I wasn’t thinking about Pearl Harbor Day when I wrote this, but Pearl Harbor Day seems an apt day to have finished it.
Questions on a beautiful morning
The jangle of my bones, the kindness
of sunshine and the relief of shade,
that lovely line
where both offer pleasure—
the bakery air and bread hot
through the bag, people nodding
good morning, stepping aside,
giving up their seat, the joyful
dance of the personal with the social,
at least until the thugs come—
for don’t they always?—with their drooling lips and thick
fingers on triggers and flat
crazy eyes and engorged pricks
sticking out of their pants
to ruin a beautiful morning?
Who are these innocents
who say the world changed
on that day, and from what cradle
did they raise their milky gaze?
Doesn’t somebody always
eventually come to smash the bread
and turn the shadows rank with fear
the sunshine bright with blood?
Haven’t there always been bad boys
(and girls to love them—
sometimes with great tenderness)
to toss the babies joyfully in the air
and catch them on their swords?
Didn’t the Cheyenne sleeping
at Sand Creek know this? Don’t big
winds clear all happy streets
from time to time, turn proud
people into quivering hunks of raped
and dying, stacks of headless trunks,
or self-loathing survivors
who duck around the corner
of what just a moment ago
was a pleasant morning in My Lai?
Aren’t the thugs this very minute
making plans to unleash dawn raids,
drop a big bomb for their gods,
give each other medals? When
the Zetas arrive, won’t we see
their guns and pay their fees
and hope to survive until they’re gone?
And if we do, when we do, after
that long wait, may our children’s
children know this clear light,
the benevolent possibilities of dawn,
like they’ve always known the monster
under their own warm beds.
A few more questions I have
Do we need the young dying
(virgins to the corn god)
so we can savor our tortillas?
Why is the sunset redder, the air
sweeter, the neighborhood just plain
friendlier when we think somebody is dying
Do we need the maimed
& dead to give our un-dead
un-maimed days meaning?
Isn’t that why they say Christ
was nailed to the cross?
To make our lives
And if our lives already mean something
because Christ died for us
why did the kid from the Bitterroot
have to die in Iraq
for us too?
Is there a set number of people
we need to kill
or do we need to keep killing
If I refuse to believe sacrificing a virgin
on a pyramid, Christ on a cross
or a kid from the Bitterroot
makes my life better
is my life worse?
Or am I just being stubborn?
(Who am I to rebel against
what people, as long as there have been people
If all men
as my daughter says
(even Roman soldiers, Aztecs priests and Iraqis)
look more human and vulnerable eating soup
shouldn’t we make more of it?