Extract from "Love, War, Fire, Wind: Looking Out from North America's Skull" by Eliot Katz (poems) and William T. Ayton (artwork)
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"Requiem" by William T. Ayton, 2008

One Year Later

A year after 9/11, we still inhale the dust of our dead--
             still read NY Times portraits of a Springsteen fan,
                       a lasagna home cooking specialist, a woman
who would do anything for family & friends--
             we still mourn our losses one by one,
                       as it should be, here & everywhere.
Yet expressing low-level radioactive concern for innocent deaths
             outside America has brought atomic rebuke
                       in cosmopolitan circles larger than expected:
When those towering guardians of our skyline psyches collapsed
             and 3,000 innocent and experienced souls were crushed,
                       I dove deep into the blue mourning pool
with empathetic swimmers all across America,
             still trying to keep a backstroke going, balanced
                       between a weightless hope & a sprint of despair.
But no matter what they say on those 24/7 right-wing talk shows,
             I just don't think we honor our dead
                       by inventing new generations of mini-nukes
& thermobaric bombs to suck the air from caves, launching
             a prime-number series of pre-emptive wars
                       beginning with Iraq,
designing carnavoric computer programs to chew up private letters,
             or registering a million roving urban snitches to spy
                       on neighbors from Orwellian TV repair trucks.
Is it blasphemous now to advocate new foreign policies
             condemning bloodsoaked terror across the board
                       curing the plague of weapons sales across the globe
ending Cold War-born hypocrisies that describe "our" terrorists
             as freedom fighters, “our” deathsquad dictatorships
                       as fledgling democracies?
We who call for more democratic & humane foreign policies
             to make America more loved and just
                       are not blaming this beautiful land & people
for a mass murder unjustifiable, just including America in
             with the rest of the species, full of generous medicinal spirits
                       and countless historic noble acts,
as well as cancerous murders almost too painful to recall.
             Isn't extending the generous and the noble
                       still one acceptable way to honor our dead?

Eliot Katz, NYC, Sept. 2002

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images & content copyright © William T. Ayton, 1991-2014