Sunday, June 22, 2008

CounterPoint


A nasturtium flower (tropaeolum majus) First discovered in the jungles of Peru and Mexico.
Described as having showy edible flowers and pungent seeds




The Bridge at Nasiriya


For a pulsing moment
he cannot remember
whether he came from Georgia
or some place further inward,
a recruiting office,
Captain Tilly congratulating him,
painting murals inside his head,
promises of a noble heart to be saved
for heaven, a good spot there.

They rushed across the bridge like savages,
dark-skinned small enemies, wide-eyed
with fear or hate --
like a suicide bomber.
Captain Tilly hadn't told him
the sound a child makes when she dies,
broken, on a bridge, irrevocably,
like a small turtle, stepped on.

The little girl is maybe five,
in a gold and orange dress,
colors for something special,
for running at a soldier, for lying in a ditch,
a bit of her chest missing,
like his sister's lost earring,
like the missing lid of a coke bottle.
His gun has melted into his fingertips.

A dead girl in a bright dress...
He came here then to kill a child.
A girl rushing across the bridge
running from the sound of helicopters,
running the way danger slams through a paper wall
and he had never shot a bear,
even a rabbit, he who was
promised a proud heart to save for heaven,
and a good spot there.

An hour is made of a thousand crazy instances --
An instance has a life of its own,
tells epics until you fall asleep from boredom.

He had never shot a sick dog
or a rabid skunk
but the child had run toward him,
a crazy instance,
like the frantic urge to tear out his own heart,
slash open the child and give her his,
still beating.

He will not remember this,
will not tell his cousin Billy,
who told him to go kick ass --
He will not remember this,
will not tell his mother who has put up
yellow ribbons --
He will not remember this,
his crazy instant of terror
as a child ran at him.
He will not remember this,
the sound of a soul brushing across one arm.
He will not remember this,
that he, in God's ledger, is the victim.

He who never shot a rabbit
will not remember
which of them soared upward from life,
or
which of them stayed behind.





Words by Lisa Walsh Thomas


Poets against War



I came across this in seeking others' experience of this war.
My experience is limited by the lack of news and reportage of our national corporate media who have more mundane things to report.
I would suppose a soldier walking through a city of Iraq scared shitless that someone will appear out of nowhere to do him harm would be edgy and react to any fast movement. I know that I would be. This is an urban war; over 600,000 civilians killed, by some accounts now.

I just read that the Polish army (such as it was, part of the "Coalition of the Willing") camped on the site where the city of Babylon once stood, south of Baghdad, east of the Euphrates. At least three thousands of years of history trod upon by yet another conquering army. When will it ever end?

26 comments:

Enemy of the Republic said...

It won't.

jim said...

One hour ago, I hear from my son in Iraq, there for the second tour, just starting this month, tells me of the dust, the heat, the momentary silence and apparent peacefullness, not to be fooled, things change fast, there is much going on, stay on your toes boy, stay on your toes.

Goatman, I hope you are not being swamped by the river, Mississippi, hope you are dry enough, let us hear from you.

jim said...

I forgot to clik the box, hope you are well, you and yours Goatman, take care.

aria said...

"When will it ever end?"

Never.

However the previous comment gets me worried .. you ok?
Be well, take care.

polona said...

how poignant!
and yet, humans will never learn, i fear...

hope you are well

Janice Thomson said...

What an impact this leaves on the reader. Such an awful tragedy these wars. The dead are not the only victims.

Stacey said...

"When will it ever end?"

That is the BIG question, that unfortunately no one can answer...

But all anyone can do is hope and pray that it WILL end very very soon....

Take care ;-)

mago said...

Ach, never. Of course.
And if it would be so it would be unbearable.
It has to, it will.

Kimberly said...

Such a sad and tragic piece of poetry......Disturbing in its' reality though.

This war has so exhausted my patriotism, I am sorry to say....and it has escalated exponentially (far beyond what I could have ever imagined with our loss of precious lives)From the "Gulf War" that started seemingly ions ago......

