Memorial Day, revisited

May 27, 2009

“…Violence is shrouded in justifying myths that lend it moral legitimacy,
and these myths for the most part kept people from recognizing the violence for 
what it was.”
                                   – Gil Bailie
                                                               
                                                     
Memorial Day
                      -a poem by Jim Harrison
 
Things I didn’t know about until today:
Clip your toenails when wet and they won’t crack.
The white in bird feathers comes from the moon,
the yellow from the sun,
and black from night herself.
And that at three PM today
when we have our full minute of silence
for the millions of war dead,
their ghost beyond the invisible carapace
above the green and blue turning earth
(from which birds get other colors),
the ghosts will vomit up the remnants
of their bone dust on hearing the strident
martial music rising up to them,
the hand-peckered music of the living,
the music of the machineries of war
in the wallets of the rich. And the ghosts ask us
to send up the music of earth:
three tree frogs, two loons, splash of fish
jumping, the wind’s verbless carols.
                                                               -Jim Harrison
 
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