26Feb '15
War, American Style

War, American Style

“war, American style”
Sounds like something off a menu
“Sweet and sour chicken, Cantonese style”
“Mexican-style eggs”
“Southern-style cabbage”
American-style death
American-style shock and awe
Served with a hearts-and-minds parfait
Childhoods, finely chopped
In a crude oil dressing
Suffering à la carte.

Most of my poetry gets started in response to some phrase I’ve read or overheard that strikes me as interesting or important. This one is no exception, and it was born from reading Brian Zahnd‘s article on non-violence, “What if Hitler Invaded your House?” He says:

Lately I’ve been giving a lot of interviews on my new book A Farewell To Mars. It’s a semi-autobiographical confession of how I moved from being an enthusiastic supporter of war American style to proclaiming the peaceable kingdom of Christ.

That phrase “war American style” just hit me right between the eyes… I remembered Roger McGough’s poem, “US Flies in Hamburgers”, which came to life in a similar way: he saw a those words as a newspaper headline, meaning that America had air-dropped in hamburgers to its troops as a morale boost; but he read it differently:

The secret is out
I’ll tell you no lies
they’ve stopped using beef
in favour of flies

My reaction to “war, American style” was similar. I know it’s not particularly subtle; I’m not particularly proud of “crude oil”, but then sometimes, poetry needs to be as subtle as a cluster-bomb.

Image credit: http://pixabay.com/en/terror-usa-war-america-bombs-flag-155754/

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