Monday, March 24, 2008

Eulogy for 4000 Neighborhood Kids

Eulogy for 2000 Neighborhood Kids

(written 10/25/05)
and 30,000 Iraqi citizens

and more –
I have been trying to remember the name
of one of my son’s teenage friends,
one of the polite ones,
earnest, a fast smile, fast tracked
to the Navy
after he lived through Austin High.
I have been trying to remember the name
of the soldier’s mother in DC last summer,
white hair, short cut like a boy,
magenta streaks –
She told us about the back door draft,
how her son joined the Navy
and was transferred to Baghdad.
His letters were terrifying.
Julian Bond had just finished speaking.
The 2000th mother’s son, father’s daughter
has now been killed in Iraq –
little league games, Barbie dolls and
yellow miniature dump trucks,
video games and math books
chewed on by the dog –
or howling neglect,
chocolate chip and pecan cookies baking
on a Saturday night.
I don’t know what it means to be
a good parent, if I can’t make
the world more hospitable
to human beings.
The collective neighborhood aches today.
The neighborhood aches.

Note: I first wrote this for a vigil 10/25/05
to commemorate the death of the 2000th
American soldier in Iraq.

Now the number is 4000, one million
Iraqis killed, and 4,000,000 displaced,
driven from their homes. Half have been
able to leave the country, half are homeless
in their homeland.

Dead in Iraq stats here

©Susan Bright 2005

Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.

* Video signature chunpan9.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Susan,

Your eulogy was beautiful, right on, and it made me cry. Would that enough others would cry to end this tragedy.

Madeleine Mysko

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A poem from Able Salas --

Hi Susan,

Good, strong and kind words... here's one I've been working for a few
months that yours reminded me of.


It is the iron and blood offered on blue black
Flower stems or rusting hulks of palm tree decay
the children who rage and perish in gray cellblock
Isolation medicated under guard and lock and key
a street-bred godson lost in the slow suspicion that his
Chameleon gifts are unwelcome and misunderstood
the propaganda that paralyzes thought and dissent with
Threat and fear amplified on screens and speakers
Bought and paid for with clueless taxpayer complicity
It is the bitter sound of homelessness on worn sneaker
Soles under the anonymous face of addiction and exile
the Iraq war veteran with a gun to his head as he recalls
atrocity in a desert he should never have known
his grandfather who cries silently at dawn for lost loves
And the borders like walls and turrets that drove them away,
the bent and fractured poet who twists with insomnia
And recalls every unfinished dream like the color of dread
his mother with a blooming flower of death in her liver
As if to say innocence can only be rewarded with fire
It is the long ago forgotten beloved he could not regain
the stainless steel memory of refrigerated nausea
against the gray-smoke haze of anguish and trauma
or the sound of a blackboard under stiff fingernails
until the exhaustion grafts itself onto his neck
and rakes all of his pores along barbed-wire truth
like the time he woke up on the curb, his face tired
and the spring a season of despair longing for hope

11:22 AM  
Blogger SB said...

wow. 4000, and a million, and it's still happening.

Ann Fisher-Wirth

12:13 PM  
Blogger oZ said...

the video is really strong. thanks SB

5:47 PM  

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