By excluding light
By excluding sounds
By excluding adequate rest and sleep
By excluding ordinary routines and normal schedules
By eliminating familial or collegial or romantic contacts
By extracting from origins
By establishing anonymity
By placing particular blame elsewhere
By degrading to such a degree that convention disappears
By choosing methods at random, then treating these same methods as law
By adhering to the lazier, more approximate codes of discipline
By forbidding a record of methods
By plunging into boiling and afterwards into cold
So as to harden the surface and retain the inner fluidity
By withdrawal of fluidity
By penetrating the surface of, by “digging deep”
By earthing up or tying together
By stamping, as in the process of coining
By inscribing, indelibly, as if a tombstone
By displacing certain parts, as with a knife or tongs
By exhausting, one by one
By stretching until snapping
By separating one part (the most volatile of the whole) from the rest
By eliminating the abstract in search of the concrete
By emphasis on the letter of the law
By prying the loop holes wider
Baghdad, Iraq, April 25, 2004
A bomb exploded in a remote region of the world.
From the blistered vehicle, U.S. soldiers removed a body.
An Iraqi driver had poured gas into, or over, a Humvee.
An Iraqi civilian: They didn’t shoot at targets; they just shot.
No one saw what the civilian (possibly drunk) said he saw.
The photo: a smoking hulk, and astride it—children.
In the photo, Iraqi boys wave eagerly at somebody.
Skipping school, the youths streamed toward the Humvee.
The Iraqi cameraman said: Come and celebrate, and I will shoot.
(Kids normally cheer, he explained, at this kind of scene.)
Fists raised and fireside chants are games for children.
The Iraqi driver: Take pictures and show them to the world!
Students shouted and jumped around a burning Humvee.
The Americans began wildly, and/or accurately, to shoot.
At the hospital: 14 wounded but no dead were seen.
The film crew promised the network a party of children.
The reporters ventured only briefly into the outside world.
The one sure fact: one American soldier’s lifeless body.
The American general allotted casualties to sniper shots.
Arms and legs burst open like slim trees under a power saw.
Had matches, said the Iraqi civilian, of five down, all children.
The reporter scanned the hospital ward: Where in the world—
Muslims, he remembered, bury, at once, any dead body.
Fat flies buzzed and licked the yummy blood: humvee.
A U.S. bullet, possibly sold to Iraq, was shot into the driver’s seat.
Why, asked the unidentified civilian, do Americans kill children?
No provocation, said the cameraman, none in this world.
(An attack so common, he added, it’s not news to anybody.)
The civilian: The Americans had to, ‘cause of the fiery Humvee.
The reporter pointed to red spots, signs of upkeep or shots.
The editor orders the story, deferring parts about children.
Adjacent: Arab Media Blamed for Hatred of U.S. by Arab World.
Adjacent: Unrest Blamed on Defunct Iraqi Political Body.
Readers muse, migrate, ponder the self: Hummm, V, _____
as images of the dead, not released in the U.S., continue to be shot
as The President’s TV ads sell the Towers’ fall, the U.S. at sea
as a corpse yells, I don’t belong to this malnourished body
of text, as the pen soliloquizes, once abandoned by the world,
truth defies description, as the camera finds what’s new to see.
This poem was adapted from “Attack in Iraq: Many Versions, Obscure Truth” by Ian Fisher, which was published in the New York Times on Monday, April 26, 2004.