Tora Bora

(I put this poem on the Poets Against the War web site as the Iraq war began )


In Tora Bora young men chant and pray,
Feel fear, remember their initiation feast
Feel their fathers telling them
become strong and manly,
put away childishness,
prepare the lamb
you raised and slept with.

The men fire AK’s and Enfields
The boy drew a knife across the throat
Gun smoke stings, blood flows.
Strong arms grab him, raise him up,
Gun in one arm, the boy in the other,
The father dances.

At the Madrassa they memorize great passages
Sweeping verse clearing lands of infidels,
Lifting myth verse off ceramic walls
the innocent rise to clean the world.
.     Enshala.

Oh, for a child to kill to become a man
believing in a wondrous prophet,
Or a wounded child locked
In the caves of Tora Bora,
Where Poems and missiles fly,
The poem is released, shots, gestures.

The wielder of the poem doesn’t live long.
Cool minds on wings above
See through germanium eyes
Laser guiding steel into ancient verse.

The missile doesn’t miss the red dot
It doesn’t see children, women, or frightened men
They’re not mentioned in the manual,
not in the mission statement, the press release.

We do not feel words on an LCD screen, see not
The body’s temperature change
The dying of the mystic light
The voice of the poem
Is extinguished now….

We’re to fear this man
of a gentle soft new beard
hearing of his hate of us,
We have never seen his
Reddened brown eyes
Straining to read in cave light.

All the men are dancing
firing their weapons.
Plunging knifes
in the throat of love.

Kent Bowker 1/30/2003 rev 4/1/2008