Tuesday Poem: ‘and I want to say’ by Madeleine Marie Slavick, ‘Poets for Peace’

and I want to say

under the helmet, the American soldier pumps drum, excess bass, extra electric
motherfucker guitar, until the music enters, urges, burns, and he says:
now me and my gun can release into The Zone

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooand I want to say, my young one, my brother,
this recruited Alabama teen, that hired boy from Flint, from inner city, inner poverty,
please don’t sing as you kill, don’t tap to red, hum to murder

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooand I want to say, oh, mother and father
of a coffin, a sad risk, the beginning of a long missing, a slow losing, I want to say
you will find your child of flesh, of wish

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooand I want to say, Mr. Bush, son of oil and gun,
break your mirror of fear, of terror, you make families wail that Allah has failed, and
he world needs to live again

 

copyright Madeleine Marie Slavick 2003. Posted with permission from the poet.

Poet’s commentary:

I wrote the poem “and i want to say” as I am a pacifist and see war — any war — as a waste of life and resources.

I think of this poem “Waste” by the chain-smoker World War One chaplain Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy.

WASTE

Waste of Muscle, waste of Brain,
Waste of Patience, waste of Pain,
Waste of Manhood, waste of Health,
Waste of Beauty, waste of Wealth,
Waste of Blood, and waste of Tears,
Waste of Youth’s most precious years,
Waste of ways the Saints have trod,
Waste of Glory, waste of God,– War!

The year of my poem was 2003. George W. Bush was president of the United States. In the last stanza, I call him ‘son of oil and gun’.

I had recently seen the 2002 documentary film Bowling for Columbine. which discusses violence in American society — from policies at Kmart to the National Rifle Association to shootouts at schools and post-September 11.

oh, mother and father 

of a coffin, a sad risk, the beginning of a long missing, a slow losing, I want to say 

you will find your child of flesh, of wish

The violence across the USA is one reason I have not lived in the country since 1988.

Military recruiters have offices in shopping malls and proselytize at baseball games, a quintessential pastime.

Some teenagers and young adults view life in the military as an option when the poverty around them provides them with few career opportunities.

my young one, my brother, 

this recruited Alabama teen, that hired boy from Flint, from inner city, inner poverty, 

The young soldiers may not want to kill, and the film tells of some of them using heavy metal music in order to be able to do so.

under the helmet, the American soldier pumps drum, excess bass, extra electric 

motherfucker guitar, until the music enters, urges, burns

I was honored to be invited to read at the “Poets for Peace” event (April 18) of the Peace Movement Aotearoa. It was a moving evening, with the voices of Janis FreegardWoody GuthrieTim JonesGeoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy, John Lennon, Maria McMillan, Vivienne Plumb, Teresia Teiawa, the Mighty Ukes for Peace and others.

It took about 100 minutes to drive from my home to the venue of the poetry event in Wellington, and I recited just the one poem.

It was more than worth it. Being part of a movement for peace, for justice, for humanity is always worth it.

Being part of a movement for not memorializing war, death and waste.

*

“The pioneers of a warless world are the young men (and women) who refuse military service.”

-Albert Einstein

 

*

 

red2MADELEINE SLAVICK has published several books of photography, poetry and non-fiction, including Fifty Stories Fifty Images, Something Beautiful Might Happen, delicate access and Round. She is the 2015 R.A.K. Mason Writer’s Fellow at New Zealand Pacific Studio, and currently has two solo photography exhibitions:

HONG KONG SONG at Aratoi Museum

and RED at Victoria University.

*

Tuesday Poem is a collective of poets who share poetry on a weekly basis across borders and time zones. Please check out the other poets and the main poem at the TP hub this week — ‘In Carbondale’ by Cliff Fell, brought to us by Hub Editor Harvey Molloy.

Tuesday Poem For more Tuesday Poems, go here.

 

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3 Responses to Tuesday Poem: ‘and I want to say’ by Madeleine Marie Slavick, ‘Poets for Peace’

  1. pscottier says:

    Just wondering if there is a typo in the last line; should ‘he world needs to live again’ be ‘the’?

    It is such a thin line between remembering loss and celebrating the nation, isn’t it? At the weekend I went to a football match and realised that the young men playing were the age of many of Australia’s dead in WWI. And the dead of other nations, of course.

    Not to mention children or the aged caught up in war, or starved to fund it in some ongoing conflicts.

    Sounds like a timely event. (And unfortunately, I think that it would be timely at any other date.)

  2. Helen Lowe says:

    A powerful poem, as so many of Madeleine’s are>

  3. Enjoyed reading your poem and especially how it came about. Been looking at war poetry and the message they sent, powerful! Look forward to reading more.

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