Clint Smith ’10 Reads Poem ‘The New York Times reports…’


The New York Times reports that 200
Iraqi civilians have just been killed by US military airstrikes after Hanif Abdurraqib & a man on television calls it unfortunate yet inevitable collateral
damage & I wonder what it is that turns mourning into a metonym or a
proclamation of conjecture & I read his bio & I see he has a wife & I can’t
imagine he would call it inevitable if her body were pulled from the quiet
implosion of scattered rubble & I see that he has a son & I can’t imagine he
would call the boy who bears his name collateral in someone else’s war & Ii
see that he has a daughter & I think of what it might mean for someone to
render her final breath and inevitability of global politics & I
understand what he means I know he means that war is callous and
unforgiving the militant can surround himself with a dozen women and children
so that the pilot must decide between a target and the soft ache of his own
heart’s detonation & I do not misunderstand cruelty of war but I regret
the way we talk about its casualties how their lives become tacit admonitions how
the tyranny of a border made out of thin air means bombs are only dropped on one
side of it but I too have felt that empathy corrode inside the most
cavernous parts of me have taken the quarters from my pocket and used them to
cover my collusion who among us has not used spare change to ornament our
contrition laid a garland of rations atop the bodies of names we do not know &
I’m not sure what it means for us not to be the one to fire the bullet but to
behave as if the bullet always belonged in that chest & not our own

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