Shock and Awe

They told us it would be over soon;
They told us it would save our lives.
But our children’s eyes hardened like peach pits.
More years passed than our youth.

They told us we needed more and more—
More cars, more “house,” more lovers, more money.
And we followed like rats on a treadmill
Cascading through a labyrinth.

We could not remember the unpronounceable names
Of battlefields, special ops, psy ops—the droned lands.
They told us we killed far more of their fathers.
And we rubbed that balm like salt in our wounds.

They cloaked themselves in our gory flag.
They went to our games, ate hot dogs… cheered!
Our warriors shone in their feral eyes.
They consoled us and wept with us, dribbling lies.

They told us we needed more and more,
Then shipped our livelihoods elsewhere.
We could no longer tell friends from foes—
Kids in hoodies were met by assassins.

Was there one thing to point to, one hard fact
That explained all the rest?
If we could say—“It was something ineluctable—
a tumorous growth—something we couldn’t help. …”

If we could say such things we would have found it
Easier to blame the standby gods.
But we had been sold a bilge of particulars
While gorging ourselves on freedom fries.

If only we could say, “It was something else—
Not John and Paul and Helen and Mary;
Not Mickey Rooney and Jimmy Stewart;
Not the nobility we saw on our screens.”

But we could not even remember our names,
As we wandered down odd corridors, looking
For lost keys to doors that sang like refuges
While the bombs fell and children glowed like candles.

Gary Corseri's work has appeared at Dissident Voice, Common Dreams, CounterPunch, the New York Times, Village Voice and hundreds of other venues. His dramas have been produced on PBS-Atlanta and he has performed his work at the Carter Presidential Library and Museum. His books include novels and poetry collections. He can be reached at: gary_corseri@comcast.net. Read other articles by Gary.