And Then I Saw It

This poem was written a while back as a response to a work of art created by my friend Scott Johnson.  His piece was designed as a memorial for the Iraq War dead.  The piece is a system of mobiles that cover a large area.  Each month of the war is represented by a hanging arch of metal that hangs as if to create the top line of an opened umbrella.  It is actually the Native American symbol for rain.  Each hanging piece of metal has a hole for each day of that month and from each hole hangs a dog tag chain with the dog tags of those who died on that day. It contains strong language and subject matter.

And then I saw it.

Who is this boy who sits in the tree?

Cries for you.  Cries for me.

Take back your wish, you wished too hard.

In your blindness you stumbled

And found the right moment and now,

Now just look what you have done –

Now look what you have done.

She angry clucks

And the blade floats there.

It’s coming for you too.

Take back your wish!

I can’t feel my legs because I have no legs you stupid whore!

Insatiable fat and greasy gourd, wanting more.

Take that spike from the sky and throw it into the ocean.

It has all been a lie

And you run and you go and you do

And there is no where to run to.

I tried to tell you so—

I tried to tell you so.

Who is this boy who sits without a hand?

You should have never left the tree

And I tried to tell you so

Stop touching tender tears

They are not for you

They are for me!

Don’t comfort me

I don’t want you flag disease.

Don’t cry to me with humble eyes and outstretched blood—

If I cannot hear, how can I sing?

I am broken.

I am numb.

Pain is no pain in the song unsung.

Take, eat, this is my body.

I don’t want it any more

And I tried to tell you.

I tried to tell you.

Now will you listen, now that it’s too late?

Breathe deep the toxic fumes of my annihilation

And I will take you with me.

I do not speak your language

Or care to understand.

I will stand and scream my own and fuck your eyes.

Beat, beat, beat.  There is nothing left to build.

Stop, I say, it is too late.

Sing your pretty song and dance stars on me

I do not want your help.

The black bleating heart sends waves of disgust from my

From your

To my

And I cannot hear.  I will not hear.

And how many days did you expect that I should stand there waiting?

Save your own fucking life

And take your hands blood off me I am not dead.

I am not dead.

I see you there laughing on the battlefield playground.

Where will the children go now that you have blacked them?

Who will want to eat where you have shat?

Who will cry for mother when all who loved her have gone?

Who will give bread to mother

Now that her brave oven holds devil’s child?

How will you learn and marry and grow

And continue your ridiculous planning now that you hang there?

Who will  take my deeper thoughts and turn them to laughter

Now that you are gone?

The hands box is empty and you dare to come to me for mine?

I have no hands, or heart, or ears—

You have taken them with you

And all of me is gone.

How could you take the faggot child

Into your dark world of angry toys?

And how could you take his pretty light and grind it into the sand?

And how could you lead him by trusting hand and portend to teach

When you are the rightful pupil?

Now look what you have done!

Stop eyes saying

There is nothing to say.

Go or don’t go

It doesn’t matter anyway.

Cold creeping hands in foreign lands.

Stay home!  Stay home!  Stay home!

You can’t call yourself a name

When the father is dead.

The father is dead and has taken his name!

His name and his potential

His better hope and rising.

You will die too and those after you.

I have killed us all.

I have been risen and I chose death.

Why come to me with blame and hunger?

I cannot feed you with empty bowl.

Young and stupid to trust me child.

It was a lie and I was pretending—

Scared and a child myself

I cannot grow from fear.

Go home and ask your mother

She is not there.

My brother fucked her and turned her to air.

Bush good!  Bush good!

I take my blade.

Bush good!  Bush good!

I place it there.

Bush good!  Bush good!

And I push it in and save you from a life in Hell.

My hate of my king

And love of him too,

To hate your king

And I kill too

And enough and more ‘til the killin’s done.

And look at the bad guy

He’s on the run

And he’s runnin’ to Hell to bring back some more

And you’ll taste my rage and there’s oh, so much more—

And I’ll kill myself too

But not before you.

The sun has gone to chase the moon

And left us all in this cold empty room

Of no playgrounds or forests or deserts prestine.

The ferris wheel’s been painted dull marine green.

And now I must leave you and run to the crowds

They’re cheering and beating

Their palm’s blood and loud—

And they’re crying and laughing

And taste sweet relief

From their debt and their anguish and their bed wetting grief

And they blow me and hold me and call me their king

But the joke is on them, no hand means no ring

And no head means no crown

And my shame smile from their loving

Washed permanent frown.

Empty chains lonely, they all deserve tags

So we’ll fill all the coffers, turn raiment to rags

And we’ll drink all the oil

And hide all the gold

And we’ll make you all niggers

You’ll serve till you old

And your children will leave you

And carry no pain

When they learn to dance in our poisonous rain.

Hear how they tinkle when the wind makes them sway.

September eleventh is just another day

And nothing makes sense when it all becomes clear

A minute’s a month and a month is a year

And all





What?  You thought I would remember you?

I don’t even know myself.

Someone take her away from me

Her filthy hands may soil my beautiful dress.

The boy has fallen from the tree.

The salt taste ants have gone

And the needle nose sucker too.

One Iraq fly, now gone too.


And there is nothing.

Jeff Key

9 September, 2006

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