Casualties Of War

by Alma A. Hromic

October 15, 2001

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A flag
in conquered soil planted.
People leaving,
streaming from ancient homes with nothing
but a blanket-wrapped bundle and a baby in their arms.
Holes dug by mines and shrapnel beside the crawling roads. Survivors
with tear tracks like caterpillar tank trails through the grime on their face
trudge with their heads well down.
A passing reporter hung with cables
thrusts a microphone into faces like a hand-grenade
and gets answered in silence, with wounded eyes,
and turns away, and starts single-handedly turning the tables,
spouting a package of well-rehearsed, convenient lies.

Histories are written by the victorious.
But graves fit equally well
the men who died
for either side;
the same half open eyes gaze blankly from the far side of Hell,
blood of the same colour different uniforms stains,
beneath almost childish fair hair, reddish gray blood and brains.
All the dead are just dead.
Not glorious.

July 1995


Ed.: We asked Hromic in what context had she written this poem. Her answer: "the Krajina. Knin. The ethnic cleansing operation which had 200,000 Serbs evicted from their homes in Croatia and sent to directions unknown." People have a short memory indeed...



       Alma Hromic, the author with R. A. Deckert of Letters from the Fire, was born in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia. However she has lived outside her native country for much of her life: Zambia, Swaziland, South Africa, the UK and New Zealand. Trained as a microbiologist, she spent some years running a scientific journal, and later worked as an editor for an international educational publisher. Her own publishing record includes her autobiography, Houses in Africa, The Dolphin's Daughter and Other Stories, a bestselling book of three fables published by Longman UK in 1995, as well as numerous pieces of short fiction and non-fiction. Her next novel, the first volume of a fantasy series, Changer of Days: The Oracle, is due out in September 2001 with Harper Collins. Recently, Hromic won the much coveted BBC online short story competition. Her story, The Painting, was broadcast in the UK in the last week of January 2001.

         Please, DO NOT steal, scavenge or repost this work without the expressed written authorization of Swans, which will seek permission from the author. This material is copyrighted, © Alma A. Hromic 2001. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

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This Week's Internal Links

What Would You do if You Were in Charge? - by Gilles d'Aymery

Sparrow - by Michael W. Stowell

10 Years to Peace - by Deck Deckert

I'm Against Terrorism: Now, If Only We Could Get Washington On Side - by Stephen Gowans

Preface: Bingo! Simplicity Itself; Oligarchy - by Milo Clark

Back to Basics on the Way to Going Ahead - by Milo Clark

The Presidential Speech - by Milo Clark

Afterword: Function of Failures - by Milo Clark

Suggestions for Concrete Actions - by Jeff Lindemyer

Change the Education Paradigm - by Philip Greenspan

Wisdom and Compassion Need to Become Action - by Andreas Toupadakis

The Media Marches off to War - by Deck Deckert

A Day in Kafka Land - by Alma A. Hromic

Civil Disobedience (1849) - by Henry David Thoreau


Alma Hromic's Commentaries on Swans

This is an Emotional Argument (July 2001)

Letter From My Father (June 2001)

They Change Their Sky (May 2001)

Year Two, P.K. (March 2001)

Letter to my Unborn Child (February 2001)

On the Anniversary (September 2000)

Subject: Into Myth (September 2000)

Sadness in Novi Sad, Serbia (April 2000)


Published October 15, 2001
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