Collective Unrest

 

Two Poems by John L. Stanizzi

June 12, 2019

TOTAL WAR ON THE HIGHWAY OF DEATH
-Highway 80
-February 26-27, 1991

Schwarzkopf lied about what was on the road;
he tasted smoky ruins, flaming flesh.
Like the fraud of the future with his thugs,
this ranking swine voodooed his own rapists
from butchered people in Toyota vans.

*

I’m staring out at a November sky.
Toys, dolls, hairdryers on Highway 80,
and smoke, and incinerated bodies.
I imagine this dank November day
is brilliant compared to the Mile of Death.

*
Softest rain through bare November branches
whispers an illusion that sounds like peace,
as if the Saviors decided to take
away everything that wasn’t solemn,
leaving us with quiet close to silence.

*

Desperate for home when the carnage began;
overturned cars and trucks, wheels still turning,
radios playing, bodies on the road,
the ghost infested smoke trying to rise.
Soon, redeemers plowed dirt on the living.

*

Obstacles? Mines, barbed wire, and human,
rift sector, great checker of surrender.
Someone leapt from a car and tried to run.
He was shot, and a bus of children bombed.
In total war you leave nothing behind.

*

Schwarzkopf lied about what was on the road —
Toys, dolls, hairdryers on Highway 80,
as if the Saviors decided to take
the ghost infested smoke trying to rise?
In total war you leave nothing behind.

 

STUCK IN TRAFFIC ON THE HIGHWAY OF DEATH
-Highway 80
-February 26-27, 1991

Highway 80, six lanes of death going both ways,
Clusters of Rockeyes blind to what the loathsome weigh.

A-6 Intruders bombarded the head and tail
of the vast column; brimstone blew all oaths away.

2000 vehicles and more bodies than that —
though many escaped across Euphrates’ ghost quay.

If, on the Mile of Death, you survived the sky’s rage,
you were taken on the ground, corpses smoked away.

Vehicles and soldiers smoldered in the hot sand.
Nighttime bombs lit you up; charred, you were shoved away.

The Battle of Rumaila, or the turkey shoot – –
Battle of the Junkyard. Battle of the Causeway.

Saddam’s 8,000 men and his 200 tanks.
Rancor in sweat down their faces – they’d live this way.

I saw them, small silhouettes on the TV screen.
In backyards here children played the I give up game.

It’s the race to a new life, the let’s start again.
Many times, John, the shrapnel brightly heaved away.

 

 

John L. Stanizzi is author of the full-length collections – Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits – Fifty 50-Word Pieces, and Chants.  His new collection will be out later this year with Main Street Rag.  His poems have appeared in American Life in Poetry, Prairie Schooner, The New York Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, The Cortland Review, Rattle, Tar River Poetry, Rust & Moth, Connecticut River Review, Hawk & Handsaw, and many others.

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