Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Night to Remember

Osama Bin laden died
the 1st of May; American citizens
lined up in front of the White House
to cheer and sing - death
has seldom been welcomed
with such open hearts, fists
in the air, hands joined with
ghosts between their fingers -

I wonder about the mothers,
fathers, sitting in front of their TVs

wondering if their sons and daughters
can hear the chanting from their pine boxes

sitting in the same silence -

for this death, no Americans
were harmed

and none have gone home,
some never will.

I tell my father, who says “There will
be another nutjob to follow in his place.”

I’m just having a hard time cheering -

death has never made me smile -

my fist knows everything but air
my fingers thinking of the
triggers and the dirt

the casualties in body bags
the casualties marred in the retinas

some things can’t be forgotten

what you were doing the day
the World Trade Center fell

but there are soldiers whose names
are worn away by the rain

Afghan civilians whose blood
will become a part of the soil and all
my kids will learn about is the numbers

I won’t be able to teach them
an Afghan mother’s tears, clutching
her dead baby, killed by an American

I won’t be able to teach them
what those picket signs meant, the thoughts
of their holders, what Hell is, why
they think American soldiers will
go there, why God should be thanked
for their deaths

I won’t be able to teach them
about how Korans could be
burned, cultures
marred by prejudice

I won’t be able to teach them
how a child their age
can grow up and have a funeral
the entire world celebrates

I could never, I don’t have the heart,
to teach them the meaning
of hate, of fists in the air
at one man’s death -

I could never teach them every name
every tear
how I cried when my friends went off to war
came home from Iraq and got sent to Afghanistan a week later -

some things don’t end
life is not one of them

but never have I seen it amount to something
so small, and death
so huge
and if I had to tell them
what hate was

I guess I could only show them this
fists in the air
singing the
Star Spangled Banner so loud
the entire world can hear
the power of our guns.

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