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[casi] Now that cable news is giving civilian casualties a LITTLE attention -

This is from America Held Hostile at  I
ask your indulgence in my posting my own poem, as I
hope it will touch some feelings about "those who
don't count."/Lisa

                   Second Son

                           by Lisa Walsh Thomas

She remembers,
this old woman whose first son burned
in the bomb shelter
last time --

She remembers,
this old woman
gone dull gray now,
the dirt on her second son's face.

No God in heaven
had meant a pretty girl to be old,
   not at forty. Two sons,
   not enough
   to steal a small flower...

But never mind:
There is no soap.
There is no cleanser.
Her husband was given a gun, will
   stop the invaders. Not now, though.

This is the market for the best, the reddest fruits.
Once, she bought him a red pear here.
Today there are no baskets,
no stalls for the broken oranges,
just human parts, fingers reaching
   for soap or lamb, maybe a torn fig, or
   soap to clean the dirt from a son's face.

He's only a boy, twelve,
feet still small.
She clapped when he took steps
   before his first birthday.
A bright one, he would be --
his father said it --
maybe an athlete,
but now she needs soap for her bright one.

Soap. Nothing but soap.

He had no enemies, this smart one who walked
   so young,
no betters,
just a brother who could run faster, legs trapped,
   buried in a bomb shelter.

She forgets late at night:
Where is the first one?

Now she bites her finger, tastes blood,
hears the awe of hot breath,
this old woman confused anew
   by a severed hand in the marketplace,
lying in the dirt,
a lone hand with fingers gripping twisted metal.
No one hears her silent wail.
It, the hand, is familiar,
as if it will roll toward her,
as if it had once known her.

Where is the other one?
The other hand would make life whole again.
The imbalance of a singular hand gripping metal
   makes the marketplace a dream
like a cabbage with no leaves.

Silly old woman,
her bright one needs soap.
He is good with mechanical things,
Can repair almost anything, even at twelve,
so bright, his dark eyes able to put things
   together before his hands move...

He must be cleaned now, wiped of blood
His soul has fled the desert
God wants his body cleansed.

Lisa is an award-winning poet with dozens of poems
published over the years in a wide variety of books
and journals. This is her first anti-war poem.

Lisa can be reached at

Copyright 2001-2003 All rights

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