Some poems by Margaret O'Beirne to be found at http://www.iol.ie/~pobeirne/mobeirne.html The Bosnian conflict. Bosnian Victims Two young women shield their faces; children again, they block out the bogey- man as the corpses of their men are unloaded. On make-shift beds faces are set in pain; burly men, now passive, view their stumps with the wrung grimace of defeat. Toddlers encircled in a mother's arms with eyes that have seen not pretty things, await some nameless horror. A little girl, a slide in her hair, sitting on a kerb, puckers her brow to puzzle out why being a Muslim means she has to leave Banja Luka. Ethnic Cleansing Look into that chasm And see forever The rape of a nation; See the writhing mass, the crooked leers, The brutish couplings, Where drunken lust stalks its prey: The Muslim mothers, wives and daughters. Did ever fox move so stealthily Or hungry wolf pursue its prey As they, in clumsy uniforms Breached our refuge, locking the door Behind them. After a quick review They shared the spoils: such a one's coveted wife, the other's Nubile daughter; Commanders first, others later, In strict pecking order. Young girls, large-eyed, ripped like lambs from their dam, Were sacrificed On a rude kitchen table, Their full horror Caught in thrashing limb and piercing Scream. Night darkness was no shield for pregnant mother or wizened age; Like hungry wolves they Tore the flesh, splayed The arthritic legs, made obscene their 'patriotic' aims as they bayed and they brayed In lustful revenge. Sated, they left, the door half- hanging from its hinges. Loud laughter carried In the cool night air. Droit du Seigneur Prologue It was a neat strategy with a single aim- the 'cleansing' of Herzogovina : ' Kill the men and rape the women'- familiar war-cry to the dispossessed. Then it was that Serbian betrayed Muslim neighbour: Forgotten the meals shared, the kitchen chats over the filjan - all the intimacies of community life. Friendly neighbour became brutish enemy: First, the muslim men were herded into lorries and carted away, corralled like beasts and left to starve; Then their women and children became the Front line of battle, soft targets for the chetniks. ***************** The Women's Chorus "Oh where are our men now, Our husbands and fathers, Oh who will defend us? The military police? No, their shadows announce them, They've had their orders and are eager to enjoy, One brutal thrust and our doors fly open. They reel into our kitchens with feverish eyes And drag us, the muslim mothers and grandmothers of Foca, our infants and dark-eyed, questioning children To their rape camps right by the police-station. Oh no, not my daughter, she's only twelve, Oh remember, neighbour, our good times together. Oh no, my little one, your snowy loins are gashed. Now your child's treble makes a horrible babble. This will kill your father. Oh now are the fiends unleashed : They bring us down, down into the abyss, the stinking pit of darkness, strip away our modesty, use their tools- oh shame!- on young and old, repeatedly, in an orgy of revolting lust, until they are sated." ********************* Epilogue Oh who can stifle the screams of agony which echo forever across Herzogovina? Who can stem the flow of tears, wash clean the defiled bodies? Gather up the blood spilt? Still the racing images of violation? Who can exact atonement? Let the screams forever echo in the ears of their tormentors, And pictres of torture haunt us too Lest we forget, in our complacency. School Bells Artillery shells are the only bells that call children to school in Sarajevo. Gone now the pretty, low buildings , the nursery colours, the nature table. Like young foxes they know the bolt-holes, sniff the sniper's shot, machine-gun or cannonfire. In wind-swept groups of four or five they edge along their fragile way to make-shift schools without desk or book. Perched in descending order on a darkened stair thin shoulders make a human desk for salvaged page blurred maxims of a lost world: torn scraps devoid of meaning where childhood is dead. Sunday Salad In Banja Luka Muslim children's faces are pinched; even in the circle of a mother's arms the outlook is bleak. Little ones sit on the kerb-side, mere debris ready for the final sweep. Images of war, like icons of style, sell the Sundays at the corner shop. What if they're all served up together, tossed like a salad for a tasty treat?: Hastily-bound stumps (close-up lens) vie with angled shots of the beautiful people. A trapped Muslim behind the jamb listens for her killers not a mile away but comfort comes on page forty with Polo Nouveau. Actually, the lasting interest is the impeccable art work. The Black Cherries An Autumn breeze played in the trees and cherries lay ready for the reaching. To young eyes, tired of the gloom of a make-shift school - plastic sheeting for windows - the tall trees were childhood beckoning: branches to swing from, trunks to climb, juicy fruit to enjoy. Teta Pave, fled to Zagreb, couldn't scold them anymore. Kurt, Sadi, five-years-old Marija and two or three other little truants choosing sunlight, grass and down-reaching branches, bent low, crawled through the broken wall, tasted the new-found freedom in the over-grown orchard and climbed in rival glee to win the ripest cherries. Thoughts of Mr. Kabul's lessons got lost in the innocent orgy and cherry-mouths ringed the milk-white teeth. In the flicker of an eye-lid, the sky screamed its warning- too late! Too late for the cherry feasters! The shell explodes, echoing and reechoing its mournful cadence. Silence comes with the dust. Only the charry trees are garish with scarlet fruit. Oh nighted day! Oh evil hour! By their fruits shall ye know them.