by Joan Dobbie

Written in Response to the coming Iraq Invasion, March 2003

I own my own house & since I bought this house & since I’ve lived in this house
of my own I’ve become a ruthless murderer of ants

I vacuum them up I sweep them up I drown them in sink water
I drown them in bath water I drown them by sponge I crush them between my fingers
I crush them in wads of toilet paper I chase them down into corners of cabinets

I search out their places of gathering I slice off their heads with my fingernails
I roll them like dough between forefinger and thumb

I kill them because they are small & black & ugly
There are too many of them they have too many legs and besides that they bite

I kill them because I don’t like them I kill them because I don’t want them to exist
in my house I want them gone

Killing ants I feel neither pity nor guilt Really I feel close to nothing
But every single time that I kill I do feel a small something
a small deadly feeling a feeling that something in my chest closes up goes numb something inside me has hardened a sweet thing gone sour

& this poem is a metaphor I tell you for this coming war

Those dark, distant people I tell you in those dark distant countries
with those foreign unpleasant beliefs are as human as I am as human as you are

& just like the starfish who gives birth to himself with each severed limb
if we swarm their homelands again if we swallow their livelihoods again
if we blow off the limbs of their children disembowel their women again
those people will grow more hard & more bitter & more powerful
than we ever dreamed possible

(You saw what they did just the year before last with nothing but box cutters)
If we go ahead if we do go ahead I cannot begin to imagine
who they will become
or (do you hear me?) our own barely grown children sent overseas with orders to kill I beg you consider who they will become.

Copyright 2003 All Rights Reserved