Iraq Occupation Focus logo US troops face Iraqi demonstrators in Baghdad, July 2003
Iraq Occupation Focus : Campaigning to end the occupation of Iraq
2004 competition
Join our mailing list
Subscribe to the Iraq Occupation Focus newsletter via
Support our work by becoming a member of Iraq Occupation Focus >>

Iraq Occupation Focus
PO Box 44680
N16 7XX

2004 competition: Third prize winner (1 of 4)

The clouds

The Fifth Column was a pillar of smoke.
Haze launched a smear campaign
against the sun. Indefinables were growing.

Children pointed from pushchairs and asked
What do those clouds mean Mummy?
and were struck about the mouth because
children died knowing less than that.

Those we thought we talked to lessened
until there was nothing but the thinnest
of differences between them and air.
Friendships dissolved, bonds
and marriages slipped apart.

Language was the battle to define,
but neither words nor world stay stable.
A cloud of unmeaning took out the horizon.

There followed a phase in which
objects appeared that had no name:
in fields, street corners, bedrooms. They
buzzed or stayed still, misted and collapsed.

In the Ministry for Naming, the photocopier
disappeared paper, and there was no name for it.

Wind-sorted fliers flocked empty streets.
The State Department issued its last
statement. The media could not run
on stories that had no name.

I carried my body to the dump and
queued for hours for someone
to wrap me like a sweet and lie me in a line.

Other people sought asylum, flocked
into walls, crossed borders at night,
subliminally. With no one left,
there was nothing left to say.

Giles Goodland