Nancy L. Meek


They come…
from forty to fifty a day,
some mother’s son or daughter,
cold, stiff and gray,
numbered between;

methodically tagged
by soldiers, numb
to the horror of the fray
still drum, drum, drumming
too close and far away.

Respectfully stuffed into body bags,
“One Size Fits All”

we received “only ten”…
… “only ten”… “only ten”;
meaning thirty less than forty…
or forty less than fifty;

which makes it okay
to willing hawks of the fray
counting the body bags;
which means we’re winning,
IF you don’t ask their families.

When they arrive…
some are amazingly intact…
some grossly dismembered,
contents unsettling
like the shipment today.

But, it’s okay…
or so some say
in growing numbers too far away,
holding up foreign thumbs
at the ten… the “only ten”;

men, women, babies, kids in their teens,
“only ten” in number,
but not to the mourning
arriving, weeping and wailing,
to bear their loved ones away.

Author’s Note: This flippant verse of mine was inspired by a comment I read in the Editorial section of “The Post and Courier”. Since the name of the author of the letter was omitted, I can only assume it was penned by the Editor, Barbara S. Williams. The comment which struck an unsettling chord in me, states:

“Congress should not pre-judge the president’s plan, particularly when there are already indications that it is working. Yesterday, The Associated Press reported that the Baghdad morgue, that grisly barometer of the level of violence in the Iraqi capital, has seen a sharp reduction in the number of civilians killed in sectarian clashes. Only 10 bodies, compared to the usually daily total of 40 to 50, were delivered to the morgue on Friday.”

I thought it was ironic that the author’s last statement also contained the word “only”, which struck an additional unsettling chord in me. Perhaps it will inspire a new poem. The last sentence reads:

“A failure to defeat them can only lead to a humiliating US setback and a much more dangerous Middle East.”

For some reason, the two possible effects didn’t seem (at least to me) to belong in the same sentence.

Nancy “Lilripple” Meek
February 17, 2007