13 Stares — No God

Here is the next in this series of NQR poems — all of which are based on photos and thoughts dredged from the year I spent in the town of Safwan, Iraq.  While this particular poem branches off in a different direction, speaking more about the smirk on this British soldier’s face as he stands on the far side of the wall of an all-girls’ school in Safwan . . . the oddest thing is the word ‘God’ written below Sadaam.  We might not remember it, or might view it through the haze of our own convoluted political justifications (or lack thereof) for having gone to war in Iraq, but the people, especially the Shi’a in southern Iraq, were very happy to be rid of Sadaam.  This graffiti provides a weird, mute testimony to that fact, a testimony underlined (as all things in Iraq seem to be) by the evocation of God.

These poems appear in my chapbook “13 Stares.”

A Squaddie stands guard outside an Iraqi girls' school. Graffiti captured by coincidence.


No God

The place to find God is not
never has been, in the set
of stacked Pentecostal folding chairs
where the organ dustcover
and orange jellybeans at Easter
or cleanliness, sidewalk router suburbia
clipped, fertilized lawns and sprinklers
conservative Oldsmobiles for gentle coffee
and the body of Christ flat
on the same tongue as adultery
Lo, beat the stolen hubcap
of the Minister of Agriculture’s Mercedes
into a birdbath, there He is, find
the Kuwaiti coin from the year of your anniversary
as if, striking in sunlight, the mold
fits the one thing that ever fit you
and grass seeded on the lee of the dune
swept, root bare, smiling outside
the girls’ school where accidentally the squaddie
hears them screaming at recess.


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