“The Children of Aleppo”

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How many men have left Syria for ‘a better life’?  How many young Syrian men are in Europe ‘looking for economic opportunities’,  while children of Aleppo are killed daily?


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 houses

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, 2014-2016

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2 Responses to ““The Children of Aleppo””

  1. Sherry Marr Says:

    Oh, you have painted the scene so starkly, I can actually see the rubble, the empty apartments. Children long for peace, for ice cream, for laughter…..it is devastating that they endure the ravages of war. So well written!


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Sherry. I wrote this poem the day after seeing a documentary on Aleppo. The children, mostly.

    The children were so poignant and beautiful. They were in a living Hell, but their humanity was not destroyed. They looked for things for their parents, and teddy bears for their siblings. They were 7 and 8 year olds playing in the rubble. It was something no sane person could watch and not be heartbroken for their lives.

    BTW, The New Yorker didn’t like this poem at all and rejected it. That’s fine, however I don’t mostly ‘get’ the poetry they publish. I do love their cartoons, though.

    Thank you, again.



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