“We make the best equipment in the world, there’s nobody even close, and Saudi Arabia’s buying a lot of this equipment.” —President Donald J. Trump
When the poem begins “Here
is the video of schoolchildren
just moments before being
massacred by U.S.-
backed Saudi bombing”
will anyone keep reading?
When is “Just Massacred”
a backed will, a collective message
finger-written in a film
of dust on the bombed-
of a bus?
Hear the children
being us, in a sense,
laughing as the roll is called,
on their way
to a martyr’s museum and their
own martyrs’ graves.
Bombing it (the bus,
the poem, the video,
the moments before
the field trip’s end)
becomes a bloody matter of
fact, just more news, and nothing new.
“Kids just being
kids” in a war(for oil)zone
get blown apart, their little limbs
scattered in the wreckage, and all
to ensure an energy
security that is only ever measured at the pump.
Now, Yemeni men dig the forty
tiny graves needed
to hold the mutilated bodies
of little boys, who died
in the event, which our
Saudi friends called a success.
Here the poem’s supposed
to show a changeable world,
but I’m afraid
the noise of screens
destroys my convictions. These
horrible horrible things
on a screen in a screen as a screen
and like the movies
but in all of it, verisimilitude is
a feature of production.
I have to imagine
their parents to weep
have to hold their losses as mine,
but even then I can only ever imagine
one loss at a time. So what
does one do then with
little bodies, besides watch them
pass by in the news?
I want there to be a change-
able world, but in truth
I think I just do so as a custom-
er. I click and click away
between screens among screens within screens
where the news and the olds, and all of my shows, my work, and my light communications
just happen together
as a virtual noise that I shop, and that
I can turn off in a minute.
So, I do weep when I see that
American bombs destroy children and weddings and funerals.
But only for a moment in private, clicking away most of
a day unaffected by the warfare
waged to secure this virtual world I consume
freed from the lasting effects of conscience.
Nothing ever changes but the pronouns
in the news. What happens there is too far away
to choose. So, the chaos of the third world be-
lies the order in the first, where screened horrors
are just more links accruing views, just an other
shit show, for which the best world has a thirst.
Brad Nolen is a poet and writer, working from the Alabama Gulf Coast. His work has appeared in Clockwise Cat, New American Journal, and Lagniappe.
Photo by Javier Cañada.