Friday Poem – MIG–21 Raids at Shegontola


This Friday’s poem, MIG–21 Raids at Shegontola, comes from Mir Mahufuz Ali’s debut collection Midnight, Dhaka. Rich in visual and aural descriptions, Mahfuz writes with a shocking directness about the atrocities he witnessed as a child in war-torn Bangladesh. In later poems his trauma becomes transformative, and his poetry the key to unlocking memories of a childhood that are rich in nuance, gorgeous in detail and evocative of a beautiful country. They celebrate the human capacity for love, survival and renewal.

MIG–21 Raids at Shegontola won the  2013 Geoffrey Dermer Prize for poetry. Mahfuz will be accepting the MDA award for best contribution to the Arts by an Asian artist presented by Julie Morgan, Am at a ceremony in Cardiff on 8th November.

MIG–21 Raids at Shegontola

Only this boy moves
between the runes of trees
on his tricycle
when an egle swoops,
releases two arrows
from it’s silver wings and melts
away faster than lightning.
Then a loud whistle
and a bang like dry thunder.
In a blink the boy sees
his house roof sink,
feel his ears ripped off.
The blast puffs up a fawn of smoke
bigger than a mountain cloud.
The slow begonias rattle
their scarlet like confetti.
Metal Slashes
the trees and ricochets.
Wires and pipes snap
at the roots, quiver.
The whirling smoke packed
witch bricks and cement,
chicken feathers and nigella seeds.
When the cloud begins
to settle on the ground,
the boy makes out buckled iron rods.
White soot descents
as he finds himseld dressed
like an apprentice baker.

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