Beyond the bloodshed and bombing,
beyond the rubble and ruins of homes and hamlets,
hidden identities rise from beneath,
the weight of authoritarian secularism.

Life is measured in mere statistical body count,
bid as a zero-sum game,
and traded at discount in the Shi’a/Sunni marketplace
where the oblivion of the dead meets the deadline.

Social harmony rises in jagged inequality
against the background of the shifting sands of an un-civil war
that turns into a foe
any friend whose otherness is cast by faith.

Where body-clad souls are dumped in the heap of humanity,
the land claims those who once claimed it.
The neighborhood gangs spray paint Syria’s tomorrow
in shades of dark ideologies—
non-Syrian, non-Islamic, non-human.

In the nowhereness of the refugee camps
that dot the desert in ineligible scripted code,
children see life
through the sectarian lens of a fractured reality.

There, Syria’s otherness stands naked
to the stares of strangers.
Its story yearns for a listening ear
to tell itself in discorded stanzas
and speak of the dreaded dark clouds
that heralded the season of change.

Syria’s story is whispered on the wings of
the night wind that blows across the desert.
Its sufferings have been etched
onto a nation’s scarred psyche
one painful needle point at a time.

Behind the shattered window panes of
an ancient temple of an ancient God,
a shattered heart traces its final thumping.
The minaret call echoes His greatness,
as the unfulfilled heart’s moments count down
to its final lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-…

– Zaman Stanizai