by Gerard Donnelly Smith

July 19, 2004   


After they moved them across the line—the river or the road—
they moved into their houses of wood or mud, began
tending their corn, their wheat or their olives.

They marched them off the sacred land: ancestral land steeped
in mythology; steeped in the blood of those who died
defending life and liberty from imperialist cowboys or crusaders.

Surrounding them with barbed wire, huddling them in ghettoes,
on reservations or in refugee camps, they kept them poor, kept them
hungry and desperate, and easy to find.

With Hotchkiss Guns on wagons or with Apache helicopter gunships
mounting .30mm chain guns and HELLFIRE missiles,
the end results are the same: members of an ethnic group die.

When pressed about their measures, they use terms like "hostiles"
or "guerrillas" or "terrorists," neither answering the question
posed, nor countering the bloody evidence.

Once the people rise-up to strike back, determined to reclaim land
or to seek retribution for the damages, they, with the cavalry,
or with the bulldozers and tanks level the field.

Imagine! Marching them to the death camps, to the showers
where the first bathers expected pure water, only to find
they were an ethnic impurity being efficiently slaughtered.

Now feel the machete in your hand, fresh from the massacre,
up close and personal. Now deny that! Deny that innocent
children have not been butchered in the name of god.

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Poetry on Swans


Gerard Donnelly Smith, a poet and musician, teaches creative writing, literature and composition at Clark College in Vancouver WA. CERRO de la ESTRELLA (Logan Elm Press, 1992) was chosen for The Governor's Award for the Arts in Ohio, 1992. Excerpts from THE AMERICAN CORPSE (10 poems) were published in Apex of the M in 1995. He is the current director of the Columbia Writers Series, an Honorary Board Member of The Mountain Writers Series, and co-advisor of the Native American Student Council at Clark College. He has also organized readings for Poets Against the War.

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Published July 19, 2004
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