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Poem of the Week: Levant Diptych

A new work by Patrick Cotter

An injured man following Israeli air strikes in Rafah, Gaza. Photograph: Getty Images

i Who Needs A Burning Bush?

For sidelock ringlets are like the script
of God, vowel-free, ready to drip
onto the scrolling page right-to-left
and at the barber shop, as their trimmings
fall to the floor, they spell out the name
of the latest child to be bulldozed
homeless, not far enough from Nazareth.

ii October 2023

The shellshocked donkey is mantled in dust
except where rivulets of blood channel down
from his headwound. He cannot hear bleating
from his own mouth, a pitch and rhythm not
unlike the siren of an antique ambulance.
He’s not standing. He doesn’t know if
his legs work. Collapsed buildings pile around
him in asymmetrical lumps. Metres under his belly,
crunching in the dark Gaza’s last apple for miles
has been put in the mouth of a child hostage
to keep her from screaming.

Patrick Cotter lives in Cork. His poems have been published in The Financial Times, London Review of Books, POETRY, Poetry Review & elsewhere. His latest book is Sonic White Poise, Dedalus 2021. More at