Words of Our Own

I co-direct Poetry @the Zeitgeist and months prior we had scheduled Mick Vranich to read on what turned out to be the night the U.S. planned to bomb Iraq just before the invasion. The war was big on everyone's mind. Fortunately, Mick's work helped us work through it but the war still overrode the mood of the night.

I came home and there was a horrible reality on TV that seemed like an un-reality TV show. The cameras and commentators were focused on Baghdad, waiting for the bombs to fall, waiting for families they couldn't see and couldn't recognize as people to die.

The detachedness of it made my flesh crawl. I could only think what if I was waiting for the most powerful nation in the world to come bomb my city? Where would I hide my family? What would I do?

it always rains at the end of the world
by Kim Hunter

How you gonna make me kill somebody
I don't even know? —Prince, "Party Up"

1. eve of war - here

you don't know me
but where i am
it is raining

and we have passed
the deadline
for them to drain the liquids
from your body
with skyhooks
winged televisions
flying cadillacs
the president said
he was forced
to use them
because somebody has to pay
and it won't be him
this time

we have passed
the deadline
for them to etch your name
in the dirt as
enemy combatant
collateral bystander
and then history
brought to you by
good money
we are connected
by our mutual lack
of presence

we travel in the same
pliable bag
different faces connected
by our invisibility

we must be weightless
to be millions
and so disregarded
by expensive suits
on television
tailored for the
unique corpse

our skins must take
the shape of rags
for them to use us
like they do
to sop up the blood after
their handy-craft accident

we cough up dark
in the same
3 am sweat shop
tee shirt
on sale
out of business

shake in our sleep
over the same answer
and the questions
it breeds

will it be alright
because i don't know you
would it be better if we just
shook hands
if i don't know it's youdoes it matter
which funeral i attend
or how were you born
with your name
on a bullet
or the head of a pin

2. eve of war – there

and he replied
when my child calls me
baba i too am
six years old
in a time with
no sides to speak of
not my finger on
the trigger

nor the gun barrel open
on my eye
no metal or powder
in the chamber
no chamber
a moment without walls
when she calls
i can't let go
of her voice
with my name in the air

and though you and i hold some things
mutual in our disconnection
if something you do
kills me
if some money you paid
was converted to bomb fuel 
if the rain sent from here is hot
and there is no steam
and the people
who rape the clouds for fire
wander anonymously
inside orders and uniforms from either country

then perhaps for both our sakes
we should remain strangers
for it is easier to let go
of something you never had

Kim Hunter reads selected poems along with fellow Detroiter Tim Hall and New Yorker Steve Bloom on Sunday, May 18, at Bohemian National Home, 3009 Tillman St., Detroit; 313-737-6606. Doors open at 7 p.m.

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