“It’s the bomb” they used to say although since the Global War on Terror this saying seems to have gone
to the grave of too forward exclamations now that the president decides who to bomb next each Terror
Right now right on the 13th anniversary of 9/11 we have been having a heated discussions
of appropriate punishment of pro football players who ring the bell of their mate under elevator
Allow me to say that I myself had my bell rung just before the fourth grade and might very well not be
standing here if I had not experienced the depression and anxiety that followed that head injury which
prepared me for a lifetime of living through and following the dismal tale of U.S. policy since WW II.
(I was born in 1946). So right now the U.S. president (Corporate Caesar) just got up and announced
he has the power and the will to bomb in Iraq and Syria where in 1947 the U.S. deposed and installed
regimes to build a natural gas pipeline (no longer in use). Of course, most Americans have some idea that
there were two previous wars that preceded Gulf war III but few would know that it is now generally
admitted that U.S. helped install the Baathists that became Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime all the way
back in the early 1960’s when I was just starting high school. And before that everyone was distracted
with who lost China and Communists who were everywhere (especially in the State Department).
And where do I keep finding myself ? — staring off into a universe that keeps expanding away from me
and standing beside urban suburban streets where the convoy pours past me without a break where
I might find my way as I walk with the kids the little one’s hand in my hand as a car comes up behind us
and swerves near the curb and blasts his horn as if we were in his way. What did we do I wonder worry?
until the middle boy finally explains that an oncoming car had crossed into his lane. Only on Sunday in
church when the new bishop jokes that he eschews a bumper sticker to tell the world that he is clergy
because he does not want his driving held to account as Christian behavior will I realize, oh, those cars
that change us into steely wrecks of rushing emotions out of control fossil fueled infernal combustion
engines always going, going gone terrorist out on the road giant sport utility vehicle weapons intent on
getting, getting from there to here, here to there.
The kids keep asking me why I don’t buy a car and caught in my own cheapskate flinty austere soul I say,
“if you don’t keep walking you get weak legs.” But who thinks of that now that surely we’ve arrived at the
“End of History” they promised us what seems ages ago now when the Bomb Rings the Bell. Again.
James Van Looy has been a fixture in Boston’s poetry venues since the 1970s. He is a member of Cosmic Spelunker Theater and has run poetry workshops for Boston area homeless people at Pine Street Inn and St. Francis House since 1992. His work appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.