Other Poems by:

Salman Shaheen

Paki in the Middle

I watch as Boeing meets building, twin towers reduced to rubble, 
And see the hatred in their hearts, they call me to Jihad; 
"Allah calls upon you, Child of the East, 
Come shed the blood of Infidels, our martyr, semtex-clad!" 
I see a nation ripped asunder, the Arab people blown apart, 
By the bombs of truth and justice, freedom's flag unfurled; 
"Liberty calls upon you, Child of the West, 
Come kill for democracy, let oil drown the world!" 
And while both sides hold their heroes, their honoured fallen dead, 
I play piggy in the middle, as the bombs fly overhead. 

Upon what battlefield can it be, that civilisations clash? 
Not Washington or Fallujah, nor New York or Baghdad; 
But the blood within my body, there a war is fought, 
Come East, come West, my heart hangs heavy, for a world turned mad. 
And I shout from the highest rooftops, to the streets of London town, 
For with their bitter hatreds, both sides have it wrong; 
But when they will not listen, to a call for peace and change, 
What for the blood within me, where do I belong? 
Now nothing is black, nothing is white, all runs, it seems, to red, 
While I play piggy in the middle, as the bombs fly overhead, 
Just a Paki in the middle, as my people's blood is shed. 

The Highway

Manufactured faces, factory-line expressions, cast
Their gazes, averting eyes from strangers,
Transfer money, gulp their cups of caffeine,
Back to work. Cycle repeat.
It's the modern way.
But from Avebury down to Glastonbury,
On the turnpikes and in the fields,
From the festivals and all-night raves, to the circles
At the stones; they looked for another life -
Stuck two fingers up to Starbucks,
And chose, not your way, but the highway!
Now you criminalize communities, travellers
Ain't welcome, beat them on the Beanfield,
Tell us property's not theft; well
Why do I feel robbed?
Criminal Justice? Where's the justice?
Justice for the criminals in the Commons,
And your coffee-house bourgeoisie - 
Is it a crime to want to LIVE?
I see the way you live - 
Manufactured faces, factory-line expressions;
Imagination cannot be moulded!
Avert your eyes from strangers, 
You stand alone.
Transfer money, capitalism running on coffee,
Your stock exchanges spin in circles,
I'm getting dizzy - 
Let me off!
I'll take the highway.

Peace One Day

From the West Bank to East Berlin,
Hiroshima to Ho-Chi-Minh,
From the Boer War to East Timor,
Kosovo to Alamo - 
Hear the victims cry in pain,
Turn the page, another stain - 
History book's been written red,
Another people, broken - bled,
Another chance for peace - 

From Ypres' fields to Stalingrad,
Falklands to the old Yugoslav,
From Afghanistan to Sudan,
North Korea to Chechnya - 
Watch the poppies, trodden to mud,
See the Tigris, run with blood -
Another war begins to rage,
Don't be quick to turn the page - 
Change must come, come what may,
Together we'll look for another way,
Together we'll make peace,
Peace One Day.
Peace One Day!

Salman Shaheen 	

This poem is dedicated to the Peace One Day campaign, launched by film maker Jeremy Gilley 
in 1999. The campaign, which has won support from Nobel Peace Laureates, artists, musicians, 
religious and political leaders and millions of people around the world aimed to make 
September 21st an International Day of Peace, an annual day of global ceasefire and 
non-violence. Officially recognised by the UN General Assembly in 2001, the campaign's most 
important task has only just begun - to let the world know!


Fool's Gold

For the child sitting amongst smouldering ruins
Asking why his father died,
For the soldier crawling face down on distant fields
As a broken family gently cried
And for the frightened refugee, praying to a God
That had never once replied;
An answer must be given
As their faint voices call out softly
Searching for a reason why.
But for the questions on their troubled mind,
No answer could they ever find
In the face of such folly.
Always blind.

Now for the General standing tall and proud,
He says his men fall as others are freed,
Whilst for the people of the western world,
Purchased compliance resists a tyrant's wicked deed,
But for our leaders the truth is known;
It was for want, not need.
Black gold, priceless and seductive,
Runs through the veins of a nation's throbbing heart
And into the businessman's swollen pocket
As a government rides its flow to power.
This is for what they die, the brave and the bold,
As countless lies are bought and lives are sold;
Now misplaced priorities leave them searching for.
Fool's gold.


Rome burns about him,
A mis-spent youth bred
Mal-formed egotism.
Play those strings, play ever on,
The sweetest melodies cannot shroud
An empire crumbling.
Nero plays his golden fiddle.
And Rome burns.

Tyrant, usurper, simpleton,
What madness is this?
Raze those cities with your hate.
But as ye sow, so shall ye reap!
The softest lies scarcely hide your intent,
But no empire lasts for all time.
Take your nine-iron, look away,
Modern-day Neros play their game.
And America burns!


Salman Shaheen is a committed anti-war campaigner and political activist. Born in 1984, he is currently studying social and political sciences at Jesus College, Cambridge. He is widely published amongst the small press, and also writes regular articles for left-wing newspapers, websites and journals. Salman was a co-host, alongside Jon Snow, on the Channel 4 children's news series, First Edition, and appeared as an extra in the recent film Vanity Fair - wearing a pink turban! Being something of a hippy, Salman enjoys spending his free time travelling to festivals, parties and protests. A firm believer that the pen truly is mightier than the sword, Salman writes to make a difference. 

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