Ways to count the dead
Peresis M Khan
job of the United States," a student said, "and
besides, how would we count the dead?"
Take their limbs strewn about the streets-
multiply by a thousand and one.
Ask everyone in Baghdad who has lost
a brother. Cousin. Sister. Child-to speak
their name in a recorder.
Go to every school, stand
at the front of the class, take roll;
for every empty desk, at least two dead.
Find every shop that sells cigarettes-
ask how many more cartons they've sold this year.
Go to the bus station and buy ten tickets-
offer them free to anyone who wants to leave.
Go see the coffin-maker. Ask how much
cedar and pine he's ordered this month.
The dead don't require much. They don't speak
in numbers of tongues, they lie silent
Waiting-to be counted.