Sunday, July 3, 2011

Monday's Poetry: "Normal"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

Another Independence Day finds America still bogged down in two ill-defined and seemingly unwinnable wars in the Middle East.  This year Afghanistan became the longest single war in the history of the United States, and if there is an end in sight, no one is bothering to tell the people who are paying the bills.

Do you remember the glorious charge into that abyss?  We were going to get even for 9/11, kill those rat bastards that brought down our skyscrapers and destroyed our national sense of serenity.  Our little peacock of a President told us so.  And as soon as he had gotten all of Bin Laden's Saudi relatives safely out of the country, our fearless leader fired up the national war machine and sent troops charging off into Afghanistan - never mind that the men who brought down the World Trade Center were almost all from Saudi Arabia.

But Bush was going to get that Bin Laden feller - who was also a Saudi.

Now, nearly a decade later, Bin Laden is finally dead - no thanks to George Bush - but we are still trapped in a seemingly endless war in Afghanistan, and although our government tries to tell us that the war in Iraq is ending, we just came off our worst week there since 2008.  These wars -like all wars - need to have exit strategies and ending points, but we have been living this nightmare so long that most of us have just come to accept it as part of our sad reality.

Today's poem, Normal by Reginald Harris, looks at the wars in the Middle East from that perspective.  They have become like a rocks in our shoes, something we learn to ignore and just tolerate - uncomfortably.  I found this piece on the Internet.  It was dated June 20, 2011 and dedicated to Shara McCallum.

It is just something to think about.

by Reginald Harris

walk long enough
with a pebble in your shoe
and walking with a pebble becomes

you no longer notice
the discomfort          the limp is just
another thing to live with
pain just another fact of life

until someone you haven’t seen for a time
asks      Why are you limping
and you remember
Oh yes, that’s right –
I have a pebble in my shoe

and then what do you do
take it out      leave it in because
you are used to its dull and constant ache
do not want to learn how to walk properly again

live long enough
with war
and it becomes

men and women you don’t know –
someone else’s children –
fly off the edges of the map
to places you were never taught existed

photos of the dead close out
nightly news programs       a familiar tag-
line as the anchor signs off
until tomorrow

images of troops march across
a strange topography    the sound of guns
going off in places so distant
you hardly notice          one barely hears a noise

until someone says
We’ve been at war my entire adult life
and you remember
Oh, yes, that’s right –
there IS a war still going on

And then what do you do?

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