after June Jordan
I didn’t know and nobody told me and what
could I do or say, anyway?
They said the war is civil, they call it cold,
bombs rain from an assembled cloud of coalition nations,
they said we have to stop Iran, they said Al-Qaeda, they said ISIS,
most serious journalists cannot assign blame.
Sure, it’s been reported more than 50,000 Yemeni children dead,
a dead child for every hour’s fraction since the war began.
Sure, Yemeni hospitals have been bombed, in 2015,
and 2016, and 2016, and 2018. In war’s heightened fog
mistakes are bound to happen.
Sure, one million people have contracted cholera, the same illness that appears
in 10 cases a year in the U.S. Sure, international agencies have written
famine and crisis in spirals and one report briefly mentions mothers
unable to summon enough milk to fill the mouths of newborns.
Another describes the fate of a mother,
who used to sell boiled eggs in the morning, now
a ceiling of charred blood turned black,
and how do I know the sky I look to at night is not also a ceiling
of charred blood turned black,
and what could I do or say to the memory of this mother,
or the echo of neighbors who shared eggs in the streets of Sana’a?
In American college they taught me to use it’s complicated,
as a sign of intelligence, anchored against the allure of look.
To turn away from the crater of limbs and say both sides
both both both both until it becomes a whisper,
until no one remembers what you were talking about
to begin with. And aren’t I an Arab too?
No one told me I would have to choose
between all the faces that could be
I am not an evil person, just busy explaining
why I deserve to be in this lecture hall, in this living room,
at this desk reading an article about Arab children who die,
on a small plot of theft I can lay claim to.
No one taught me some children are called children
and some would be called proxies.
No one told me that Yemen is Gaza is ICE contract is
concentration camp in Florence, Colorado.
Yes, I did know the taxes I paid when buying concealer
to cover the blemishes on my cheek, or on groceries
that kept my belly full, also funded seven thousand and twenty
Paveway bombs. Yes, I voted for the president who authorized
But I looked to the streets and they were quiet,
there is so much else to protest, what could I tell people?
And if I could not adequately agitate others to count
the visible ribs of the child dying on the doctor’s table,
to hear the screams of light’s ending to hold this sound
in a balloon of seething shame, to call this balloon regulation,
a refusal of life assignment as gated chlorine,
is it not better to be quiet? I am no expert, I am nobody public.
But I saw the bones, I see them,
even with nobody else around, a wind unfurls and lingers,
it steams off of windows.
The bones are now blinds and all
of the aged cement between bricks and I am sorry.
I’m really, really sorry