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They Tell Me the Air in Syria Smells Like Blood

They Tell Me the Air in Syria Smells Like Blood

For Aleppo:

They tell me

the air in Syria smells like blood.

That with each breath,

you feel the hands of martyrs wrap themselves around your neck.

You choke on their lost lives.

Taste the chemicals that slayed them,

the bullets that killed them,

the fires that burned them,

the knives that stabbed them,

the bombs that ripped their bodies apart,

spreading their limbs into the corners of your own body as you breathe

in and out, in and out.


They tell me

the wind carries agony on its shoulders.

That the howling breeze

is the sound of  husbands and wives,

mothers and fathers,

sons and daughters,

sisters and brothers.

Children’s tears that pierce you as the cold pierced them,

as the snow drowned them,

as winter froze them,

as a New Year began for the rest of the world

but the same tragedy persists for Syria.


They tell me

the land has died along with its people.

That corpses blend in with the sand of the desert,

lay on top of one another like mountains of skin and bone.

A holocaust of a nation,

a genocide in the neighborhood.

Gutted cities filled with gutted citizens

or no citizens at all.

Why leave the world that birthed you?

Why stay amongst the torched earth of your people

(or the torched people of your earth)?

Questions on the refugee’s mind.


They tell me

that that mind is a dangerous one.

That it should be welcomed with exile.


So now, no matter where it turns,

it’s denied a home.

And its world becomes as bleak as before.

Perhaps it should have never left.

Perhaps he should try another country.

Perhaps she should better plead her case.

Perhaps they should move a third time.

Perhaps you should go back to where you belong.


But they tell me where I belong is long gone.

They tell me.

They tell me.

They tell me.

And I listen because no one else does.


Please consider donating to one of the top leading organizations providing medical relief and humanitarian aid for the people of Syria, the Syrian American Medical Society

The image used with this piece is of a woman and her child in Kobane, Syria.  It is from a 2015 piece in the International Business Times that chronicled images from the war raging in Syria. 

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