The Bloodless Button

Syria is being bled white.

The metaphor is painful:

red paints all our inner 

skins in just the same shade –

liquid ruby. In

the dripping out of all this worth

they are wan and weak

minds wandering fleet

tall strangers in navy suits

make bleak press conference

speeches saying We Can Help –

but look at this aid: it comes by way

of dropping bombs from 

bloodless planes, no ruby drink

to risk losing, deaf to the howls, 

dumb to reply to the question;

How did you think this would help?

And the whiteness that somehow survives

standing, walking in its nice navy suit

is watered by some other red

replaced the day he swore to represent

his voters – not as his fellow humans, only as

the holders of the pens that ticked the box

beside his name. And then

he’ll call on human values, courage,

compassion, heroism, moral codes

while his own moral code is lying

in a pool on holiday sipping champagne.

This bloodless lust for throwing in

another explosive device and calling it

compassion, better than standing back

and doing nothing, is the creaking of

machines in need of oil; there’s no soul 

in there to suffer for their lie, only 

the shine of brass buttons on navy suits

a team of hairdressers and make-up dusters

to ensure the message comes across,

that the machine passes for human.

Give me a man in tatters

alive and hurting

let me hear the things he says

unshepherded by press release

and gleaming teeth; let me

perceive the rotten pieces, scuffed shoes,

zits and second-hand coat –

I want to know he knows the end result

from bitter experience

before he tries to make me see

the need to push

that bloodless button.

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