IRAQ: DOHUK: YAZIDI, by Jude Cowan Montague

Children who fight still have to learn
when they return from Daesh.

Crayons, drawings of tanks, flags and guns
on white paper, grab pink and brown and draw car bombs.
Yeah, give me, shouting. Polite voices of children,
playing nicely drawing purple, blue legs,
attached to the square torso, black hair and beards,
I don’t know – family or fighters, or what?
Psychotherapist Qassim show us, show us.

Shaking and jumping, outside,
when you get older, girls grow white dresses
and gold coins that bang on their headdresses,
In a playground cluster giggling, with care
they adjust the younger boy’s red and white scarf,
maybe saying, ‘he is so cute.’

Sitting in class, drawn in eyebrows,
eyes down at the paper, thinking and listening
to the teacher’s shouting, your green eyes see –
– what do they see? – what do I see?
Did the camera operator choose you
for the close up, smitten by those sea-eyes?

The Boy by Jude Cowan Montague

Tanzania, Dar Es Salaam

He reads the chalked-up list; ‘banana tree’,
‘coconut’ and ‘flower’. Then he smiles.
He’s ten, so he’s the oldest in this class.

I wouldn’t have believed that once. But then,
one day when he was walking with his friend,
wearing his hat to keep the sun away

suddenly a giant grabbed his cap
to cover my lad’s face so he was blind
and could not dodge the blade that chopped his arm.

My son ran to the town to save his flesh.
The myth says spells are cast from body parts.
These rural paths twist traps for boys like him.

A thousand times a thousand times, and more
I’m happy for him to be safe at school.
If he had stayed with me he would be lost.

I miss his smile. He should be here with us.
But when he visits home, what food we make!
We love his sweet, white skin, and sad, light eyes.


Jude being helped by Jon Snow

Jude Cowan Montague is a poet and artist based in London. She has worked for Reuters/ITN as a professional media archivist for ten years and her first collection of poems, ‘For the Messengers’ (2011) dealt with the news coverage of 2008. Her second collection, ‘The Wires, 2012’ will be published by Dark Windows Press in 2015. These poems are written in response to Reuters news stories during 2014.