Dulce et Decorum

Orlando, Virginia Tech, Newton, Columbine
Madrid, Paris, Norway, London
Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Turkey
Pentagon, World Trade Center
Israel, Palestine, Lebanon
Sunni, Shiite

The existence of what is called terror
says that
this is all a lie
that going to a store
a classroom, a market
a wedding,
that getting on a plane
is a lie
that expecting
life as usual
is a presumption
in the light of
some other travesty
some other view
some other ideology
or just insanity itself

We must accept
this dying
as a message
that whatever
we are doing
or not
is not enough

We must accept
this dying
if we think that
killing terrorists
kills terrorism
That mental illness
responds to drugs
in time

We must accept
that what kills us
is the fact that
our every day
existence
is not enough
not peaceful enough
not loving enough
not good enough
not full enough
such that
no one lives in pain
no one lives alone
no one is so stressed
that even the thought
of hurting a complete
that’s me
that’s my sister
that’s my mother
that’s my brother
stranger
would happen

There is an answer
to all this
but it is a painful one
because it does
not involve
more guns,
more walls,
getting rid of
immigrant and
hijab people

It doesn’t involve
doing or
restricting.
It doesn’t label anyone
as evil or innocent

The answer is here
but you will not
have it, because
it doesn’t
fit your idea
of what an
answer should be.

So, until you are
ready to admit
that this life
and this kind
of death
means that even
shopping
is a lie
of some kind
and that your snicker
when I mention
that inner silence
has the primal,
healing power
to fix all this
is part of the reason for
the dying sound of
your innocent gay brother
in Orlando
your friend, crashing in a
Pennsylvania field,
or the waves,
lapping on a child,
dead on some
mediterranean shore

You can laugh
but you don’t have an answer.

Those of us who do
watch this sad parade
in wonder
and keep doing what we can
being what we can
and hope that someday
when all else has been tried
and failed
you will listen
to the sound
of one hand
clapping
to the chorus
of the kingdom
of heaven
within you
to the
inner sound of
your mantra
calling you
deep within.

Author: Paul Stokstad

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