© May 2008
STOP THE LOSS
[paragraph 9c of the enlistment contract states:
in the event of war, enlistment in the Armed Forces
continues until six (6) months after the war ends...]
Rumors of war, we're at it again,
only the 20th time since I came of age.
civilian bodies litter foreign boulevards,
American coffins fill airport corners.
we watch with resignation as reservists go off to die.
involunteers, unaware of stop loss,
and other sly devices utilized
to keep them at the front forever.
Now the women are dying, American women,
along with thousands of civilian fatalities
consecrating battlefields in Afghanistan,
a land so ancient that time has forgotten.
I never thought we would let that happen,
you and I, yes you, you're the ones I'm speaking to.
easy to overlook the loss of women
unless you see through patriotic headlines
into under-financed corners
of your tv screen at 2:00 in the morning.
Look closely at photographs ending
the News Hour on PBS, and you'll see
lipstick traces and locks of hair under
military headgear, with names like
Emma and Maria confronting you in silence,
that's how you tell.
of course, you only see those photos
after they die and next of kin are notified.
What did they hope to achieve, these women?
to serve well and support their families.
you read about the Native American marine,
single mother on a reservation
whose death so far away left two children
with only grandparents to care.
you know that earnest carpenter on cable,
who gives away houses to families in crisis?
he and his crew built a strong new house
for survivors of the dead reservist,
two bewildered elders raising orphans forever wounded
by the loss they were powerless to stop...
both parts One and Two of this poem
may be found in
WORD DANCING (poems, prose and art)
by Jeanne Powell
Causes Jeanne Powell Supports
Union of Concerned Scientists, VVAW (Vietnam Veterans Against War), Doctors Without Borders, Waterkeeper Alliance, PSR (Physicians for Social Responsibility...