the camouflage man

/ 13 September 2013 /
This is not my poem, but the sentiment in it reflects mine -- and maybe yours.

This is a clipping from the April 2004 issue of Meg magazine (yes, back when teen magazines published poetry instead of pure useless makeup crap). It was a reader contribution, with "Kpenn" as the only byline and paired with an illustration by Manix Abrera. I've tried a few times to trace who this "Kpenn" was, but none of my small Google searches came up with a positive answer.

Nevertheless, the poem struck me and stuck with me since. This clipping had been hiding in my folder for several years, and tonight, it screamed to be shared.

Because the world is once again on the brink of a catastrophe, with the US seesawing between international pressure and trigger-happy plans for Syria. Because somewhere in those war-torn countries, someone is holding on to the chemicals that recently caused the suffering of innocents. And because, closer to home, our soldiers fighting against rebel forces in Zambo are begging -- yes, begging -- for food.

He's clutching his Armalite
Yet he cries a grievance nobody hears.

War is stupid. Throw the 'diplomatic reasons' at me if you like, but the bottomline is, we're hurting the very people we're supposed to protect. We're ending the peace we're supposed to aim for. That is, if peace really is the goal in the first place. Some say "Oil!", some cry "Autonomy!" Who knows?

And does it matter? Does it really make a difference what reasons we have for taking away someone's father or brother or child? Does it do justice to the men and women with love for country so great that they allow themselves to be yanked into the crossfire, starved and exhausted while their presidents and senators and representatives inhale the sweet, suffocating smoke of their cigars in their grand banquets?

He dreamed of saving his country
But violence really wasn't the plan. 

And when these fighting men and women come home in wooden boxes, does it become acceptable because of what they had to fight for?

You must cry
And men, don't you ever mourn?

Are you proud of
This violence

From which this country was born?

We cry, yes. And I bet our soldiers do, too. But as they say, in war, there are no winners or losers. There are only those who are proud, and those who are left to mourn.


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