Her Name Was Noor
Her eyes were always the size of a child’s caught in surprise
and she kept them down to the ground guarding her modesty
from the gaze of old men,
who hoped to find the spark of their youth
when they looked into them.
She was the gazelle of the hills,
that beautiful creature all loved and knew,
prancing across the remote village hills of Ireland,
or Libya’s back dunes, across the rocks of Jalalabad
through the old dried river beds of Basra’s ancient ruins.
She let her hair fall free at the end of the day,
and each rising breeze was a beak that parted the ebony strands
like ravens plumes being carefully groomed.
Now she put some helium breaths to her steps
gliding not walking and twirling a stick like a proud flag
and she the bearer of her good world’s victory.
Her verse was born to the tap of high steps
and her heart-beat that made life pump round.
She quickened the pace and put a rabbit to chase
just as the sun was close to going down.
“I wish to pray to the Always Awake that Peace be returned today
like swallows and fish who come back home to stay.”
She recited over and over and it became her running rhythm.
Hopeful lightness teased the wind to blow her through the trail that thinned
into unmarked pebbles where no footprints marred her way.
Here skipped the profile of youth catching the sun, red faced and swollen,
making it her own halo back-lighting her black curls now spiked electrically,
her cheeks flushed, an angel dancing on the ridge.
She was beautiful like the innocent can be, without ever knowing they are.
Skin so smooth, the light slipped off her arms
and made twirling shadows on the ground,
and she loved to watch them spin along, as the sun was almost done.
All her blood was inside sustaining, and she thought no more about it
then dust might think to write a poem,
about the last hours of this afternoon.
Her name was Noor, and she lit up the war-torn village night like a torch with just her laugh.
She never saw the sniper or his face or his gun for it was almost 800 meters away.
No one ever knew to this day which side he was on,
as the innocent were never targets of fair-play,
and no one in the village learned his name.
Some say he was a mercenary, and took his shot as if she were game,
then he himself took off and flew far away.
Some say it was just a horrible mistake,
that no one would be so heartless, to send a fatal shell into a head,
where all those dreams of peace were being born,
to blow it away like a pomegranate so darkly red
smashed against rocks leaving little left to mourn.
Who know about these things say,
that through his powerful scope he saw her face
as if only a few feet away,
and in a frozen headlight second, when he squeezed the trigger,
he did watch her head explode into nothing but clouds of dying dreams and red debris.
He never heard her prayers for peace, her hopes for love, or knew her name or family.
Her name was Noor, and she lit up the war-torn village night, like a torch with just her laugh.
April 1, 2011
Virtual Art Gallery, Linc Island SL
*please see my comment below
This poem was inspired by the painting “Sniper” by Sigfred Rodenberger, the same artist who created “Wired and Happy” Please visit his RL website to see more of his versatile, haunting, and sometimes disturbing work: http://www.torbenmoelgaardandersen.com/page6/page6.html
The music by Sinead O’Connor helped pull this poem out of the painting, like a loving midwife.
The name “Noor” means light in Arabic
I listened looked and read and my heart broke. I’m blinking back tears as I write this comment. I see the faceless sniper – a lean mean killing machine yet each kill is an intimate personal act – that subtle squeeze of the trigger then watching the bullet’s impact. A life of joy and innocence snuffed out in a second, a light dying. This ‘collateral damage’ has been named and honoured by your poem sis, and such a powerful heart rending one too.
And yet, as I look at the Rodenberger’s painting I see something in there too. Is there a defensiveness and a vulnerability in the tilt of his head as he looks out of his canvas at the world? It is a man who has to breathe and find a way to live with the images burned into his mind forever. There is a tragedy in that too.
Thank you sis, Once again you’ve moved me beyond words.
Thank you for your beautiful comment..Wow this poem actually left me almost wordless when finished and to be honest, I too see it will be hard to perform live without crying..
War…when we put names and faces on those maimed and eradicated, instead of words like “unfortunate civilian casualties”, “collateral damage” as you suggest, how can we continue to allow ourselves to engage and re-engage again and again in it? Sinead O’Connor’s voice is like the mourning voice of anyone who has lost anybody in this great tragedy we call, War. Thank you Sis, your eloquent and very deeply felt words have moved me so much.. Thank you for allowing my poetry to get inside of you and spark your beautiful words..
Wow – that was heavy, Karima.
I had expected something light, considering the first stanza reminded me of the style of Richard Brautigan. I was afraid to read the last stanza.
Yes Menubar, well the painting is a heavy one and as Maria suggests, the Sniper himself must live with his images.and how very hard that must be. I just wanted him to know they all have names, and Noor was hers. Thank you for commenting.
