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Drawing parallels with Israel’s current action in Gaza, Shailja Patel introduces the poem Overheard Over S.E. Asia by the British poet Denise Levertov. Published in her 1972 collection entitled Footprints, Levertov’s poem concerns the US’s use of white phosphorus during the Vietnam war.

"White phosphorus, white phosphorus,
mechanical snow,
where are you falling?"

"I am falling impartially on roads and roofs,
on bamboo thickets, on people.
My name recalls rich seas on rainy nights,
each drop that hits the surface eliciting
luminous response from a million algae.
My name is a whisper of sequins. Ha!
Each of them is a disk of fire,
I am the snow that burns.

I fall
wherever men send me to fall–
but I prefer flesh, so smooth, so dense:
I decorate it in black, and seek
the bone."

* Denise Levertov was a British poet strongly opposed to the Vietnam war.
* Shailja Patel is a Kenyan poet, playwright and theatre artist, whose blog can be found .
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