When a man is asked to sing of his anger
the risk is that without remorse virtue dies
War then is in the face, in this homelessness,
the despair which couldn't wait couldn't ask for
We don't talk to each other anymore
email global reach managed minutes morning
to noon in the hospitals we are all old
forbidden to talk of lost sons, asked to smile
Enough, they'll hear the news, men in photographs
die and nothing will seem simple, their faces
especially where sorrow stretched everyhing
Maps point to? and defeat looms where? out there where?
Here the naked body is where terror lies
Guilt builds monuments, the way we spend our time
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Seeing this poem two years ago in The Nation startled me. Why did the poet chose this particular date, my birthday? It was published on March 31, 2010. Saved it on my bulletin board because it intrigued me. Never a notable date, I recall one factoid, a kind of Chinese fortune cookie one: the transatlantic cable was laid. Yes, Wikipedia confirms that happened August 5, 1858, though it was not a particularly successful or long-lasting effort till later.
That engineering feat was not important enough for Wikipedia's BIG list for my birth date. With an odd synchronicity, on my birthday (and this time I was around for these in the 1970s) less creative history took place:
Congress placed a $1 billion dollar limit on military aid to South Vietnam in 1974. Five years later in 1979, again on August 5, Maoists attempted a military uprising in Afghanistan. What is it about the summer?
August 6, the anniversary of U.S. dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and August 9, the day the next bomb devastated Nagasaki, will be commenorated nationwide. Sunday here in Portland, Oregon, Physicians for Social Responsibility and other peace groups will gather at the Japanese American Historical Plaza.
It will be a three-hour fair with speakers, informational booths "...to engage participants in learning about, and taking action for, a world free of both nuclear weapons and nuclear power."
How will we remember, have our voices heard? Rhetorical questions, an opportunity to speak again once more of my wish, along with yours, for peace in our time.