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A wise man doesn’t trust his mother

- Afghan proverb


There is an Afghan strain in me, loud and ebullient,

as I wear helmets with colourful fluttering streamers

to match my marvellous pantaloons. I tease

my hair into ringlets, put dark kohl under my eyes,

and look sexy, decadent and dangerous.


This pleases me exceedingly.


I know dancing boys with bums like peaches,

alas, alas, on the other side of the river!


When the British came the first time

we murdered Sekundar Burnes, assassinated

their commissar McNaughten, and simply waited.

Elphinstone was an old man, a weak commander,

he decided to retreat to British India.


Hoo, hoo, hoo, what a fool!

We cut them to pieces, murdered them all

in the snowy passes from Gandamak to Jalalabad.

What a wonderful killing time that was,

and the old grandfathers made songs and poems.


Now we have the Feringhi again, not Russians,

but Amerikhani, Anghrezi, some others.

Why do they keep returning? One wonders,

since the result is ever and always the same.

They die, we die, and in the end they leave.


It has always been so.


historical reference: http://en.wikipedia....nglo-Afghan_War

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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Wow! I love this transformation into the mind of another culture. You take the reader with you into foreign territory as if we live there. This is really powerful.


I have been fascinated with Afghanistan since the 60s when I read a book The Horsemen by Joseph Kessel. It is the story of a chapandaz, an Afghan horseman who competed in the Buzkashi. My own interest in horses probably drew me to the title but the book took me into a different culture which I would never have imagined and somehow I connected with it. The story depicted a brutal life in an unforgiving country and made a huge impression on me. I wish I still had the book, I would reread it.


A few years later when my young son who hated anything academic had to write a paper on a foreign country I suggested Afghanistan. I showed him some photos from National Geographic of the national game Buzkashi, knowing that with his knowledge of horses and the action and danger of the game would catch his attention and maybe turn him on to his assignment. It worked, I helped him research and write his paper and he really got into it. (At that time Russia had invaded the country which made it even more exciting. Incidentally, both my son and I have followed the activities of Afghanistan ever since. ) It was one of the few academic projects he ever took an interest in.


Shortly after 9-11 I saw news footage showing Afghan horsemen. Here was my reaction...Horsemen of Afghanistan














~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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A colourful and different aspect. The political exploitation of this country has historically exhibited an extemely high price tag-- paid for in human lives; conflict it seems,plays a large part in the hardy indigenous population's way of life

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  • 3 weeks later...
David W. Parsley

Captures a bit of the mystery surrounding this ancient culture, reminiscent of Michener's Caravans, which impressed me so much in my youth. The indelible image is that of a patriarchal warrior culture, fierce and tender, passionately achurn like stamping hooves. Its value lies not in convertible resources, but in a mode of existence, a culture worthy of something more tempered than rule of the intolerant Taliban. As such I never quite understood the British and Russian invasions. What was to be gained? Poppies can be grown anywhere.


The US invasion was necessitated by the persisting terrorist threat. But can we really expect total pacification, to convert centuries of clan loyalty and rivalry to a working democracy in a relatively small number of months? Certainly that would minimize the opportunity for extremism to restore itself after our departure. Is it realistic? I am not an expert, but those who are seem divided.


Brendan, your poem captures something I consider to be true about this people and the region they inhabit. I find here the note of unmitigated defiance, unapologetic adherence to an ancient code. It is probably as true as even a sympathetic Westerner can come to what is is truth for such a horseman.



- Dave

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