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Tuesday, May 13, 2008


by Frank Joussen

Burma two weeks after Cyclone Nargis
and too few voices, too few photos coming through.
But don´t switch off, don´t turn away.
Use your imagination to face the bigger picture:
rice on the runway,
hunger in the ruined harbour of Rangoon;
medicine going to waste on the planes,
epidemics threatening the flooded delta.
And in between:
The military and its junta.

Don´t start wailing now,
“you see, there´s nothing we can do.”
When the water´s rising
you shouldn´t refuse to build an arch
only because you´re not a carpenter.
Inertia in the face of
natural and political disasters
is every dictator´s dream
is every peasant´s nightmare
come true.

I, for my part, am going to take a chance.
I´ve got a friend who´s got a friend
who knows a Burmese woman
working with the nuns and monks
of a monastery near the Irrawaddy,
a sanctuary on slightly higher ground,
a refuge for the desperate.
And if you say now,
“what a long line of people
to trust”, I agree.
But look at Christianity or Buddhism:
what a long line of religious leaders –
and what a success story.
Now, I´m not sure about
Heaven or Nirvana.
I don´t know much about the Irrawaddy, either.
But I´m going to learn – by doing.
Then we will see
if help can get through.

Editor's Note: Frank Joussen tells us he will be contributing to help the victims of Cyclone Nargis via The Australia Burma Community Development Network.

Frank Joussen is a German school teacher who actively supports NGOs in India, Brazil and Africa. His poems have appeared in numerous print publications in the U.S., Canada, Germany, G.B., Ireland, Australia and India. His ezine publications include The Pedestal Magazine, Raving Dove, Poets Against War, New Verse News (U.S.A.), Poets Against War Canada, The Stephen Gill Gazette, Big Pond Rumours (Canada), The Poetry Kit, Caught in the Net and the Measure (G.B.)