Homelands

Ghayil

I have been fiddling about with this poem for some time, trying to get the right feel and tone.  It has taken a long time just to settle on a title.  It started out life with the working title Are You Glad to Be in America?  This is a direct lift from the James Blood Ulmer song of the same name, so was never going to stick, but it seemed apt for a while.  There is certainly some reference to raining and Cadillac cars in there, which I may well have sub-consciously ‘sampled’!  Check it out on You Tube here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnYKh72NXig

It then lived for a while with the title Ground Zero but that didn’t really fit the bill either.  The poem is not directly about 9/11, or a response to it.  It is more of a response to the response of the West to those events but an attempt to set them in a wider historical context.

The current title has, as an obvious reference point, the US TV drama Homeland, which my wife insists has now run out of ideas, but I still find the storylines sufficiently ambivalent to keep watching!  While Homeland is invariably focussed upon homeland security issues in the United States, the idea that there are many homelands suggested a fitting title for the poem.

Homeland security for some is still rocks and stones, rather than a nuclear arsenal and the might of the world’s greatest army.

Homelands

Raining glass over Cadillac cars,
The Statue of Liberty screaming.
Murmurs shake the heart of capital,
Manhattan’s sky stains red.
Is this Baghdad or Damascus,
Where missiles cruise, widows cry
And buildings shatter in the heat?
Or is this modern day America?

When victims have no name tags
The West keeps a wary distance.
One more battle in a war of the past,
Casts shadows across the night.
Break the family entertainment.
Faces and places too hard to name,
People, too frenzied to sway,
Play to an empty room.

How the free world loves America
Where the dream lies, buried and crushed.
They pity and avenge those homes
Of the brave, justify the unjust.
Collateral damage Ground Zero payback,
Precision bombing
Mountains, hills and caves,
Painting dark the dreams of children.

In the shadows of Hiroshima,
In the napalm fallout of Vietnam,
In the wailing women of Palestine
The wretched are starred and striped.
This crusade is now stripped naked,
The challenge to choose our sides,
In this new world, where dollars fall
From oil black bomb filled skies.

Steve Bishop

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