Monday, May 30, 2011

War Cry

“How can a generation fired by the urgency of injustice learn anew to bow its head in commemorial woe?” – D.G. Myers

A happy dream of being told to wait after re-education class to have my head chopped off, the cool liquid swabbed around my neck, my terse goodbyes apologizing to the king, then the holy joy of release … But no, thunder drums and car alarms as the sky is weeping, which will make it tough for the marching bands with cheap uniforms from Vietnam, reasonably priced instruments from Korea, special technique books from Japan. The Boy Scouts will be out in force to remind everyone that black people are genetically inferior and boys are often raped before they can be men. Flowers and balloons are there for all the dead refrigerators and automobiles buried on the edge of town by the Indian battleground, the things we fight for, with a little left over for Mr. McCready, whose mind was shot to hell years ago, and he walks every day around the town begging, but once a year he puts on a moth-eaten suit and salutes the children who share ice cream cones with him. There’s love for the Ladies’ Auxiliaries too, on the stern offensive as usual to make sure the men wear polished brass and bleached white gloves. They will trundle to the gravesites, when what the men lost is far away, to watch taps blow before the Spanish-American War Memorial. Preachers, politicians and reporters will be on hand with words of honor for the sacrifice of a distant apprenticeship, which in this place is with a gun and often involves killing people in their homes or obliterating villages by pushing a switch. No sacrifice in suffering that is ever of course allowed, only the fallen comrades who can't talk, the few the primitive enemy guns picked off before they all were slaughtered. They’ll be here too, the few who are left, the ones they say were on our side, now running dry cleaners and fast food restaurants with the same relentless efficiency with which they once defended their homeland; they will bring flowers too, for they’re Americans now, they’ll have barbeques with coleslaw and German potato salad with the rest of us. But the rain keeps coming down, and the crowd waits under canopies, talking of flags mistreated and graves not tended, not the death sentence most current soldiers have for using depleted uranium, or the horrific brain injuries now that are far worse than death, or even the current war, about to expand to five separate fronts for no apparent reason. It’s all about the ginormous pies, the sickening amount of meat, the stylish clothes made for pennies a day, the gadgets that are tracked by military technology and, above all, the hope of later fireworks, if the rain lets up, for the kids to feel the boom, of America’s domination, its ruthless scythes of ruin. The older veterans will excuse themselves, for the explosions are a little too much like flack, and reminds them of their younger days – before a million A-bombs hung over the world like a drunken soldier holding a gun to a little girls head.