Oh how i wanted that ending to be a mistake….that the bullet to whizz past and maybe take a lock of her hair only and that she would duck and hide until safe to come out. But as in real life..these are just wishful fancies and harsh truths happen that such determined soldiers do not miss.
I have goosebumps all over as if a cold wind swept into my warm safe room. But i am so glad to know her name.. i will think about the country i live in today and be truly thankful.
Thank you Karima for taking the carpet from under my feet and evoking even these feelings to wake me this morning.
I am sorry to be the one pulling carpets out from under your pretty morning feet:) but thank you for your lovely comment..and you know I wished it could have ended better but the painting made me feel he seldom if ever missed.
Your comments are always loved and appreciated Missy..and yes we in our countries are very lucky we don’t have snipers patrolling our back hills
This poem took my breath for it has far too much of today’s truth in it.
Thank you Amase for your comment..and although I was the author, it pains me too that it is all too real..
Buenos Noches, Karima Bonita! To say that this is a powerful poem would of course be understatement. It does what any first class anti-war poem should do: It shows at close range how profound damage is done, how the innocent are plucked out of this life by unknown enemies no one ever sees coming. And your photos are just perfect – what a lovely costume. The photos actually add significantly to the impact of the story, as you have captured her joy, her light, and her love of life. To realize that this scenario is being repeated over and over and over is to weep. Here is one of my own poems that speaks to the glacial inhumanity that characterizes war and its consequences, for which, ultimately, we have no words…
They said: “He did not feel anything.”
They said: “Please stop crying, Ma’m.”
They said: “He would have seen a blinding light, and then, nothing.”
They said: “His death was instantaneous. You can be grateful for that.”
They said: “No Ma’m, there is no body. There were too many fragments.”
They said: “Please, Ma’m. Your tears will not bring him back.”
They said: “We have brought you this flag, anyway.”
They said: “You should be proud, Ma’m. Your husband died serving his country.”
They said: “Your husband died protecting freedom and democracy.”
They said: “Your husband died for freedom loving people everywhere.”
They said: “Please stop crying, Ma’m. We only have a few minutes.”
They said: “You will get about $1,154 dollars a month to compensate you for the
loss of your husband, but we cannot pay funeral expenses when there is no body.”
They said: “We cannot guarantee you Food Stamps at this time.”
They said: “We will have to deduct certain fees from your check each month.”
They said: “Yes, we are sure the remains are those of your husband.”
They said: “We will provide government grief counseling services at a
discounted cost for you and your son and daughter.”
They said: “We have to go now, Ma’m. We have twenty other widows to visit in your city today.”
They said: “We are sorry.”
They said: “Goodbye.”
– Alex Noble
Dear Happiness, thank you for your very eloquent comment first about this poem, and your own amazing offering..which so correctly balances the whole war issue, and all the suffering on both sides..Yes I have talked to people who knew snipers in different wars and they all agree, that they are the ones who suffer more post -war suicides and permanent ptsd..because of what they have seen so close-up and personal in their scopes..and all the young who go to war tricked into thinking it is like “Call of Duty” on a video game..and come back like the one you so carefully document and describe…you make the words feel like they came right off a form letter of death. It’s all too horrible and usually I can protect myself from thinking about it too much, but today it all came out.You know this is only the second anti-war poem I have written, the other entitled “Now Howl The Dogs Of Baghdad” was the first. Thank you for sharing this very moving and very upsetting poem that puts a spotlight on the business of burying the young men of the world who “died for their country” Big hugs and peace, Karima
I feel shudders of grief after reading this poem….and here in my safe home, am made to feel only a tiny glimpse of the grief that war brings this world. The contrast of youthful beauty and innocence, with the cruelty of senseless murder by a heart grown to stone. The tragedy is perhaps greater that a human heart, perhaps once so young and sweet, could have grown so numb to its acts of senseless cruelty and violence. The beautiful girl is taken, but not what was in her heart. She shines eternally. But the sniper….oh my. Thank you Karima…how deeply you reach into ones heart.
Thank you Jan for your heartfelt comments..and yes it is almost too much to bear. If I allow myself to think that it is all going on right now, I feel such deep sadness, it is hard to shake off and “get on with my day” This poem drained me, left me totally drained, and I think I will just take a break a few days and leave it up and rest this vessel who the muse has been whipping around like a rag doll lately.. What was in her heart is now in our thoughts..she lives on..”War is Not Healthy For Children and Other Living Things”..That was the very inspired 60’s War Cry for Peace and it is still and even more true today.
Powerful and deadly, Karima; a paean for peace. By bringing us close to the individuals, you’ve revealed the essentially tragic nature of war. And though it deserves much applause, it somehow doesn’t seem appropriate, so I silently salute you.
