The War Photographs

He just heard the radio – Newsradio 93.8 – describing the political riots in Thailand as ‘interesting’. How can anyone find such tragedy interesting, he wondered. Gruesome, tragic, heartwrenching, yes.

But not interesting.

Interesting is such a mild word; It is a filler word that don’t mean anything. Real estate developments are interesting. iPads to be launched in Singapore by July is interesting. Books by up-and-coming authors are interesting. Everything - including bloody riots - is interesting.

This reminded him of a poem - The War Photographer. His teacher would be so pleased that he remembers.

An aching feeling weighted him down. Personal tragedies were turned into entertainment for the masses. The genuine suffering of others have become fodder for conversation over cups of coffee.

Somewhere people are in deep, mortal pain and elsewhere, others are chatting comfortably about them, secretly glad that they aren't the ones suffering.

War Photographer by Carol Ann Duffy
In his darkroom he is finally alone
with spools of suffering set out in ordered rows.
The only light is red and softly glows,
as though this were a church and he
a priest preparing to intone a Mass.
Belfast. Beirut. Phnom Penh. All flesh is grass.

He has a job to do. Solutions slop in trays
beneath his hands which did not tremble then
though seem to now. Rural England. Home again
to ordinary pain which simple weather can dispel,
to fields which don't explode beneath the feet
of running children in a nightmare heat.

Something is happening. A stranger's features
faintly start to twist before his eyes,
a half-formed ghost. He remembers the cries
of this man's wife, how he sought approval
without words to do what someone must
and how the blood stained into foreign dust.

A hundred agonies in black-and-white
from which his editor will pick out five or six
for Sunday's supplement. The reader's eyeballs prick
with tears between bath and pre-lunch beers.
From aeroplane he stares impassively at where
he earns a living and they do not care.