Daily Archives: June 1, 2009

News Of The World

A French plane crashes in the Atlantic.
Auto plants all over America prepare to close.
The last survivor of the Titanic dies.
A doctor is shot to death in his church,
presumably by another religious man.

It’s keeping us up at night.
Peaceful sleep is an endangered species.
Soon churches everywhere will be holding
round the clock services for bleary congregants
demanding that prayer and supplication start working again
at their usual job of keeping hope afloat —

because it’s sinking, isn’t it?  What we knew
and counted on is disappearing under wave after wave
of unfamiliar tragedy. ( Or, rather, tragedy
once unfamiliar to us all here, in this place.
It’s not like people haven’t died before, or been killed,
it’s not like industries haven’t failed before.)
It hasn’t been the same since the Towers fell,

we keep telling each other.
We tell God that all the time too.
We beg Him to put them back up.
We keep reading the news to see if He’s been listening.
It’s hard to say.

Some of us,
supine and insomniac
in the lightless tent of our worst imagining,
are afraid that He is listening,
but to someone else this time.

Some of us believe He’s dead, or vacationing,
maybe in the south of France.
(Maybe He was on that plane?)

Once in a while,
someone points out how strange it is
that we should care so much about
the specifics of who is dying and what is failing.
People, they say, are dying and killing and destitute
and scared and angry and they always have been.
It’s always felt like hell to be alive for some.
It’s just been a while since it was our turn to feel it here.

We usually do something to the ones who say that —
nod at them before turning our backs on them,
or else we kill them.  The difference, we tell them,
is that it isn’t supposed to be us.  And when we say “us,”

we include everyone we like to think of as “us,”
the most mutable category in our world.  “Us”
changes.  It gets bigger, smaller, elongates,
closes in on itself late at night in our cold houses,
blows out its own walls when it’s sunny and warm and
all is going OK.

The news keeps reminding us of what “us” means.

It’s a plane full of people, maybe some Americans aboard.
It’s our very own auto industry coming back strong, maybe.
It’s the last link to the last iconic tragedy disappearing
and leaving us with mythology we’ll have to make ourselves.
It’s the doctor dying for his cause, the killer killing for his.
It’s saying that it’s all gonna be alright, and warm, and sunny,
once we get over this rough patch,
glimmers of hope out there,
it’s saying

go back to sleep…

but we can’t.
The sound of of that new tower
being built
is keeping us up.

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