Meanwhile, In Another Part Of The War

Poem By James Phillip McAuley

On the street of the concrete refugee tenements
That have collapsed into the smoking holes
The Israeli rockets blew open at dawn’s early light,
The sundered limbs and torsos of a Jenin family
Lie with the shards and dust of their household,
Three generations, shredded like paper dolls.

There are no heads to be found. They never had heads.
If they had heads, the Israeli spokesman assures
The State Department, the U.N., the Believers,
The CNN camera, with his shy smile, in
His Noo Yock twang, they wouldn’t have been
Where the terrorists were.

“Of the three-month-old infant,
Crushed in its cradle, and the eighty-year-old
Shepherd who retired twenty years ago when Israelis
From Russia drove off his flock at gunpoint,
And his son’s wife, and the schoolboy, all buried
In the holes the rockets made, which ones
Were the terrorists?” A voice off-camera asks.

But the spokesman shrugs and smiles
Shyly. The cameras and the microphones
Are already turned off.

There were survivors. One, some say
The mother of two victims, has volunteered
To take the bus to Jerusalem.

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