Oh Chrome,,*smiles, don’t salute me at all, not even silently, as I feel this poem, as Kahil Gibran says about children,”came through me but is not of me” As I said a few posts back about Japan, it took me longer than I would have wished to finally put some words to my feelings ..a painting brought that poem out too as it did this one and also I have been long over-due trying to write about all the upheaval and War and death our world is now going through. I join you in a silent salute to all who have and will perish in these days of tumultuous upheaval. Thank you my friend..your comments are always so appreciated.
………..what is left for me to say, Karima ? All the messages above expressed perfectly my feelings too. The grief, the despair, the question : why, the helplessness, the bewilderment, about this cruel and senseless act. Maybe there is one thing different..
I tried, but can`t feel pity with the sniper. He is aware of and responsible for his deed.
Even if death is nothing else but the transformation of a cocoon into a butterfly, ( this is, what I believe..) , the sadness is creeping into my bones…
A masterpiece ***
You know Isabel, I also see death as a transformation, yet when youth is not allowed to grow and flourish and live a life because others have hidden agendas of greed and power, this is what I find so profoundly tragic. Noor represents all children, from all wars, who in some ledger were just another, nameless, documented case of collateral damage. Thank you for your beautiful comments and your artist’s sensitivity and loving eye on the larger picture..
Karima, all of your poems posses a power of their own, but this one most of all. How many dreams and futures have been extinquised too soon by the bullets of injustice, hatred and wars — not just in our time but throughout history? Noor is not just a girl but the embodient of the hope for peace we hold in our hearts, that dies each time we read the headlines. As disturbing as the image of the poem and the art that inspired it may be, may we never keep silent when an innocent life is taken.
Amen Kyoko. All these same thoughts have been circling around in my head too today, after not having many words left after the poem was born. I am grateful and always surprised when the muse shifts gears and blows in winds of war and peace when only a day before it was in a silly mood. What is happening in the world today is sometimes beyond my grasp as a poet to talk about, yet the disturbing but potent painting of Sigfred’s made me say what I thought I couldn’t. Thank you again amiga for your well thought -out comments.
un abrazo fuerte…
As I read I knew it was a bit different than your others….but I was really blown away at this..I love it so…It touched me deeply..thank you for being so wonderfully in touch with us humans, and putting magnificent words to our simple plight…
Mojo thank you for your eloquent and moving words in this comment. Yes the painting touched me and then the beautiful voice of Sinead O’Connor helped this poem to be pulled out of the canvas like a newborn who has something to say..I feel detached from the process and yet moved deeply too Thank you my friend…Peace to you
After reading this my brilliant Karima, unlike other comments, I am completely wordless. I feel as if I was dispatched by that bullet.
Hoyt, you know how important you were in this poem.. Among other details,you said to me “You must write it” and that was what I needed to hear. Thank you for just being you and for really loving poetry and putting mine in a special place in your heart.
Hi Kari, Am trying to gather my thoughts here. I have seen and been part of the machinery of war. Innocence, hope, trust, family, are but a few of the things lost in the explosion between countries, ideas, sociopaths, greedy mercenaries and the many who profit and lose their souls forever in this hideous dance. There are killers who apply their honed art with zeal and enjoyment. There are those who have families somewhere else and pray frequently all involved will return safely to their own tribe. Whereever. I have seen Bhuddist Monks make beautiful sculptures out of used bomb housings outside of Cambodia. The beauty of Noor and all she represents is something that ultimately cannot be killed. A bullet or chemical can still her heart ….but never the beautiful soul God created who temporarily wore her mask. Kindness, sweetness, hope, optimism, and vision of goodness in others cannot be killed, ended, mutilated or desecrated. It simply is and will not ever die from a bullet’s rage. It is the disturbing part that is supposed to keep us from revisiting this horror. Seems man has a short memory. Every generation is forced to resee old horrors anew to remind themselves of why they shouldn’t do this crap. You give unflinching golden voice to this service of reminders. This is your gift. The ugliness has to be pointed out over and over for all to eventually see. Please do not let this wear you out. You are a true gift to mankind and to conscience. But it takes a toll. Recharge, heal and comeback to fight another day. When we as a civilization lose our truth tellers and conscience…we are done. Rest easy and return to fight another day. Your armour is exquistite!
wow what an extremely eloquent and well written comment. I am amazed truly, that this poem has inspired such deep, well thought out comments. You speak from experience, and that is a voice we should listen to. I am taking it easy as per your instructions * smiles warmly, and all I can say is thank you for you words, your clear and personal thoughts that came from relating to what Noor represents..Yes..these souls are very eternal and live in the best parts of our human condition..