And for what?.....

Really, I would love to know for what....

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks for visiting & reading my Dylan poem!!.....I appreciate your comment....=0)

Kila said...

Loved the poem, and no, it'll never end.

Pauline said...

War is portrayed as such a gallant thing thank you for this powerful post. Is it any wonder men return lifeless and tortured within!

MarmiteToasty said...

There will always be wars all the time there are people without compassion and a greed for land and power over other people.....

Love the poem..... but I hate nasturtiums, unless in a salad :)...

Two of me maties husbands are due home from a third tour of duty next week, one from Iraq and one from Afganistan.....

not it will never end......

x

Azer Mantessa said...

ooo man

this is the scariest posting of all ... goosebumps here.

Echo said...

This piece touched me deeply.

And the flower made me hungry.

serenity said...

The quiet gentle beauty of the nasturtium and the reminder of the truth about war, and human beings continue to think of themselves as the highest life form. It is good to know there are those out here still posting about the horror of war, the insanity of humankind, how sad it is to continue to choose fear over love.

Rhiannon said...

I started to cry as I read this story in this post. "enemy mine" makes me think a lot of that movie from years ago. At this point I often wonder who the enemy really is? Ourselves? Our gullibillity of thinking America is the only "power" that knows whats right or wrong? That we are not partriots unless we support our troops if we don't support the war..as mad man "Bush" USED to always say. Well the hypocrisy of it all as this administration and government that said that very statement are now the ones that turn their heads and ignore the soldiers that have come back home, wounded physically, mentally and emotionally..and not getting the medical care or finiancial help that they so need! Some are often found in homeless shelters due to the ignorance, selfishness and red tape of so many in this country and government.

I'm so ashamed of my country..

Bless and protect us all in grace and human dignity..and all those civilians that have died in Iraq yet rarely mentioned as part of the body count over there. It's insanity at it's worse.

Rhiannon

cbb said...

He will not remember this,
will not tell his mother who has put up
yellow ribbons --
He will not remember this,
his crazy instant of terror
as a child ran at him.
He will not remember this,
the sound of a soul brushing across one arm.
He will not remember this,
that he, in God's ledger, is the victim.

Jeepers. I came across your website through your recent comment at Coffee Messiah. I worry, reading the above. I'm thinking there's a great deal of self-blame, or possibly self-balm (I hope) in that poem? And I'm remembering that the bell of consciousness can neither be UN-rung, nor rung on demand. It seems to be an evolutionary kind of thing, within humankind, within one's lifetime, ACROSS one's many lifetimes, perhaps?

After such knowledge, what forgiveness - is that the question? But I'm guessing the knowledge only came AFTER the atrocity of shooting the little girl. We can only know what we know WHEN we know it. Saul Bellow in "Henderson the Rain King" says "Truth comes in blows."

Peace to you, and to those who suffer these questions... and blessings, such as can be given...

iriz said...

so sad...i love the post but i hate the feeling.

will there be peace?

you always take care mr. goatman...

Coffee Messiah said...

1st, Thanks for stopping by, it's always appreciated!

You mean, "with victory" isn't the answer?

Whatever that means! ; (

Once day all these old guys with their old ways will be gone. Maybe then the world may change, even just a little.....

Peace, to You & Yours!

holly said...

Such a powerful post, it makes me sad, yet hopeful that someday, ahhh someday, we will not go to war, no one will. I keep hoping and every candle I light, I send the silent message "peace to all." Thanks for stopping by my blog.

goatman said...

Coffee: I used to also think that when the old hatreds died off things would improve but then I realized that they created their young probably to believe as they do! Many young.

Thank you all for your thoughts.

Marion said...

When I first read this post, when it was written, I had to leave for a bit.

I have friends who carry the Vietnam war on their shoulders, still.

What hurts most is that nothing changes, on the war fronts.

lettuce said...

thats such a powerful poem -and has left me a bit wordless...

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