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Sunday, September 01, 2013

THE BOOMERS' BURDENS

by Tricia Knoll



BBC Panorama has released footage of an apparent incendiary bombing of a playground in Aleppo, northern Syria, with 15-year-old Ahmed (pictured) among those injured. --The Independent (UK), Aug. 30, 2013.


We sang we ain’t gonna study war no more
     no more, no more, no more
     no one really believed it

we boomers
     the children of sixteen million who came home
         after the nuking of Hiroshima, Nagasaki
     children of ones who liked Ike
     we cowered under desks, in pencil dust,
        from atomic bombs
     everyone said wars were cold
     we couldn’t watch the war in Korea over dinner
       some people forgot
    
no one said World War II was the war to end all wars
     there’s no believing that in death camps
     there’s no hiding the snow and dust
     of camps in Tule Lake

Viet Nam: our lovers talked about Canada
    we sang, we marched, we swore
    war was no longer cold, just secret
    the agents were orange
    we heard death counts
    veterans came home, stooped
       to pick up pieces

We have been there
      green rocket traceries on the night sky
      friendly fire, civilian casualties
      surgical intervention minus surgeons
     Operation Desert Storm    Panama    Libya
     Afghanistan   Iraq   Somalia
     Syria

we declared wars
   on poverty    hunger     terror
   in the name of enduring freedom

I stand here today tempted to lay my burdens
down -- but there’s no safe place for rusted freedoms.
         Our children are hungry.
         They cannot afford higher education.
         We are still afraid.


Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet whose work has appeared in many journal publications. She is a regular contributor to The New Verse News.