Sunday, March 20, 2011

A poem editorial on the "no fly zone"

I dreamed of a beach covered in trash—plastics, glass balls, single slippers, a couch—and a sky where a stealth bomber sailed. On the bomber a large magnet gathered rubbish up from the beach. It was a trash rapture, the lifting up of junk toward a transcendent black plane. Stealth bombers this morning over Libya. And the slow alert of tsunami trash circulating the Pacific, following old trade routes, an empire of junk. We've confused firepower with cleansing, no-fly zones with highways of death: our empire stinks of rot. Liberation theology this is not, counter-faith of force, immune to radar and yet not in any sense holy. We await the news, the ever-breaking news.

For Michael Snediker

--20 March 2011

The opening is from Lyn Hejinian's The Cell, part of my on-going memory card series based on (mostly) randomly chosen pieces of other poets' work. The ending was inspired by a facebook take-down of the phrase "breaking news" by Michael Snediker. The poem sounds more certain than I do in conversation (inner or outer) on this subject; I am confused over the intervention "to save civilian lives," suspecting as I do that such saving is benevolent, but military actions are bound up in histories and futures we cannot begin to understand or control. And so these events enter the realm of the poetic more even than the historical. The metaphorical shifts are especially violent, on the level of the sentence (from 1848 to what? from Iraq War to what?, from no-fly zone to what?), but pale in comparison to actual violence against human beings.

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