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The Disillusioned's Remembrance

Emryn R. Syme

— Inspired by Joseph DeLappe’s Atonement Project

A beginning carved in stone,

used for an ending in crumpled paper.

“You don’t remember?”

The words of every teacher

on the anniversary of the date,

realizing that their shared pain

ends with me and mine.

I don’t remember,

but I’ve only known war because of it.

Not war like the one

known by the rest of the world;

war as it is only done

by the “Land of the Free.”

“War on terror”

began before I could stand,

the names of those it was for

enshrined in the stone

on the bloody land they died on.

But I don’t remember.

All I know is that they showed videos of the dying to children

ensuring their trauma that lived never died.

And for what?

They didn’t preserve their memory, no.

They preserved their own pain.

All I know is praying for soldiers

without ever knowing what they die for.

All I know is war

and no retribution had for those who were killed,

who all this was supposed to be for.

All I know is its legacy is not justice nor liberation.

All I know is an unhealed, unmitigated rage

creating the very thing they sought to destroy—


“It’s over.”

An empty relief,

the absence of something that always was.

“It’s good,” “It’s bad,”

It’s over.

And maybe the dead who began this can finally


All I know is the land of the aggressor

and the terror that gives them their power.



The word ringing in the language of my soul

as my eyes are sealed to charcoal on paper.

Zemari. Nasir. Zamir. Faisal. Farzad. Armin.

Binyamen. Malika. Sumaya. Ayat.

Names of ash blowing in the wood.

Zamir would be my age.

Some might even remember what all this was for.

Some never got to know much of anything at all.

“Ayat. 2.”


The names of the last who died,

pressed in an amalgamation,

letters of the names of those it was supposed to be for.

It’s over,

began with the blood of innocents

and ended just the same.

Echoed in the stone lettering of the beginning,

turned into charcoal of the end.

And what was it for?

The names in stone will be remembered,

just like the videos of them dying

pressed into rage in the souls of children.

But those lost in stone names are only charcoal on paper,


lost in a careless wind.

All blood of the innocent,

but some lives were turned into the drones

used to take the lives of the rest.

The “remembered” were stripped from their rest,

burned into charcoal

for one man to try to turn into a true remembrance.

But I was never the one who remembered.

All I am is a childhood witness

to the loss

of what it all

was for.

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