Naxal here, on the political poet tip, with a bit of insight (incite) into my first 9/11 in NYC. This ones dedicated to all the people on multiple continents who, on or in the aftermath of 9/11, lost their lives or have lost control of their lives through deportations, depression, and concentration camps like Guantanamo.
September 11, 2007
wooden awake/rain sounds/each tv channel abounds/ground zero/and they/name calling/shot crawling/for the memory/tragedy/narrative had to be/here on this day cause 9/11 in new york/lands in a whole other kinda way
Today I walked out into the streets of NYC after taking a few small doses of 9/11 tv. Channel after channel panned the same line of the same people of the same block where two buildings were blown up 6 years ago. Names were read by men on a stage, tight they were around the mouth, emotion and its lack palpable. It was like turning an old school nob on the radio, expecting to flip through stations, but instead your ears hear words that link into an improbably spanned sentence, long formed across the mile of frequencies that radio is.
Turned on the tv and watched humans speak names aloud, an ancient tradition, a calling of ancestral spirits, here in the heart of puritanical mania, a chanting of names. And then I was overwhelmed, so I changed the channel as the camera moved away from the men in windbreakers and ingrained frowns towards a crowded line of people come to pay their respects. But when I changed the channel, I was still looking out the same camera lens, up the same line of people, with the names echoing like a sad soundtrack.
Grey outside today. Sultry between the rains lasted a short spell only.
The first break in channel surfing came from a home shopping network…right? And then it C-SPAN, it was more metal on a military jacket than I ever seen, flanked by two other male chests similarly adorned. Colors, stripes, like a million little flags, bullets stretched out into steel sleeves. The New York Times and most major media outlets referred to it as the Iraq Hearings. But I prefer the Petraeus-Crocker hearings.
Petraeus, Commander of Multi-National Force-Iraq, reminded me of Justice Antonin Scalia. A rat, but smart as a whip. When he had a chance to go on at some length about the status of troops and towns and strategy in Iraq, I can’t even lie: he laid it down. I learned more details about actual on the ground battle information in a few moments than I’ve heard over the past 6 years. I think the good Congress folks did too. Seemed to me like some of them elected officials didn’t quite appreciate how much Petraeus could school them on. The P-man would have everyone all slacked jawed for a minute just tryna picture what coordinates of global war scale he was dripping off that forked tongue. Pause, silence, and then bam, a Congress person would clear his throat and chide the Commander for going on too long.
Then, Rep. Barbara Boxer took the reigns in hand–of course it’d be a woman to know how to deal with a man with a wide lead on the race for on the ground information about the war. She started off hard, neck bobbin back and forth, talking bout: “I represent 37 million people so you can imagine how many letters I get.” I was like uh-oh, homey you better DUCK. Boxer took it there. She had her lackeye’s pullin out chart after chart, like the one all clear and pretty, highlighted yellow to emphasize that chart’s main point, “let’s look at our casualties,”: 264 American troop casualties in the summer of 2007 makes the past 3 months the deadliest summer since the surge.
But when she really hit ol’ Commando Patronus in the gut, was when she took out this blown up picture of her and couple other Congress people on a Iraq visit, talking to Patreaus himself. “I don’t know if you remember this visit, but I do. I remember that you were so upbeat,” reminisced Boxer with truth ringing emotion into each syllable of her words. “We had the world in our hands after 9/11,” and what happened was her breath taking question. She didn’t dilute her arguments with concern for coming off tough like how the men Congress folk were doing. You could tell they were showing out, challenging the big bad multi-national force Commander to a duel and shit. Patreaus looking at them like I coulda been killed you. Nah, Boxer came real. Topped the Commander with the rock of truth beats the sharp metal edge of scissors any day.
I guess Boxer was also being real when half way through her remarks, she humbly apologized for taking up time with her charts and all. I wonder if as a woman, that’s a habit I should learn. So how does it go? I can flex all the intellect (mental and soulful) I want, as long as I pepper my verbal advance with curtsies and flirtatious nods to the male-full chamber…aight, sounds do-able. Long as I get to flex, shit, I’ll learn that strategy….General Boxer. 😉
Like I was sayin tho. Patreaus couldn’t even look her in the eye when she took him back to that tour, when he was so upbeat and all. Boxer got him where the sun don’t shine on certain parts of him see you weren’t there, you can’t know, maybe I was upbeat then, but now I’m just beat, I’m just me, I’m the voice they need to stave off the fall out boy Vietnam disaster till the next administration helps us all collectively forget, who got us here in the first place?And check out this quote that Boxer had blown up on some poster board. She was so damn cute with hers. I swear she reminds me of my parents, how much they be blowing up pictures mad big, so our house is full of home grown family portrait posters. Love u Mom and Dad!
But this quote, damn, it god my blood running. I’m telling you that hearing was a wealth of information. And it’s another one tomorrow too. Boxer got the quote from a recent New York Times Op-Ed, written clearly and emphatically by a host of Iraqi based American soldiers: (http://select.nytimes.com/search/restricted/article?res=F5071EFC385A0C7A8DDDA10894DF404482)
“In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are — an army of occupation — and force our withdrawal.”
This is experienced soldiers talking, one of them shot in the head in battle during the course of writing the fucking Op-Ed. Like I said, he couldn’t even look her in the eye.
I turned off the tv, emotional, frustrated. Flipped through the cd’s in my sublet room, popped in The Best of Billy Joel. He sounds like the young Marlon Brando looked. Cept Mr. Joel ain’t cultivatin no Stella’s. Instead, he was sending messages to the young brothers and lovers like, man, tell her how you feel man, even your craziest dreams, tell her. But that song was later on, around the time when I had shed enough to start smiling in my body again. It was song one that got me all broke up when I needed to be split through. It was his war song. Helicopters in the background to bring the song up. The chorus marches, “and/we will all/ go down/ together.” I was crying before I realized it was what I most needed to do, and thank god, because the tears came and came.
A few hours later, I’d spoken briefly over gmail chat with an activist friend of mine. I said something like, what a day. And she replied, it’s no different than any other day.
I understand. But I disagree. It’s not what we want it to be, its what it IS that matters. And September 11 is a day that stands out. Not because of U.S. war legitimizing propoganda. Not because I believe in the unhealthy attachment to a tragic narrative, Lucy and her blanket, Lucifer and his sheild. And not because American citizen’s lives matter more than Afghani and Iraqi, Muslim, and undocumented lives. September 11 matters because it is the step in time of a foot that roots the pivot. Into a stronger, unabashed domestic ignorance. A full throttle piss on this, humanities potential. An age old trap of do what has been done, forever.
Flipping from Ground Zero scenes to the “Iraq Hearings,” on tv was a classic American experience. On one hand we supposed to honor certain lives for ever. On the other, we supposed to not honor Iraqi lives for years more to come. Antithetical. Displacement. Bifurcated. An external straight jacket on an internally splintered tree of American life. That is one of the ways I felt today. Plus the rain? Man, it wasn’t no joke getting out the house today.
Stepping towards the subway I kept my mind and feet going by running through a poetry piece wherein I say stop the war in many ways. And then, as I neared the N/R train stop, I saw a cluster of black robes and small white hijabs. A group of young Muslim middle school children, from around the world, on their way to the next destination. All of sudden I was humbled away from personal struggle, and grounded back into universal experience by the mandatory courage of these young people. I wondered how today would be for them, out in New York City on 9/11, and wished unto them strong filters from the looks and feelings sure to pulse their way.
Stay tuned for more of All the News That’s Fit to Flip by your political poet, homegirl, NaXaL.