Thursday, September 2, 2010

Welcome to the Un-War

Two days ago, President Obama called an official, albeit symbolic, end to the war in Iraq.  September 1 marked the beginning of what military officials are calling Operation New Dawn.

Inspired by George Packer's essay in The New Yorker, "A Date That Will Live in Oblivion," I tried boiling my thoughts on the matter down to the level of poetry.

This is what came out during a short blizzard of writing yesterday.

Welcome to the Un-War
                                                 Sept. 1, 2010

It’s the dawn of a new day, soldier.
Get your head
in the right place.
Pull your shit together,
smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em
unlock and unload,
unsling arms,
and unlace those boots
(the ones with the
unavoidable unscrubbable
spots the size of dimes
that came that day from Sgt. Bingham
and his new non-arm).

We’re heading out,
into the revised Iraq
where sugar bullets
are fired from cotton-candy guns,
and all those hajji frowns
are just smiles turned upside down.

We’ll roll out the gate
and walk patrol
one foot behind the other.
We’ll step over IEDs
that implode
and marvel as Bingham’s arm
cartwheels down from the sky and—
ho-ly shit!
—claps back onto his body.
We’ll wave at snipers
who snap their rifles in half
and call it quits.
We’ll whistle at the girls
who discard suicide vests
now suddenly yesterday’s fashion.
Their breasts, freed from all that
martyr armament,
will bounce a little
as they skip away in their still-black robes.
We’ll un-scan our sector,
take back the lollipops and soccer balls,
and cut the zip ties from wrists
that vow—honest, Mister!—to do us
no more harm.

Blood will suck back into bodies,
mortars will un-crater,
smoke will un-billow down
to the un-blooming spark,
and sheep will sing Aab-aab!,
their bells tinkling
in the twilight of our time here.

Everywhere we go, a nation
of bitter-eyed people will stare, unblinking,
at our footprints when they vanish,
one by one, from the sand.
As if we were never here.