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Tuesday, August 22, 2006


by Leann Doyle

And here we are, already referring to devastation like
none we have ever known, wreckage rivaling, surpassing
Pearl Harbor, whose date no one in my generation
remembers anyway, replacing, upgrading with 9-11, 9Eleven,
titled like a convenience store, looping catchy like a commercial
hell, nevermind respect somber tones, we are at war, no time to
spell to say September, maybe if it happened in May, maybe, but
Christ, September, who has the time, the patience, we’re too busy
watching the price of oil rise hunting terrorists gauging
weakness surrendering privacy and finding
jobs, but it’s like the soldier said on the news,
it’s not every day you get to liberate people

and see, look at the bare-footed children, dancing in
their muddied Iraqi streets, dancing in your living room
in plasma, flat-screened clarity with their white smiles and
their mismatched, faded clothes standing ankle deep
in mud in filth in spent shells in yellow-boxed provisions
flashing a thumbs up to the camera and hey,
if they know thumbs up then they must
know high five and McDonalds and hooray American
iconography, never mind thumbs up and thumbs down
means live or die in somebody’s history, and the

soldier crying on the news, he misses his motherwifedaughter
and his breath hitches and his voice cracks
and some cameraman was extra careful to crop his shot
so that none of the anger or profanity or hatred,
none of the pledges for vengeance retaliation
jihad, none of it bleeds into this shot
so that I can empathize and sympathize and
sigh deeply at the rightness
of this shot, and fill my lungs
my head with the knowledge that
it’s not every day you get to liberate people

and I won’t care that I am supposed to hoard a three day
supply of food and water in my one bedroom apartment and
duct tape my windows closed (what about the vents the exhaust
fans, air comes through and won’t I suffocate if duct tape
turns out not to be porous and should I just go out
and buy some plants, my own private oxygen supply)
and pay four dollars a gallon for gas and be subject to
random checkpoints and be called un-American anti-American
if I don’t hang a flag tattered flapping from
the antenna of my car because, hey,
it’s not every day you get to liberate people,

and what about that couple called to duty, called away from their
newborn son for a year or two or more, don’t feel bad that this
child will only recognize his parents from pictures like a game
of memory like the alphabet and he will learn the story of his
parents at bedtime like a fable like a fairy tale
and still not know them as mommy and daddy when (if) they return but
it’s not every day you get to liberate people

and everyone has suddenly become so careful with their elocution,
taking pains to enunciate so Iraq and attack don’t rhyme in
any context because this is not an attack this is a liberation
this is a freedom movement this is not Vietnam,
this is Persian Gulf II, a continuance, a sequel,
the same but with different plot twists and bigger oil fields

a father’s legacy a government’s nepotism
and more merchandising, but look, America knows
a good thing needs to be franchised and it’s a promise, troops
will be in and out like a quick fuck like a game of ring
and run like a trip to the store for a missing ingredient
but quick really means indefinite, it means we don’t know,
it means it’s finished when it’s finished and in this lexicon
quick is calculated in years not days, weeks, or months
but it’s like the soldier said on the news,
it’s not everyday you get to liberate people.

Leann Doyle holds a BA in Media Studies and Digital Culture from Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT, but currently works full time as a secretary at a local college on Long Island to pay her bills. She is an artist, writer and avid reader with too many ideas and not enough time in which to execute all of them.