Jobs For The Dead by Tareq al-Karmy

Jobs For The Dead was first published in Gutter 12. Tareq al-Karmy is a Palestinian poet and activist from the West Bank. His poems have been published in numerous anthologies and collections, including A Bird Is Not a Stone.

I’m no warmonger or weapons trader.
But once this War is over I should become a junk dealer,
selling rifle barrels as artisanal flutes,
selling copper shell shrapnel to jazz music factories,
and the bones of tanks to Disney Land and kids amusement parks .
A war junk dealer, is what I should be;
selling the soldiers’ skulls for church icons
and crumpled pictures that capture the last look of the dead,
arms amputated would be offered up to folk who’d lost theirs waving goodbye
at some harbour or an airport ,
or for those who had long dreamt of shaking hands with God someday.
I would sell the artillery tyres for wheelchairs,
the sniper rifle scopes for those who couldn’t see far enough along the paths that went astray.
And yes, I should become a rag and bone man in this last War.
But what about the armistice?
How will I buy it in the café of the generals?
I will sell whatever cannot be sold so that I can build an ants nest
for me and my three children to shelter in
for that final War which is making my eyes sneeze with its dust already.

Translated by Rym Nouria & Henry Bell