Uninventing War
by Stephen Thorley

"The world we want to transform has been used (abused?) by history and is largely hollow. We must be inventive enough to change it and construct a new world. Take care and do not forget that ideas are also weapons."

-From a Zapatistas Communiqué

I will sit.
I will sit, here.
I will sit the one seat of poetry,
like a monk in perpetual zazen meditation posture,
resisting nothing in order to resist everything.

I will sit here until my own appetites
for winning, death-dealing, destroying,
desist and disappear.

I will sit until my imagination
flies like a crow over every battlefield since time began

If you've been moved by this unjust war to write a poem, please consider submitting by email to thorleyp1@yahoo.com, or mail to SPC. Work on themes of war, the war economy, oppression and political injustice, and/or which celebrates more positive hopes and visions, will be considered.


calling on all the other crows to stop eating corpses, to refuse the meat of slaughter.

I will sit until the 4412 boots of our dead troops
tramp back across the ocean
looking for the men who sent them to die.

I will sit until the unnumbered limbs of the maimed
spontaneously regenerate, vowing to engage in only peaceful acts:
baking bread, building houses for the bombed out, wiping wine from the lips of the rich.

I will sit and pray for the souls of all sentient beings
to rise from the dust of our bodies and swirl together into one great holy spirit
that will scatter the warmongers and moneychangers from the temple.

I will sit until the oil runs out
and the tanks and the fighter jets and the hummers (foreign and domestic)
rot and rust and become monuments to unholy purposes.

I will sit bleeding from every orifice
and calling "Medic! Medic!"
until the angels must attend to the wounds of our body politic, the corpse of our republic.

I will sit and stare at our flag
until the bloody stripes merge
with the stripes of purity and peace and blissful intention.

I will sit until the fifty stars of our flag
turn to doves and fly off
looking for the graves of dead children to bless with their presence.

I will sit until the hungry ghosts
haunting apologist politicians and weapons manufacturers and spin doctors
coagulate the poison emanating from their throats, and choke off their pronouncements.

I will sit until I invent peace,
patent it, create the marketing plan, and sell it to every consumer in the nation
with a money back guarantee.

I will sit until these words rise
and join with the words of every other citizen
tired of war and the lost possibilities of our nation and our people,
insisting on the end of this war, this second Iraq War, this "long war," all war.

I will sit, here.

Poet's Note:
I wanted somehow to marry the righteous anger of polemical protest poetry, with the sense of inner peace and patience that comes out of many religious traditions (Buddhist, Quaker) in response to struggle: the idea of nonviolent resistance to "sit with" difficult issues and be patient with those other members of our human family who seem to be our enemies. This is an issue for me as I sit "the one seat" of Zen meditation (zazen), as I know it is for many: how do we speak out, how do we resist, without letting anger poison us?



Stephen teaches in the Writing Program at Syracuse University, where he received his MA in Creative Writing-Poetry and studied with Hayden Carruth and Tess Gallagher.