Iris

20il01

I Know All About War

June7

Poem inspired by the Portable War Memorial, a 33-feet long installation by Edward Kienholz

I know all about war!
I learned from picture books and TV

It’s adults standing resolute

Undaunted against the enemy.

My daddy went to war!
He learned to shoot a gun

Came back in a shiny hearse

and said we won, we won.

Gee, Ma, a drink machine!

Can I have my pick?

I’d like to pretend it’s whiskey

The kind real soldiers drink.

Daddy din’t drink whiskey, you say?

Then I’ll pretend it’s beer

And just like Daddy used to do

I’ll drink away my fear.

Ma, I’m a grown soldier now

Grand things are in store for me!

Just you wait, no one lays a hand

on My Country ’Tis of Thee.

Hey, Ma, I haven’t washed in weeks

The water by my cot keeps freezin’

I keep meaning to read that bulletproof Bible

but some days I kinda stop believin’.

But the belief comes back eventually:

Rest easy, Ma, I just take some prozac

for some borrowed brass, y’know? It’s

alright—say, did Alice marry that poor sap?

Sorry Ma, I haven’t written you for a while

I’ve been busy reading this new pamphlet

It’s called “Why We Fight”. Sometimes I read and think

If fighting’s so grand, why does nothing go as planned?

The sky’s about to explode, Ma,

It’s holding so much bullets

Nothing went as planned, Ma, I’m so sorry

I’m so sorry

Is this how Daddy—

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