The Pen is Mightier


I wrote this as a response to an article I read on the war in Iraq while on sabbatical last month. It is dated 5/20 in my sketchbook and is transcribed identically here.

you know I’d love to preface this with

some grand bombshell or revelation

but I know you all read the blogs

I’m sure you’ve got computers waking you

in the middle of the night with up-to-the-minute

statistics of how many square feet of china are trinity glass

but maybe you are surprised, after all

you’re no scientists and scholars

the drug test you’re chewing your nails off over

is just to make sure you’ve done them

we need a vocabulary for this war

a motif, theme, style, a visual appeal

give us class and coherency

an image for our boys to find a friendly face in

and to strike fear into the hearts of our enemies

icons for a hundred generations to remember our time

and for the cigarette ads to put their copy over

remember, men, when you pick up those markers

that freedom and the american dream are in the balance

tanks planes guns uniforms mess-kits

bombs ships grenades helicopters tents

when we got out of school we wanted to change the world

so here we are, living the dream

making the world a better place

air-raid sirens walkie-talkies belt buckles nuclear warheads

part some something big

performing the civic duty

how did we let this happen

I’m calling from our old watering hole, my friend

and I know it’s been years

but I need to tell someone

I’ve been there with you in that far-flung place

and today you’ve won a battle

a thousand civilian casualties

the last thing they saw

the most beautiful and fearsome thing I’ve created

and I can’t but feel that I’m one of them


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