Poetry 2018 Longlist, Nandini Mazumder

Borders and Nations

Countries were was once

A vast mass of land

Not separated by boundaries or lines

But stretched across by miles

From horizon to horizon

It was one world

And then we came

And ushered in civilization

Civilization held several promises

But before the promises could be fulfilled

It demanded our tributes

Tributes to create demarcations

And the land that was once one

Was broken into fragments

Separated by boundaries and lines

Each fragment bound within

Became a nation

Each nation had a flag

Hoisted every once in a while

To celebrate what is called ‘national pride’

There was an anthem too

So that it could be sung aloud

For the enigma called ‘national pride’

The nation evoked feelings too

Compelling to feel extreme pride in everything within

Compelling to hate everything outside

The revered boundary line

Worshipped fanatically, protected fiercely

The line however keeps shifting

The elusive line

That decided our lives

Either regarding us as citizens


Demanding patriotism, demanding conformity

Or leaving the rest out

Hostiles and aliens

Refugees and illegal immigrants

As outsiders, unfit to live.


The malady of civilization spread fast

The beast called nation is unleashed

The lands once free

Open to anyone who wanted to come in

Home to anyone who wanted to stay

Were now civilized nations

Closed and unwelcoming

With borders, flags and anthems

A police force and army

Weapons to guard it fiercely

Outsiders were suspicious beings

Persecuted people who seek refuge

The immigrants, legal and illegal

They are turned away more often

Detested and unwanted

The promise of better life eluded them

Arrested, jailed, deported

The tired, poor and the hungry

The ones who escaped death

Taking the long arduous journey

They find the nation waiting with its fangs out

The nation ready to strike down

The nation apathetic and monstrous

They nation asking them to go away

They nation wanting them to die

The nation is god who cannot be questioned

The behemoth who must not be defied

Nation conquers all

Demanding blind allegiance from citizens

Perpetrating heinous crimes

Unleashing death and destruction

Bullets and pellets

Killing, maiming and blinding

Gagging dissent, preaching hate

The genocidal nation, greedy for tributes

And tributes are paid

At the altar of nation and nationality

Humanity is sacrificed.

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