The Clouds of War: Gulf War Poems by Students at PS 16

Collected by Jeffrey Pflaum 

During the 1990–1991 school year, Jeffrey Pflaum’s sixth-grade students at PS 16 in Brooklyn wrote poems to express their thoughts and feelings about the Gulf War. In some cases, students translated their own or a classmate’s poems into Spanish. The Gulf War is now a distant memory for most, but the poetry from PS 16 captures emotions that remain relevant today.

A Cry at the Door
by Glennie Llano  

Knock, Knock!
Hello, is anybody there?
Hello!
Where is everybody?
Come on. Open the door!
Hello, it’s me!
Knock, Knock!
Remember me?  War?

 El llanto en la puerta
translated by Scarlet Caba 

¡Toc, Toc!
¿Hola, alguien está ahi?
¡Hola!
¿Donde esta todo el mundo?
¡Vengan, abran la puerta!
¡Hola, soy yo!
¡Toc, Toc!
¿Te acuerdas de mi?  ¿Guerra?

Thinking
by Glennie Llano  

Imagine if one day
you get the newspaper
and it says
we don’t have anything to print today
everything’s okay
Imagine just imagine
No war   no fighting   no killing
nothing   nothing
you can stop imagining now

Pensando
translated by Scarlet Caba

Imaginate que un dia
recibas el periodíco y diga
que no tiene nada que escribir
que todo esta bien
Imaginate solo imaginate
No mas guerra  no mas peleas  no mas asesinatos
nada de nada
no puedes dejar de imaginar ahora
you can stop imagining now

I Hear It
by Glennie Llano                                                                   

I hear crashing
I hear screams
I hear things
That you’ve never dreamed
I see running
I hear crying
all because
people are dying
then
I see pictures
in my head
about the people
who are dead

Lo oigo
translated by the author with Eva Gallud 

Oigo choques
Oigo gritos
Oigo cosas
que jamás soñarias
Veo carreras
Escucho llantos
y todo porque
hay gente muriendo
después
imágines
en mi cabeza
de personas
muertas

War Windows
by Juan Serrano

at midnight you
hear explosions
and screams
you hear air raid
sirens because planes
are dropping bombs
on buildings and then
you look out of a
window and people
are lying dead on
the streets while
another window shows
tanks and soldiers
killing and destroying
anything in their way
then the last window
you see a missile
coming to your head
and all the windows
close

Ventanas de guerra
translated by Scarlet Caba with Eva Gallud

a medianoche
oyes explosiones
y gritos
sirenas del ataque aéreo
los aviones
están lanzando bombas
sobre los edificios y luego
miras
por la ventana y la gente
yace muerta
en la calle mientras
otra ventana muestra
tanques y soldados
matando y destruyendo
lo que encuentran en su camino
en la última ventana
ves un misil
a tu cabeza
y todas las ventanas
se cierran

The Nightmare
by Anthony Rivera

I’ve always
had
nightmares
about bombs
exploding
in the
night
I’m
sweating
in my bed
under the
covers
thinking
I’m never
gonna get
out of here
but
you have
to live
with this
thought
you’re not
going to die
you’re gonna
live your
life
and
enjoy it
I’m gonna try to
enjoy my life
I’m sweating
in my bed
under
the covers
thinking

La pesadilla
translated by Glennie Llano with Eva Gallud

Siempre
he tenido
pesadillas
con bombas
que explotan
de noche
Sudo
en la cama
bajo la sábana
pensando
que nunca
saldré de aquí
pero
hay que vivir
con ese pensamiento
no
vas a morir
vas
a vivir
tu vida
y
disfrutarla
Voy a intentar
disfrutar mi vida
Sudo
en la cama
bajo la sábana
pensando

In the Bag
by Raul Fernandez

There’s a
man with a

bag; but, what’s
in that bag?

The man
looks familiar,

he’s dressed
in white; but

why is he
dressed up like

that? Maybe
he thinks it’s

Halloween?

