Written to Read at a Peace Rally

Who am I to cast light upon the human soul?
Sitting down to write peace-verses for mercenary gain,
Hunting for poems and hoping against hope that I need not
Kill them in the hunt, as it seems is so often the case.
Hunched over a school-issue laptop, mining news-clippings for material:
The starving in Zimbabwe and North Korea;
The lame men thronging Varanasi, praying for renewal
Of their shattered or clubbed or twisted limbs;
The shy students who die in Afghanistan or old Sumeria,
Die by misdirected field guns or the bullets of fanatic assassins,
Die in schoolhouses without ever having seen a portable computer.

When Anna’s friend Stephen came home from Iraq
(One tour piloting tanks around the gorgeous wheat fields of Anbar)
He slept on her floor for a week because he couldn’t stand to be alone.
A fine routine: him showing up at her door after dinner,
Before the sky darkened and made him feel the absence of night-vision goggles.
He called her two nights ago, to pick him up at a diner;
Caught out as dusk fell, unexpectedly he found himself again in Samarra,
Or somewhere like it. The Hilltop saved him,
Its neon hamburger and milkshake shining out of the darkness
Like a beacon. He pulled over, called her from inside the restaurant.
A chocolate malted in his other hand.
PTSD a mere acronym, brittle and unspoken as she drove him home.

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Sojourners Magazine January 2009
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