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On the Eve of War

The poem may yet become history...

By Ruben Martinez
Published on LatinoLA: February 25, 2003


On the Eve of War


On the eve of war
Words thick as thunderhead
Ballistic and intimate
As father?s drunken slap

On the eve of war
I am my memory
Muscles taught
With tension ?tween
Last night?s sex
And the morning news

On the eve of war
Contradiction marches alongside us
Ghosting our ideals
Am I to love or
Smite you

On the eve of war
The state censors
The I and the I stops
The we the
We bleeds a you

On the eve of war
I come with my anti-
With a hoarse hearse
A doubt or two
Shuttle streak
And a stinging hand

On the eve of war
I bid you capital gain
Refuge in the Arctic
A sweatshop
And petro-rain

On the eve of war
The poet cannot stop
The rain but
Offers photographic breath

On the eve of war
I give you these:

The view from 200,000 feet over Texas
The perspective from a bunker in Baghdad
The point of view of a moth in a funnel cloud

A tire-iron floating on the rain
Guernica on a postage stamp
A full cinema and an empty screen

My uncle dashes off into coup d?etat night
A foot-less boot and unlit cigarette
A lesioned word and Eminem?s rage

On the eve of war
I march with you
Because their muscle hearse
Demands my presence

On the eve of war
I cannot linear we
Because democracy
Demands our contradiction

On the eve of war
A millennium of Salvadorans
A Nigerian Shell shock
A Palestinian present-absence
A clock-full of Semitic exile
And a fiery New Jersey funeral

On the eve of war
There is something bigger
Than the eve of war

On the eve of war
History wants her birthing
She asks you to sing
Beyond words of stone

On the eve of war
My dog eats pancakes
And I make love in the rain

On the eve of war
The poem may yet become history
And postpone the eve of war






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