Sleeping Child

How do I tell her who is a terrorist…

Don’t the terrorists profit from those

Gap Kids clothes she is wearing today?

When the buildings collapsed

And terrorized eight hundred

Underpaid workers in that sweatshop

Didn’t the terrorists make merry

Looking the other way –

The way of uninterrupted greed,

As the Walton families scoop

Another couple of billion dollars

Didn’t I buy her cereal off their shelves?

The comic characters she watches

Spun by the deceit of the hate funders

From the Nazi Germany days till today;

Or isn’t the terrorizing force the books

She reads which make no mention

Of the annihilated indigenous peoples

Replaced by sinister slaveowners

She must respect as founding fathers?

One after another president gleefully

Preaching to her values of patriotism

In name of which profiteering wars

Find justifications, and she will nod

Her head, her empty slate of a mind

That will be overwritten with lies after

Lies after lies about who is a terrorist

And who is a decent human being.

From the small television propaganda

To the Imax theater saving the world      

From the french fries of McDonald’s

Teaching the barbaric fast food values

To the toy stores with guns, video games

Making noise akin to the misguided bullets

Saying cheese to selfish units called families

Learning of capital cities and spelling bees

To win my praise, when she will win a race

Leaving her classmates behind in the chase

Terrorized by failing grade, or dropping out

Cheered for abiding, without a doubt

Teachers and preachers with moral lessons

Terrorizing her of hell, if she throws questions

God’s own land, greatest nation of all

Bombing all dissenters, still standing tall 

How do I tell her who are the terrorists

So long as the very fabric of this culture exists

And if I expect her to challenge this foundation

Will they end up branding her a terrorist nation?


Saswat Pattanayak, Peoples’ Poet


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