“It is the duty of every poet to speak fearlessly and clearly.”
– Sam Hamill
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.

Clearing the Field for Firing

The missile dick chicks perform at a massive anti-war demonstration in New York City, April 29, 2006. Photo: Andy Mager

by Stephen Thorley

From the raw-throated rat-a-tat-tat of tommy-gunner ten-year-olds,
to the refined and meticulous machinations of grown-up rocketeers,
men are always clearing the field for firing: Think of those childhoods
full of bullets, billions of outbursts mowing down imaginary enemies like grass.
Or, the sterile surroundings-desert, rock- that the rockets leave from, with all the mess
already removed, the greenery pre-scrubbed, to avoid the nasty backlash
scorching in its wake; or, is it emulating the aftermath
where the rocket will soon fall, the golden dream of annihilation?
The intent is never just killing, but clearing the field, wiping the slate clean.
Is it in our nature to turn nature into nothing?
Yes, these truisms: the gun is handy factotum, obedient
to diverse and profligate destructive tendencies: a seething penis
men can point anywhere and reload instantly, and, as for hand-held missiles,
masturbation has never held such pure pleasures of powerful release, "Stingers"
leaving the barrel full-bore, shiny, glistening...
And everybody can see the rocket is the winning entry in the pissing contest
called war, but listen: when that staccato voice blasts over the intercom, giving
the command to clear the field for firing? Imagine: any man-made gun going off
in God's face, any rocket racketing into his backyard, and imagine
how pissed he might get, how big a prick he might point at all the "Fat men" and
"Little Boys" here on earth, what kind of "Peacemaker" he might send to rock us all
to sleep, of God's own blowtorch roaring down on us and blowing us to blue ruin,
barreling down on us from on high and making us pray for deliverance,
of how 40 days and nights of deluge might just have been a practice round
for the pissing contest God might call the end of the world, God finally
clearing the field for firing, clearing the field forever, clearing the field for good.

Poet's Note
This "fantasy" is a contrast to my poem "Unimagining War" (PNL 750, February 2006). Here I don't imagine a better world, but an angry and decidedly male deity giving the earth and all its relentless warmakers a taste of our own medicine. By using the names of real weapons- from what we dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and on and on-I try to make it clear that we have given any godhead ample reason to be angry.



Percentage of Iraqi doctors no longer practicing in the country since 2003 US Invasion (5.8% have been killed and 35% have left the country).