumatized psyches,
red eyed, empty, battered shell shocked souls with broken soles, we
refuse to see, we deny
we are empty victors, we are the selfish victors
we speak peace in the sanitized comfort of hotel rooms in a foreign land
we shuffle across to shake hands with those we once shook fists at
smiling with awkward ease at the flash of cameras,
flashing as the flash of guns in the stillness of night on now barren battle fields
and waving as if in goodbye to our follies, to our failures, our frivolities
and saying sweet empty words with our slippery tongues,
measuring our gains, counting the inches and meters,
counting the post and positions and settlements
and posturing for juicier posts, aligning new alliances
invincible, and ever ready to barb and dismember afresh the dead who refuse to die
and obliterate and bury any stubborn living who refuse to die to truth and to cede to our ambitions


Development and policy analyst with a strong interest in the arts and inclusive social change. Dabbles occasionally into poetry and literary criticism!

10 thoughts on “A song on Peace talks

  1. Really powerful images…I sigh in sadness and tiredness.
    It is a really good poem, I really love how it addresses the belief that ‘peace talks’ do not bring back the dead or undo the evil that has been done….and some times, it is really just superficial.


  2. Noel, the first verse with it’s’ two rivals bidding farewell to each other , united by a bond of misery’ is a very potent and meaningful verse.
    About being a pacifist; I believe that only people who lack empathy and/or imagination would endorse the horrors of war.


    1. It always amazes me though to hear people sing the praises of wars!
      Just as explanation – short sleeve means an ex-comattant whose arm was chopped off by his/her captors above the elbow. Long sleeve refers to those whose arms were chopped off just before the wrist. Thwe streets of Freetown were overflowing with such when I visited. The orrors of war! The bestiality of war!


  3. ‘and obliterate and bury any stubborn living who refuse to die to truth and to cede to our ambitions ‘

    Defectors from the army (the ones who wish to simply go home) are usually treated disgracefully or horrifically. This verse could just as well apply to them as well. It’s something that I thought about often. The ridicule, insinuations of treachery, of being unpatriotic, cowardly, the list is endless. Worst of all is how the general public can be brought around to this mode of thinking.


  4. The poem’s poignancy for me lies in the mockery it makes of “meetings” and “peace talks”. We sit across tables in foreign lands,

    the tables in our lands are broken. In Kenya, like in may other countries in Africa, the venues for these meetings are chosen very deliberately. The posher and more foreign the “table”, the better. They travel and talk talk and talk but the moment they push their big bellies away from the conference tables, they forget the “childless mothers” and “motherless children”.
    Keep singig Noel; something will come of it InshaAllah.


  5. A good poem that uncovers the horrors of war.

    The first verse conveys the poem’s message and uses interesting images… short sleeved ex-combatant … long sleeved former foe…. This alerts the reader and highlights the severity of the horror. while the tone evokes a feeling of regret, followed by guilt and betrayal, this changes towards the end of the poem.

    ”We sit across tables we once shunned.” Perhaps a more sensible option to the poor dead, the misery of amputation and traumatized psyches.


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