The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Friday and Political Ranting



Memorial Day for the War Dead
By Yehuda Amichai


Memorial day for the war dead. Add now
the grief of all your losses to their grief,
even of a woman that has left you. Mix
sorrow with sorrow, like time-saving history,
which stacks holiday and sacrifice and mourning
on one day for easy, convenient memory.

Oh, sweet world soaked, like bread,
in sweet milk for the terrible toothless God.
"Behind all this some great happiness is hiding."
No use to weep inside and to scream outside.
Behind all this perhaps some great happiness is hiding.

Memorial day. Bitter salt is dressed up
as a little girl with flowers.
The streets are cordoned off with ropes,
for the marching together of the living and the dead.
Children with a grief not their own march slowly,
like stepping over broken glass.

The flautist's mouth will stay like that for many days.
A dead soldier swims above little heads
with the swimming movements of the dead,
with the ancient error the dead have
about the place of the living water.

A flag loses contact with reality and flies off.
A shopwindow is decorated with
dresses of beautiful women, in blue and white.
And everything in three languages:
Hebrew, Arabic, and Death.

A great and royal animal is dying
all through the night under the jasmine
tree with a constant stare at the world.

A man whose son died in the war walks in the street
like a woman with a dead embryo in her womb.
"Behind all this some great happiness is hiding."



This morning I am asking myself the question: Would it be worth having a little war if it would guarantee that Bush would lose the next election? And thinking maybe, except there are enough idiots in this country that there's no guarantee he'd lose no matter what happens. And am disgusted with myself: should not be thinking about whether it would be worth trading foreign lives to protect American civil liberties, freedom of expression, environmental protection, reproductive rights, a fair judicial system, etc. Can't believe it's my president posing the biggest threat to world peace and democracy since...I won't say it. You know, Bush is making me recall the good old days of Reagan, the last time I seriously thought about the world ending in nuclear holocaust because of something my own president might do.

Yeah, I'm oversimplifying. I'm also scared. Krugman in The New York Times: 'Why does our president condone the swaggering and contemptuous approach to our friends and allies this administration is fostering, including among its most senior officials? Has 'oderint dum metuant' really become our motto?' So reads the resignation letter of John Brady Kiesling, a career diplomat who recently left the Foreign Service in protest against Bush administration policy. 'Oderint dum metuant' translates, roughly, as 'let them hate as long as they fear.' It was a favorite saying of the emperor Caligula, and may seem over the top as a description of current U.S. policy. But this week's crisis in U.S.-Mexican relations — a crisis that has been almost ignored north of the border — suggests that it is a perfect description of George Bush's attitude toward the world."

(Nicholas Kristof's column was good too. And Tom Brokaw's is interesting.)
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