Conjunctural Insurrections – “I Played On Your Tanks”

They are appalled seeing military tanks
patrolling their streets and neighborhoods.
Shooting people on their own lawn
In their own gardens
But where do you expect to see your own military?
Your own brothers, sisters, cousins, lovers in uniforms?
Where do you want your heroes and national pride to patrol?
Who do you want them to antagonize?
Why are you afraid of them?
Aren’t they your protectors?
Don’t they fight for your freedom?
Are they scaring you with their big bodies, tall boots and soulless eyes?
Or do they scare you with their machine guns?
Did you expect them to love you?
Or did you know they killed my lover?
Did you expect them on my land?
in my home
on my Afghan rug
Dragging my father’s body down to the road?
Did you want them to occupy me for 19 years?
Did you want them to antagonize me in my own home
on my own land
in my own garden
in my own bed?
Did you expect them to circle around in their terrifying helicopters in some foreign sky?
In Baghdad
And Mosul?
They are appalled seeing their own military tanks
patrolling their own streets and neighborhoods.
I played on your tanks
When I was five
When you sent them down to gift me freedom!

Dr. Ahmad Qais Munhazim (they/them) is a queer Muslim scholar and activist, born and raised in Afghanistan, exiled in Philadelphia, PA, USA.

For more on Antipode’s “Conjunctural Insurrections” series – an experiment to amplify voices often unheard and invisibilised in politics, daily life, and academic discourse – see