Occupy Poetry


BY Mark Mansfield

The body bags have run out at the Al-Kindi Hospital,
and morgue workers have to cut up big rolls of black
plastic to wrap the war's latest victims.

A team of four skinny, middle-aged men worked
all Monday afternoon, heaving and grunting as they
rolled body after body into the new, rough-cut bags.
Dozens of corpses lay stacked inside the refrigerated
room -- some on bunks, others in a pile on the floor.

When a group of foreign TV cameramen descended
on the workers, one chased them angrily.
"Why are you taking photos? For Bush?" he yelled,
waving his arms. "Tell him to go to hell."
The journalists left, and the men returned to the bodies.
Robert Collier, San Francisco Chronicle staff writer

Steps from the Capitol, a fitness club
has an ad up with a decidedly current twist:
emergency preparedness drills. I suppose
there’s something to be said for toning up
before Atonement Day. Right now, flip on
a TV; chances are passing fair you’ll be
blindsided by some freshly minted state
of white-knuckle alert staring you in
the kisser, courtesy of our latest bureaucratic
Potemkin village, the drolly dubbed Office
of Homeland Security, while some bullet-headed
wingnut in camouflage fatigues with stars
dribbled all down himself gibbers about how
“magnificently” our Forces, having rubblelized
Baghdad, “performed”—a view not likely to be shared
by at least one five-year old Iraqi girl
who will never walk again, thanks to one of
Wingding’s “smart bombs” that apparently
dropped out, or forgot to pop its smart pill
before take-off, that child being just one
of hundreds last spring admitted to Al-Kindi
Hospital hourly. The Empire’s hi-tech,
dune-buggy army now locks and loads, mopping
up and terrorizing from house to house,
while we race home to scarf our dinners down,
watching Brokaw or Jennings enunciate
about a nation we reduced to looting
and pillaging in less than a month, having
dutifully slouched across our newly
“liberated” oil patch armed with more Black Hawks,
Apaches, Tomahawks, Comanches, and
GI Joe what-not than you can shake
a chickenhawk’s limp carcass at. Outside
Union Station, I watch two K-9 cops
emerge, having just patrolled for “suspicious items.”
No bombs go off; nothing explodes as both
stop to chat, joking and laughing while one
expertly heels their dog that sneezes, then ripples
still, sniffing the clear bright autumn air.

Salt Hill


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