One day

I saw the man
carrying the bag

with him; and I
watched him empty

out evil, hate, war,
and violence. And

the man was God, and
he was taking all of

the nasty things
away from heaven.

En la bolsa
translated by Scarlet Caba

Hay
un hombre con una

bolsa; ¿pero que
hay en esa bolsa?

El hombre
parece conocido,

esta vestido
en blanco; ¿pero

porque el esta
vestido asi?

¿Talvez el piensa
que es

Halloween?

Un dia

Yo vi al hombre
llevando una bolsa

con el; y yo lo vi
vacio

afuera, la maldad, el odio, la guerra
y violencia. Y

el hombre era Dios, y
El estaba votando todas las

cosas malas del
cielo.

Not Sure (12/25/90)
by Glennie Llano

Is it?
Is it really Christmas?
I don’t see snow.
No caroling.
No getting together.
Is it?
Is it Christmas yet?
Or the beginning of war?

And a Happy New Year (1/1/91)
by Glennie Llano

‘Tis the season
To be laughing,
To be giving,
To be loving.
But in other people’s worlds,
‘Tis the season
To be killing

   

Midnight Fear
by Scarlet Caba

everyone is waiting
for the hour
with fear
soldiers know
death is near
endless hour
endless night
endless skies
in our fright

Terror de media noche
translated by the author

todo el mundo esta esperando
la hora
con terror
soldados saben que
la muerta esta cerca
hora que no se acaba
noche que no se acaba
cielos que no se acaba
en nuestro miedo

The End
by John Arce

This is my last stop
All in the mind. A Vision of Death
So sudden a dark wind
falling tears in a solemn prayer
Easy come Easy go A day of destruction
with front row seats so this is The End
My last stand gone away I never knew
what I thought STOP DEAD with a drop

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Bloody Thoughts
by Juan Serrano

As I read
Headlines
about Iraq,
about the missles,
about the hostages,
about the troops,
I get
bloody thoughts
that
a missle
might
get launched
and
kill our men,
And,
I get
bloody thoughts
as I see their
parents,
friends,
cousins,
and brothers
in pain
because
their
son
or
daughter
got killed
in
the
war.

Pensamientos de sangre
translated by Glennie Llano

Al yo leer
titulos
de Iraq,
de los missiles,
de los prisioneros,
about the troops, de las trupas,
Yo tengo
pensamientos de sangre
que
un missile
pueda
despachar
y matar
nuestros hombres
Y,
me da
pensamientos de sangre
cuando yo veo sus
padres,
amigos,
primos,
y hermanos
en dolor
porque
su
hijo
o
hija
se murieron
en
la
guerra.

Short Life
by Juan Serrano

in life people must
die while others live
a long life people should know that
life
is just like ink in
a pen it just runs
out and then it is
dead

Vida corta
translated by Glennie Llano

en la vida unas gentes
mueren mientras otras viven
una vida larga la gente debe
saber que la vida
es como tinta
en una pluma la tinta sale
y despues
se muere

Peace
by Juan Serrano

The night can creep up upon the day
it surprises us
and the stars
will come out and give the night
a white glow
multitudes of people
gather round
in peace
and look
at nature’s gift of
love, friendship, and harmony:

for a minute or two
no war

No World
by Nadia Burgos

no world
is what
the future
holds
for us
and
our children
because
it’s actually
ending
right here
and
right now

No hay mundo
translated by Glennie Llano

Lo que el futuro
nos tiene para
nosotros los
niños es nada
no hay mundo
porque actualmente
lo estan terminando
ahora

Untitled
by Raul Fernandez

War is 75%.
Peace is 25%.
There is
hardly
any space
for peace
in the world.

Great Peace
by Dennis Berrios

crystal love
open night
you sleep
your entire life
soft beautiful and free
caring more for future days
bold speed flies you
to celebrate
our golden mystery
to think of the world
called imagination
the young great spirit
spurring your life

   

 

 


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