Of War, Symbols, and Bin Laden

“All wars are follies, very expensive and very mischievous ones.  In my opinion, there never was a good war or a bad peace.  When will mankind be convinced and agree to settle their difficulties by arbitration?”
~Benjamin Franklin

This week’s quote, and thoughts on war in general, was stirred by an event that took place late last night, stirring a great many cheers across this nation. Not long before midnight here, on the east coast of the United States, President Barack Obama came on the news to announce that Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks in 2001, responsible for the deaths of thousands of world citizens, was dead at the hands of U.S. Navy Seals.

The news broadcast images of crowds cheering all across the country. Played old images of the Twin Towers, the screams, the horror, the tears. Showed soldiers on the march. Flags waved, and America howled.

In the streets, and on Twitter, an old cry arose: “Mission Accomplished,” the short-lived and infamous words of the Bush Administration. But therein should come the caution. War still drums on, dear fellows, and a man is just a man. A bullet may put a body to the sand, but it does not end a war. It does not raise a white flag, and usher us all to quiet and to calm. Perhaps it lures one into false senses of security, helps one forget but…Bin Laden is not powerful as a man, he is powerful as a symbol. Those that would declare a war over for the death of one man in a network of hundreds…I do not understand it. It is beyond me.

And in that regard, I end with the sign off I had from twitter last night: Symbols are powerful things. Their creation. Their destruction. But remember—the symbol is never the sum. Cheer, but do not call the battles won.

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To Compose

Causing pain

is the nature of the note—

the pianist sits, prepared for murder

 

in operatic trespasses

he hears the Valkyrie ride,

her spear the thrust of baritone blast

 

piercing stars, like silver tears rain

 

It rolls down to earth,

 

a Resurrection, a stirring in the madness,

this flurry writhe:

a man might grow hollow on the glee

 

Destroying and Rebuilding—

Creation in the up-tempo swell,

 

but he cannot afford to think—

all crumbles to analysis.

* My latest contribution to the wonderful One Shot Poetry Wednesdays! Once you’ve had a look, check out some of the other One Shot Poets as well–they’re a skilled bunch of poets, with a strong and supportive community.  Enjoy! And while you’re at it – vote for us in the Shorty Awards…we have a chance to take Number 1 in Art!

Pressure before Storm

There is a tingle on the wind

Like thunder in my skin

The air breathes

And the light quakes—

Shivers, breaks—

Such force is this!

This sudden heat,

This fireless heat

That beckons from the clouds.

The world elates to hear

The fury of its passing.

The Power Within

This next Haiku is dedicated to my sister-in-law: a wonderful woman, with a strong spirit, and a smile that could light the darkest of rooms. She also packs an unexpectedly strong right hook. Perhaps not the image you would expect when someone utters the words “Black Belt” to you, but she certainly lives up to the title she’s earned.

Small frame, strong spirit

The smile no indication—

Power sleeps within.

Fading Gods

He gazes down from hea’n above,

Watching through a powdered dove.

His people walk the Earth below,

Dreaming of what they can not know.

He sighs and turns away,

As his people begin to go astray.

He wanders then to ancient hall,

Where so many ‘fore had come to fall.

Broken statues linger here,

Of fallen Gods who’d known this fear.

That noble Odin,

That beauty Benten,

Oh great Anubis!—

All fell into the great Abyss…

Fear begins to creep,

Even Gods are known to weep—

Is he destined for this same grim fate?

Can he only pray and wait?

He is as great as any passed,

And his kingdom is so very vast;

He looks into their wand’ring eyes,

Ever watching from the skies.

Is this God destined for the same grim fate,

That fell on those before him?

They say he is so great a being—

But can he face that test of time,

That felled those powers all,

That came before him

In those days of old?