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Friday, October 09, 2015


by Michael Shorb

“Sen. McCain Expects A Permanent U.S. Presence In Afghanistan” —NPR headline, October 7, 2015. Photo: U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan walk away from a helicopter at Forward Operating Base Connelly in the eastern province of Nangarhar on Aug. 13. The U.S. formally ended combat operations in Afghanistan at the end of last year. But nearly 10,000 American troops remain in the country and the U.S. frequently carries out air sorties. Fourteen American military personnel have died in Afghanistan this year. Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images via NPR.

A king declared the stars
illegal, not to be seen,
each night thousands were
executed for seeing them,
the king ran out of people
before the sky ran out of stars.

21st century Samson’s
swinging a nuclear jawbone
over his head,
21st century Ahab
kills Moby Dick and lights
ten thousand lamps
ten thousand days.
21st century America’s
gonna control the middle east
with drone missile launchers
and federal air support.

I’m the news no-one listens to.
The TV droning on in a corner,
the politician proudly announcing:

“We’re in Afghanistan
for the long haul.”

Michael Shorb was a poet, fiction writer, editor, and children's book author. As an international poet, his poetry has been published in more than 100 magazines and anthologies, including TheNewVerse.News, Michigan Quarterly, The Nation, The Sun, Salzburg Poetry Review, and Kyoto Journal. He was the recipient of a PEN AWARD, won a Merit Award for the Franklin-Christoph Poetry Contest, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He lived in and loved San Francisco. Michael succumbed to GIST, a rare form of cancer in 2012.

Editor’s Note: Michael’s widow Judith Grogan-Shorb sent TheNewVerse.News this eerily timely poem which Michael wrote soon after the United States first invaded Afghanistan.