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Wednesday, November 17, 2010


by Buff Whitman-Bradley

When his memory fails to show up for work one day
He decides to hire one
From an international corporation
That has purchased at very reasonable prices
Millions of perfectly functioning memories
From the unfortunate poor all over the world
So grateful for a handful of coins

He finds that the memory
Performs the required tasks efficiently and effectively
And without complaint
What goes in is what comes out --
Appointments addresses phone numbers
Checkbook balances the GDP the price of coltan
The names of people he meets at cocktail parties
When his library books are due
His second cousin's birthday
Where he left his keys

However from time to time he experiences certain anomalies
For example vivid images of helicopter gunships
Firing into occupied houses
Body parts twitching in the dust
Security forces dragging him from his people's land
Soldiers raping him in front of his children
Prison guards sodomizing him
With a broomstick
An orange-haired balloon-bellied toddler
Unable even to cry
Dying in his arms

So he sends that memory back and tries out a few more
Only to discover that the nightmarish episodes are much the same
Yet he does his best not to give in to despair
To keep his spirits up and carry on
Then quite unexpectedly one morning
His own memory returns to the job
And he is able to experience once again
The pleasure of recalling the beautiful old house he grew up in
Summers at the lake
His first convertible
Passionate sexual encounters
The births of his children
To experience once again
The pleasure of carrying out the business of his days
And of sleeping soundly through his nights
Untroubled by the recollections of the others

Buff Whitman-Bradley is a peace and social justice activist in Northern California. In addition to writing, he produces documentary videos and audios. With his wife Cynthia, he is co-producer/director of the award winning video Outside In, about people who visit prisoners on San Quentin's death row.