The Killing Fields Of Home

It is a most difficult task to make sense of violence, particularly when it often seems unceasing.  There have been numerous horrific acts of murder recently, and in trying to write about them, it feels important to see these events not only as individual incidents but to also make the connections between them, both in why they happen and how we process them.  The following is a poem I wrote in response to the bloody and heartbreaking first week in July, 2016.

The Killing Fields Of Home

 

On July 4th,

 

when I was trying to make sense

of the bombings in Medina and Baghdad

on the very same day that the not so United States of America

was ritually celebrating what we call independence,

with colorful bombs bursting in air,

 

it seemed really important to remember that

the children who saw real bombs were shouting not with glee

but with fear before bleeding to death,

so I wrote haikus about that,

little poems like the children who died–

 

one for Medina,

 

Bombs bursting in air,

bodies explode, people die–

no celebration

 

and one for Baghdad,

 

Car bomb in Baghdad,

the twenty five kids who died

did not like fireworks

 

and I thought I had done my duty as a poet,

but then I read that dozens of people were shot

in Chicago over the holiday weekend

for who knows what reasons and they were bleeding too

and we haven’t even caught our breath since Orlando

and it occurred to me that maybe I needed to write a longer poem,

 

then Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

were gunned down by the police

because the color of their skin was a crime

and Melissa Harris-Perry wrote about how that feels

as a suicide note that I can’t stop reading

 

on the heels of the Chilcot Inquiry that minces no words

blaming Tony Blair for lying to his country about the Iraq war

while in this country we turn endless battle into

an anthem and Bush and Cheney just smirk

 

as a veteran of war,  taught to kill in defense of our country,

shoots at the police in Dallas and more blood is spilt

and they send in a robot to take him out

which prompts Donald Trump to want a photo op with the NYPD

and I’m wondering if a sonnet is adequate

 

when my morning paper tells me that there have been

ten gang killings in ten months in the county where I live

and they have a column too about the child

of a woman who was killed by her boyfriend

 

and someone says we should all remember that

sometimes the police help and he tells a story

about a police officer who helped a lady repair her mailbox

and that was mighty nice of her, and I mean that sincerely,

but I’m thinking that sounds like a bandaid story

when we need a tourniquet because

 

a GOP Congressman says there are a lot more steps to be taken

before they will vote on gun control legislation

and I’m wondering how many steps there could really be

from his office to the floor to take a vote and when are we going to

quit playing six degrees of separation and take action

 

and in the time I have been writing this,

more people have been killed,

and I cannot type fast enough to keep up,

or even pause long enough

to  pretty up this poem that cannot find its end.

 

–Lucinda Marshall, © 2016

 

Share

Comments are closed.