“guernica” unveiled

On the second floor of the United Nations building in Manhattan, just outside the Security Council  entrance, hangs a seminal piece of 20th-century artwork that offers a graphic and chilling reminder of the horrors of war.

But as U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell sat down [on February 5, 2003] to deliver an historic speech about why America must go to war with Iraq, Pablo Picasso’s
Guernica was concealed by a large blue drape. 

                   Copyright 1996-2003. Toronto Star Newspapers Limited

In my dream the black hand of silence
closes around my throat.
At the other end of the arm
is my family
by blood and marriage
whom you have duped
with your cheerleader rhetoric
and slick presentations
of smoke
and mirrors.
These are the crimes you will pay for:
for dividing a house
for annexing imagination
for exploiting a nation
of people longing to prolong
the illusion
that any ass that needs kicking
will answer to our lonely boot.

The billions of dollars I can forgive you.
Even the tailspin into economic ruin.
A lean diet, after all, brings clarity.
But the relentless deception
the alienation of reason
the traps loaded with American bodies
the hungering babies
the widowed mothers
the gaping maw of hell blooming on earth:

I loosen the hand.
You will not disassemble
my country of truth.
You can buy
all the air time you want.
You will not triumph
over freedom.

This poem appeared on www.poetsagainstthewar.org in March 2003 and in a commemorative anthology from a PAW reading in Colorado.

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