O yeah yeah I remember George Herbert Walker Bush
I remember his creepy disjointed white man grin
And the way he ran the CIA
And became de facto president
After Reagan was shot
And I remember
He became de facto president before Reagan was shot
So read my fucking lips:
I remember his invasion of Panama
Operation Just Because We Can:
A very Merry Christmas
To the residents of El Chorrillo, the neighbourhood
Where “our bastard” Noriega grew up;
Hundreds firebombed or shot down by
Helicopters with stolen names from a stolen land stealing more;
O what wondrous music: the raging forgettable fire
Timbers groaned. Sheet metal popped. Lungs did too.
Fire and fury fell all around those other bastards,
Whose human voices did their best to wake us
And yes, I remember
Reading Ramsey Clark
And finding Z Magazine
And Lies of Our Times
Like a lifeline to a language that included the words, “Why, yes
The world is upside down. Now, what are you going to do about it?”
And I remember finding South End Press and Black Rose Books
Chomsky, Herman, Diamond, Galeano and hooks
And seeing, why yes, the world was upside down
And me, asking myself, what was I going to do about it?
And I remember, of course I remember
The American ambassador
April Glaspie telling Iraqis
The United States had “no opinion” of its border disputes with Kuwait
In a meeting in July 1990.
And I remember the day they commenced primary ignition
On mostly a civilian population,
I was standing in my kitchen
Something about noodles, and wine, and radio tuned to CBC
When – that sound, that alarming music, the sound that something, somewhere, something more than news was breaking
When – we interrupt this poem to tell you
The Allies have begun bombing Baghdad
And Desert Shield has turned to Desert Storm.
I remember what you said next
That it was all about, after all, the rule of law
Yeah yeah the white man at his podium
Ruling of law
Daring to throw off his chains
Free at last, no longer would he have to fight
With one hand tied behind his back.
O what wondrous music, to fight with both hands
For the first time since Viet Nam, booyah!
Mark and I drank whisky that night. I remember whisky.
I remember my mother saying she was worried
About the pilots flying those planes
And my father: “Are you alright? You sound upset”
And other things people say in smartly guided words
When the world is upside down and looks alright to them.
And I remember
The day after, standing in King’s College Circle
Clutching a coffee for dear life, feeling the upside down with friends.
The Brute Force Committee, made up of keener engineers,
Set off a faux canon to celebrate the bombing
O what wondrous music
And I jolted out of my skin
I remember the coffee jolting too
Right out of its cup
Up into the air, in an arc, in a parabola of shock
I soon stumbled into a chapel at Knox to pray
‘cos there’s a first time for everything
And it seemed like a good idea at the time
I remember protests at King and Bay
Making the links from Oka to the Gulf
Blocking traffic, blocking the machine in small vital ways
I remember a black man jumping up on a newspaper box
And the cameras rushing in
Him shooing them out of his face
Speaking to us, to us:
Screaming THIS IS A RACIST WAR
This is a racist war: it blew my little white mind.
And I remember we blockaded
External Affairs in Ottawa
Hundreds of new friends in Alliance for Nonviolent Action
With our bodies we blocked the ins and outs,
Cops dragged some of us off by our hair
But there weren’t mass arrests.; it was a different time
Kettles were for tea, the militarism hadn’t yet evolved;
And we all made it safely home.
And I remember that summer after the Storm,
As little white minds resumed their busyness
I sat reading about the aftermath; seeing the photos from the Highway of Death
The indignity of charred bodies on the side of the road
Slumped at steering wheels, falling out of hatchbacks:
A proper turkey shoot, well done, sir.
O what wondrous music you played, sir,
Here, there, anywhere
The raging forgettable fire
The music of modern rocketry
To chasten and to terrify
In your old world order of things.
That is the sound underneath your funeral today: the sound
Of oxygen leaving,
The sound of you trying
To burn truth, well pardon me
For speaking kill of the dead.