“The Children of Aleppo”



I posted this poem a few days last week, but took it down, I think for rework.  I’m posting it again for a particular reason, for a particular website.  This poem was submitted to The New Yorker and we will see if they publish this.  It will be published in PoetCRIT Journal this July in Mumbai, India.

Gary Hart, of Gary Hart Photography in California, wrote a lovely comment on  (www.GaryHartFacebook.com) about “Pitcher Of Moon”.  Gary supplied the cover photo.  It made the book look wonderful.  Thank you, Gary.  And thank you Nick, Steve and the good and sane people in my life.

Lady Nyo

The Children of Aleppo


There is no childhood in Aleppo.

There are little martyrs-in-the-making

Where 5 year olds and 8 year olds

Wish for a ‘family death’

Where they can die together

With their parents

Where they live in peace in Heaven

Never tasting the fruits of peace on Earth.

There is no childhood in Aleppo.

The children haunt the abandoned  dwellings

Of friends who have fled the city.

There they find abandoned teddy bears

While looking for guns for the rebels, their fathers.

“Oh, the poor thing!”

A dead canary in his cage

Abandoned by its owners

They flee the rockets, bombs

And mortars.

In the face of daily death

The sight of this bird

Evokes a child’s sorrow.

But the gunfire outside continues

(They are used to the noise)

And huddle in the pockmarked

Halls until safe to scatter.

The children of Aleppo

 Have no teachers, doctors.

These have fled the cities, schools

But they still pine for ice cream,

For music in the streets,

For curtains not torn by violence,

For books and toys

And gardens and flowers,

For friends that have not died

Innocent blood splattering

The dirty cobble stones

At their feet.

The children of Aleppo

Are free and children again

Only in their dreams,

And perhaps, if you believe so,

After death.

How do you put back the brains

Of a child in the cup of the shattered skull?

How do you soothe the howls of the mothers

The groans of the fathers in grief?

How do you comfort the left-alive siblings?

The children of Aleppo

Have no future as children.

Suffer the little children here,

They are the sacrifice of parents

And factions,

And politicians

All with the blood of

10,000 children

Who have died 

In a country torn

By immeasurable violence.

The beautiful children of Aleppo

Like children everywhere

Still want to chase each other

In the gardens, on playgrounds,

Want to dance in the streets,

Want to pluck flowers for their mothers

And they still pine for ice cream.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

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28 Responses to ““The Children of Aleppo””

  1. K. A. Brace Says:

    A very poignant poem J. moving. >KB


  2. ladynyo Says:

    thank you, KB…thank you for reading and your comment. Glad it moved you.



  3. Brian Miller Says:

    i remember reading this the other day…its sad…those children that are forced to grow up so much too fast…many of the kids i worked with were in positions they were forced to grow up…it was sad the thing they had to do in many ways to survive….and its not because they want to grow up fast but they are forced…


  4. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) Says:

    I must say I’m deeply touched by your words. There are so may terrible things happening.. and still Aleppo is one of the most poetic names for a city..


  5. Anthony Desmond Says:

    ugh… this is heartbreaking… but, sadly, this is what’s going on in our world…very powerful write


  6. Jennifer Writings of a Mrs Says:

    Very poignant! Inspired!


  7. ladynyo Says:

    thank you, Jennifer.

    Lady Nyo


  8. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Anthony. Nice to meet you finally. I have commented on your blog, but I guess we are getting a bit more out in the world of this site.

    Yes, it is heartbreaking….and it is also something that is duplicated over and over….in too many countries.

    The emotions when channelled into something like this makes it ‘easy’ to do a powerful write. The issue is not falling over into sentimentality.

    Thank you, Anthony.

    Lady Nyo


  9. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Bjorn! Yes, it is…along with the words “Khmer Rouge”…sounds so beautiful, neh? The actuality is something that is horrendous.

    Thank you, Bjorn.

    Hugs, Jane


  10. ladynyo Says:

    Exactly, Brian…and also in this country…the cotton mills, the fields, and today? The picking fields in states growing fruit and vegetables….children as young as 11 in these industries….they are forced to go up fast.

