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Tinker

Horsemen of Afghanistan

7 posts in this topic

In response to Brendan's poem Afghanistan I am posting this poem I wrote 11 years ago.

 

Horsemen of Afghanistan

 

Flesh against tanks,

I saw them streaking

across the TV screen.

 

The horses,

once the pride of the north,

butter-fed, pampered and prized.

Bred for endurance and speed,

trained to be one with the chapandaz

to excel on the field

of the Buzkashi.

 

A way of life, a culture lost.

Equestrian royalty

used as antiquated tools of war,

to be sacrificed

by terrorists, imperialists

and those of us who think

we can offer a better way.

© Judi Van Gorder 11/12/01

 

Buskashi National Sport of Afghanistanbuzkashi-2.jpg

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Horses against tanks! Reminds one of the Polish cavalry in 1939. I was wandering around Afghanistan for a month or so in the late 1970s between the deposition of their last king and the arrival of the Russians. That would qualify as "peacetime". I found the place to be amazing, particularly the town of Herat with its tinkling horse taxis and a bazaar straight out of the Arabian Nights. The women were sashaying about in blankets (chador) with eye slits but I noticed they still painted their toenails and had jangling ankle bracelets. Ah, femininity! Of course you daren't even look at them much less talk to them! The men were absolutely charming, many of them armed to the teeth it has to be said, but marvellously courteous in a rather sinister way. They had no colonial cringe whatsoever (as one still finds in Pakistan and India to a certain extent) but tended to look at you as an interesting specimen of extra-terrestial life provided for their amusement. They swaggered about with their kiss curls and kohl-darkened eyes and you couldn't help but grin in admiration. Violent bastards, of course, but it has always been a violent country and the history of the last thirty-odd years simply underlines that fact. For more info, particularly with regard to the events in the poem, I highly recommend the novel "Flashman" by George MacDonald Fraser which captures the wild and woolly feel of the place in a way I have never come across in a work of non-fiction. Pity George W. Bush didn't read it before he launched this latest invasion!

 

Cheers,

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Thanks for this anecdote Brendan.... I so would have loved a chance to "wander about Afghanistan" in the late 70s but I had a little kid by then and I think I would have been a bit out of place.... I am not big on wearing blankets with eye slits or jangling ankle bracelets. I do paint my toenails though... :rolleyes: I will look for Flashman, hopefully I can download it onto my Nook.

 

~~Tink

 

ps... There are several Flashman books but none of books I have found so far seem to take place in Afghanistan. I will keep looking.

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Lovely Piece Tiinker- Enjoy the perspective. Ded I tried Fashman and by all rights and recommendations should love it, but have never surmonted the first few chapters;-) Thanks Tinker for digging this one up!

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An excellent poem to highlight that even in this modern world the simplest of arms coupled with passion and determination makes the subjugation of certain proud cultures extremely difficult.

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The last lines are especially revealing: those of us who think/we can offer a better way. There's some unavoidable culpability built in to this one.

 

Thanks for digging up this poem from a decade ago and posting it, Tinker. Since I was alive when it happened, knowing when the poem was written is a bonus and makes it that much more interesting. It's not just something from too long ago.

 

Tony

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Tinker, thanks for resurrecting this poem to stand alongside Brendan's. Coupled with the commentary accorded the pair, it makes for a nice (though perhaps safely by-proxy!) cross-cultural experience.

 

- Dave

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