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Wednesday, May 23, 2007


by Judy Kronenfeld

Crime Scene Cleaners, Inc.
Accidental death
--Truck seen on the freeway.

Let them come like priests in white robes
and tenderly cleanse
the buttocks of the four-year-old
who shat in his pants, pressing his ears
against the scream of F16s
flying low over Gaza

Order them up for the smashed skull
at Haditha, the intestines’ spill
out of back wounds, the graffiti-scrawled
house where “democracy
assassinated a family”

Let them restore
the “accidentally” killed
children fleeing on the road
from Marwaheen, obeying
blasting loudspeakers into
their deaths

Order them up for the spattered mall,
the hall, the checkpoint, the crossing,
the wall

Order them up for the broken-necked
girlfriend, left to drown in their tub
by the returning Marine
Order them up
for his crazed pain

Order them up for the port-a-potty
splattered with blood--
any soldier’s whose wife’s “bad news”
is the last strain

Let them “with utmost respect” take down
the three “smart,” “creative,” “committed”
prisoners who hanged themselves
with bedsheets and clothes in Guantanamo,
their act “not desperation”
but “warfare waged against us”

Let them remove the bindings
around the necks, the plastic bags
over the heads, let them
wash out the shot-through mouths
of men revenged, let them re-leaf
the golden dome

Let the war presidents and prime
ministers and militia leaders,
for whom war is holy
or righteous, abstract,
mathematical, even joyous,
somehow made clean
in the mind,
be each given one small toothbrush,
and the sentence:
scour this blood.

Judy Kronenfeld has taught in the Creative Writing Department at UC Riverside since 1984. She is the author of a book and two chapbooks of poetry, the most recent being Ghost Nurseries (Finishing Line, 2005), as well as a book on Shakespeare, King Lear and the Naked Truth (Dule, 1998) Recent anthology appearances include Red, White & Blues: Poets on the Promise of America (Iowa, 2004), Regrets Only: Contemporary Poets on the Theme of Regret (Little Pear Press, 2006), and Blue Arc West: An Anthology of California Poets (Tebot Bach, 2006). Her poems, as well as the occasional short story and personal essay, have appeared in numerous print and online journals; her most recent poem credits include DMQReview (Disquieting Muses Quarterly), Spoon River Poetry Review, Free Lunch, 2RiverReview, Pebble Lake Review, and Poetry International.