Is a frothing, turbulent sea
Wracked by convulsions
Like a dying man stricken by cyanide,
Or like lovers turned bestial,
Thrashing, shredding flesh in their frenzy.

Explosion after explosion tears from seized artillery.
We hear the prematurely aged mothers wailing,
Moaning at times as they hobble and grope their way,
Bent-backed, through the mud.
The boys, no longer content to pound each other
With sticks on the playground,
Have found a better game with higher stakes:
Civil war with a personal touch.
Montagues and Capulets, Da Hoods and the Latin Kings;
Everywhere, a score to settle.
The gutters reek of filth and excrement.
A body lies, stabbed and bloody, in an alley;
They didn't like his face.

A thousand shops,
Laden with the fruits of all man's wisdom,
A whole city for the taking.
Shabby Alarics, decked in bright gang-colors,
Brandish crow-bars,
Dynamite safes.
The enforcers join in the looting;
Streets echo with automatics.
Constantinople shudders with the horror of its rape.
Weep, Byzantium!
Your Christian brothers have betrayed you!

George Chadderdon © 1996