Two Poems for July 19

July 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

Orange Alert

There are certain words
you can’t say in airports–
words that mean bomb, blow up, jihad,
hijack, terrorist, terrorism, terrorize,
terrific fucking terror.
And words like orange
small citrus grenades,
laced with steel seeds, rinds lined
with anthrax.
Security cameras scan and scrutinize
Californians. Floridians
are profiled, picked for full-body
fondlings — everyone knows Florida
is the Axis of Oranges.
Loudspeakers announce:
All passengers’ navels
must be covered or checked in baggage
Congress is considering mandatory
Orange Alert paranoia eats away
at the nation like a very hungry caterpillar.
The Mexicans, known agents of oranges,
are scared — taking to the streets, picketing,
fighting for naranjas as if they were their own
corazones. They don’t understand —
We don’t fly, they say. If we want to travel
we borrow Tia Silvi’s minivan
Pamphlets flutter from the sky
telling how to tell
if someone’s a terrorist: They tell jokes
with punch lines like:
Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?
Women with B cups, men with certain-
sized crotches, even those with
man-boobs, are squeezed, bobbled in search
of forbidden fruits — questioned
about stowed-away pomelos, tangelos,
sun-kissed explosive devices,
quarters of tart dynamite.
Orchards are napalmed.
Homeland Security says, Convert them all
to parking lots. Go, men! Go!
We’re out for blood oranges
Orange Aide to Third World fruit stands
was canceled.
The U.N. expunged
the Oranges for Oil campaign.
It doesn’t stop there —
patriot posses mow down highway cones,
the DOT revolted and wrecked their fleets
of clementine-colored trucks,
school crossing guards are mauled in their tangy vests —
beaten with Walk signs
by packs of anti-mandarin kindergarteners.
O.J. Simpson’s in jail.
Tropicana sold out to V8.
Orange County is a mere smudge
in the West Coast sky.
Halloween was banned–
Jehovah’s Witnesses shake their heads
saying, We told you so.
In the haze of this early winter,
blue flames engulf the cities.
Wait — what’s that you say?
We’ve been bumped to red alert?
But that’s like apples and oranges.

Why I Don’t Mention Flowers When Conversations with My Brother Reach Uncomfortable Silences

Forgive me, distant wars, for bringing
flowers home.

Wislawa Szymborska

In the Kashmir mountains,
my brother shot many men,
blew skulls from brown skins,
dyed white desert sand crimson.

What is there to say to a man
who has traversed such a world,
whose hands and eyes have
betrayed him?

Were there flowers there? I asked.

This is what he told me:

In a village, many men
wrapped a woman in a sheet.
She didn’t struggle.
Her bare feet dragged in the dirt.

They laid her in the road
and stoned her.

The first man was her father.
He threw two stones in a row.
Her brother had filled his pockets
with stones on the way there.

The crowd was a hive
of disturbed bees. The volley
of stones against her body
drowned out her moans.

Blood burst through the sheet
like a patch of violets,
a hundred roses in bloom.

-Natalie Diaz, from When My Brother Was an Aztec (Copper Canyon Press, 2012)

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