Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Three (anti)war poems penned on the first Ash Wednesday of World War Three


Three (anti)war poems
penned on the first 
Ash Wednesday 
of World War Three

I am old enough to remember 
two invasions of Iraq 
1991 & 2003 under two different Bushes 
to be a true peacenik in America
is for nobody to ever have your back

forever get   
called a coward
a traitor 
a sissy
a punk 
so when I dunk on this topic 

let me clear 
this is not out of fear

I claim no moral position 
not America number one
nor hippy with flowers in a gun 
not making memes of president Zalenskyy
none of this is any fun 

it’s only been a week but I have been floored
by liberals cheering for war
first we saw it on the cable news
commentators drooling like they drunk on booze
come on Biden what you gonna do
liberals cheering for war

maybe liberals cheering for war
never had the FBI come knocking on their door
don’t have neighbors phoning them death threats
for calling out local racists or January 6th attackers
or you know just regular Americans always bragging
about every kind of weapon they own 

doomsday preppers
soldiers of fortune 
trigger-happy ex-cops 
for every man is
his own killing machine
am I the only one triggered by people
in this right-wing fever dream 

I am just one sleepless woke hippy 
trying to stay on the beam
of not drinking the cocktail of revenge
the way you post pictures of civilian soldiers
then tell me you are not just another
liberal cheering for war 

liberals cheering for war
deny there were ever racists in Ukraine
okay then we can also deny that the 
former President’s boy ever did cocaine
but really this poem has nothing to do with blame
yet rather questioning every aspect of this 
ratcheted-up delirious war game 

not cheering for war is also 
not cheering for Putin
some still remember
better red than dead 
or was it dead than red
re-runs of the Day After Tomorrow 
dancing in your head

some of us remember this tape from the 1980s
nuclear bombs would send us all to Hades
but some of you thought the cold war had faded
until we woke up one February day

to learn about tanks & troops & 
again those nukes
autocrats & heroes & kooks 
high time I remember how to pray

remember how to read multiple sources
not just re-post that old silly picture
of a shirtless dictator who likes to ride horses 
not bragging that the one side of any conflict is

automatically right yet neither diminishing those
who hide in a basement shelter night after night
every human has blood that courses through her veins
every parent of soldiers dead remembers their names

listening to the protesters resisting arrest in the streets of Moscow
listening to a pacifist from Kyiv adding perspective on Democracy Now

mandatory conscription for every man 
don’t worry somebody watching from home
will figure out a way to tell you this
was always part of God’s plan 

understanding why some right-wingers 
who were cheering for Russia are suddenly silent
scratching my head at the left-wingers 
who are tongue-tied to call-out or condemn Russia

everything in life 
is not a hot-take on Twitter 
I know after Covid how much we like 
to sit at our screens & fritter 

But maybe get up for a walk 
Call your mom
Plan a night out dancing
Even if you need to call a babysitter 

don’t put words in my mouth I am not about 
to “blame NATO” but if sensible
foreign-policy wonks with decades of study are saying that 
expanding a military alliance in a time of peace has now 

brought the entire planet to its atomic knees maybe 
we should pause before posting that romantic screed
about a war for democracy itself 
I know you’ve seen that in your feed

war-profiteers & weapons manufacturers 
have something to do with how this thing
magically went from 12 to 30 look 
we are talking about war it is always dirty 

& if the cold war was really over 
why were countries joining in
1999 or 2004 or 2009 or 2017 
& I bet you couldn’t name them all 

if it were on a quiz so 
you better get on Google to start looking 
everyone who left Russia is grateful 
for that flight they were prescient in booking 

see people rarely want to ask why we even have armies
missiles tanks warships military aircraft rockets bombs
say out loud the part about the profits for
Boeing Raytheon or Lockheed Martin

who wants to ask why we even have war
a product where patriarchy meets anxiety in the marketplace of greed
food & housing & clean air & fresh drinking water
even love & art & music these are what we need

why we really need countries 
with all these borders
what kind of scarcity brain 
leads to all these hoarders

technology used to travel 
to distant planets 
or murder absolutely everything even 
if that is not how you planned it

don’t even get me started with
all the End Times branding
if there is an apocalypse fever 
the churches they fanned it 

War is a special
booze for little 
girls or boys 
to learn how to get
high first with sticks
then plastic guns
then video games 

war is supposedly 
a selfless sacrifice to 
give your 
life meaning 
like Jesus but better 

so when the entire
globe is quickly 
careening past the
climate change
point of no return
& it is clear the 
billionaires never
really gave a shit
about ending poverty
or pollution 

admit that war
is a kind of solution
a distraction of action
from all the other inaction

don’t take too much
from this poetic mess

I am just a morning 
writer spitting this desperate
plea decidedly lost 
from membership in 
any faction 


  1. Thank you for sharing sharp poetic words about a soul-sickening time the whole world is caught up in.

  2. Thank you. Been sick of me pulling for the good guys by secretly hoping they have enough weapons to strike back.