The Night of the Bulldozers (Charleston, 3/18/03)

by Nathaniel Smith, Politics: A View from West Chester, March 18, 2013

I don’t often foist my own poetry off on blog readers, but this sample is so timely that I couldn’t resist. It was written eight years ago this evening, on a trip to Charleston SC, just when the then US president had announced that the attack against the then Iraqi dictator was about to begin.

In Charleston it was a stormy night, the thunder and rain making it hard to hear the news broadcasts–a fitting prelude to a disastrous war. The next morning we went, with about a hundred others, to an anti-war demonstration in downtown Charleston. It was quite civil; I remember the demonstration leader going off afterward to have a cup of coffee with the chief of police.

I don’t usually write without punctuation; but here the words alone, with the fairly regular line breaks and some repetition of phrases, seemed to run together nicely in a lament about the impending death of peace at the hands of “the big ones.”

The Night of the Bulldozers
(Charleston, 3/18/03)

In a room with rain on the roof boards
we wait for the shooting to start
it is not our own children who carry the arms
nor our own children against whom arms are carried

The man who holds his finger on the trigger
is adjusting the aim of his cannons this evening
is tuning the edge of his bombers’ wings
bringing his friends to heel in the palm of his hand

The people holding the bulldozers back from the houses
thought they had an agreement but a woman
among them yesterday kneeling was bulldozed
crushed on the sand by a man with his hand at the wheel

Over our roof sound thunderclaps or airplanes
the rain beating doesn’t let us know which…

continue reading at Politics: A View from West Chester


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Filed under Iraq, Nathaniel Smith, Peace, Security, Terrorism, War

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