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                                                             for Howard

In Yugoslavia tonight, the bombs
are falling. Every news report is filled
with horror: fireballs with their orange palms
upraised in prayerful anger, having stilled

the helpless innocents — the wounded, red
and raw with pain; the refugees in knots
along the roads; the stiffened, silent dead
grown cold, their words and blood congealed in clots —

a spectacle of suffering too large,
too large to comprehend, to cleanse with tears.
The numbers numb, and numbing, then discharge
the tension that is pain. The bombardiers

and I feel much the same; our intellect
has shielded us from matters of the heart,
those necessary matters that connect
in ways always surprisingly — each, part

to all the picture. Turning down the set,
I start to read your letter one more time,
your story of Rebecca, as I let
the muted waves of bombers dive and climb

in blithe concatenation, blasting holes
in Yugoslavia while words bombard
my self-defenses. As her story scrolls
by, line by line, I try to hold my guard,

but, one more time, I cannot read it through
dry-eyed, your story of Rebecca, brief
and beautiful, her dresses summer blue,
her eyes of wind and sky, her life a leaf

gone in a gust of hopelessness and pain
so far away that neither poetry
nor prose can bring your daughter back again
but for her story, which has set me free

to cry for Serb, to cry for Kosovar,
to cry for all the caravanserai
of victims and of makers of the war
in Yugoslavia, tonight, I cry.

1 Comment Post a comment
  1. Trudy Wischemann
    Apr 13 2011

    And you have just helped me cry for the people of Japan and their nuke torturers. What a great poem can do: help. Thanks.


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