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The Casualties by John Pepper Clark (Poets of West Africa)

The casualties are not only those who are dead.
They are well out of it.
The casualties are not only those who are dead.
Though they await burial by installment.
The casualties are not only those who are lost
Persons or property, hard as it is
To grope for a touch that some
May not know is not there.
The casualties are not only those led away by night.
The cell is a cruel place, sometimes a haven.
No where as absolute as the grave.
The casualties are not only those who started
A fire and now cannot put out. Thousands
Are are burning that have no say in the matter.
The casualties are not only those who are escaping.
The shattered shall become prisoners in
A fortress of falling walls
The casualties are many, and a good member as well
Outside the scenes of ravage and wreck;
They are the emissaries of rift,
So smug in smoke-rooms they haunt abroad,
They do not see the funeral piles
At home eating up the forests.
They are wandering minstrels who, beating on
The drums of the human heart, draw the world
Into a dance with rites it does not know.
The drums overwhelm the guns…
Caught in the clash of counter claims and charges
When not in the niche others left,
We fall.
All casualties of the war.
Because we cannot hear each other speak.
Because eyes have ceased the face from the crowd.
Because whether we know or
Do not the extent of wrongs on all sides,
We are characters now other than before
The war began, the stay-at-home unsettled
By taxes and rumours, the looters for office
And wares, fearful everyday the owners may return.
We are all casualties,
All sagging as are
The cases celebrated for kwashiorkor.
The unforseen camp-follower of not just our war.

Last few words: 
THIS PROPERLY BELONGS IN STAGE TWO OF THE POETS OF WEST AFRICA WORKSHOP WHERE WE DISCUSS OTHER WEST AFRICAN POETS
Editing stage: 

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THIS PROPERLY BELONGS IN STAGE TWO OF THE POETS OF WEST AFRICA WORKSHOP WHERE WE DISCUSS OTHER WEST AFRICAN POETS

cheers,
Jess
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