    In my own family, because of alcohol and mental illness, we were forced to grow up too fast. Childhood was a time of anxiety, not leisure…mostly. There were memories that were good, but they always were off set by the fearful.



  11. lynndiane Says:

    Powerful words and images of real tragedy…ours is a broken world where childhood is often stolen, as you describe so passionately.


  12. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Lynndiane. thank you for reading and your comment. You are right, our world is broken and childhood is stolen from those who can least afford it.

    These last two days has made me think more and more about these great fluxes in life. I was shortly involved with a website that called themselves Smart Asses. I call them Breeding Better Nazis. I am thankful that I found how to delete myself from this group. I was warned only after I got in that these people were mean and bored fools….and stupid. Don’t want to play with stupid. Good people left disgusted. I wish I had plumbed why before I gave some energy to these rampant fools.
    I would say also that there were some full blown sociopaths there. Don’t want to play with them either….and the point is this: We have limited time on earth, make our time to be used compassionately, with people that are humane and with decent (and non-sarcastic ) values. While the rest of the world suffers, we should not play around with this crap.

    Lady Nyo


  13. http://vivinfrance.wordpress.com Says:

    I can understand your need to keep working on this poem – there is always more to be written about the horrendous story of Syria today. But keep posting the poem at every stage – the world should read it over and over.


  14. ladynyo Says:

    Oh Vivi! I love your work and I have not seen it in a while. Usually I don’t get that many comments, readers from dversepoets, but just yesterday, I am really surprised! LOL I guess it’s this poem.

    Yes, you are right…the horrendous story of Syria is unbelieveable. This poem wrote itself…you know the process. In the mouth, on the tongue and boom….it was there. And yes, there are certainly places where I can ‘refine’ it, but right now….I don’t want to make it slick and I have a tendency in rewrite to rethink and to refine where the sharpest parts lose impact.

    Thank you so much for reading and your very insightful comment.



  15. johnallenrichter Says:

    Evoking…… Incredibly sad Lady Nyo…


  16. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, John.

    Lady Nyo


  17. MarinaSofia Says:

    As you say, it’s a challenge to balance empathy, indignation, sadness and not descend into sentimentality, but you have done it beautifully in this poem.


  18. ladynyo Says:

    Oh! thank you, Marina Sofia. I see my poetry better through the eyes of others! Thank you for reading and your insightful comment. And yes, it’s definitly a challenge. I want to ‘refine’ this just a bit…without losing some of it’s power, but I don’t know right now that I can…needs some distance.

    Thank you again. be over today.



  19. Teresa Says:

    Congratulations! I hope you get published.


  20. Gay Reiser Cannon Says:

    I hurt reading about the violence. It never seems to end. I think that there is no mercy, and powerful factors prevent peace. We have a technology that can see to the beginning of time, that understands the way atoms work and yet we can not understand war and violence – yet it is echoed in all we know of nature – perhaps it is the idea of peace and serenity that is “unnatural”. You make a touch case here where you write about it so poignantly and profoundly. Bless you, Jane.


  21. Gay Reiser Cannon Says:

    ehhrrr…should be “touching”…..Gay


  22. ladynyo Says:



  23. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Gay….oh, it hurts to read this violence all over the world, but we must. We can’t close our eyes, and walk away. I have been dealing with some people lately who have no consciousness as to how privileged we are in this country. Perhaps they are a lost generation, but these children don’t have that. They live within the bounds of violence.

    I think that what is natural is the urge towards peace, but you are very right…there are such powerful factions that prevent all that is good and peaceful.

    Thank you, Gay…and bless you, too. Bless us all with peace.


  24. ladynyo Says:

    thank you, Teresa.

    Hugs, Jane


  25. Laura Hegfield Says:

    You’ve described the horror with such compassion dear Jane.


  26. ladynyo Says:

    Oh, dear Laura! thank you. I hope you are feeling better. The world is in such a mess…and I am so behind everything, even answering the comments with visits to other blogs. Forgive me dear friend.

    Love, Jane


  27. ayala Says:

    Sad and powerful poem, Jane.


  28. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Ayala….I’ll be over tomorrow to read…eyes are burning for the last few days.,

    Thank you….

    Hugs, Jane


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