Poem at the Break of War

 

Today marks the 6th anniversary of the latest war against Iraq by Western Imperial forces, funded
by the surplus labor of U.S. and international workers.

They rob us to bomb them.
Emma
__________________

A Poem At the Break of War
March, 19, 2003
By Emma Rosenthal

i can kill the mirror of my own likeness if i do not recognize myself
i can kill you if i do not know that killing you is killing you
i can kill you if i believe you kill me
i can kill you if i have been shattered
i can kill you if i love the sound of shattered glass
i can kill you if i want your death more than i want my life
i can kill you if i think the general is part of me
i can kill you if i love the flag more than the blood that soaks it
i can kill you if  red hands walk down cat walk runways
i can kill you for greed
i can kill you for fashion
i can kill you for land
i can kill you if i have no memory
i can kill you if memory tells me to
i can kill you if i abhor the womb
i can kill you if i despise the breast
i can kill you if the phallus is a weapon
i can kill  you if your children scare me and i wage a war against youth
i can kill you if i hate music
i can kill you if that song keeps playing in my head
i can kill you if the general sings lullabies to me while i sleep
while the general wages war against me
i can kill you if i believe the war is waged for me
i can kill you for privilege
i can kill you for expedience
 i can kill you for luxury
i can kill you if i forget that killing you is killing me

i cannot kill you for truth or hope
i cannot kill you if i know who i see in the mirror
i cannot kill you if i love the womb
i cannot kill you if milk issues from my breasts
i cannot kill you if i know the phallus brings the possibility of life
through the tightness of connection
i cannot kill you if i love windy days on open cliffs
i cannot kill you if the songs of birds wake me before the generals lull
me to sleep
i cannot kill you if my skin wakes up electric
i cannot kill you if i have been taught to think
i cannot kill you if i see you when i look in the mirror
i cannot kill you if your name dances in my mind
i cannot kill you if i dance naked in the rain
i cannot kill you if i see you naked and i love your wounds
i cannot kill you if the tides tell the time and the moon lights the
night
i cannot kill you if i live on this rock in space and i know we live
together
i cannot kill you if our words touch
i cannot kill you if i know you bleed
i cannot kill you if i hear your voice
i cannot kill you if i hear your prayers and chant them with you
i cannot kill you if i know your innocence
i cannot kill you if i see your children resting in your arms
i cannot kill you if i love the general and call him home
i cannot kill you if there is a river in my heart
*************

This battle
Emma Rosenthal

forswears
a war based on
lies whispered in the night
in panic stored under pillows
in centuries of fear

this battle invites
the complexity of your existence
the embrace of one we have been told to hate
love against terror
passion over dominion

this battle affirms
revelation
the rejection of lies
in thirty second sound bytes
greedy promises
false alliance

this battle implores
we understand the complexion of wealth
the essence of water
the sanctity of land
the wall between neighbors

this battle requires
a fight with open hands
and broken heart
i am not afraid to show you my wounds
nor tend to yours

nor am i afraid of connection
or honest deliberation

this battle commands
diligent study
patient instruction
honors life through righteous living
requires that i do not avert my eyes
that i insist you look at mine

this battle asserts
that i sleep soundly
that i  not disturb growing seedlings
worship the simple sacred
the sanctity of skin and blood and bone and sex
wishes tenderness
whispers embracing kindness
imploring me to take you in
deeply

this battle grasps
the intimacy of risk
love:  the ultimate rebellion
courage of the unarmed
cup in hand
offering sustenance
to those who would speak ill of us
and do us harm

this battle  enlists
the soldier: calling him home
drawing a circle in the sand
together, all of us
no lines and battlefields
no body bags
the smell of death

this battle realizes
the generals will not bring us truth
when they kill you
i must hear the absence of your breath
the silencing of voices never heard
the ashes of  flesh, untouched
diminished faces never seen

this battle obliges
that we rend our clothes
bow our heads
take in your death as if you were
our sister
our lover
our  child

this battle demands
we carry you
pressed in a book of poems
the battle cry of hope against the thunder clouds
of bombs and sirens

this battle enjoins
us
bound together
i wipe the tears from your cheek
as if they were my own
holding  tightly
you to me
against
the machine
that would take
you
away
from us
forever

©2003 Emma Rosenthal  All Rights Reserved.  Permission to copy or
forward in its entirety.
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This entry was posted in POEMS, SOCIAL JUSTICE, U.S. EMPIRE by emmarosenthal. Bookmark the permalink.

About emmarosenthal

Emma Rosenthal is an artist, writer, educator, reiki practitioner, farmer and human rights activist, living in Southern California, whose work combines art, activism, education and grassroots mobilization. As a person with a disability she is confined, not by her disability but by the narrow and marginalizing attitudes and structures of the society at large. She is the founder and co-director of The WE Empowerment Center and Café Intifada, and she lives and works at Dragonflyhill Urban Farm. As an educator her emphasis has been in the areas of bilingual and multicultural education. Her experience as a grassroots organizer, political essayist and speaker has been life long and has included many progressive causes. Her work seeks to combine art, activism, education and grassroots mobilization. Her poetry and prose is impassioned, sensual, political, life affirming and powerful. In her writing she explores the use of art and literary expression to elicit an ethos more compelling than dogma and ideological discourse, providing new paradigms for community, communion, connection and human transformation. She has been a featured poet and speaker throughout Southern California at a variety of venues and programs including; The Arab-American Festival, Highways Performance Space, The Autry Museum, Barnes and Nobel, Poetic License, Borders/Pasadena, Beyond Baroque, Freedom Fries Follies (a fundraiser for The Center for the Study of Political Graphics), KPFK, Arts in Action, Chafey College, UC Irvine and Hyperpoets. Her work has appeared in several publications including Lilith Magazine, The Pasadena Star News, The San Gabriel Tribune, The San Gabriel Valley Quarterly, LoudMouth Magazine (CSLA), Coloring Book; An Eclectic Anthology of Multicultural Writers (Rattlecat Press 2003), Muse Apprentice Guild and the Anthology, Shifting Sands, Jewish-American Women Speak Out Against the Occupation, Spring 2010. Her work has shown in several galleries in the Southern California area, including the Galleries at Whittier College, and Pasadena City College, as well as Beans and Leaves Coffeehouse in Covina, CA.

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