Thank you again
Heartbreaking and right on the spot. I think any war is sin. We’re not meant to kill each other. I like the comment from one of your readers about the sniper that there is a tragedy in the painting. True. Another victim. But a victim with a choice. “If I don’t do it, someone else will”…I’m honored that my painting inspired this. Thank you. It means more than you know. And also to read your words that are so full of emotions and feelings. Funny enough I have had thoughts about war the past few months and have come to a simple conclusion. Killing is wrong. I know it’s simple and stupid. But any killing is wrong. Everybody looses. And war is never just. Of course it’s easy to say that sitting in a peaceful corner of Europe. My family was in the resistance during the second world war. They were pacifists with an active parttaking in the effects of war, so I have it from home. Well I could talk for hours. I’ll just say, I’m so proud you did this and focused on really grey areas of human existence. And so glad to have a part in this. Thank you…
Sigfred, thank you for this comment that means so much to me, as you are the artist and therefore, a very integral part of the conception of this poem. I also want to thank you for sharing your thoughts on War and killing and pacifism. Sometimes the deepest truths (we call them cliches) come out in simple terms and so when you say killing is just wrong under any circumstance.. this is not silly but very true. I have enjoyed this “unexpected and eclectic collaboration of talents” and hope this might happen again in the future. Thank you again for sharing your art and also your views with me and all of us.
……………………………………..(Speechless) was so moved that I lost all my words.
Fidel, I know you are a gentle loving and meditative person, and I know your sensitivity, so your comment is very well understood and I thank you for making it. in peace, Karima
I told Karima on first reading that I thought her poem moving and powerful.
The poem stands on its own, not needing exhaustive analysis yet Subsequent readings yield so much more
Be she a phantom persona , a sweet artless girl fearlessly gracefully moving almost incongruously against the backdrop of jagged war torn places, and it would suffice for a first viewing.Yet more from the search engine animal I get tentacles of Noors and her blooded moors
remote village hills of Ireland,
Libya’s back dunes,
the rocks of Jalalabad
dried river beds of Basra’s ancient ruins.
where is Karima leading us when Noor travels blithely in places characterized historically and currently by civil wars and factional fighting often creviced and undulating difficult places echoing with sniper fire
– Noor is an Irish Thoroughbred Racehorse.
– is a Pakistani singer and Actress.
– Noor, the name of a powerful political Play
dealing with family, middle eastern religions and modern struggles.
Noor is a concept in Sufiism and An-Noor (The Light)the 24th Sura in the Qur’an . A City and a County in Iran and a Pakistani singer and Actress.
Though i think I found her most fittingly in Queen Noor of Jordan,the wife of King Hussein,
Queen Noor of Jordan, known around the world for her peace, humanitarian, and Earth-preservation activities.
The Great movers for a better world bravely walk the point.
In modern military parlance; to take point, walk point, be on point, or be a point man means to assume the first and most exposed position in a combat military formation, that is, the lead soldier/unit advancing through hostile or unsecured territory.
Noor is also The name of a long-range cruise missile manufactured by Iran..can Analogy curl further?
in her Guilessness Noor blithely dancing through the hills a high ground beacon shining its light youthful rebel daughter exposing the Old regime , sending a Missile into the heart of the war Mongers she is a white asassin who in turn eventually… will be shot down
Do i even need to dissect such a raft of players and scenarios ,, with all these possibilities in mind I return to the gentle deferent yet powerful spirit of hope galloping as a fearless symbol of light and hope and peace across the hills.This symbol of Peace is tragicly the target our sniper finds and as it has found Many great Orators and Movers for peace and remains so,an everpresent scenario, unfortunately. It all fits.
I am blown away Karima, Intended or not you have found an Iconic well with powerful architypes, bulging with dualities and rich in thema
I will leave my rambling comment there untidy as it is. KARIMA! Inspired writing. Thank you. and PEACE
Sanne, thank you for taking your time and your efforts and researching, to leave such a scholarly yet personal comment on “noor”
I am feeling in awe with how well you express so many of the intricate elements that can be found in my poem. I humbly admit to not seeing all of them myself, and had no idea of the “iconic well” that it bubbled up from. I just know the painting by Sigfred “Sniper” started a chain of words and thoughts and I had perhaps the easiest job, just getting them down in some sort of poetic order and see that they were posted. Thank you so much dear friend, I cherish your words and find amazement that I had something to do with a poem that so deeply inspired you to write them. My poem,
“Her Name Was Noor” has been been a gift both received and given back to all who see her and what she represents. My gratitude and peace, Karima
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What a senseless killing! But you and the artist captured that perfectly. Beautiful but sad and shocking.
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Sorry for the confusion…The correct video is now in
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Thank you so much Dawn, for reading and commenting on Noor. This was a very special poem for me…and one of the hardest to perform live. I am sorry the link is broken but if you refresh the page, you will see a YouTube Natascha shot in 2012 of a live performance.. I hope you will watch it and hear it with music.. OOPs Wrong Video…sorry give me s chance to put the right one in..